Among the many benefits of being a citizen of the United States of America in the twenty-first century are that:
- we are the beneficiaries—assuming we’ve taken advantage of it—of twelve years’ worth of free schooling1 in an educational system that, while perhaps not the best in the world, is certainly better than the alternative.2
- we have unparalleled access—thanks to a nationwide network of public libraries, bookstores, and an internet filled almost entirely with deftly phrased, mature, and well-researched philosophical discussions, to thousands of years’ and millions of pages’ worth of the human race’s most compelling, challenging, enlightening, and thought-provoking political and philosophical thought.
- we are spiritual descendants of a distinguished intellectual tradition that began with luminaries such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, and thrived for centuries until it was unceremoniously murdered by Philo T. Farnsworth.
So with all that in mind, it wouldn’t be odd to expect Americans to engage in well-spoken, well-educated, thoughtful political discourse, would it?
On my drive home from work the other day I spotted a bumper sticker that read “If you voted for Obamtard, thanks a lot, ASSHAT.”
My second reaction3 to this was disgust and dismay that this is how real live grown-up Americans—educated adults, most of us, with literally hundreds of thousands of hours’ worth of opportunities to practice shaping and polishing our thoughts to convince and inspire—are choosing to express their political views these days. It’s like we’re going out of our way to prove that putting power in the hands of the common people was a tragic, hilarious mistake, that the best we can do to express a difference in political opinion is to resort to name-calling and using language better suited for a bathroom stall.4
My first reaction to the bumper sticker was “what a dickhead.”5
- Or more than twelve years, if you flunk a couple of times. Hey, why not? Free school! And by “free” we of course mean “paid for by everybody, so not actually free, but sort of like free if you’ve had just the right amount to drink.”
- That alternative being, for the sake of our argument, “not going to school and being a big fat idiot.”
- Yes, second, not first. Keep reading; I promise it’ll all make sense. Or at least, it’ll make as much sense as any of the bullshit you typically find here.
- “Asshat” is, I admit, not true bathroom-stall language—it’s far from being in the same league as f-----, c--ks-----, w--r-, --t--a--, or s--d---h-e--er. On the other hand, it’s a stupid, tired, overused term, and you’re a total f----- if you use it. Knowledgeable sources have described the term as “the douchebag’s ‘douchebag.’ ”
- For what it’s worth—not that it’s necessarily any of your business—we didn’t vote for President Obama, and given the chance to do it over, we’d not vote for him again.