Monday, April 18, 2022

What Can You Just Not Refrain From Saying?

Those who know me in live space will recognise that I look like a person who has a multitude of topics I cannot just leave alone. They are correct, but I would counter-assert that they do not know how many things I just let things go. I actually do try and pick my spots.

I notice sometimes with others that they cannot refrain from commenting whenever one of their hot-button issues goes by. I am not much concerned about this unless they are speaking in some public manner.  In conversation, sometimes people are only half-listening, or just want to get rid of a topic, or just want to have something to say and have only that one idea. They didn't necessarily invite the topic, so it's best to give them a pass. Also, if the main topic of the public writer or speaker is near that issue, one would expect that the same topics always come up.  On The Glenn Show, race is one of the main topics intentionally, as he and McWhorter believe there are aspects of the discussion and facts on the ground that consistently don't get heard.  They bring up often how this affects both university education and the public discourse. Expected. 

If you tune in to a podcast about modern women, you should expect sexism might get mentioned frequently. If you tune in to a Christian podcast you should expect Jesus and churches to come up most episodes. The objection comes when the topic is purportedly something else, but you have to go inserting sexism or Jesus into it.  It's not that this could never occur naturally - it's just that it is unlikely that it always occurs naturally, week after week. So...two female professors discussing a movie for its linguistics content, and they have to, just have to mention the smallish incidents that go by that they find sexist.  One, ironically, had an exact mirror incident about a male character that she did not notice was sexist in the other direction.

Ann Althouse linked to a humorous TikTok about black men groaning over a woman injecting slavery into a discussion. 

We knew people years ago who could not get into any discussion about the Christian faith without bringing up the idea that praise is central and the churches don't teach about praise enough. Similarly, I can't picture any at the moment but I feel confident there were others who did the same with Gifts of the Spirit, as you couldn't get away from that topic.

There was news report about an assault, and one of the staff writers wondered if Will Smith slapping Chris Rock had something to do with people feeling they could assault each other. All I could think was "But isn't everything really about important celebrities? Can't we talk about them, who fascinate us, rather than some unattractive nobody in a hospital bed in a town I never heard of?" It would make a good comic bit for a reporter to ask the victim whether he thought Will Smith's actions had anything to do with it. There was a Credibility Gap* album years ago with a segment "Earwitness News," in which the newscasters were determined to uncover that marijuana had caused the MyLai Massacre. They forced the interpretation in. 

Ironic to listen to this now and reflect that the regular news actually does something close to this, but flowing in the opposite political direction. Projection, way back when? You can be observant comic geniuses and still project. 

For us, project number one is to get a handle on where we do this ourselves, reflexively getting on one of our hobby horses even when the topic does not call for it.

*This is the later version of The Credibility Gap, with names you recognise better.

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