Do these people actually believe what they write?

Post of indignant outrage. According to talking head Ben Shapiro, Sesame Street is being used to teach ethnic groups civil disobedience. First off, it is hard to ignore the racist overtone of such a remark. I suppose those ethnics should know their place and accept what their masters give them, right?

But the shear idiocy of such a statement does raise the question, do people who say these kinds of things actually believe them?

The “marketplace of ideas” is pretty heavily saturated. Anyone can start a blog as I have learnt in the last 24 hours and you can tweet yourself silly, but the big money is getting yourself on the radio, TV and the New York Times bestsellers list. This why you have to stand out from the crowd.

My overall impression of political discourse these days is being able to plug your book in the few minute time slot allowed for between advert breaks on cable and morning news programs. Well thought out and analytical opinions be damned, we have to cut to a sponsor’s break.

The strategy of many political writers these days can be summarised as:

  1. Say something outrages.
  2. Get invited on a “news” show to repeat your outrageous opinion.
  3. Promote the book you make this claim in.
  4. ….
  5. Profit!!

Think about Ann Coulter for a second, although it is probably better for your health not to think about her too much. Would anyone care what she had to say if she was writing books with careful analysis and well researched facts? Of course not, but a woman who says that women shouldn’t have the right to vote, lets book her.

The question really is do we actually want any better? All this partisan rancour and cultural warrioring must rate is sufficient well in order for it to keep getting put out there. These sort of red meat political topics get people talking, people enjoy either being outraged or, even more remarkably, agree with these sort of fringe theories.

For the networks it is win-win, it is low-cost programming that people want to watch. The journalist and the talking head now have a symbiotic relationship where one relies on the other for survival. The talking head needs the journalist for obvious reasons, but the journalist needs the talking head otherwise he will need to go out a do some real reporting during that break between laxative ads and infomercials and that cost money.

At the end of the day being pissed off at the clown is not going to help, he has risen his profile through this commentary whether he actually believes it or not. However for every comment like this the public becomes more jaded and will switch off if someone doesn’t raise the bar. The question remains however, who is it going to be and what will they say?

About Pi

Normally known as π on RationalWiki. A mathematics PhD student with an unhealthy interest in politics and religion.
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