Unhinged

A Flickr photo-array: the Teabaggers’ greatest hits.

A stunning array of 9/12 photos. More than 100 of them.  The hatred is palpable.   If ignorance were energy, we could shut down all the coal-fired power plants.

I hope the organizers are proud of themselves.

(h/t Wonkette)
zoo

lion

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

21 thoughts on “Unhinged”

  1. I saw the first one elsewhere and still don't really know the answer. Based on her racist views and the picture of the gorilla, I'm guessing it has something to do with calling the first black president an ape?

  2. How many protests have you seen with were filled with signs praising a media outlet? On Saturday there were several saying "God Bless Fox News" (or the equivalent). That should tell you something about the dynamic behind the 9/12 event. While liberals (like me) have tons of problems with the press, with slant and thoroughness, the major networks and newspapers aren't peddling outright falsehoods. On the other hand, the protesters on Saturday were, as the signs indicated, dismissing almost all media except for one source: the Murdoch empire of Fox News, WSJ, New York Post, and (before it was sold) Weekly Standard. One source! (I don't think there was a sign praising Limbaugh out there. I've viewed many of the pics on various websites.)

    Talk about living in the Fox Bubble. I don't know what the appropriate parallel is, but when you have a "political" movement with a significant fraction praising the messenger, is it really political? Or is it a hypnotic capture of the crowd by a masterful propagandist?

  3. I need help understanding something. The stock prices of Cigna and other big private health insurers jumped after the Obama speech, and Big Pharma is supporting him on this bill. But the WSJ and Fox seem to be doing their best to torpedo the plan. Are there divisions within corporate culture? I have not seen much comment on this and I would welcome information if anyone can shed light on this phenomenon.

  4. I need help understanding something. The stock prices of Cigna and other big private health insurers jumped after the Obama speech, and Big Pharma is supporting him on this bill. But the WSJ and Fox seem to be doing their best to torpedo the plan. Are there divisions within corporate culture? I have not seen much comment on this and I would welcome information if anyone can shed light on this phenomenon.

    I bet Rupert Murdoch, billionaire tyrant, his share-holders and high-level journalists are interested in (1) their dividents and stock prices which they imagine are helped by peddling to these thugs and (2) validating their world-view (I would be surprised if all share-holders and workers joined News Corp. for ideological reasons). Let Cigna worry about its own shares. Not everything is class loyalty.

  5. Ed,

    The stock prices could have jumped because (1) the speech was indicative of caving to them or (2) there wasn't enough of a bump after the speech to worry them. Meanwhile, Faux News and the rest of the right always oppose healthcare reform, unless and until it's been perverted into the same 'reform' as the Medicare Part D bill.

    Every time that Obama concedes something to the right, they figure that they can push for more.

  6. Behind the debate over the size of the march lies the question whether the marchers were normal, 'normal' implying both politically benign & politically representative. More than any idea about policy, the message from the podium & crowd was that they represent the real Americans, the (self-stipulatively) Good people. They deem themselves to be properly the majority of the nation, & indeed, genuinely seem to have trouble imagining that they might not be. This is a highly ideological error.

    I'm happy to grant that most of the marchers didn't sport delusional or depraved messages. (But they also didn't show any hint of disapprobation toward the ones who did, as I suspect they would've toward someone w/ a pro-Obama sign, much less one endorsing, say, the actual Che Guevara. They mostly seemed to regard the hard cases as on the right side, just more so.) Most of them at least looked normal (albeit not esp. representative of the new normal). I have no reason to think the prevalence of mental disorder is higher among them than the country as a whole; their real problem, the one of display anyway, wasn’t so much psychological or intellectual as political & moral. Sometimes normal people get things badly wrong & act really badly. The fact that they aren't obviously odd doesn’t make their political theories worthy of deference, doesn’t make them a majority, & certainly doesn’t entitle them to get their way.

  7. I'm puzzled by the assumption that these roughly 100 signs, at a protest of tens of thousands of people, are necessarily a representative sample. Not that they're all even remotely objectionable.

    In particular, the "from all 57 states" sign is merely funny, not outrageous. Sorry, folks, you don't, as a Presidential candidate, get the number of states wrong, and ever have people stop poking fun at you over it.

  8. Thanks to Moral Panicker and to Barry. I suppose that Murdoch’s self-interest is served by telling the fearful to be very afraid.

    Has anyone seen any interviews with any of these people carrying signs that equate Obama with Hitler and Stalin? Someone has to have come up to them and asked, “If Obama really is what you say he is, why aren’t you in a concentration camp or gulag? Where is the Gestapo or the NKVD? How long do you think people lasted in those societies if they so much as criticized the dictators?”

    These people are more colossally ignorant of history than the most stoned hippies at the Pentagon were in 1967. No one in the mass media has done such an interview, but I figure there has to be a YouTube clip somewhere with that question being posed. Has anyone seen one? Can someone make one at the next big teabag gathering?

  9. "I need help understanding something. The stock prices of Cigna and other big private health insurers jumped after the Obama speech, and Big Pharma is supporting him on this bill. But the WSJ and Fox seem to be doing their best to torpedo the plan. Are there divisions within corporate culture? I have not seen much comment on this and I would welcome information if anyone can shed light on this phenomenon."

    Right now:

    1) the best case scenario for the insurance industry is that a "reform" plan with a mandate but without a public option or meaningful regulation passes;

    2) the next best case is maintenance of the status quo; and

    3) the worst case is passing reform with a public option or with strict regulation.

