My Old Kentucky Homesite

You Mean, America Doesn’t Got Talent?

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/26/2010

Philly Chief wrote a great post today entitled Intolerance Is Not Inherently Bad. He’s so right, and I urge you to check out what he has to say. Essentially: It’s a ridiculous idea that “intolerance,” in and of itself, regardless of circumstances, is automatically wrong.

When I began thinking about that inane accepted “truth” — that we must never, ever be intolerant of anyone, or anything, or any random train of thought — I realized that it’s predicated on another notion that’s even dumber. Many Americans have distorted the concept of equality under the law to mean equality, period. Therefore: everyone is equal to everyone else in every way. Therefore: we all share the same capability to formulate ideas. Therefore: every idea, no matter how vile or how stupid, is worthy of consideration. Q.E.D. W.T.F. L.S.M.F.T.

When, for instance, all kids win awards merely for competing in sports or taking part in a contest (because we wouldn’t want to hurt a child’s self-esteem), society promotes phony egalitarianism. When we insist that all young people “deserve” to go to college, society promotes phony egalitarianism. When we ignore nature, and claim that there’s no difference between men and women, or between the handicapped and the able-bodied, or between young and old (as a practicing geezer, I can refute that last one with some degree of authority), society promotes phony egalitarianism. Which leads to: voilà! tolerance of everything (even French).

So we find ourselves living in a society in which it’s “wrong” to criticize our most popular delusions: religion is a force for good; America is meant to be the greatest nation in the world; all children are special in their own way; “white” lies are justifiable; it’s better to be happy than too intelligent; everything works out for the best; teach the controversy; don’t be so judgmental!

The lie that all people are equal in all things, and that all ideas are equally sound, clearly does not sit well on most couches in this country. That’s why so many of us love watching “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars.” Programs like those encourage viewers to show discrimination, to rate participants as bad, good, better, best. Screw the performers’ self-esteem. Whatever gave that idiot the idea that he can sing?! (Hint: he won an award for breathing during a 4th-grade talent contest.)

So, to sum up: religion is not a force for good; America is not meant to be the greatest nation in the world, some children aren’t special in any way, lies don’t come in colors, ignorance is not bliss, things sometimes work out to suck big time, and many ideas are not worth teaching. Oh, and please use your judgment always.

I expect to be intolerant about some of the comments that follow.

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22 Responses to “You Mean, America Doesn’t Got Talent?”

  1. Ah yes, it always comes back to that damn self esteem movement, doesn’t it? It’s a fucking cancer, and why hasn’t anyone pointed out that everyone can’t be both equal AND special? It’s either/or, damn it. So stupid ideas flourish because it’s wrong to say they’re stupid while everyone grows more lazy and stupid everyday since if success is expected and given to everybody equally then what incentive is there to do anything? None. It’s a recipe for paralysis, both physical and mental.

  2. Philly:
    I hope it doesn’t hurt your feelings that we agree.

  3. Cephus said

    Unfortunately, we’ve gotten to the point where kids have far too much self-esteem, they not only feel good about themselves, they think they deserve the world handed to them on a silver platter. It’s turned from esteem to entitlement, just look at all the people who think they ought to get free stuff from the government just because they bothered to wake up in the morning.

    Everyone isn’t special. Everything isn’t worthwhile. Every word that pops out of your mouth doesn’t deserve to be praised. There are stupid, obnoxious, worthless sacks of donkey dung that really do nothing more in life than waste precious resources and there’s nothing wrong with telling that to the world. If they feel bad about it, so what? Maybe it ought to be a wake-up call to change their pointless ways and make something worthwhile of themselves.

    Nah, that’ll never happen, right?

  4. Cephus:
    I agree with what you said in the first paragraph, but I definitely do not agree that everyone needs to “make something worthwhile of themselves.” Worthwhile to whom? And toward the realization of what end?

    There’s a scary implication in a phrase like that. It’s another one of American society’s sacred cows, and I think we ought to stop milking it.

  5. the chaplain said

    I wouldn’t say that America doesn’t got talent; it just don’t got as much talent as many Americans think it’s got.

    (ARGH! Typing the previous sentence was painful! I’m itching to correct it.)

    One of my current pet peeves is the saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” People who say this often mean something like what you wrote, “everything works out for the best,” or – even worse – “everything works toward some purpose.” No, things don’t happen for reasons, the best (whatever that is) or some undefined purpose. Some things are just random. Other things are connected in chains of cause-and-effect, but causality does not imply reason or purpose.

