A Handful Of Concepts We’d Be Better Off Without

Damn Right

We citizens of these United States like to think of ourselves as free-thinkers. Or we did, once. Nowadays, individuality is readily boiled down to whether one prefers to eat at Burger King or Taco Bell, and most of us look askance at the poor fool who prefers homemade fritters. That’s a roundabout way of saying that a great many of my fellow countrymen have adopted prepackaged thinking as the norm. Rather than critical analysis of factual context, most of us prefer to simply pick an established set of realities, mix and match a bit, and pretend we have our own thoughts on the subject at hand. This can be amusing when considering diet, clothing, or soft drink purchases. However, when it is applied to social consciousness, world-view, or political decisions, it has the potential for utter disaster.

The problem is that many concepts and ruminations floating about our societal consciousness have the effect of mental morphine. They soothe, induce happiness and certainty where there was very little before, but don’t really address the actual core of the problem at hand. Some of the notions we cling to, even in the form of questions, are little more than elevated rhetoric at best and outright fantasy at worst. And yet we perpetuate them by repeating them, one to another, easing over the turmoil that would be created by actually having to THINK about the universe around us in a productive and constructive manner.

Collected in this article, in no particular order, are a series of such knee-jerk reactionary concepts that I find particularly offensive to the human intellect at best, and outright dangerous at worst. I submit that they should be purged from the collective American (and indeed, the human) mind.

“YOUR OPINION”

USED FOR: Damn near any instance where there’s a disagreement. Somewhere along the way, perhaps in the educational system, many people had the notion of differing opinions ALL being correct fostered on them without bothering to point out that the term “opinion” actually has a remarkably narrow definition. The result is that we’re now infected with a rising class of individuals willing to dismiss any argument, lesson, or advice put to them that they don’t like on the basis that it’s “your opinion”.

THE CONFUSION: Problem is that “opinion” essentially covers topics of preference that can’t be settled by argumentative dialogue. And that’s IT. It doesn’t cover constructed arguments that have a basis in actual reality. For example: If I say “I think George W. Bush is an asshole and I don’t like him,” THAT’S an opinion. Assholishness is not a measurable quality (or even a real word), and really only refers to what I find pleasurable exposing myself to. Someone else might find W. as pleasing as summertime lemonade, and ne’er the ‘twain shall conflict, because that’s two separate opinions. HOWEVER, if I say George W. Bush’s policies have led the country to ruin, that’s NOT an opinion. That’s an ARGUMENT. If I know what I’m doing, I’ll have a series of observations and data I can use to back up that argument. And if someone disagrees with me, they can propose a counter-argument, with their own observations and data. Bear in mind, none of this means that an ultimate conclusion is going to be reached between the two of us. But that doesn’t mean you have two OPINIONS that are mutually exclusive. Simply two arguments which may or may not have any bearing on the reality of the situation, depending on the intelligence of the arguing parties. In other words, there are economic, social, and political FACTS I can employ in my hypothetical assertation that Bush is a shitty president. No such convenient pillars exist to support the statement ‘Bush is an asshole’, no matter how many people may agree with me.

DANGEROUS BECAUSE: As mentioned before, it’s become a catchall for dismissing anything people just don’t want to hear, without the need to propose and construct a counter-argument. Parent says to child: “You need a college degree or you’ll never make any money.” That’s an ARGUMENT, and a pretty good one based on the current structure of society. It has basis in statistics, prediction of future trends, and likely the experience of the parent themselves. Smartass kid responds with “Well, that’s YOUR OPINION,” and proceeds into their 20s as an armchair rebel with a job at their local strip mall. Had they bothered to actually attempt to argue to the point rationally and with facts, they might discover that nearly 50% of all Fortune 500 CEOs don’t have a college education, and THEN been curious enough to read up on how they did it so they’d have some direction in life that didn’t involve being too lazy to even buck for a manager’s position at Hot Topic. On the more extreme end of things, the “your opinion” fallacy can be (and has been) used to disagree with the very physical nature of reality. “I don’t think I’d like to swim in the ocean today,” is an opinion. “Hey, you’re caught in a riptide, swim parallel to shore because you can’t fight the sea, you dumb bastard,” is NOT. See, sometimes the difference can be subtle, but very, VERY important.

See?

“IS AMERICA READY?”

