So, we’re watching Bill Maher last night and he trots out that tired big-city bullshit (here’s how to know you’re about to smell some big-city bullshit: they start out with “Well, in Europe…”). So, Bill’s big-city bullshit starts out, “Well, in Europe they pay [some exorbitant amount] for gas.”
Then he goes on to say how he thinks that the government ought to put a huge sin tax on gas, like they have on cigarettes, to discourage people from driving so much.
This pisses me off so much I almost can’t talk about it rationally. But before I’m reduced to angry cussing, let me make the following points:
1. Most of the country doesn’t have public transportation. If we can’t afford to drive to work, we cannot get to work.
2. Most of the country doesn’t make that much money. A lot of us are getting by paycheck to paycheck. The cost of fuel doesn’t just affect the price of filling up our cars. It affects the cost of everything we buy–food, clothing, etc.–because Walmart and Kroger’s have to pass the increased cost of their fuel to us.
3. Nope, that’s it. Two things before I start screaming “fuck you.”
Let’s go off on a tangent.
I’m starting to suspect that, when people talk about “liberal” bias in the media, depending on who’s talking, they’re actually talking about two different things. Politicians want to talk about the media’s “liberal bias” because they want to keep the media on the ropes, swinging wildly at straw men and not finding real stories–and to that end, they’ve succeeded wildly.
But when some folks talk about “liberal bias,” I wonder if they don’t mean something like what I also loathe, the feeling that the media views rural America as some scary backwards place that can’t truly be understood by anyone safe on the coasts.
For instance, think of how the media starts every story about us with “in the Heartland…” Jesus, how big is this heartland? Because I’ve seen and read stories that place it in Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, and New Mexico. It starts to feel like “heartland” is just some place that the media views as quaint.
Or how the media holds so fast to the first amendment but seems to view the second as a problem. Okay, I don’t own guns, because I’m afraid of them. But a lot of people in the U.S. own guns and they aren’t criminals or deviants. No, the NRA hasn’t done gun owners any favors with that laughable “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” nonsense, but the uncomfortable truth is that the Constitution gives people the right to bear arms. You might not like that. I might not like that. But that’s how it is. And just because it makes us uncomfortable doesn’t mean that people who own guns are bad or irresponsible or freaks.
By and large, people who own guns are not going to shoot you. But when the media covers a gun story, you get the feeling that everyone who owns a rifle is just one bad day away from shooting up his place of work.
But the thing that annoys me the most is how the media thinks that it “knows” our values without actually doing the work of trying to figure out what those values are. How long are we going to have to hear them talking about “Christian” values and the Republicans’ alignment with Christians, as if Christianity is one monolithic set of beliefs held by all of us out here in the wastelands.
For instance, I keep waiting for someone to ask one of our Catholic bishops if he’s uncomfortable with the alignment of the U.S. Catholic church with Evangelical Protestants, when most Evangelical Protestants believe that, at best, Catholics are really fucked up Christians, and, at worst, that they’re pagans whose style of worship is a kind of blasphemy against Christ. But either most reporters are cowards or they’re unaware of the deep history of anti-Catholic sentiment among Evangelical Protestants. I suspect that it’s the latter, that they’re unaware of it.
Which brings me to what really pisses me off, and what I suspect pisses a great many people out here off, the patronizing tone they take, as if they know what’s best for us, when they don’t really know us. They can’t get past their preconceived notions of what we are. So, Bill Maher can say asinine things about how the price of gas isn’t really a problem, because no matter what the price of gas is, he can afford to pay it, and he can’t imagine that folks can’t.