The Right to Remain Ignorant?
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I was catching up on The Daily Show last night, and once again I was reminded why Jon Stewart remains at the top of my "I would totally take your sperm if you offered" list. When I see something in the news that is just so horrifying and degrading and depressing that I think about just going off the grid completely and taking shelter in a solar-powered, composting-toilet commune in the woods (funny joke, but I actually have lived in some of those places!), Jon Stewart comes along and frames it exactly the right way to reaffirm my own sanity.
Take this week's shit show with Lowe's and The Florida Family Association. I'm sure most of us have heard something about this story at some point during the week-- how The Florida Family Association complained to TLC that their reality show, All-American Muslim, was offensive in its lack of any radical Muslim terrorists, because it "challenges, education-wise, the belief structure of millions of Americans." It literally makes your ears bleed if you think about it too long, so don't hurt yourself. These people actually have the brass balls to complain that by showing non-radical, mainstream American Muslims on TV, TLC is violating their right to remain ignorant; because they choose to believe that there are no non-radical, non-terrorist Muslims.
Then, to complete the chain of insanity, Lowe's hears the complaint, and takes it seriously enough to pull all its advertising from the show. Is it because Lowe's is a chain store of anti-muslim bigotry, or are they just spinelessly fleeing controversy? Lowe's spokespeople claim the latter, which is deliciously, karmically ironic, because they are now feeling the backlash of an even greater controversy from the rest of America who think they are huge assholes for cowing to radical racist bigotry. Oh, and due to all the publicity, the show is now bringing in more advertising dollars than ever. Thanks for the helpful douchery, Lowe's.
Still, my sense of basic shared reality-- that thing that keeps us from going completely insane due to feeling like the only human being in an incomprehensible, alien world-- is not achieved through abstract knowledge. It's achieved by watching Jon Stewart's reaction to the whole kerfuffle-- plus, the way he says FFA as "fuhh-fahh"-- that stops my ear-bleeding insanity aneurysm in its tracks. Because at the end of the day, the most powerful use of mass media is, to me, simply its power to affirm that your worldview is shared.
Check out the full clip here, or watch the 60-second summary segment below. Then send an email to The Florida Family Association to let them know that ignorance is not a protected right in the US constitution.