June 6, 2011
What would you call a man who started with nothing, worked hard all of his life, amassed a fortune, created thousands of jobs, was kind and faithful to his family, and privately gave away 90% of his wealth in a variety of ways that directly helped the poor? Answer: Douchebag.
You don’t get rich without screwing a lot of people along the way, right? That’s common knowledge. That rich douchebag is probably paying a lower tax rate than his caddy. And the bastard could have created more jobs had he not chosen to maximize his corporate profits. Successful guys are arrogant, we assume; that’s just part of the package. Rich guys also think they are above the law because they hire expensive lawyers when people accuse them of crimes. And let’s not respect any guy who makes a billion dollars and only keeps $100 million for himself. We want our heroes to suffer way more than that.
The cover of TIME on May 30th featured a picture of a pig and the title “Sex. Lies. Arrogance. What Makes Powerful Men Act Like Pigs.” Interestingly, I heard no protests about TIME’s characterization of powerful men (and by extension, men in general) as pigs. Apparently that worldview is universally accepted.
You all know the old joke: Why does a dog lick his own balls? Answer: Because he can. When you compare a man to a dog, both men and women think that observation sounds about right. Personally, I don’t mind being compared to a dog, because in our society, dogs are more respected than men. The comparison feels like an upgrade. (TIME’s comparison of men to pigs seemed like more of a lateral move, respect-wise, so no offense taken.)
Here’s a quick quiz: What is the common word for “hatred of women”? Most of you got the right answer in less than a second: misogyny.
Question two, what is the common name for “hatred of men”?
The answer is misandry. But I would have also accepted “normal,” at least in America. Hatred of men for their supposed faults is pretty much business as usual in this country – so much so that we rarely label it. And if a man is powerful, that’s two strikes against him.
But this isn’t a post about men versus women, or the raging class war. It’s about psychics. Watch me suddenly turn this oil tanker on a dime, also known as bad writing.
Let’s stipulate for the sake of this discussion that lots of people think misogyny is a problem, and some people think misandry is a problem. Let’s throw racism into this discussion too. And don’t forget hatred of the rich. What do all of these forms of hate have in common?
A psychic is a person who can read minds. For example, a psychic can look deep into the private thoughts of a Tea Party member and know that the real reason he opposes the President’s fiscal policy is racism. A psychic can look at men – millions of them at once – and know that deep down, in their private thoughts, they hate women. Psychics can also know the thoughts and intentions of the rich, using as clues the inaccurate reports of the media, and the out-of-context yammering of pundits who have financial incentives to distort.
My own view is that some small part of the general population, perhaps 5%, is comprised of people who are either sociopaths, or simply batshit crazy. Some of those people are literally racists, gender supremacists, and robber barons. The rest of us live in fear that one of the psychics will accuse us of siding with the sociopaths and the batshit crazy folks in our private thoughts.
Watch the news this week and see how many stories involve psychics (pundits) claiming they have the power to read the minds of others and find evil of various sorts. Then watch the media manipulate society into punishing the accused thought-criminals because doing so is good for the news business. It’s the modern equivalent of witch hunts. In old Salem, you could identify a witch by a combination of coincidence and the ability to float. Today you can identify a racist and a misogynist and an immoral rich person using quotes taken out of context, guilt by association, and the accusations of psychics. We haven’t come far.