    The self-esteem movement, which Philly decries frequently (with justification) is one part of the problem. Another part is multiculturalism/political correctness. I say this as one who learned a hell of a lot from multicultural theorists and am deeply indebted to them for the role that multicultural theory played in my de-conversion. Nevertheless, at the conclusion of four years of immersion in that school of thought, I was well aware of its weaknesses as well as its strengths. Shallow multiculturalism leads to unthinking acceptance of uncritical tolerance as a supreme (if not the supreme) virtue. A deeper multiculturalism seeks to understand other cultures before reaching hasty conclusions about them, but is committed to acknowledging their weaknesses along with their strengths.

    Both the self-esteem and multicultural movements share a crucial weakness: an unwillingness to honestly appraise people, cultures and ideas, and offer criticism and correction as needed. As long as Americans continue indulging in these vices (to use Philly’s metaphor), we will continue to lack talent, discipline and achievement. But, we’ll excel at being mediocre.

  6. Chappy:
    Agreed. It’s ridiculous for us to espouse multiculturalism when we lack any kind of culture at all — except maybe for our national love affair with guns, god, and “gimme.”

  7. Cephus said

    The argument isn’t “worthwhile to whom” it’s “making an effort to be worthwhile at all”. As you said, kids get awards just for showing up, no matter how badly they fail in the actual activity. We’ve become a society that rewards people just for being alive, no matter how pointless or useless they are as individuals. You shouldn’t get a trophy because you managed to drag yourself to the starting line of a race and then sat down and didn’t even try to run.

    Unfortunately, we have a view in America today that just waking up is enough to warrant you special treatment. There was a time when exceptionalism meant you were actually exceptional in your particular field. Today, you’re exceptional if you show up at all. It’s no wonder American kids are failing so miserably, they’re being told they don’t even need to make an effort, they automatically get praise lavished on them by mindless soccer moms who think the kids deserve to be bowed down to just because they’re breathing.

    Also, as Chappy says, multiculturalism fails because it asserts that all cultures are equally valid while ignoring the fact that, in the competition of ideas, some of them are absolute failures. Supposedly, people are coming to the United States because they want to be Americans, not ‘s in America. If they’re so enamored with the culture of the land they came from, perhaps they ought to go back there. I don’t agree that we have no culture, we’ve just had it terminally diluted with multicultural nonsense from around the world.

  8. Much of this is all bad mutations from a decent origin. The idea that every culture potentially has elements of value which we can benefit from learning is a good one, and getting to know another culture has the added benefit of removing fear and contempt one might hold for that culture due to ignorance, but that idea has mutated into every culture is equally valid and if that’s true, then no one can criticize another culture. Ridiculous.

    And just like how the self-esteem movement is self contradictory in that it simultaneously asserts everyone is equal and special, this mutated form of multiculturalism we have today can’t co-exist with American exceptionalism. This is why I consider the big issue for our country is critical thinking, because we can rant about the idiocy of the religious, of politicians and voters, of kids today, and of numerous groups until we drop from a coronary, but the underlying problem is the poor thinking skills. How many of these things can be pointed out as muddle headed by even the quickest examination? Religions are self contradictory. Political ideologies bandied about today are self-contradictory. These issues we’re discussing here are self-contradictory, yet no one sees it or if they do, have no problem with it thanks to either clever rationalizations or mental compartmentalizing.

    Agh, I’ve become the cranky old man. Get off my lawn!

  9. the chaplain said

    a society that rewards people just for being alive

    I love that quote, but I want to amend it a bit:

    We reward some people for being alive – unless they’re women who support abortion rights.

    We reward some people for being alive – unless they’re brown, black, red or another shade of not-white.

    We reward some people for being alive – unless they’re gay.

    We reward some people for being alive – unless they’re atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc.

    *********

    With regard to “bothering to wake up in the morning” – I’ve heard countless evangelical Christians open their testimonies with the words, “I thank God for waking me up this morning.” Even as a Christian, I’d hear those words and think, “Good grief! Are you really so helpless that you can’t even get up and pee in the morning without divine assistance?”

