Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mad as Hell About Anything and Everything

That seems to be the unofficial motto of right-wing radio. Possibly because I have some sort of vendetta against myself, I fairly regularly scan what is getting people riled on 710 or 980. I have become quite used to hearing how upset people are about how we coddle criminals, about how no one is patriotic enough, about how they got onions on their hamburgers when they specifically asked not to, etc. But last night on my way home, and again this morning, I heard hosts taking it to the next level.

Last night on 980 the argument had turned to the drinking age. How that became the topic I have no idea. Nevertheless one host was staking out the position that the U.S. has a ridiculously low drinking age compared to the rest of the world, and that it was all caused by the federal government (naturally). He was hitting the point pretty hard when he took himself down a road he knew he needed to get off. He was talking about how kids go out and drink in unsafe situations, and that the only alternative would be to let kids drink at home.

I think a small alarm then went off in his head warning him that he had just indirectly endorsed parents allowing their kids to drink to a crowd of people who would rather enlist their children in a stoning than allow them near alcohol. So the deft and cunning orator turned on a dime and said "Of course most parents don't do that. Some moronic ones do." He said it, of course, in that indignant and blustery way that such people talk about everything that outrages them.

I think I can paraphrase his argument. I am outraged that the government would presume to set a law about the drinking age that results in kids drinking in unsafe environments. I am also outraged by "moronic" parents who challenge the laws of our government by providing a controlled environment in which kids can drink. If I am to take both arguments as his true beliefs, I must conclude that being incredulous is far more important than any rational argument.

And this morning there was more. On 710 the subject had turned to ethanol. The radio host had a guest on who was describing why ethanol production won't affect the prices of other consumer goods. It is probably worth mentioning that the guest happened to be the head of an ethanol production plant, but that is beside the point. The point is that the host managed to attack the ever-insidious they for both being concerned about our oil dependence and for worrying about the effects of consumer prices for the American people.

Granted, both of his complaints are stupid. But what is amazing is the ability to have them simultaneously and attribute them to the same vague villain. The host clearly cared for nothing other than the "gotcha" effect of two seemingly disparate concerns.

I'm outraged.

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