Quick. Think of a public figure who made statements about homosexuality outside of his regular job and was dismissed from his job as a result. Now imagine the right wing outrage that came as a direct result of this dismissal. First Amendment! Censorship! If you were thinking of Phil Robertson, you assume correctly that the rage was instantaneous. If you were thinking of the slightly more recent article written by former Minnesota Vikings kicker Chris Kluwe, well, his outspokenness was on the opposite side, so we get crickets from the right wing.
Just take a look at Breitbart.com alone. On Dec. 19th, they ran a detailed article that quoted freshman Senator Ted Cruz and his “First Amendment concerns” about A&E’s short-lived suspension of Phil Robertson after saying some really stupid things about gays and African Americans. Right wing groups were quick to jump on the bandwagon. The American Family Association and the Family Research Council — both certified as hate groups by the SPLC — were only too happy ask their followers to “Stand with Phil.”
All because the Duck Dynasty star somehow had his “first amendment” rights trampled on because of his view about homosexuality.
Fast forward to this week. Here we are, less than two weeks after the height of the Duck Dynasty quack up, and we are reminded that Chris Kluwe was indeed fired because of his views on homosexuality. Only this time, he was a supporter of LGBT and marriage equality. He called out the blatant bigotry of one of his coaches (something about nuking an island of gay people until it glowed), and how his vocal support of same-sex marriage created a rift between him and certain members of the Vikings’ coaching staff.
Breitbart’s response is to run an article detailing how the Vikings is a “private” organization and that his first amendment rights had nothing to do with his being fired. Therefore, no one should cry foul using the Constitution to back him up.
The fact is that both situations were identical. Both men spoke very forcefully outside their usual role. Both men were disciplined (allegedly) because of their outspoken nature on the topic of homosexuality.
To be clear: Neither situation is about the first amendment.
Yet because the right wing is so hyped up to be angry about every thing that comes down the pike, the Right Wing Rage Machine works overtime. This time, it was in gear to kick down the gays because we got mad at Phil Robertson comparing us to bestiality and terrorism.
The Right Wing Rage Machine is never quiet. It’s never silent. It’s always working. It has many agents. It rages against anything that could possibly, maybe, in a round-about-sort-of-way, be a big bad evil socialist thing. Or something.
Take for example a recent MSNBC flap where anchor Melissa Harris-Perry laughed along at some pretty insensitive jokes at the expense of an adopted grandchild of Mitt Romney. That child is not white.
“One of these things is not like the other,” one of the panelists laughed. Harris-Perry herself joked that she’d like to see the baby eventually married to the daughter of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
For her part, Harris-Perry issued a quick and full apology. Everyone involved did the same. That’s not good enough for the Right Wing Rage Machine, though. Chris Wallace did all he could to get Mitt Romney himself to get his mad on.
At the end of a wider-ranging interview Sunday, Chris Wallace played a clip of the controversial segment, and asked Gov. Romney “Governor, this must be hurtful, and I know you are a classy guy and you don’t want to get into it, I got to ask you, honestly, from the heart, how did you, and quite frankly, how did Mrs. Romney feel when you heard your baby grandson Kieran was the target of political ridicule?”
Romney didn’t bite, though.
“…I recognize that people make mistakes,” he continued, “and the folks at MSNBC made a big mistake. They’ve apologized for it. That’s all can you ask for. I am going to move on from that. I am sure they want to move on from it. Look, I’ve made plenty of mistakes myself. They’ve apologized for this. You know, I think we can go on from there.”
The rest of the segment was more attempts by Wallace to get Romney mad. Romney shut him down every time.
It’s the Right Wing Rage Machine. Whether it’s Todd Starnes and his latest attempt to create another Christian “martyr,” or another Sarah Palin attempt to create a “War on Christmas,” the Machine rages on.
This kind of right wing rage is best shown in something I heard from a preacher I heard once. I’ll never forget it:
“A hundred thousand people a day are dying and going to hell. And most of you don’t give a damn. In fact, most of you are more upset that I said ‘damn’ than that a hundred thousand people a day are dying and going to hell!”
The Right Wing Rage Machine geared up in defense of the AFA and FRC, for example, when they were added to the SPLC list. “They were added because of their Christian values!” No. They weren’t. They were added because they continually promulgate known falsehoods about LGBT people. Unless lying is a “Christian value,” then there’s not a lot to say here.
The AFA regularly calls for boycotts against pro-LGBT television shows or businesses. But when a gay group does the same thing, it becomes “economic terrorism. After all, the Right Wing Rage Machine can’t have competition now, can it?
It’s not that the hyped-up rage is so asinine. What makes this faux-rage so absurd is nothing more than the sheer lack of self-awareness that it betrays. No one ever stops to wait for the other shoe to drop. Time and time again, there’s always a truth that’s yet to be revealed. There’s always something that is around the corner that reveals the point of rage to be a point of nothing at all. But that matters not to the Right Wing Rage Machine.
Ratings must be had. Articles must be written. Veins must pop! Heads must explode! The Rage Machine must go on! It must be fueled by the blood of the martyrs who have spilled no blood at all! It must be lubricated by the sweat that has never dropped! And it must shout like the tiny little chicken who insisted that the sky was indeed falling.
Why does it go on? Because it’s so easy to believe. It’s so delicious. So salty. So bloody. It’s like the car wreck we pass on the highway — slowing down in the hopes of seeing a mangled body. We want to see the rage. We want to hear the shouting. We want to feel the clash of battles. And all the while, the truth goes on — and it goes untold. Because the Right Wing Rage Machine has overpowered it with the colorful, bloody lie.
It’s high time for the American voting public to wake up and realize that crying wolf is still a very, very bad idea. Because when we allow ourselves to be enraged at the wrong things so often, we show ourselves to be nothing more than fools.