Friday, March 13, 2009
Ironically, We Don't Want the Assholes to Love Us
Coming from Penn Jillette's Pennsays Youtube channel is the tale of Penn (of Bullshit! fame) and a video sent to him by the daughter of the late, great George Carlin.
In the video, Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church crows about the death of Carlin, and boasts gleefully about the torments he's allegedly subject to in hell (where he allegedly is).
Jillette then relates the story about a scene in The One and Only in which a "little person" (otherwise known as a midget) wrestler asks "why do we always want the assholes to love us?"
Jillette describes the scene as "profound", and something that he looks back on whenever he receives hate mail as a result of his work on Bullshit!.
It's a worthy mentality, one that I personally can relate to.
Individuals like Fred Phelps are marked by an extreme inability to deal with people who disagree with them. It isn't an uncommon trait. While some people are content to label people who disagree with them as merely "stupid", Phelps is clearly an even more extreme case. To Phelps, anyone who disagrees with him is destined for hell.
Here at The Nexus and elsewhere, I get enjoy infrequent interactions with people who insist that the blog is "aptly named". On each and every one of these occasions, this stems from a matter of disagreement, and someone who cannot tolerate it.
Whether it's someone who disagrees that the mother of a dead soldier shouldn't be considered fair game for political attack, or someone who can't understand the idea that "pro-choice" advocates who won't protect the freedom of choice of people who disagree with them are clearly more in favour of abortion than choice, there is no shortage of people in the world who can't tolerate a difference in opinion and are eager to attribute all manners of moral failure to it.
There's little question that political extremism blends fairly effectively with what Phil Neisser considers "anti-disagreement thinking", and less question yet how such thinking can appeal so much to people who are so extreme in their own views that they can consider no recourse other than to label anyone who disagrees with them -- regardless of how moderate their views actually are -- as an "asshole".
Then, unshockingly enough, many of these people seem confused and irritated when they realize how few people actually care whether or not they like them.
Unshockingly, most sensible people don't want the assholes to love them. That might seem a little surprising coming from a blog entitled The Nexus of Assholery, but then again, those who don't understand this are the ones who never understood the point in the first place.
There are few valid reasons to care what hateful people like Fred Phelps or Canadian Cynic think, and fewer yet to care who they like and who they don't.