[ Continued from Part 2 ]
Postscript I: The Bargain
You probably never consciously think about The Bargain. And it’s written into no law I know of. But it’s there, and you sort of know it. It’s that bargain we all make with the Powers That Be.
Society around us is actually a complex web of agreements and compromises – and repercussions. For instance, part of my deal with the neighbors is that I will not start up my Harley at 2 a.m. and rev the engine. In return, they will not come out at 4 a.m. and pour a gallon of molasses on my Harley. (If I had a Harley, that is.)
This web of agreements is a big part of what keeps us from a Lord of the Flies / Mad Max situation, where every one of us is an individual survivalist with only his own interests at heart, and every neighbor is an enemy we must guard against.
But The Bargain is this other thing. It’s the deal we make not with our neighbors, but with the Powers, the Big People in our lives.
Here’s our part: We will study hard, we will work hard, we will play fair. We will obey laws, pay taxes, vote and participate with honesty and compassion. We will go peacefully about our daily lives, treating each other with kindness and respect. We will not take anything we don’t deserve. We will do our small part to make the world work.
Here’s their part: They will treat us fairly, tell us the truth, deal with us in good faith. They will help us in certain ways when we really need it. They will hold back the darkness, keeping us safe from the two-legged animals who don’t observe social bargains. They will sell us products that work, and that last, and that give good value for what we pay for them. They will allow us to prosper, to raise families and make for ourselves a place in the world.
Okay, how well are some of them keeping their side of it? Let’s see:
The Catholic Church broke the bargain when it allowed generations of children to be molested.
Cops and courts and legislators broke the bargain when they endeavored to make harmless things illegal, deadly things perfectly acceptable, and the court system itself a playground for the rich, a gauntlet of fear and difficulty for the poor.
The government broke the bargain when it began to treat us all like potential terrorists, and paid off banks after they almost destroyed the economy. It broke it when it worked to convince us our best chance of getting ahead was a lottery, rather than saving and investing.
The military broke the bargain when it sent young men and women off to die protecting corporate interests rather than our freedom and safety.
Corporate CEOs broke the bargain when they began to accept hundreds of millions in annual salary, but paid their workers minimum wage. When they decided fair competition was less lucrative than lobbying Congress for sweetheart deals.
Corporations themselves broke the bargain when they began to meddle in government, lobbying for favorable treatment at the expense of voters and citizens and the environment. Corporations and rich people further broke the bargain when they stopped paying taxes.
Product designers and marketers broke the bargain when they designed products to fail, or sold us shiny garbage, or persuaded us to eat food that makes us fat and sick.
The news media broke the bargain when it began to lie and manipulate and propagandize us, leaving us defenseless against all those others. When they lazily defaulted on digging into the hard stories, instead tossing out the easy, titillating stories, the ones that provoke outrage and fear and weepy sympathy.
If YOU break The Bargain, there are consequences. They can send you to jail, or prison. They can humiliate you in public in a way that never heals. They can kill you.
But here’s the thing: If The Bargain is broken by THEM …
Why should you continue to act as if it’s still in force?
Postscript II: Freedom of Truth
When it comes to Freedom of Speech – MY FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS!!! – we’re all over that like a chicken on a June bug. Yes, yes, yes, you have the RIGHT to speak up. To write. To protest. To tattoo the shit out of yourself, and to walk around with the ugly crack of your ass showing.
But there’s another freedom – sort of the counterpoint to freedom of speech – that never made it into the Constitution. It never occurred to the founders to include it because they were educated men, dealing with educated men. They were self-reliant, and assumed others would look out for themselves in the same way.
If I tell you a lie, that’s one thing. It’s wrong, and we know it, but it affects you and I and very few other people. That lie, assuming it doesn’t violate other legal rights and responsibilities, falls within the freedom of speech.
But if the GOP tells you a lie, or FOX News tells you a lie, or Exxon-Mobil tells you a lie, that’s something else. It affects millions, possibly billions, of people. It parasitizes and manipulates them – disrupting their very understanding of reality – in favor of that small group of people who stand to profit.
And it does it, usually, via the publicly-owned broadcast spectrum. So the government essentially stands by and allows it.
You think they should have the exact same Freedom of Speech you and I have, except amplified a billion times by publicly-owned media?
If your freedom of speech includes the right to lie to one or a dozen people, but THEIR freedom of speech includes the right to lie to and manipulate 300 million of us, does that make any sort of sense?
If you ever have any doubts about this, ask yourself: “Do I have a RIGHT to know what’s true and what’s not? Do I have a RIGHT to know what’s going on?”
Answer yourself, “You’re goddam right I do.”
“Do they have a right to lie to me? To keep me in the dark, believing lies and propaganda?”
“You’re goddam right they don’t. And I’m tired of this shit.”
Postscript III: Hillary Rodham Clinton
She should have been our next president.
She was brought down by the media, by that asshole in the FBI, by the lies of the right, by decades of the most vicious attacks. Allegedly, believably, she was brought down by Russian interference in our American election. She was also brought down by us.
She tried hard. She worked her ass off. She cared. And half of America shit on her. Most of us have no idea of the emotional toll something like this has on a person. But here:
Imagine you work for a company that has a big plum position coming open, and you have your heart set on winning that position. Imagine you spend two years working with that one goal in mind. Not just for the money, or the power, but because you know you can do the job better than anybody. You learn the things you need to learn, and you learn them better than anyone before you, ever. You do the things you need to do, and you do them fantastically well. All your performance evaluations are aces, your employer is incredibly impressed with you, all the people in your department respect and admire you, all the people in the industry are looking forward to working with you. But also, your company benefits like never before, climbing to the top of the entire industry.
You spend TWO YEARS caring and hoping and sweating to get that position, and everybody around you agrees you’re a shoo-in.
Okay, now imagine that three weeks before the final decision, your company is bought out by a billionaire. On the big day, the new owner announces his nephew, just out of business school, never held a job in his life, is taking over that position.
Take a second and think about how you felt when your dad died, your grandmother died, your dog died. The emotional impact of losing that position, or this election, is damned near the same. When you think about it, it might even be worse – because this was not some accidental death, it was something of a murder, and the killers are walking around out there smirking and laughing, high-fiving each other and smoking Cuban cigars.
When someone loses something they love, you don’t get in their face and tell them this is all their fault. You don’t get all grabby and selfish and demand they do something to make YOU feel better. You reach out to give THEM comfort.
Hillary is strong as hell. But she’s also human. You can’t care about something like this, really care, and just walk away when it gets snatched out of your hands at the last second, and in such an ugly way. She deserves something better in this moment than being shoved to the side and forgotten.
Send her a card. Write her a letter. Tell her how much you value her effort. Thank her for all her work, and for trying. She’s one of us, and she deserves at least this much.
Post Office Box 5256
New York, NY 10185-5256
Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton
120 West 45th Street, Suite 2700
New York, NY 10036
Postscript IV: Useful Links
And yes, this stuff is being used on you, against you, every damned day: