Friday links! Awesome power of belligerence edition

One of my many unfalsifiable theories is that over the last fifty years, American culture has become more belligerent. Obviously we are less violent than our Founders, who at the highest levels of government continued to murder one another for sport. America 2012 kills way fewer people than previous Americas. Yet one also suspects that in 1804, people did not walk around like this:


Ours is a come-at-me-bro society. We’re not starting fights, per se, but we are fully prepared to fight and wearing a shirt with skulls on it. Each of us is actually kind of a badass. Movies and most children’s books have taught us that it doesn’t matter what other people think, and that leaves us free for rad behavior. This week’s link roundup is full of rad behavior, of both the coming-at-bros and getting-mounted-and-repeatedly-struck-in-the-temple-by-bros varieties. Get ready to watch Meghan McCain use words on television after the jump.

Maybe inherited privilege isn’t such a good idea. Maybe our cold, syphilis-fearing forefathers initiated war with 18th-century Britain not so we could start a new aristocracy from scratch, but so society could operate in a way that connects authority to merit. Listening to Me-Mac demand a “small emoticon of privacy” for the Obamas, you almost forget she’s arguing that scrutinizing the President’s family is only appropriate after he’s out of office. Not all lives are determined by their relation to a person who no longer could be President, Meghan McCain. My favorite part of the clip, though, is her expression of utter loathing at the end—for what that other person is saying, for debate itself, for waking up early to get yelled at by nerds, for everything except maybe a cheese sandwich.

It’s okay to make eating jokes about Meghan McCain because her dad is a senator. Two wrongs make a right, as Newt Gingrich will tell you. He is on his third marriage, and he’s also threatening to sue South Carolina television stations that run an attack ad against him. The ad, produced by the pro-Romney SuperPAC Restore our Future—not to be confused with the pro-Gingrich SuperPAC Winning Our Future—claims that Newt Gingrich was fined $300,000 by the House Ethics Committee. In fact, Gingrich paid the Ethics Committee three hundred grand to cover the cost of investigating him. Nowhere in the sanction that investigation yielded does the committee call said ethics violation-related payment a fine. So, you know, my multimillion-dollar campaign will sue any television station that broadcasts the video produced by the anonymous people funding that other multimillion-dollar campaign. Because the public deserves a fair election.

Sometimes you have to come at them, bro. Sometimes, in your quest to expose truths you already know, you have to make the truth yourself and videotape it. That’s what young conservative and awful ambush journalist James O’Keefe did in the new Hampshire primary, where he videotaped his associates trying to vote under assumed identities and then got caught. O’Keefe—who supports a law that would require voters to provide photo ID and also coincidentally disenfranchise thousands of young/elderly/black people—says his video proves that the New Hampshire electoral system is vulnerable to fraud. The New Hampshire Attorney General says the video proves O’Keefe committed fraud, which seems true but kind of unfair, like the assertion that he violated wiretapping laws by taping a polling place. The important thing is that he is a wiener.

It’s a fact: young people are dumb. It’s because teachers are smug, which makes Shit My Students Write both exhilarating and scary. If you have taught anyone between the ages of 15 and 25, you will recognize these flavors of word salad. Like Thanksgiving dinner with someone else’s family, though, you keep finding weird stuff in there. My personal favorite is the student who argues that it “wasn’t really plagiarism, because the book said exactly what I was going to write anyway.” Now that is some proud ignorance, right there. All you can do with people like that is come at them.

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  1. I just went for a run. It’s about thirty degrees out, my iPod died around block three, and I trudged on in silent, frigid misery for another four-point-four miles. In my heavy-breathing unhappiness my mind raced, and it occurred to me, for some reason, that nothing I’ve read recently has struck me nearly as true as the theme of this post.

    Dan Brooks is 100% right here: We are without question a Come At Me, Bro society. We are very well characterized by dormant, reactionary anger and bravado with limited agency. “Try me, motherfucker…” is everywhere you look.

    Very well done, Dan Brooks. Combat! continues to impress.

  2. First and foremost, why is everyone in the comments and on the panel in the McCain video is permitting her to use the word emoticon without comment. She means modicum!

    I feel like saying we’re a Come At Me, Bro society, is something Ann Coultier would do in a book. This kind of entitling allows our confirmation bias to do it’s job without any chance of pesky contrary information. When actually analyzing a phenomenon there is always evidence you have to undermine to see what you want, but when giving some phenomenon, that may not even exist, a name, you face no obstacles. Your ideologue mates can rally behind it, and there’s really no wait to dampen their enthusiasm because saying we’re a Come At Me, Bro society means virtually nothing. It’s 1% saying something and 99% whatever you want it to say.

    Examples a liberal would appreciate:
    1. Romney’s claim Obama “apologized” around the world for America
    2. Palin’s creation of a “liberal elite media.”
    3. I had a third but the neighbors cat just banged on my front door until I came to investigate. Try to help a cat understand it’s at the wrong house. It’s just impossible.

  3. Oh, I just think it’s a reasonably apt description. I won’t let it fuck my day-to-day up, don’t worry.

    You’re right, though. Calling anything anything is ridiculous. So ridiculous I sometimes can’t get out of bed.

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