I find myself thinking of the good advice to juries and judges, given by Brett “Boof” Kavanaugh’s mother, who went to law school during Boof’s childhood and became a lawyer and then a judge herself. “Use your common sense — what smells right and what smells like a steaming pile of shit?” ( I paraphrase).
We’re living in a sound byte and “Social Media” driven, 51-49 SUCK IT, LOSER culture where fact finders are not expected to use common sense after smelling various claims to determine which come closest to making sense.
Remarks are often taken out of context, edited, framed a certain way, weaponized and offered as doctored proof of the unreliability of things we used to call “facts”, back in the days when we naively believed that what actually happens is more important than the self-serving reframing of reality by highly paid spin doctors. We are told everything today is strictly tribal, EVERYTHING, and what you believe depends 100% on whether you are a member of the tribe of loyal winners or the tribe of despicable fucking losers.
As a member of a lost tribe, I find myself recalling times in my own life when I was expected to accept, for the sake of somebody else’s strong, immovable feelings, an absurd or incoherent story. An innocent remark of mine was sharpened and used to vicious effect in a marriage counseling session as proof that my oldest friend, the husband, was a fucking liar. His occasional lying never bothered me, nor did I ever agree with the wife that he is a compulsive liar. Yet, there it is: that he’s an unbearable fucking liar proved by his oldest friend’s candid, strategically quoted remark!
My old friend confronted me, as he was challenged to do by his wife and couples therapist and, eyelid twitching, put it to me bluntly: “Did you intentionally and viciously try to destroy my marriage or was it just stupidity driven by unconscious hostility?” I suggested a third choice, which I explained in detail, but, also — what the fucking fuck?!
Granted, to a larger and more open extent than ever before, we are living in a 51-49 SUCK IT, LOSER! culture. The stories and rationales will keep shifting, polls will be taken, retaken, new stories and rationales will emerge about the same thing explained differently the day before. Denials will be followed by insistence that nothing was ever denied, admissions, same deal, they can be made and denied in back to back breaths because: SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!
As long as the insula is kept glowing red, there is no need to go beyond the immediate cause of anger (which makes the insula glow). In fact, when we are angry we are physically and psychologically unable to see the other side of anything, we literally cannot process the explanations that would otherwise pacify us. The beauty of righteous rage: it makes us feel totally righteous and adrenalized to fight injustice.
If you hate, you will be inclined to easily believe the worst rumors about the person/people you hate. Hillary Clinton, an internet meme insisted, was running a pedophile emporium in the basement of a popular DC pizza joint. Child sex slaves, locked up in the basement for pervert Hillary supporters to do with as they pleased. An outraged citizen arrived at the pizza place with a gun to liberate the poor children in the basement. The pizza place had no basement. They arrested the guy with the loaded gun and, thankfully, nobody was harmed. The claim turned out to be a piece of random propaganda against a political candidate who was either the first or second most hated politician in America at the time (Trump and Hillary were said to be one/two most hated presidential candidates ever, I don’t recall the order).
During that same ugly 2016 campaign I got a call from a friend who told me about a video tape of Sheldon Adelson (piece of shit extraordinaire) and Donald Trump (his record reeks for itself) that allegedly showed them gang-banging a 13 year-old girl. As much as I dislike both of these creatures, I immediately knew the story was a crock. Use your common sense: assume either of them actually had sex with a 13 year-old — in what universe would they do it together, sharing the girl — and the possibility of a very long prison term? It’s not in either of their characters to share.
Beyond that, how would these two wealthy men, skilled in covering up dark things they feel need to be kept secret, have allowed a video to reach the public? The videographer would be either well-paid off and sworn to secrecy in an ironclad NDA or discreetly removed from the world, along with the “evidence” of the sensational gang rape of a minor. The corporate media would be abuzz about it, if such a tape had surfaced or there had been the slightest whiff of truth about its existence.
Believe what you like, it’s certainly your prerogative, like the choice to remain unpersuadable. For me, I prefer to have as much solid information as I can get before I formulate and state my position. It’s like being a juror in a criminal trial, you want to hear from what they used to call “fact witnesses”, as many people who were actually at the crime scene as you can get, and see as much other evidence as there is, before you make up your mind about what happened and what didn’t happen and who did what and so on. Dismiss that principle as “tribal” if you like, I’ll stick with it, prejudiced member of a loser tribe that I am.