Our Dumbed Down Society

A few weeks ago, I watched in sheer amazement the so-called catastrophic damage done to a few celebrities over leaked photos. I’m still trying to figure out how and why that became a national tragedy. There’s no doubt it was embarrassing for those whose accounts were hacked, but really, to expect any kind of privacy in an online environment shows just how unplugged some folks are. Our society picks and chooses which “tragedies” deserve its undivided attention, not to mention the bulk of its tweets. If you’re struggling with that truth, consider this:

With the nude photo leak scandal, anyone who dismissed it as yet another stunt by some entitled celebrity was surely going to burn in hell and God forbid you refer to it as the nonsense it truly is (I’m still getting emails from that post about how I need my ass kicked for ridiculing these precious celebrities). Even Twitter and Reddit got into the mix and said they would ban anyone who passed any of the photos in their newsfeeds.

Meanwhile, it’s impossible to scroll through the #breakingnews hashtag without being subjected to the thousands of photos of the recent beheadings, courtesy of Isis. It’s also impossible to scroll through that same feed without being assaulted with thousands of still images, as well as the actual video, of Ray Rice knocking the hell out of his then-fiancé (they’ve married since then). In other words, those disturbing images of how these vulgar terrorists put their work on display as well as the truly tragic example of what domestic abuse looks like in this country are all fine and good as far as Twitter and many folks across other social media platforms are concerned. Just don’t piss off a Hollywood princess.

That brings us to my “dumbing down” reference.

Remember 11 years ago, when The Dixie Chicks, on tour in London, made one comment that got them kicked out of country music? The exact quote from Natalie Mains:

“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”

It exploded faster than a bull rider getting his eight seconds in. There weren’t many who weren’t upset – and rightfully so (in my opinion), but here’s the thing: I like their music more than I disliked the comment. And apparently, the trio are as adamant about their First Amendment rights as I am about my Second Amendment rights. It was probably the most difficult time in America’s history; nerves were raw and our nation as a whole was grieving fierce and hard. Anyone who knows me knows what I think of Dubya (and Ronald Reagan, but I’ll save that for another time). President Bush was the aggressive badass we needed at that time (and frankly, still do), but the Chicks never backed down. Instead, they doubled down with a powerful tune, Not Ready to Make Nice, that said it all:

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
with no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
send somebody so over the edge
that they’d write me a letter
sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
or my life will be over

See, that’s what it’s all about: speaking your peace with no apologies. Too many folks are trying too hard to please everyone. What happened to never apologizing for what you believe?

dumbed down societyWhatever scandals or tragedies are playing out, we’re killing ourselves to make it to Twitter, Facebook and anywhere else we can stir trouble – first so we can annihilate whoever it was that made such an inflammatory remark and then to hound them relentlessly to delete the tweet and offer an apology.

It’s become so disturbing that our government is actually indicting and suing itself. Governor Rick Perry is a perfect example of one who’s paying a high price for….wait for it….speaking the truth. A Texas DA is arrested for driving at three times the legal limit and it’s the governor who’s indicted? And by the way, the same ones who are crying foul because of Perry’s insensitive comments in the days following his arrest are also the very ones who are quick to say, “You drive drunk and kill someone I love? I’ll see to it you never drink another drop of anything.”

Perry’s sarcastic tweet (speaking from the perspective of the drunk D.A.) that he was pressured to delete:

“I don’t always drive drunk at 3x the legal blood alcohol limit… …but when I do, I indict Gov. Perry for calling me out about it. I am the most drunk Democrat in Texas.”

Bringing it full circle, Ricky Gervais imparted a bit of his own common sense wisdom into the nude photo leak (and was then pressured to delete it):

“Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude picks of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on your computer.”

Sounds reasonable to me. It’s common sense, right?

Maybe it’s time folks adopt a mindset of “If it’s on my mind, it’s on my tongue.”  Remember, a forced apology is never a sincere apology. Doesn’t matter if you’re Holly Fisher, or Holly Hobby Lobby as many people know her or The Dixie Chicks.

You might as well toughen up, because you can be sure the voices of a few are the very ones who are forcing schools to send kids home for wearing American flags on their tee shirts. We’ve allowed entirely too many dumbing down efforts to pass.

Here’s the video of Not Ready to Make Nice. The symbolisms that play out are remarkable. Note the use of black and white (good and evil), the x-rays of spines, the drinking of the “Kool Aid” and the physical restraints used as a symbol of the First Amendment. Oh – and be sure to read the chalkboard – the video was released a few weeks after Vice President Cheney’s accidental shooting during a hunting trip.



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