The biggest problem with the denizens of Bullshit Mountain is they act like their shit doesn't stink. If they have success, they built it. If they failed, the government ruined it for them. If they get a break, they deserved it. If you get a break, it's a handout and an entitlement. It's a baffling, willfully blind cognitive dissonance... Jon StewartThe appeal of such hate speech is that it doesn't look like hate speech at first, so people can continue to think well of themselves while subscribing to it. It describes an attitude that is present in a mild form throughout humanity. Few people think like this this all the time, and even they not with anything near this intensity. I know a person who has an enormous degree of resentment which spills out into her politics, angry at people who don't work as hard as she does, and have no obvious disability, but buy nice things with money they get from government and charity. Yet even she acknowledges that she is lucky in many ways, and recognises that people besides herself might deserve better than life has dealt them. I know a few others that display more of this attitude that Stewart deplores more than I like to hear. They put up posters of their own on FB or drop comments at work, many of them unfair.
The group of people I hear this from the most are a subset of Mental Health Workers at the hospital; that is, people who work very hard for not very good money, putting their safety in danger daily and enduring regular verbal abuse, who nonetheless act very kindly to difficult people. While most of the patients they deal with are rather obviously sick and not capable of behaving much better in the moment, there are others - indeed, there are always one or two on any unit at any given moment - who act entitled, as we used to say. They do not seem to be incapable of working, yet they receive benefits in aggregate which are not much less than the hospital workers make. Worse, they have an attitude about it.
Those workers are the people I know who come closest to fitting Stewart's description. And they aren't very close. I would like for you to imagine who the people are that Jon Stewart hangs around with every day. I have no knowledge, but I'm guessing that he doesn't spend a lot of time with the small contractors and appliance repairmen who grouse unfairly about people on welfare and exaggerate how many of them there are. If he actually knew them, he might have more sympathy with them and moderate his words. He might say "Y'know, Americans overestimate how many undeserving people receive benefits. And most of us aren't grateful enough for the breaks we've received in life." That would be true, and fair. But he would rather paint them in black-and-white.
I searched around for how different the perceptions are among the various American political tribes on the matter, to see if there were any justification for Stewart's cartoon. There's no justification. He doesn't know such people, he just makes them up on the basis of what he reads, and the teensy subset of people who write in to criticise him. His readers don't see it as hate speech, they see it as "strongly-worded," or whatever.
Exercise: in Stewart's quote, take out the phrase "the government" and put in one of the racism/sexism/homophobia-type words. You might play with the last sentences about "corporate entitlements" or "patriarchy" or whatever if you want to really tighten it up, but it works okay just as it stands. Imagine any public figure making that statement and the amount of retraction and backpedaling they would have to do the next morning over complaints of their hate speech. Which would be fair, BTW. It would be a terrible thing to imply about some group, deeply unfair. It's one thing to read someone ranting like that in a comment section or typing along on some blog even more obscure than mine, but people with any audience are held to higher standards, and should be.
It's just a lot more fun to hate, I guess, to imagine that the people who disagree with you are not just wrong, not just insensitive and a bit hypocritical, but flat out evil. Life is simpler that way.
Second Poster: I have been seeing variations for the last three months on the theme of The Reason That I (am a liberal/ don't support Trump/ am not a conservative/ am voting for Sanders) is that
I love my Mexican friends.
I want gay people to be respected.
I think everyone should have the opportunity....
Well aren't we special, then, loving so much and being such nice people. The implication being, then , that the people who aren't like you are...not as righteous as you are. They don't just disagree with you, they are, by double reverse, not good people. I wouldn't bring this up if it weren't Christians who were posting it so much. There are half-a-dozen places in the Gospels where Jesus makes it pretty clear that this sort of thinking yourself better than others is a very grave sin. No, no, I don't think I'm better than those others, or more loving or anything. It's just that...
Yeah you do. That's what you said, and you meant it. You just don't like to be called on it.