  10. Cephus:
    I agree with you, and much of what you wrote is very nicely put.

    But I’m troubled by the word “worthwhile” as if it’s an absolute. I don’t know who determines what is and what isn’t worthwhile; used in the way you did, it’s a subjective judgment. “Worthwile,” standing alone, is an objective “truth” only if one thinks that there’s a universal “worth” imposed by some all-powerful entity. You and I, and probably most of the readers here, think that’s a laughable idea.

    I’m also troubled by “pointless or useless” in describing individuals. I don’t believe that there’s a “point” to living, and I don’t think that every living thing has a specific “use.” That kind of phraseology is, unfortunately, right out of the Christian “playbook.”

    Language matters, as I’ve said on this blog many times. We have to be very careful not to resotrt to linguistic patterns set by the religionists of the world. When we use their terminology, we sanction their beliefs. So we all have to warn one another when we fall into that trap.

    Philly:
    It’s impossible to teach critical thinking at the same time you’re teaching that some things cannot be criticized.

    Here’s a tip: When you open your front door to yell at the kids, don’t step on that burning paper bag.

    Chappy:
    Many old guys do need divine assistance to pee in the morning.
    Which reminds me of a joke I heard sometime in the 1800s:
    Geezer: Doctor, I can’t pee.
    Doctor: How old did you say you are?
    Geezer: I’m 89.
    Doctor: Well … you peed enough.

  11. Everyone is entitled to their opinion!

  12. Percy:
    A wise statement, although ungrammatical.

    Yes, in this country, everyone has a right to voice opinions. And we should not only tolerate, but champion that right. However, not everyone is entitled to insist that his or her opinion be tolerated by all the other everyones. Some opinions are based on misinformation, out-and-out lies, superstition, prejudice, and/or tradition.

    For example: My opinion is that I should win the Silly Poetry Contest. In fact, I’ve urged all my readers to vote for me before the April 6th closing date. But my opinion may be based on self-bias, or a lack of taste, or the desire to be recognized as the Potentate of Preposterousness, or the delusion that there’s a valuable monetary prize involved.

  13. MacNutz said

    It is one thing to treat people with fairness and respect, it is an other thing to to pretend we are all the same and equal in every respect. It does not equate with reality.

    This post modern idea that all ideas and opinions are valid is, well, invalid.

    If I need to know something about the geophysical forces made evident buy natural disasters, such as the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, whose opinion do I seek. Do I ask the YEC street preacher on the corner or do I seek information from a geologist?

    Opinions are all equal? Bah Humbug.

  14. Mac:
    On the other hand, if you want to know the precise age of the Earth, calculated to the exact second, you should probably ask the preacher. His answer will be wrong, but at least he won’t laugh at you.

  15. Most people would be appalled if their annual review described them as “ordinary,” “average,” or “mediocre.” Yet, by definition that is the case. Bonus note: half of Americans children are below average.

  16. MacNutz said

    Nope, he won’t laugh at me but I might have to repress a snigger or two as he calculates what month and day and year of our lord the Blessed Event took place.

    Hell, I just saw a guy who believes that finding water on the moon proves Noah’s flood. The craters on the moon were made by ice that was ejected from earth during and after the flood. Where else could the water have come from???

    This is a very weird dream and I want to wake up.

  17. That begs so many questions, I don’t know where to begin. I mean, I find it much more plausible that when the cow jumped over the moon, she spilled her mint julep on it. NASA should scan for spearmint and bourbon too, and not just ice.

  18. Des:
    … half of Americans children are below average.
    That’s a mean thing to say.

    Mac:
    Hey, maybe those dinosaurs that missed Noah’s ark flew up to the moon on a wave.

    Philly:
    Obviously, NASA should also test the moon’s surface for drops of milk. And dinosaur turds.

  19. Frankly, I don’t know why the astronauts didn’t bring wine and crackers with them since everybody knows the moon is made of cheese. Amazing that the French didn’t get there first. Perhaps they needed to think there were moon snails or moon ducks with enlarged livers.

  20. Philly:
    None of that stuff goes with Moon Pies. What they needed was Blue Moon beer, although they would have been able to drink it only occasionally. Maybe some crescent rolls would have been nice too.

  21. I have Blue Moon occasionally. Yet my first thought on seeing that name is still that scene from Grease.

  22. Des:
    If you were as old as I am, your first thought on seeing that title would be of the Marcels. (Fortunately, I didn’t grow up in the South, or I’d probably be stuck remembering — augggh — this.

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