USED FOR: Quite a bit, especially this election cycle. Basically it’s become the pseudo-philosophical rumination for the cable news talking heads to endlessly smack back and forth in the never-ending racquetball match o’ bullshit that passes for political coverage these days. “Is America ready for a female President?” “Is America ready for a black President?” “Is America ready for Change (TM)?” And so on and so forth it goes until I’m ready to pluck Tim Russert’s eyes out with a dull paring knife.

THE CONFUSION: I don’t know, America. ARE you ready? Do you feel ready? I don’t know if I’m ready. I gotta check. At the end of the day, this is a question that has no answer because it doesn’t make any goddamn sense. WHAT American, I ask you, has been preparing his or her entire life just to be ready for some arbitrary aspect of their commander-in-chief? Look, if some jackass wasn’t gonna be in favor of a black President LAST election, he’s sure as shit not going to be “ready” this time around. This, like SO many other talking points on the news, is just another way to waste my time and give Chris Matthews something to yell at retards about.

I Can\'t Believe I Found This

DANGEROUS BECAUSE: It’s the most commonly used “look at the monkey” technique to distract from, oh I don’t know… ISSUES OF ACTUAL GODDAMN RELEVANCE, maybe? Here’s a hint, both to major media and the people who actually take them at face value: What America is “ready” for is a President that doesn’t fucking suck. Find me THAT President, and I don’t care what color/gender/sexual orientation he/she/it is. Promise.

“ISSUES”

USED FOR: Explaining any behavior that causes conflict, at this point. Boss upset because they caught you photocopying you ass on company time? They’ve got “control issues”. Spouse complaining because they caught you in the sack with the underage office intern? “Jealousy issues.” Cops tasered you because you led them on a high-speed chase through a crowded open air market in a stolen Blazer? “Rage issues,” clearly.

THE CONFUSION: See, some people really DO have “issues”. And by that I mean legitimate psychiatric problems that need addressing before they’re released into the populace at large. Whether it’s three talk sessions per week or a heavy dose of zoloft in the cards, or both, I’m all for any concerted effort to get these people the help they need. Some of them have a lot to offer. Assuming, you know, that they can get over the crazy. The problem is that, much like “your opinion”, this has become a catch-all for dismissing those individuals who are expressing normal and healthy emotions while at the same time telling you that you’re acting like a dipshit. It’s much easier to take someones negative reaction to you if you assume they’re crazy, because then you can effectively ignore them while you continue doing wrong whatever it was you were doing.

Something For Your \

DANGEROUS BECAUSE: At what point does this application of psychological assessment spread to every waking aspect of our lives? At what point does simply having the balls to voice a contrary opinion mark you as someone with “issues”, to be given treatment whether you need it or not? At what point does some government somewhere decide that a large percentage of it’s discontent population has “issues”, and need to be “helped”? Call it dystopian paranoia if you like. Then ask the victims of forced sterilization if mass acceptance of half-cocked eugenic science had an impact on THEIR lives. It starts from the bottom up. Learn to deal with each other, and quit trying to play psychiatrist when you’re not. Not everyone has “issues” just because you’re shouting with them.

“EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON”

USED FOR: The mother of all apathetic stupidity, this phrase is the talisman of either giving up or numbing the pain. It has become the pseudo-spiritual balm on the injuries of life, providing a convenient excuse for cowards to call it quits at the first sign of a struggle. Or, as is more common, blinding people into dull-witted acceptance after a setback in life and thereby preventing them from actually learning anything. This is a phrase so seductive in it’s simple-minded delirium that even the VEHEMENTLY non-religious among us will fall victims to its charm. Many are those I’ve seen who profess no belief in a higher power choosing to LIVE by this phrase, without bothering to consider just who or what is supposed to be providing that mythical “reason” for the shitstorm in question that just happened.

THE CONFUSION: In this instance, it’s not so much confusion as delusion. Whenever disaster befalls people, they seek explanations, often to the point of deviating from reason. It’s apparently become impossible to accept that bad things can still happen to good people, and that things we didn’t see coming (whether we ever could have or not) can still affect us. No no, the universe must have a PLAN. There HAS to be a reason, doesn’t there? No, jackass, there doesn’t. The universe doesn’t owe you shit, not even an explanation. You’re just not that important. None of us are. Yet the narcissistic mind toils on, long after the fact, searching for the justification for our calamity. And eventually, it shows up. Because ANY event, even ones that are profoundly negative for us, likely sets into motion a series of results. Random happenings being morally neutral, some of those results will inevitably be positive. And lo! The mind has found IT’S REASON. THAT’S why that bad thing happened, obviously! So this good thing could follow! And we’re all smiles again.

