I really hate Rush Limbaugh. That’s why I try to ignore him. Right now, the Internet is abuzz with indignation over his calling a woman seeking access to contraception a “slut” and “prostitute”. Needless to say, this is insensitive and discriminatory. So if it’s okay with the rest of you, I think I’ll just file it away with the literally thousands of other insensitive, discriminatory things Rush Limbaugh has said. In fact, I generally assume that everything he says is hateful, because anyone who wasn’t consumed with hate would have killed himself out of shame minutes after uttering anything that Limbaugh has ever said. Seriously, why do people continue to pay attention to him? I stopped listening to Glenn Beck ages ago, and look where he is now. If there were justice in the world, he would be shoveling shit twelve hours a day, but you can’t have everything, and I’ve learned to live with that.
With that out of the way, my thoughts turn to Andrew Breitbart, the sentient lump of cholesterol who devoted his life to spreading deceit and intolerance (totally different from Rush Limbaugh in that Rush has a radio show.) He died this week, and I’m trying really hard to feel sorry. Wait—no, I thought that was a tear, but it turns out it was just an eyelash. As you can guess, I’m mourning this guy’s death about as hard as Christopher Hitchens mourned Jerry Falwell’s. The mainstream media seems to labor under the misconception that we have an obligation to say nice things about the departed no matter how loathsome they are, but I don’t remember anyone doing this for Osama Bin Laden. In fact, I remember a slightly different response after his passing. What is it about death that inspires people to whitewash the truth, to hide their true feelings out of some misplaced sense of compassion? Yes, it’s sad that Andrew Breitbart’s children will grow up without a father, but that is literally the only negative aspect of this news that I can think of. The man was a detestable, rancid specimen of humanity, and I honestly had to force myself not to cheer when I heard that he was dead. It is wrong to dance upon the grave of another human being, but as far as I’m concerned, the only significant takeaway here is that now the world has one less demagogue.
There are times when I miss being a kid. As a kid, one is expected to play, go to school, say please and thank you, and that’s about it. There’s a Jesuit proverb that comes to mind when I see people like Breitbart and Limbaugh: “Give me the child until he is seven, and I will show you the man.” What were demagogues like as children? Were they bullies? Bullied? Were they born hateful, or did they choose to be that way? There’s no way to answer that question for sure, but I think that we might be able to understand the issue a little more deeply if we stopped drawing a clear line between childhood and adulthood. Almost anything is excusable if it can be said to “protect the children”. Protecting children has been used to justify everything from censorship to non-smoking areas to sex offender registries. How much safer anyone’s children are as a result of those is difficult to say. But nobody is going to speak out against them because then they would be seen as anti-children, which is kind of like being anti-happiness or anti-puppies in that nobody is that hateful except for perhaps Andrew Breitbart.
I am neither anti-children nor pro-adult. I’m pro-everyone-learning-to-take-chances-and-live-life-to-the-fullest. Right-wing bigots oppose that because they believe everyone should live life according to their dictates. They protest that they’re just standing up for the oppressed the same way that Christian fundamentalists claim that there is a war on religion: because they only way they can stir up sympathy is to act as if they are fighting for their rights rather than their right to take away the rights of others. It isn’t that difficult to understand once you get the hang of it. And the way that they do that is by pretending to speak on behalf of people who can’t speak for themselves, namely, the children. How many times have we heard somebody claim that gay marriage is bad for the children? Has anyone ever tried to explain homosexuality to a child? I found out what it was when I was eight or nine, and to the great surprise of social conservatives everywhere, it didn’t make my head explode. Children don’t need anyone to speak for them. They need us to allow them to speak for themselves.
What inspired me to write this? Of all things, it was the new movie The Lorax, which is getting mixed reviews and spurring anger amongst the movie-going community that a classic of their childhood has been desecrated. To these people, I say lighten up. I loved Dr. Seuss as a child, but I am still able to recognize that churning out soulless chunks of prefabricated pap is what Hollywood does. Who cares if they had to option a beloved book to lend the project an air of legitimacy? I laughed at the Jim Carrey version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, although I would never argue that it captured the spirit of the book. I saw Horton Hears a Who and forgot it by the time I’d left the theater. Making a shallow, money-grubbing adaptation of something that you loved as a kid does not render moot all the time you spent enjoying it. Maybe if you learn to think of your childhood as an earlier period of your life instead of a different life altogether, you’ll better appreciate what turned you into the person you are. Which, hopefully, isn’t a right-wing douchebag. Really, you’d be better off just killing yourself.