Friday, June 04, 2010

Opinion Piece

by Al Falafal

I am just so sick of hearing and reading about people’s dumb ass opinions, aren’t you?

I mean, sure, we all have the right to form our own opinions and we are blessed in this country with that wonderful Constitutional right to freedom of speech. But, sorry, I am just totally sick of being constantly bombarded by moronic opinions from every Tom, Dickhead and Mary Jane Smoker with a keyboard and an ax to grind. Obviously, this massive over-saturation of uninformed opinion is wholly attributable to these here interwebs.

It is perhaps an inevitable - but somehow unforeseen - consequence of the Internet’s anarchic rise after bursting out of its roots in the closed electronic communications network - developed for military and espionage purposes - to become the ubiquitous commercial network tool that invades every nook and cranny of our miserable lives today.

Back in the day it took a shitload of motivation for illiterate, ignorant and hateful Americans to bother trying to write (write?!) down their thoughts and share them with the world. Back then it took the chancy act of composing a letter and taking it to a mailbox, having invested the dimes for postage and hoping – just hoping! - that it met the approval editor of your local newspaper and that it will maybe appear in some barely recognizable form (after editing) someday not too long after sending it off. Only then you had to identify yourself and there was still no guarantee that your opinion would ever see the light of day in a public forum. That’s the beauty, wisdom and utility of newspapers: they have editors to try and keep moronic ill-informed crap out of print or make sure it was offset with an opposing and reasonable point of view. And may the goddess bless them for sparing us the tons of crap that they surely have for all these years. That is, before all newspapers went online.

Nowadays, any cockamamie online news story is followed by a string of inane comments that normally range from the vapid or merely idiotic to the downright hateful and threatening -- full of misspellings, dreadful grammar and always, always anonymous. Why anyone with half a brain bothers to read those comments anymore is beyond me.

Now everyone has a Blog (like this one), or at least a Facebook or some other Social Networking site. Christ! Now the morons don’t even have to wait for something to appear in print or on the tubes to evoke a jacked-up outrage in response. The 24 hour hyperbolic newsfeeds stream in from Fox and every other irresponsible ratings whore: individuals as well as those organizations not quite satisfied with having thoroughly polluted our TV and radio airwaves to death with their erratic insane-sounding opinions that stupid people (i.e. the apparent majority of Americans) take seriously as FACT and react to predictably and on cue.

The primary function, role and raison d’etre of the Internet, of course, is as a marketing tool. The Internet would be nowhere nearly as vast and accessible as it is if not for its usefulness and profitability to our corporate overlords in big business. Not only does the World Wide Web provide a still new way of advertising and product delivery through online sales, it is even more useful as a somewhat covert data collection system driving the development, availability and pricing of new and useless products based on what we consumers can be sucked into buying, shopping for or even looking at on our home computers.

Besides the “cookie” functions and other clandestine ways they tap into and steal our personal information we are constantly bombarded by customer surveys that tell us how important our opinion is, inflating our pathetic little egos by pretending to care what we think, which stupid people mistake for caring about who we are. What builds us up more effectively than being told that someone cares who we are? Stupid people are thus led to believe that their identity exists within the opinions they are fed (well, what else do they have?)

“Your opinion counts! Your opinion matters! Never mind the depths of ignorance from which your opinion stems. We want it: we NEED your opinion! It is important to us!”

The political implications of this gross inflation in the assigned value of mass opinion over intelligence are far-reaching and very threatening to humanity’s progress as a civilized species.

Sadly, the exploitation of ignorant opinions in this democracy occurs across the political spectrum, stretching from the extreme right to what exists of a far left wing in America. Politicians, Political Action Committees and grass roots organizers alike pander to the basest instincts of voters, trying to outstrip each other with promises so far overreaching that they cannot possibly live up to the campaign hype. The difference between the way this plays out on the extreme right as compared to the left is that right wing neo-cons and ATBCs are far more willing to push the limits of reason for political purposes by blatantly promoting the supposed value of orthodoxy or conformity, where the left tends to shun those so-called “traditional values” in favor of recognizing the value of non-conformity and the reality of human diversity (I hope).

The annoying right wing backlash we’re witnessing today in the emergence of the Angry Tea-Bagger Cult (ATBC) follows directly from the many neat little manipulative tricks of miscommunication and disinformation that neo-cons have practiced for years and with which they honed their skills before, during and after the rise of the Internet.

