An Angry Patriot: Send in the clowns


I’m afraid of flying. I also fear crowds, most organized religions, dentists…and clowns.  Not necessarily in that order.

Of course, clowns doing crowd control, with dental drills or flying planes aren’t a concern. Only the smallest fractions of people in those groups are actually clowns…and when you come across one, he or she is generally a well meaning clown. I watched an airline pilot do magic and tell jokes in an attempt to entertain a hysterical toddler on a flight to Japan. At the time the real goal was probably to keep the rest of the passengers from binding the child to a food cart and gagging him with a pillow but the pilot meant well and was definitely clowning around.

As I said, most are well-meaning clowns and often make me laugh. They aren’t the ones to fear.

The clown to fear is the one with a microphone. They are more interested in getting a reaction – any reaction – then the truth. These are the Clowns of Darkness and they are playing their audience for the fool. They aren’t playing their audience for a yuck but for a buck. Whether the Clown believes the gag or not is irrelevant. What matters is the reaction they can spark.

There are basically two types of microphone clowns – Fundamentalists and Sophists.  They scare me equally.  They scare me not because of what they say or even what they believe – although I often find both outlandishly destructive. No – instead these clowns scare me because without having to smudge their own make-up – and nothing on the line – they are able to get someone else to throw the pie, pull the trigger or push the button. Tragically, they are found everywhere: the locker room, the office, the boardroom, the newsroom, the pulpit, in caves and in legislatures, court rooms and capitals around the world.

Some fundamentalist clowns are obvious: Osama Bin Laden, Adolf Hitler and Mao. These individuals preach the three basic forms of fundamentalism: religious, social and political.

Let’s start with the obvious.

For example, if you turn off the sound and watch one of his Osama’s videos what do you see?

Doesn’t he appear to be a live action version of Yosemite Sam – big, crazy beard, hat too big for his tiny head, flowing robes and surrounded by the Acme’s best selling explosives and giant spring boards. I fully expect him to start shooting into the air waving his arms yelling, “I’m Osama Bin Laden – the roughest, toughest he-man stuffest hombré that’s ever crossed the Helmand River. An’ I ain’t no namby-pamby!”

Unfortunately, what would have been simply a caricature ten years ago is now an international war criminal proselytizing about the virtues of a holy war that even most scholars of Islam claim would be rejected by Allah.

It would be a better world if Acme did sell crates of explosives – it always seems in the Warner Brother Cartoons like the aggressor is the one who ends up holding the stick of TNT. Instead of buying arms from Acme the shipping crates around Osama are more likely to say US Army, USSR, China and Pakistan.

I’m not minimizing the horrors these people unleashed onto the world. From my perspective, both historical and observational, these individuals adopted a “strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles”. In other words, they are fundamentalists.  For example, believing the Jews, blacks, intellectuals, Muslims, Christians, whites, rich or any other variation of “them”,” those” or “you all” is a literal, strict and basic fundamentalist perspective. It is the ultimate black or white worldview. You are either with us or against us.

Of course, it is easy to label Osama a Clown of Darkenss – he’s made himself a target by claiming to know God’s will. And as most Americans know, Pat Robertson, speaks for God.

How else would Robertson know that the reason for Katrina was God’s judgment and as a result the United States is “unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster? Could they be connected in some way?”

Here is the reality – storms happen. Things happen to Buddists, Taoists, Catholics, Lutherans, Muslims and atheists. Timothy McVey happens. The IRA happens. The Unibomber happens. The DC Sniper happens. As do car accidents, train accidents, the occasional fall down a flight of stairs and IRS audits. These things will continue to happen. They happened to both the Choosen People and the unchoosen people.

Things happen. Statistically, they happen to everyone everywhere. Tragically, it is the Fundamentalist Clown that entertains us with the idea that it happens for a reason. More importantly, it happens to “those” people because they are _____________ (you fill in the blank).

Most importantly, and I wish someone would be honest and say it (someone with more clout then me) but there have always been terrorists. No matter how many countries you invade, how many people you imprison or how many bomb you drop there will always be terrorism. We will never be 100% safe.

The British Loyalists certainly considered the Boston Tea Party and act of terrorism. My in-laws, and many others, still consider Martin Luther King, Jr. and his supporters terrorists. Every nation, every age, every civilization has had terrorist. The cold hard truth – the US will be attacked again…and again…and again. That is the reality of civilization. It is only the Clowns who pretend it is a game and keep score. It is more entertaining that way. It plays to their audience.

