When I was a wee lad my mother bought a loofah for our bathroom. I was terrified of the thing. I imagined that, if I got it wet, small crabs would crawl out and pinch my tender, pale flesh. Nothing she said could persuade me that the thing wasn’t filled with little dried crab eggs waiting to hatch and devour me. Several years ago, while visiting America’s Sponge Capitol, Tarpon Springs, I learned that loofah are actually a dried subtropical cucumber. It didn’t hit me until I was in the shower this morning that the only way a loofah could become infested with tiny crabs is if Paris Hilton used it to scrub her tainted crotch.
You have to realize that this was pre-Wikipedia and my main sources of knowledge on the various topics of my interest were an ancient set of Britannica’s and that weird guy down the road who’s band played nothing but T-Rex’s ‘Bang a Gong’ all day. My mother tried reason, gently explaining the improbability of the situation before falling back to sarcastic mocking, but I still had this fear. It wasn’t until I grew up and gained a little wisdom and knowledge that I could use a loofah. Looking back, I can see how foolish I was being, but what would have happened if my mother and cool crazy guy and TV talking head guy all had some elaborate story that fed on that fear? An even larger and more improbable tale of alien Mother Crabs who used loofah-ships to spread their young? What if I was put into a school that only taught about these alien crabs: no science, no history, nothing that contradicted the crab tale. I’d probably be a bat-shit crazy, foil hat wearing lunatic picketing Red Lobster and extolling the virtues of poof style scrubbies.
There’s no real way to stop it. Parents will pass their prejudice on to their children. Children will learn speech patterns, clothing styles and their musical tastes from their peers, their radios and televisions. The problem arises when those prejudices are extreme or the culture being sold is grooming people for failure. Religion, politics and sports are all guilty of fanaticism in our modern world. The United States seems to be exporting little more these days than Southern Fundamentalism. It’s interesting to see that, after the Baptist Fundies left England en masse for the New World to avoid persecution, they’ve now returned to plague affluent British suburbs with a new, poverty born, close minded and anti-educational brew of nonsense that is turning both countries into breeding grounds for extremists. We’ve got a political system that is based solely on perception and indoctrination. George Bush could violate a nun with the rolled up, batter dipped and deep fried Constitution and there would still be a large number of people in this country who would cheer him on before going live on Fox News to drool on themselves and scream that it was the nun’s fault. While the simple mention of the World Cup is enough to cause mayhem and looting in some countries, we aren’t quite so fanatical, although there have been some Super Bowl riots and looting recently, which shows we are catching up with the world in this respect.
‘Devout’ fundamentalists indoctrinate our children with their religious nonsense and since facts, logic and proof are the enemies of religion, they are slowly trying to replace real science in the classroom with this fairy tale crap. This hurts us as a nation. Remember the 50′s? Neither do I since I wasn’t even a zygote yet, but I do have an idea of the beginning of last century that I’ve gained from anecdotes, bad sci-fi movies and trash sci-fi novels. Apparently, before the middle of the last century, roving bands of lanky, balding and bespectacled scientists in crisp white lab coats would travel the countryside smoking pipes, drinking whiskey and making love to beautiful women all the while solving mankind’s problems, usually by creating some kind of death beam or horrendously humongous incendiary device. These were real men of science: eating handfuls of chemicals while bathing in heavy water just to see what would happen. Flash forward half a dozen decades and we have a small, underfunded and nearly empty lab trying to cure cancer and manned by two guys from Bangalore, a 20 year old prodigy who’s parents disowned her after she quit the Jehovah Witnesses and the lab’s 80 year old executive director, standing in the corner and peering into a microscope, pipe angrily clenched in his teeth and dreaming of the open countryside and massive, city melting heat rays. Why are we going backwards as a country? Why are we losing our lead in science and technology? I would venture a guess that the religious indoctrination being touted as science in our classrooms might be part of the problem. Also, the branding of crosses on students arms in science class by their intelligent design spouting nut-job of a teacher may be an indication that there is a major fucking problem here.
Our political climate is so awful, it’s not even worth mentioning. It’s like beating a dead horse into a pulp, then turning the meat into dog food, feeding it to a dog and beating the dog to death. And then beating the dead dog. So basically it’s like an overblown and unfunny simile. If indoctrination is ‘to imbue with a partisan or ideological point of view’, then both parties have been guilty of this, to some extent, since the invention of the world, it’s just that it’s taken people this long to really get good at it. If we look at the current President, we see that the White House was using Fox News as a mouth piece to throw out their talking points. Fox News, which has been guilty of spreading biased, hateful and just false news stories for years, has been turning people into fanatics, sowing hate and misinformation instead of doing their job, which is to enlighten. There are still people in this country who stand by and refuse to question the tactics that this government has used to bankrupt our country financially, morally and reputationally when all they have to do is step away from the noise coming from their idiot box and think clearly, rationally and, for once, with their own opinions instead of the carefully crafted nuggets of shit fed to them in 30 seconds intervals by Republican sock puppets.
The Democrats aren’t much better. The sissified mommy-state they’ve turned our once proud country into is pitiful. While I don’t think that everyone should swagger around like John Wayne with a 2×4 with a rusty nail through it and beat senseless the people who are rude to them, I sure as hell don’t think that people should be sued, fired or humiliated for being slightly offensive. If I offended you, once upon a time, you one upped me. We had a dialog, even if it was insulting and petty, but it was a dialog nonetheless, filled with analogy and metaphor and fat mama jokes and Carlinesque insults of the highest caliber. There was, to a degree, some respect between the combatants. Nowadays, if someone so much as calls you a name, you sue them for libel, or get them arrested for hate speech. Children are being taught that they shouldn’t fight their own fights, that if they run into something even slightly scary or offensive or different, they can call on mommy or a lawyer to fix it, rather than deal with the underlying problem. Dems seem afraid to face the racism or ignorance or reality that is spitting in their faces, begging for some air time. While the Repugnicans invent their own reality, the Dems seem to hide from the obvious and invent some kind of neutral grey Nirvana where everyone is so afraid to offend, they ignore the fucker beating them in case it hurts his feelings to call him a fascist or rascist or wrong or right.
We need to teach people that doubt is a good and natural thing instead of branding symbols on them for questioning the material. We need to stop supporting the hate mongers and noisy emptiness that our news has become. We need to ignore party lines and come up with our own opinions. We need to seek out the truth. Also, we need to bring back those roving packs of mad scientists so that they can get cracking on cloning me and preforming a successful brain transplant to my new body. I’ve got my white lab coat, a can of spray starch and a Mersham pipe carved into an effigy of Hermes waiting for the new me.