    Health insurance stock prices have gone up as the chances of the "worst" case scenario have gone down. While the "best" case is preferred by insurance companies, the worst case scares the bejeebus out of them, and they're more than willing to reduce the chances of scenario 1 if that means reducing the chances of scenario 3) as well. So, the insurance companies lobby for scenario 1 while FOX and associated businesses lobby for scenario 2. The insurance companies can't very well lobby for both 1 and 2 on their own without hurting their credibility, so they take on the burden of lobbying for 1 while their allies in the Murdoch empire lobby for 2 as insurance against 3.

  10. Brett,

    I understand what you're saying about how 100 signs might not be representative of the whole group of protesters. But I don't believe you're thinking about this in the right way. The people holding the signs seemed to be completely comfortable and within their own element. There are no indications from any source that would you lead you to believe that any of the other protesters not holding signs found the signs objectionable. Instead, they were accepted. I would like to believe (and feel in my heart that I am right on this one) that most Americans would find most of these signs disgusting.

  11. Brett,

    For an array of 200 items (not roughly 100) to be stunning, it isn't necessary for every single item in it to be stunning, or even objectionable. I don't think Kleiman said all, or even half, of the photos were of signs, still less of objectionable ones. He characterized the array's overall effect. Along w/ hatefulness, he mentioned ignorance, which is a different defect. Some of the protesters displayed ignorance or hatred in their persons (or through image- or message-bearing clothes), not w/ signs. Some of the photos are sad, maybe even stunningly so, w/o, taken alone, capturing anything objectionable. Sometimes an idiot's just an idiot.

    The 200 images are from one photostream. You may know that others are posted elsewhere. (It's in the nature of even modest marches that no one photographer is likely to get images of more than a fraction of the crowd.) I was there (w/o a camera, sorry), & saw lots of messages. It's true, many or most weren't offensive in any moderately conservative sense of the word. Some were only ridiculous, some really were delusional, most were just bumptiously populist, conservative or libertarian. But my subjective sense was that a lot of offensive stuff was being sported, & nothing I've seen since Sat. changes my mind.

    I dunno at what point offensive things start or stop being numerically noteworthy, & don't know any good way to guess what the total number was, but I wouldn't be completely shocked if as many as 1 in 100 protesters were brandishing something offensive. Using the DCFC estimate, that works out to 600-700 offensive items, which is enough. (Using FreedomWorks’ reduced-but-still-wildly-inflationary estimate, 1 in 100 gets you to 6,000-8,000 offensive items, but I can’t imagine that’s even close.) If you think 1 in 100 is too high, pick your own guess & do the arithmetic; but remember, the known photos impose a lower bound. Guessing's a mug's game but maybe unavoidable if somebody wants to make an issue of it.

    It'd be wrong to blame anyone for what any other tea-person does. Even modest protests attract cranks whose views are more extreme than their co-thinkers', & there was evidence Sat. of some modest measure of ideological diversity among the crowd. All this is true. But it's not impossible to draw inferences about the event as a whole. To begin with, both the organizers & such regular-Joe marchers as spoke to the media claimed they spoke for a broader movement or population, & we know something about that movement & those people. We know from other sources that the false factual claims (e.g., about the President's birth, religion, fundamental political beliefs, etc.) that underlay the most offensive signs are actually fairly common among this broader population. We know that the extreme dislike for the President & other the political leaders (all Democrats, of course) singled out by name in the most offensive signs is not an entirely fringe phenomenon among this population. Beyond all that, it's possible to characterize what actually happened in the event. FWIW, people who were there have described our sense of the atmosphere.

    In characterizing the event, it's possible to take things like the prevalence of offensive signs into account w/o holding anyone guilty by association. One thing I concluded is that the people bearing the offensive signs weren’t at odds w/ the general spirit. I alluded to having noted the way non-sign-bearers interacted w/ them. It's easy to misinterpret social cues in such situations, but it seemed to me that the protesters who made a point of being offensive were the objects of a fair bit of favorable attention & no unfavorable attention from the others. None, anyway, that I saw. Quite a few – I'd say many – people went up to them, initiated conversation, laughed at their jokes, expressed pleasure at their panache, gestured approvingly, etc. In short, the other tea-people didn’t respond to them as if to ideological opponents or embarrassing crazy uncles. Notice I'm not saying everyone argeed w/ them, but many plainly did, & nobody I saw in this very expressive group felt moved to express the faintest disagreement. Given everything we know about the kind of politics the marchers claimed to represent, should this really surprise anyone?

  12. I don't get it… this is a joke right?

    These people seem to have picked up the 'protest the president/government' ideology of the last 8 years, and have decided to protest cheaper health care for all?

  13. "I would like to believe (and feel in my heart that I am right on this one) that most Americans would find most of these signs disgusting."

    I wouldn't count on that. Half those signs are repugnant to you folks because you've got the same voices talking in your heads as Dowd.

  14. Just a note–SP, it's a lion, not any kind of ape. (It's actually a decent play on words, evaluated solely as a pun.)

  15. Except that she totally blew the punchline by leaving out the word "lion."

    Also, I think there are pictures of some sort of ape on the front of the sign, as well as a giraffe, around the word "zoo," and some other animals. That's what SP was talking about. I don't think that's actually the Cleveland Zoo logo, but I don't know where she got the picture.

    In any case, calling Obama an "African" is about as offensive as calling your average American Jew an "Israelite."

  16. Having looked at a bigger version of the picture on the slideshow, it's an elephant, a vulture, a giraffe, and two apes. From the picture of the vulture I doubt that it's the official logo of any zoo.

  17. Sorry Mark, I missed your comment — that's what I thought, but the picture is in the wrong place and doesn't contain the word, so I still judge this a fail from a pure standpoint of conveying the joke.

  18. For the first time, I begin to wonder how close some of these peope are to finally giving up the old game of indignantly insisting that they couldn't possibly be motivated by racism, & forthrightly declaring themselves for white racial nationalism.

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