Stuck, Ch. 19. I’m a Horrible Person: The Talking Heads, “Burning Down the House”

by Akim Reinhardt

Stuck is a weekly serial appearing at 3QD every Monday through early April. The Prologue is here. The table of contents with links to previous chapters is here.

Image result for raccoon garbageBeing a horrible person is all the rage these days. This is, after all, the Age of Trump. But blaming him for it is kinda like blaming raccoons for getting into your garbage after you left the lid off your can. You had to spend a week accumulating all that waste, put it into one huge pile, and then leave it outside over night, unguarded and vulnerable. A lot of time and energy went into creating these delectable circumstances, and now raccoons just bein’ raccoons.

Likewise, we Americans have spent decades challenging the social norms that used to shame us into proper behavior, or at least discouraged us from publicly engaging in bad behavior. That, in turn, has led to our very own raccoon frenzy, so to speak. Our society now actually rewards certain types of nastiness. We live in a world that abounds with what can only be described as Professional Assholes such as Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Alex Jones, and Simon Cowell.

Yes, dispensing with some of those old social norms was actually the right thing to do. Some of them were restrictive and oppressive. Some of them were used to keep LGBT people in the closet, minorities “in line,” and women “in their place.” Reform was needed.

But we were sloppy. We needed to separate the good social norms, the helpful ones that promote stability, maintain reasonable standards, and discourage people from being assholes, from the old junk norms that repress women and minorities of all stripes. We needed to sort the garbage from the recyclables. But we tossed them all out at once. Read more »