The other Clown is the Sophist. These clowns are the sociopaths and the narcissists. They are willing to say anything for press, prestige, promotion or profit. As a clown they play for the audience too. At least the fundamentalist clowns are consistent – the sophist clown is oblivious to their own hypocrisy because they know the audience is not actually paying attention to the details. They know their audience is more interested in the drama and commotion. Their audience is even willing to overlook complete reversals in position…even the ones caught on tape last year or last month.

The sophist uses the smoke and mirrors of creative editing, sound bite manipulation and marketing to deliberately devise an “argument that seems plausible but is actually fallacious or misleading”. They are counting on the intellectual dishonesty, fears and resentments of an audience to fuel their own advances. They are the man behind the curtain, pulling the levers and pushing the buttons. It looks magical to the Coward, the Heartless, the Brainless and the Lost but behind the curtain is a self-aggrandizing clown who would be King or at least King for a Day.

Seriously, to me Glen Beck crying on television or reading his diary to Sarah Palin seems like such an act of convenience. He reminded me of the Little Tramp crying over spilled milk.

Don’t you expect Bill O’Reiley to hit someone with a pie? Sometimes don’t you want him to?

I’m practicing the sin of oversimplification – both because I could go on and on and because most people won’t make the time to read beyond a few paragraphs – but the reasonably intelligent individual will get the point without taking it to extreme conclusions.

I know my audience.

It’s the wingnuts that will miss the point and rally around the “genius” of the Clowns. The paranoid, self-important clowns on the right will think I’m talking about them and become indignant and defensive questioning my Patriotism. The delusional clowns on the left will think I’m talking about – well – the right.

This is the fact that would make me laugh if it wasn’t so sad it makes me want to cry. Where’s a good clown when you need one? Send in the clowns.

10 Comments

  1. That was awesome! lol! And I admit, that you taught me a new word today! “Sophist”. As a woman of Greek descent, perhaps I should have known that word, pardon my confessed ignorance. I looked up the definition from Mirriam-Webster on the net.
    I don’t see things in clear black and white either. There
    are just too many shades of gray, and flavors, too. There are black diamonds, and white diamonds. Each stone should be examined carefully, noting all it’s facets, and the colors that enamate from within.
    I’m so glad that I follow you! I learn much and/or I think!
    And it’s all good. 🙂

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  2. As long as the ratings are up the clowns will continue with their acts and as soon ones commercial viability is up, another is waiting in the wings to enjoy their moment in the limelight. It has been said, “Only a fool can speak truth to the king”. A fool or clown has their place in society, they are those who are albe to state the ridicules or obvious without impunity. They act as a catalyst of thought. Even if one feel a clowns motivation, information or logic is faulty, what they throw into the either becomes fodder for debate. It moves people, who are so equipped, to thought. I agree with you, “Please send in the clowns, thank God they are already here.”

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    1. Hi Heather!

      You make an excellent point.

      However, there is an important set of differences between a Sophist Clown and the Court Jester.

      The Jester understands this role and speaks the truth – ex: Stephen Colbert or John Stewart. They know they are “playing” the fools and so does everyone else. They are not pretending to be something they are not. These Jesters use humor to highlight the truth.

      Compare this to the Sophist Clowns – they use fear and misinformation to highlight an agenda. They are not interested in the truth – they are interested in power. Even if they pull down the castle on everyone else. That is the behavior found in people with mental illnesses or the amoral.

      Lastly, there is a world of difference between an intellectual thought leader such as Bill Kristol or William Buckley, Jr and Glen Beck or Sean Hannity. The former are intellectually consistent and the latter are intellectually dishonest. Which is why the latter are Clowns of Darkness.

      Thanks for forcing me to think a little deeper.

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  3. We may not agree with the what the clowns of opposing opinions have to say or the manner in which they say it but I do appreciate the fact that their opinions and antics have have a forum in which they can display their buffoonery. I am more comfortable hearing what they have to say publicly, rather than having them skulk around in the shadows, spewing their tripe, unnoticed by the masses. Thank God for the 1st amendment.

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    1. I don’t particularly mind listening to the clowns of opposing opinion. They are sometimes right and it allows me an opportunity to examine and change my opinion. Sometimes I hold an opinion w/out all the facts or simply out of ignorance and people like David Brooks and Bill Kristol educate me.

      The 1st Amendment protects free speech but with those rights comes a moral and ethical responsibility. Just like any freedom, abuse it and it’s value is lost. I would prefer they get the attention that merits there skills – a blog on wordpress and youtube account. lol

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  4. I have read and heard an equal proportion of sophists and true intellectuals on WordPress and You Tube as I have on any other mainstream media outlet. I hope you are not attempting to cast any aspersions anyone’s intellectual competence due to the media upon which they use to express their opinions. 🙂

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