DANGEROUS BECAUSE: Bullshit is always dangerous on some level. And this is a HIGH OCTANE grade of bullshit. That good thing that followed our disaster wasn’t a REASON, it was a RESULT. You know how I know this? BECAUSE IT FUCKING HAPPENED AFTER THE FACT, YOU IDIOTS. Cause, THEN effect. You know, like in the real world? And believing otherwise just to make yourself feel better is an opiate that leaves you even more ill-prepared to deal with the NEXT unexpected crotch-shot life delivers. Bowing your head to the random nature of the universe and muttering how “everything happens for a reason” absolves you of any mistake you may have made bringing your misfortune about, INSURING that you’ll make it again. Or, in a best case scenario, excuses you from having to recover and get yourself back on the path you were going. Because, if the universe has a reason for your setback, obviously you don’t need to get up and try again, do you? Oh fuck all that, it’s much easier to give up. This phrase, folks, is apathy and fatalism condensed into an easy-to-swallow pill and coated in sickly sweet balderdash. It encapsulates the kind of sheepish timidity in the face of life’s adversity that’s become the downfall of Western society, and every time I hear someone say it, I want to light a fire under their ass. And when I say that, what I mean is that I want to take a thermite grenade and set it off in their rectum. Because they’re meandering through existence using up oxygen that could be given to someone who actually gives a damn.

A Thermite Grenade

Fired up, but out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

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4 Comments

  1. Well, that’s just your opinion

  2. Well, Rev, it just so happens that there is a reason for everything. Of course, the reason you get run down by a bus is you were playing in the street STUPID! You see a lot of people have trouble realizing the obvious. However, if that bus falls on you while in the outhouse in the backyard, you have probably seriously irritated someone, somewhere, and they might be BIG! Everything does happen for a reason, though the reason be hidden from view. Besides, when you used the word reason, do you mean a conscious reasoning delivering obstacles in ones life just to see if you can think on your feet, or does reason mean there was in fact a causitive factor resulting in something other than sunshine and roses?

  3. Should you suddenly find your self surrounded by 600 ninjas in yellow rain coats, what non reason would you assign to that?

  4. Well let’s address these one at a time. Firstly, the ‘everything happens for a reason’ phrase I’M waging war on is the hippie-esque pseudo-spiritual mantra that people use to soothe their pain after something bad happens to them. As I noted, this is a notion which at best makes them feel better about being the victims of the universe’s random nature. And by “random” I mean understanding that the cause-reason of the bad things that happen to you aren’t always factors that are in your control. People then respond to this by chanting this idiotic hex and later deducing that whatever good thing happened as a result of this randomness was the “reason” for its happening. This is the height of egotism, and an affront not only to simple logic but also to the more introspective forms of spirituality, if that happens to be your worldview. “Where were you when I created the universe” was basically an ancient spiritualist writer’s way of saying ‘Even God doesn’t owe you an explanation, you’re not that damned important. Learn to roll with it.’ By not recognizing this, people are forced to completely reverse the cause-effect nature of reality in order to make themselves feel more important. Bottom line is that sometimes the universe takes a giant shit on you for reasons that have NOTHING to do with you, you get left holding the ticket for a bill you didn’t run up yourself, and attempting to wash your hands of fixing the problem by assuming the “reason” will be revealed later doesn’t do you any favors.

    As to the hypothetical bus-on-the-outhouse scenario, I would only assume the poor bastard suffering such a fate was the victim of a cargo plane with a poorly secured rear door. I’ll avoid making the obvious ‘shit happens’ joke, here. But I can’t subscribe to the notion that whatever that person was doing in their life was so egregiously horrific that some overarching cosmic force felt it appropriate to throw a bus at them, especially when murderers and rapists walk the streets freely every day. If cosmic justice of that nature exists, why would it not be universal? Buses would be falling over the place.

    As to the ninjas, I would look for the nearest greased doorway. That’s usually how they get in.


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