The regular promotions for NPR’s science and medicine podcast series – coyly christened Petrie Dish, as hosted by one Bonnie Petrie – has so consistently annoyed me in her dribble of promos for the podcast carried on the classical station that is my normal audio wallpaper, that I’ve never been in the least bit temped to listen to the series. In fact, I generally began to grind my teeth up on hearing her voice, reflecting as it does a chipper attitude of smug certitude peculiar to the ruling class and the media flacks of NPR who do their bidding, slavishly licking their boots and exclaiming on how they enjoy the taste. I regularly noted the careful editing-in of that enticing soundbite intended to publicize her podcast of the week. Yes, I used to work in providing regular news content (as an in-house flack for AFRTS) so I know very well how the sausage is made, stuffed, trimmed, sautéed, and presented for the audience to consume. I knew how to subtly color your announcer-voice to reflect your own attitude and opinion on the story o’the moment, and how to expertly select the soundbite to tickle the audience’s fancy. Or scare them out of their ever-loving minds.
Just about every day now that I wake up, fire up the computer and begin reading, I am left in a state of mild depression after wading through the litany of bad news, disaster, corporate and political malfeasance which features on blogs, aggregator blogs and the established news sites. Public schools appear to be open hunting grounds for pervs and freaks, places where the intellectual development of children, tweens and teens must be cut down to the lowest common denominator, so that the lazy and disinterested must not be made to feel discomforted over being lazy and disinterested. The volunteer military demoralized and all but non-functional, our major and Democrat party ruled cities all but drowning in crime while the homeless routinely crap in the streets and stagger around while high on substances which our government has allowed to pour through an unsecured border. A former president has apparently been railroaded on ginned-up charges by a nakedly partisan effort. Our shining republic on a hill, the two hundred-year-plus long grand experiment of engaged citizens actually ruling themselves looks to have degenerated into the worst of a banana republic, where the inner coterie reserves privilege and riches unto themselves and brings criminal charges against any who dare protest … oh, and all the while a tame and sycophant national media licks the boots of the ruling class, and slavishly obeys every command issued by that ruling class, orders to play up some stories, play down and/or denigrate others. Mostly because a lot of the media class are married to or are the spawn of the ruling class … funny how that all works out.
It was a post at Bookroom Room that led me to jump aboard this particular train of thought – that most of us have certain concepts embedded in us so firmly that absolutely nothing will ever get us to violate them. As Bookworm put it, “Because as I’ve contended for years, every person has one absolute truth. It’s the one thing they know to their bones is true and the world must align with that truth … For my mother, who would have been a fashionista if she’d had the money, style and beauty were her truths. She sucked up all the lies about Barack and Michelle Obama until the media talking heads said that Michelle was the most beautiful, stylish first lady ever, above and beyond even Jackie Kennedy. That ran headlong into Mom’s truth and, after that, she never again believed what the media had to say about the Obamas.”
It’s a concept worth considering – our own truths, which we will stubbornly hold on to, refusing any threats or blandishments. It varies from person to person, of course. Some have only small and irrelevant truths, which are never seriously threatened, and there are those who have no real truths at all, save perhaps self-aggrandizement – but even so, for some keeping to their truth is a hard struggle, deciding to hold to that truth against everything – especially if they have status or a living to make, in denying that truth.
In the last year that we lived in Spain, I came to the knowledge that many very supposedly-well educated people had the most surprising gaps in their general knowledge of things. This realization came sometime in 1991, I think – and since then, evidence of this has mounted into a heap the size of the Matterhorn. But this was the first time that I saw proof of this in someone that I had assumed to be somewhat well-educated. I took a neighbor and her children on an excursion downtown. (I had been assigned to the base there for more than five years, the neighbor and her family were recent arrivals – the father of the family was our newest Protestant chaplain.) I wanted to show them the fascinating and quaint old city heart of Zaragoza; the Cathedral of the Pilar, the ancient cathedral, La Seo, the central plaza with the old palace of the city hall at one end, a stretch of ancient Roman wall at the other, and the 19th century food market with its’ ranges of individual tiny stalls under the iron roof. The children were of an age to appreciate all this, enormously.
One often reads that “gun violence” is a unitary concept, as in a recent paper entitled “Trends and Disparities in Firearm Fatalities in the United States, 1990-2021“. Yet once you go beyond the headlines, you quickly realize that (perhaps aside from some gun-related accidents) there are two primary and very different categories: homicides and suicides.
According to the paper, in 2021 the homicide rate was highest among black men age 20-24 (141.8 fatalities/100,000 people) especially in urban areas, and the suicide rate was highest among white non-Hispanic men age 80-84 (45.2 fatalities/100,000 people) especially in rural areas (check out the “heat maps” in the paper). Aside from the fact that men were involved on both counts, young urban black men and old rural white men have very little in common with regard to their activities and their reasons for pulling the trigger.
Because calling members of both categories victims of “gun death” makes as much sense as saying that people who die in floods and people who die in boating accidents are both victims of “water death”, it’s pretty clear that the anti-concept of “gun violence” is meant to serve the agenda of those who want to outlaw firearms, not to provide any useful guidance on how to prevent homicides and suicides.
What are some other good examples of such anti-concepts?