Monday, May 3, 1999

Week of 05/03/1999

Outrageous Outrage
Moralists Can Only Hear Themselves Shout
- by David Matthews 2

"Where’s the outrage?"

Sound familiar? That’s the chant of the conservative moralist of late.

"Where’s the outrage?"

Every crisis. Every debate. Every opportunity a microphone is shoved in front of some conservative host, every time some conservative writes a letter to the editor, every time a conservative politician opens his mouth to speak, that question inevitably comes out.

"Where’s the outrage?"

Every tragedy that happens, you can almost expect some moralist to grab the microphone, or fire off a letter to the editor condemning society for their lack of "outrage" over the incident. Every shocking "scandalous" event that the media uses as their crusade of the day is followed by some moralist screaming at the top of his or her lungs over society’s lack of "outrage."

"Where’s the outrage?" they scream. "Where’s the outrage?"

The tragedy in the suburban outskirts of Denver, Colorado, was barely two days old when some moralist fired off a letter to the editorial staff of USA Today screaming about the lack of "outrage" over the incident.

"Where’s the outrage?"

Well I don’t know about anyone else, but I heard PLENTY of outrage over the massacre in Littleton, both real and the plastic version used by our elected officials.

The survivors, friends and relatives of the victims showed plenty of real outrage over the incident. They were in shock and in pain, and rightly so. Then came the politicians and their plastic outrage. Vice President Al Gore and his cheap imitation of a Christian Coalition revival minister booming out how "we all must change" because of this tragedy, and how he will propose such changes. Every moralist politician is using this tragedy to vent their plastic outrage and weasel in their pet programs, no matter if it’s in Colorado, Washington DC, or even in the small towns.

And yet, no doubt, you will continue to hear moralists talk about the lack of "outrage" over this incident.

Why can’t these people hear the outrage?

Let’s get brutally honest here - the moralists cannot hear the outrage because they are too busy shouting at the top of their lungs about the supposed lack of outrage. They’ve shouted so loud and so long about their own outrage that they have effectively tuned out everyone else. It’s like trying to out-shout a tower of amplifiers cranked beyond the ear-bleed level.

Or worse yet, when they DO hear the outrage, they are almost always disappointed in it. It’s not enough, they say, or they say it’s not the outrage they expected. As if they can get the public outrage their way. Welcome to Outrage King, how would you like your rage today?

I’m beginning to believe that nothing will satisfy the moralists in terms of public outrage short of having a semi-controllable mob in the streets with blood in their eyes and revenge on the mind. The kind of scene that would only satisfy the truly tyrannical. We’re talking a Rodney King-sized kind of outrage.

What’s even more amazing is that these moralists can blab on and on about this like demented parrots and still maintain some level of credibility with the general public. You would think at some point that someone would tell these people to just shut the hell up already.

Well, I have a message for all those social screaming banshees who are bemoaning about the supposed lack of outrage in society: the outrage at these tragedies IS there, so stop whining about it! Maybe if you were to sit back for a while and wait for the tragedy to play itself out before castigating society for its perceived apathy you might notice it. But look hard, because you won’t find it in the form of rabid mobs.

Yes, people are outraged by the tragedies like the kind in Littleton, Colorado, and they are asking themselves how such a thing could happen in an otherwise quiet suburban area. But for the most part they are also doing something that moralists don’t - they are going on with their lives and adapting. They aren’t standing on a soapbox and trying to micromanage society.

And maybe.. just maybe.. that IS the real solution to this mess. Instead of trying to micromanage society, we would better spend our times getting to know our children and trying to be better parents to them. It is a far more realistic solution than the phony ones being offered by the politicians and the moralists.

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