Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Citizen Radio is a Bad Influence on the Young Left

Well, I hate politics, but the candidates are signing up and the great American horse-race has begun, for good or ill. Long story short, I don't like Clinton (surprise surprise) and the government was easier  to oppose from the left under Bush than it has been under Obama, so I don't care about who's likely to win. It makes all the difference of a 0.5-second methane gas emission in a category 5 hurricane. The only people I really like for the seat that I know of right now are Bernie Sanders and Alan Grayson (the latter of which may not even be running). People argue about whether Clinton or Paul would be better, but neither of them has much of a chance anyway, in my estimation: the right hates Paul, and Clinton is a woman who lost the race to a black man last time around. That's realpolitik, love it or hate it. It looks like Bush at this point. Sigh.

What I AM excited about is how sick I am of young radio personalities on the left who give Rush Limbaugh a run for his money in terms of substituting emotional memes for coherent political arguments. The assholes I will be making an example of today are Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny, much-told heroes of Citizen Radio.

The tragic thing is, I would agree with almost everything these kids said (but not quite) if they supported their political positions with actual arguments based on clear data and refined by challenge from people with whom they share a great deal of ideas. The way in which K & K simply pathologize  anyone who challenges their positions as being one brand or another of politically wrong (not progressive enough, therefore insupportable), as well was the cowardly, slovenly way they shrug off criticism with phrases like "Get your own podcast" or "What have YOU done for these causes lately?" renders me incapable of finding (or wanting) any common ground with them at all. Since the only good argument is a well-made argument, I disagree on almost every level with everything they say. How you say things that are true is as important as the truth itself. Your ability to hear others say what they think of your arguments is also important.

True, Citizen Radio is able to parade an impressive array of talk show guests, Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky being my favorites. However, this is more a testament to the inclusive, open characters of Zinn & Chomsky than the credibility of Citizen Radio as a source of political knowledge. Chomsky also did an interview with Ali G. Enough said about that.

Kilkenny at least tries to write well, I have to give her that. But where there should be insight, there is instead simple rage and ridicule. These are not equivalent. One badge she has proudly displayed is that G. Gordon Liddy once told her that her writing made him want to vomit. The fact that Liddy is an asshole (and he is) doesn't make her a good writer. It just makes him an easy target for other assholes.

As for Kilstein...ugh. Where to begin? He actually reminds me a little bit of Hitler. One of his more recent antisocial-media comments conflated marijuana-smoking "4:20" celebrants with racism. The quote was something like "I hope you guys are figuring out how to help people in prison for weed while you're smoking it," or some heinous pathologizing crap of that kind. Really? You're going to associate harmless, laid-back herb-smoking specifically with racist mandatory minimum sentencing? The laziness of this witch-hunty political smear borders on genius. Of course, ANY structure of law, society or even architecture in the USA can be associated with racism. The USA is a racist country, always was, and shall be for a very long time, I regret to say. But you might as well call organic gardening racist. Seriously, you could make that argument if you wanted to invest enough time and imagination, and you'd maybe have a point. My own point is, who cares if you have a point? Do you have a GOOD point or a crappy, lazy one that plays on emotional reaction to unavoidable incorrect politics...unavoidable because, in the end, we are all culpable for the political injustices that plague the world we inhabit, and there is no perfect political ideology. Not one.

Kilstein is also an example of why you really, really should reconsider being vegan. The wish to do no harm is laudable, but not realizable. (Who weeps for the scallions? Should I? How do you know plants are different from animals? How do you know there is a difference? How do you know of a difference between plants and people?) The wish to be healthy is more realistic, but the 100% fat-free Kilstein almost constantly discusses his likewise constant consumption of energy bars and other such processed fake-foods, as well as his frequent fainting spells and thin blood. As a fellow martial artist (Kilstein practices jujitsu, I practice pukulan), I know that high-endurance fighting arts require higher-than-average protein in the diets of their students. While in many Asian countries grain and vegetables are fermented in such a way as to provide sufficient protein and fixed minerals and vitamins, this is generally not the case in New York City. The grains we eat in the USA ("gluten free" or otherwise) are basically pure starch with no fixed minerals or protein, and the metabolism of vegetable nutrients in the digestive system requires fat in the mix. Absent unsustainable western agrilogistics, the ONLY way to supply the fat sustainably in most regions is through grazing animals. Plant-based oils are simply too costly to produce. I'm not a nutritionist, but I know from experience that Kilstein exhibits the "burning the candle at both ends" impression (anger, breathlessness, emotional instability) of someone whose diet is inadequate to their energy expenditure.

But really, what is the main point I want to make? I don't pretend anyone should care a lot about what I say, but on the off chance that you do, I will suggest that if you are a young person (a generation behind my 45 years), you may want to consider NOT using these assholes (asshole: noun; something that produces nothing but poop) as examples of how to engage in political discourse. They are basically products of the antisocial-media generation..."trolls" is the overly-scary common parlance these days. "Bullies" is more accurate. The fact that they use bullying to fight bullying is pretty scary in itself, as it reduces the standards of political discourse to a simple measurement of who is the ugliest. If that's the best the young left has to offer, screw them. And these kids literally make their money by being trolls. "Troll" is an appropriate job description: their community of listeners sends them money because they love to hear the trolling.

Such hype is no substitute for actual discourse that engages with political, social, economic and ecological realities.

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