Another wet day, and it sogged my synapses. Haven’t had a . . . what’s the word? Thought. A thought all day. Can’t even finish the sentences that describe how uninspired I am. Best to nap, in these circumstances, and see if that makes a difference.
Didn’t get a nap. Because somehow I lost my car keys. It’ll turn into a column, probably, so I’ll leave it for later - but man, what a pain. Uber home, get the spares, uber back, all the while hoping someone didn’t find them and walk around pushing the button, listening for the car that responded.
Dry by evening, though; off for a walk.
Why aren't we walking then? Scout asks.
Let's say someone tweeted the other day:
We must eliminate quadrupeds, because they eat cats.
I thought about that and considered what sort of argument would proceed.
Me: Your statement is so broad as to be meaningless.
Tweeter: But generalities contain a truth; we all speak in generalities, which contain mutually agreed-upon definitions.
What do you mean by “quadrupeds,” if not all creatures with four legs?
Coyotes. They are the largest population of quadrupeds that eats cats.
Okay but that’s different from saying quadrupeds eat cats.
True. But many other quadrupeds would eat cats if they were hungry.
Yes, again, true, but the initial statement indicted all quadrupeds.
It didn’t indict. It said what they do. That’s a statement of fact.
Yes, but you really mean coyotes.
The point stands. Coyotes are quadrupeds. You can’t deny that coyotes eat cars. I haven’t even gotten into the fact that they eat small dogs, if the situation presents itself.
I grant all of that, but don’t you think the original statement is overly broad? I mean, you’re indicting sheep. And cows. If you’re opposed to quadrupeds, well, okay - but do you eat hamburgers?
I enjoy a good hamburger from time to time.
Have you ever served hamburgers to other people?
Are you not, then, using quadrupeds for your own purposes, while decrying them in general?
Because I use quadrupeds in some situations does not mean I cannot indict the impact some quadrupeds have on the cat population.
Okay, some quadrupeds. That’s important. Now: are you prepared to foreswear anything that comes from a quadruped to live up to your stated goal of eliminating quadrupeds? If you eat cows, they’ll just make more of them to feed the demand.
This is getting away from the point about what quadrupeds are doing to cats.
No, it’s not. Cows provide many things. Leather. Milk. Beef. There are huge industries devoted to these products, run by people who want to serve the customer’s needs. You said the enemy was quadrupeds.
You’re intentionally distorting the point to emphasize an irrelevant benefit. Obviously I think there’s good that arises from milk, leather, beef, and so on. It’s about coyotes.
Then why didn’t you say coyotes? Isn’t clarity and precision one of your calling cards?
So you’re saying coyotes don’t eat cats.
They do! Absolutely. And sheep don’t. And sheep give us wool, as cows give us meat and fancy seat-covers for cars, and all the other multifarious quadrupeds provide what they provide. But if I believed what you said, I would be obliged to engage in a total anti-quadruped viewpoint because of cat safety, and it just seems absurd when a general . . . I don’t know, what are they? Kingdom phylum class order family genus species, whatev. Doesn’t the overgeneralization make you look as though your animus has overwhelmed your ability to make perspicacious distinctions?
So I now assume that Dennis Prager thinks I am a threat to Western Civilization?
I know he doesn’t think that. One could say: well, tthat’s what he wrote, and just like the people who called me Vichy because I didn’t vote for Trump, I’ll do them the honor of trusting that they intended their words to mean what they meant.
Now, I know what he means. Some in the news media enable, through laziness or solidarity, trends that are injurious to the health of Western Civilization. That's an interesting discussion. But when I quoted this to a friend he agreed, and when I said hey, no, that's idiotically broad, he didn't really care.
So: If the news media is a great threat - the news media, no qualifications - then why would any one use it as a source? Wouldn’t it be honorable to never read anything again from the suspect sources, and never bring them up on your show? Wouldn't you decline to serve the hamburgers, in other words, to use my tortured analogy?
Here’s why the tweet blew up, I think.
1. The categorical demonization of the news media is a marker, a tribal signifier. #FAKENEWS # MAGA is all over my twitter timeline. Part of this is self-induced; many newsrooms in America are populated by people with wounds in their feet and smoking guns in their hands and the general confusion of wondering why they’re limping.
2. Prager’s enthusiasm and admiration for a man he had previously castigated has struck many as peculiar; he’s all in, unlike those who regard the man with varying degrees of dislike but applaud specific policy initiatives and speeches. Quite a few of Prager’s lessons on behavior - the slander of names, the distinction between the decent and the indecent, the “almost erotic love of the truth” - have been set aside, with occasional reminders that he still believes in these things but has priorities. And besides, God worked through King David, who was imperfect. (cough)
The enthusiasm and the admiration strike many long-time listeners as . . . jarring. So the sentiment seemed to be an indication of an anti-intellectual tone you see on Twitter - lying media! Fake news! Libel laws! Burn it down! etc. - coupled with Putin footsie-playing that minimizes his basic badness. Prager wasn’t downplaying Putin’s badness; it’s more of a civilization-crumbles-from-within argument.
But the closer you get to Trump, the more inclined you seem to be to make excuses for what we call the whole Russian thing, and people infer that from your statements.
I have enjoyed his show for years. Hell, I’ve had him over to the house for cigars. We’ve been on stage together. He’s a capital fellow. I’ve disagreed with positions he’s had before. I just find myself wincing a lot when I listen these days.
On a related note: I have never bought the -phobia suffix, because it makes an intellectual disagreement into a pathology. If you criticize Islam, you are Islamophobic. If you are disinclined to redefine the definition of marriage, you are Homophobic. If you believe that gender and biology are fixed in a very technical sense, you are Transphobic. And so on. You do not have different opinions; you are motivated by an irrational, pathologcal fear. This is very Soviet: since the truth is self-evident, opposition to the new ideas is evidence of a mental disorder.
He sits in for Prager these days.
From the back of men's mags & general interest low-brow fiction: enjoy someone else's clothes! Slightly used and mostly cleaned. Don't ask where we get them. Trust us, the families all signed releases.
Take these useless herbs only as directed, if your slumbering nature has coated your tongue.
Or, if you like, rub on this stuff for larger bosoms.
Note: does not work on men. It only does not work on women.
No more serials for a while - just some light entertainment from the world of Drive-In pre-show rolls.
In that parallel universe where Stanley Kubrick directs Sprite commercials:
That'll do; see you around!