Okay, shithawks. Let's get the bullshit out of the way first: PUNK ROCK tuesdays over at the Risque Cafe are gonna be happening tonight with brand new exciting specials: Not only does punk rock tuesday have the HOUR OF POWER at 9 but also tacos for only a buck and ALL DRAFTS for only 3 bucks! That's a great deal because some of the drafts are pretty fancy and boozy, so get down there and get yer drunken taco farts on. We'll play all the finest in punk rock! AND we'll have special guests Toby Jeg, Czar of Red Scare Industries and 2 time european basketball league MVP and three time champ Lenny Matela! That's right folks! We're going international/cross entertainmental...This is the single greatest moment of sports/music synergy since Shaq appeared on the Fu Shnickens album. Anyway, see youse up in there!
OOOOOOkay, so the other day we were driving, as we were on a road trip and the car in front of us had a bumper sticker on it that said something to the effect of "my son defends the freedom of your honor student." this was, as far as I could tell, an officially sanctioned US army sticker. And I think it's finally dawned on me that these 'honor student' themed stickers are pretty much summing up the entire warped discourse of our society at large. Here's what I mean:
So, kids started getting stickers from their schools for being honor students. This is presumably kind of a cool thing as it "rewards" scholastic excellence and creates an easily tangible way for parents to show their kids that they're proud of them. Nothing wrong with any of that, except that the stickers are kind of lame and when your kid gives you one, or more likely, when it comes in the mail, they (the kid) probably don't REALLY want you to put it on your car and you probably don't really want it on there either, BUT not putting it on there sends a dangerously unsupportive message and after a great deal of anxiety by both parent and kid, the dumb sticker is put on the car to the satisfaction of no one (exceptions being, of course those families from sitcoms where the dad is an immigrant or a kindly old janitor and the mom is dead and no one in the family ever graduated 8th grade until now and they all hug about the sticker beneath the coal burning stove that they use to keep their one room hovel warm in the brutal winters...but you know, that's rare).
On the other side of the coin, we have all the folks who's kids didn't make the honor roll. This is obviously the majority, as singling out excellence naturally produces an elite minority. However, in this case, the sticker's braggadocio creates a feeling of resentment in the unwashed hordes, who presumably don't want it shoved in their faces that they aren't making any honor rolls and the much more populist, vastly more stupid and entirely dangerous-in-its-rhetoric "my kid beat up your honor student" sticker gets rolled out, slapped on cars, and hey, the battle's on. It's Sean Hannity vs. Barack Obama right there on the back of your cars. On one side, the intellectual dick thumper professing superiority and on the other side, the gleeful rebellion of the dangerously dumb, chuckling about their clever little way that they've subverted the ethereal notion of intelligence by using the practical, visceral rhetoric of the real, tangible world (beating the crap out of someone).
THEN, someone like me comes along and says 'uh, really? We're sending the message to kids that beating up people for being smart is something to celebrate and brag about? That's a little fucked up, innit?" and the response is "um, don't be such a pussy. It's a joke, kay?" And that's a perfectly valid response, because it IS a joke, but it still comes from a place of anger and resentment and that doesn't make it a "ha ha joke" as much as it makes it one of those jokes where you go up on the roof of your frat, tie one end of a string to a guy's dick, the other end to a cinder block and throw the cinderblock off the roof. Of course, the string is long enough that the cinder block hits the ground with no extra strain on the wiener of note, but the poor dude is scared shitless. Once he stops crying, the jokesters say something like "hey, don't be such a pussy. You're fine. Let's get a beer" and they laugh it off.
Now, this and the bumper sticker are both jokes, but neither of them are really funny. Well, the sticker is just dumb and very mongoloid in its delivery, while the frat hazing prank is downright sadistic but actually a little bit funny too, but you get the idea. There's a pointed cruelty that's more than just saying asians can't drive or Kathy Griffin looks like someone put drag makeup on a ham...there's a violence implied and that's dangerous here in our country where violence and stupidity are all out of control.
(Editorial note [within an entirely editorial piece]):
Now, I'm not suggesting our stupidity epidemic is worse than other places. In fact, nothing enrages me more than when people suggest that Americans are somehow more stupid than anyone else. Now, don't get me wrong, we've got some real mongos up in this piece, but for everyone in the states that thinks that invading Iraq was an appropriate response to 9-11, that the rapture is actually well on its way and that having public option healthcare is the first step to socialism, there's some dude in Ghana who thinks the goat in his yard is actually his grandfather, and a Saudi who thinks that blowing up in a fireball is gonna get him laid by a virgin. So what's the scale here? Western nations? Well, that's pretty xenophobic (and yes, I understand that there's a different between traditional ideas of spirituality and intelligence, but in the face of what's going on in the world these days, a lack of healthy skepticism about absolutely everything = dumb dumb, no matter what your story is. Sorry)? Well, I've met people in England who think that Michael Moore is the only smart American. How's that for a dumb statement? That's "Grandfather in the goat" dumb if you ask me. You get the point. There's a lot of dummies here in America, but guess what? They're everywhere else too. (end editorial note)
Anyhow, once it gets going, this kind of back and forth is hard to stop, obviously. But this army sticker: "my son defends the freedom of your honor student" seems particularly bizarre to me. It's completely tangential for one thing. It's got a real "hey, look at me over here doing stuff too!" kind of vibe to it, but that's not the main thing. The main thing is that implicit in this simple statement is the idea that somehow the people who are raising or performing as honor students don't understand or appreciate freedom. It may as well say "hey you smarty pants asshole! If it wasn't for my 'dumb' son dying out there in the desert, you wouldn't have your precious honor roll" which to me seems quite contradictory to the whole idea of keeping america great and all that. I mean, don't you WANT the people that your son is defending to strive, to succeed and to be the absolute best they can be so he's NOT just out there in the desert dying for a bunch of buzzards who are huffing paint out behind the Tastee Freez? Doesn't that make more sense than creating an "us vs you" in which 'you' are the intelligent and 'we' are the righteous. Can't we all strive to be intelligent and righteous at the same time?
Now, I know that the argument against this is that this sticker isn't nearly this well thought out and it's just a way for parents of troops to support their kids in a similar way to parents of honor students. BUT the equivalent sticker, were it that simple would say "Proud parent of a serviceman in the US army" or "my son is a decorated corporal in Iraq" or something like that. There's no reason to drag the nerdy honor students into this whole deal. They didn't do anything to you, besides maximize an opportunity and reap the benefits. AND lest you think that the entire thing is purely classist/racist and all that, I'd posit that anyone can make the honor roll with a little dedication. That's something that happens entirely within the unique institution that you attend. It's not like going to Harvard, where if you come from a dumpy and run down high school, you're at a serious disadvantage. The honor roll is a construct that exists within your dumpy run down school, so if you don't make it, you really can only blame yourself.
That is, if you even care about that kind of thing, which you really don't have to. Most folks don't. Or they say they don't. I mean, the stickers, the honor-student-opposition stickers seem to tell a different story, don't they? Because you don't see anyone making stickers that say things like "My kid beats up your kid who just happens to be the winner of the Harrison fellowship for visual art" or "my son defends your son's right to run the projector in the AV club" or even "my son can beat up your football player."
Nerdiness will be tolerated. Mongoloids will be tolerated. Fruity artistic pursuits will be tolerated. The only thing that really seems to make the hordes angry is the idea of someone applying themselves, succeeding and taking pride in their success. And if America is in fact doomed (spoiler alert: we are) that's why. It's not the mexicans or the married gays. It's the idea that we'd rather watch someone beat up a success than be a success.
See you at hooters.