Oh yes. The neo-cons were poised and ready to take charge of people’s minds through the internet once it became the sloppy and ubiquitous cyber-pig trough we now know it to be. The real-life “newspeak” you hear today spewing from neo-cons on TV & radio, in elected office and behind the scenes may be traced and attributed to the evil talent embodied in whatever Hollywood PR machine that, half a century ago, turned a B-grade movie actor/leading man to a chimp named Bonzo - and Van Heusen Shirt salesman - Ronald Reagan into an absurd caricature: one still called the “Great Communicator” by stupid and naïve people today. Well, that’s the opinion they decided to swallow, and they have every right to it. But they are dead wrong and I don’t see any reason to go along with it. Reagan was no orator. He was a pre-packaged fake patsy and always a really bad actor, IMHO.

Since Reagan it has always been the first trick and prime directive of all wanna-be neo-cons that they master the art of LABELING and re-PACKAGING. While in office, Reagan’s Orwellian handlers used their power to get people in the fourth estate to use words THEY chose to label and rename all kinds of things, usually branding them in a package slapped with a label opposite in meaning to what their real intent, effect and use would be: e.g., they cleverly re-dubbed a gang of brutal right-wing Nicaraguan terrorists known to be death squads as “Freedom Fighters” (and secretely funded them with profits from illegal drug sales). Reagan’s people also conned all the news media to use the phrase “Peace Keepers” when referring to our arsenal of 300-kiloton nuclear missiles. Each of these supposedly pacifist missiles was twenty times more powerful than the bomb used to bring lasting peace to the Island of Hiroshima during WWII. And who can forget when the Reagan administration repackaged the condiment ketchup as a vegetable for purposes of denying sufficient funds for healthful school lunch programs across the country? The list goes on and on… ad nausea.

A not-so-subtle subtext that runs through all the real-life newspeak we have watched and heard sullying ever more the political discourse in this country is the deliberate elevation of opinion over fact.
Never mind that “Peace Keepers” were built for the sole purpose and intent of raining fiery mass death and utter destruction on our fellow human beings. In the Reagan groupthink opinion those missiles were the deterrent that kept the peace during the Cold War. And never mind that “Freedom Fighters” were shown to be nothing more than a bunch of wild thugs who would kidnap, torture, rape and execute civilians, including children, burning down civilian houses and targeting health care clinics and health care workers for assassination. It was the opinion of Reagan’s handlers that the Contras were on the side of capitalism – our side – against the socialist Sandanistas who had overthrown the dictatorship that had long ruled their country and… Oh, Sorry! I know. Blah blah blah! TMI. Too much information! Historical facts getting all up in our opinion grills! Never mind. We can just call them “Peace Keepers” and “Freedom Fighters.” Let’s just go with the opinion that it was all about freedom vs socialism: bringing up nasty and brutal South American dictatorships and nuclear devastation just causes brain freeze.

See how that works? If you let it…

“Opinion: noun. A belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty” (Definition #1 at

The lack of complete certainty is what is so easy to exploit. It is also the essence of our human condition. We do not really know anything for certain – except most of us believe that we damn well know what our opinions are! The certainty of our opinion, no matter how shaky its base may be, far outweighs the certainty of our knowledge. That’s what makes the opinions of stupid people so ripe for exploitation.

Just look at how certain the so-called “Birthers” are in their opinion that President Obama is not an American citizen. No matter that a verified birth certificate has been produced and that there is not a shred of reason to support their claims, they are absolutely certain in their opinion that Obama was not born in the USA. To paraphrase a common adage, they don’t know what smart is but they definitely know what they like to think.

In the modern era it is “newspeak” from the Reagan era that first elevated opinion over fact as a deliberate political ploy to curry favor with stupid and lazy people in this country – stupid and lazy people who can be nonetheless motivated to vote. After all, a stupid person’s vote is just as valid and valuable as a smart person’s vote. And as Karl Rove will tell you, there is such a huge majority of stubbornly stupid people in this country that any politician would be stupid herself NOT to pander to them as a voting bloc.

That’s why Sarah Palin is so enduring. She appeals to all those stupid people who buy into her professed idea of the “Real America” (though it’s not really her opinion, of course. She’s just whoring for the glamour and glitz of her extended 15 minutes in the spotlight, IMHO).

In the end, power in this democracy is totally based in nothing but numbers: numbers of votes, that is. Votes that can be wrenched out of people by exploiting and manipulating the one thing we ALL have, each and every one: opinions.

It’s quantity, not quality. That was the essence of the architectural plan for which Rove was given due credit, giving the Presidency to Cheney and his sock puppet twice in a row! Pretty simple, really: you don’t try to educate people, don’t befuddle their pathetic little brains with facts, truth, science, or reality. Rather, play on the one thing they definitely have going for them: their OPINIONS!

As the old saying goes, opinions are like assholes. Everyone ‘s got one and everyone thinks that everyone else’s stinks.

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