America Prefers Molehills to Mountains

As I watch the feeding frenzy over Lance Armstrong’s lies about doping and Manti Te’o and his mythical girlfriend, I can’t help but wonder how things would change if we reserved our outrage for things that really matter, that actually affect the country in profound ways.

Yeah, Lance Armstrong is a lying asshole. And the fact that he tried to destroy anyone who told the truth about him is appalling. And I hope he pays for it in a major way, losing that huge fortune he built up through those lies. But our government does the same thing to people who tell the truth about the illegal actions they take and the results are far more damaging for all of us. And almost no one cares.

I wish we had similar outrage at the use of torture by our own government; at warrantless wiretaps; at drone killings of innocent people and the Obama administration’s refusal even to tell us under what legal authority they order them; at the use of the State Secrets Privilege to deny the victims of torture and rendition and illegal surveillance even the chance of getting justice in the courts; at the wholesale buying and selling of elected officials, including judges in most states; at the millions of people our government has murdered in unjust and unjustified wars.

But no, we save our outrage for sports heroes that turn out to be jerks. And entertainment. We care more about who knocked up Kim Kardashian and who is going to win the next season of Dancing With The Stars Washed up Has Beens Desperately Clinging to the Last Vestiges of Fame. Panem et circenses — bread and circuses — that is all that matters.

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