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Monday, November 14, 2005

Once a Critic
Think of the biggest jerk you encountered today, whether it was that guy who cut you off with a left turn on red, the woman in the opposite cube who doesn't cover her mouth when she sneezes, or whoever. Then multiply that person's jerkiness about 65 times. And then give him a goofy moustache.

I give you Michael Medved.

Medved used to be a film critic first and foremost, but I guess the dirty words and boobies got to be too much for him, so now he pays his bills by vomiting forth whatever rightwing insanity occurs to him. In a way, that's an improvement, because I recall that as a film critic he was dreadful, as though he never quite fit the role assigned to him. At least as a purveyor of hatred, he seems to be in his element.

France, land of fries and kisses, has lately been embroiled in ugly riots resulting in, at last count, a zillion dollars worth of damage. Unlike in America, where we love freedom and justice and riots sparked by 2:00 a.m. bar closings, in France they're rioting because of two deaths by accidental electrocution following what was apparently an unjustified police chase. Most of the rioters are young, angry, and of non-French descent.

I don't pretend to understand the tensions and conflict bubbling beneath the surface of French society (all the French I know I learned from Pepe LePew), but it's generally recognized that the forcible and flawed "assimilation" of multiple ethnicities is at least partly to blame.

But, silly me, I thought that inter-cultural tensions and xenophobia were the cause in a nutshell. Then I heard Medved's screed tonight on Beyond The News, and I realized how wrong I was. In a scant 156 words, Medved manages to put the blame on the immigrants themselves, their religious outlook, the alienness of Islam, France's secularism, the welfare state, and Jerry Lewis.

Okay, he didn't mention the last one, but the other "causes" are given with no more justification than Medved's sayso, so we might as well throw The Nutty Professor onto the heap with the rest. Argument-by-assertion is very popular among the far right because it appeals simultaneously to the sheep-mentality and to leader-fetishism, and if you're into that flavor of Kool-Aid, then you'll probably enjoy every nugget excreted by Medved's mouth.

But I'll say this much for him—he's concise. It's taken me about 400 words so far just to set up my blog entry, while by this point in his article he'd already hit "post" and sat back to stew in his righteousness.

I don't fault you if you lack the stomach for even a brief perusal of Medved's prose, so I'll sum up: France is rioting because the country is too French with too much immigration and not enough God. No doubt if a rural town in France had just voted to reject creationism, then Charles Darwin would be to blame. Maybe it's the gays. They have gays in France, right? Or maybe it's the general tolerance of boobies. Heck, maybe it's Voltaire's fault, when you get right down to it.

Frankly (no pun intended), I don't know the cause of the riots, and I don't know how they might be curtailed. But neither does Medved, and at least I'm up front about it. For now, France is imposing strict curfews that appear to be having at least some positive effect. But I'd suggest that the riots are simply the oozing sore that signals a much deeper infection.

But that's too complicated for Medved, and for Rightwingers in general, to accept. Better to say that the riots are the inevitable result of secular socialism and make the victims suffer the smug "I told you so" smirks of Compassionate Conservatives.

For the record, this is an opinion-based blog making no claim of objective journalism, implied or otherwise. If you're going to be an honest purveyor of opinion pieces, then you should have the integrity not to use the word News in your title, even if your stuff is Beyond it. Unless your whole niche, like all of Rightwing punditry, consists of nothing more than "cuz I sed so."

While I'm on the subject, ask me sometime why Jesus, despite our esteemed President, is really bottom-of-the-barrel, as philosophers go.

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