posted on 5/18/2015 by the Salt City Sinner
Assholes! Almost everybody has one, and some people can't help but be one!
They walk among us, occupying various perches from the lowliest of street-sweepers to the lofty ivory towers of academia to the hungry glowing rictuses of cable news to the hushed reverence of museums, monasteries, and mansions. Fun fact: statisticians have estimated that approximately 100% of elected officials in the United States are assholes, making them our body politic's most well-represented demographic, just ahead of white Christian males.
A person's status as an asshole is like religious belief or sexual orientation – while some visual cues may give hints as to what it might be, it is impossible in most cases to detect accurately with the naked eye. For this reason, I hope you find the following field guide helpful. It is by no means exhaustive, but it may prove useful as a set of preliminary parameters in conversation both online and off. Here are five sure verbal/textual signs that you are engaged in debate with a bona fide, 24 karat gold plated asshole.
“We the People”
This puffed-up, pompous piece of meaningless dumbassery is most often found among Tea Partiers, but you will also run across it in survivalist and militia circles, at school board meetings, hell, even on rare and unfortunate occasion when Occupy was in full swing. “We the People” has two basic semiotic components, one being the Founding Fathers Fetish that so many right-wingers have nowadays (how better to invoke the halcyon days of slavery, pre-suffrage female servitude, and a fifty year life expectancy than by stealing verbiage directly?) and the other the strongly implied but unspoken assertion that one is leading a mighty populist rebellion rather than a tiny group of knuckleheads. This latter component should be familiar to those who've read, watched, or listened to Glenn Beck, who is particularly fond of the inflated sense of historic importance and purpose that style-biting a bunch of eighteenth century aristocrats in wigs and leggings apparently provides.
I've noticed this particular weird tic in evangelical communities in particular. I suppose “friends” goes down smoother in the religious community than “comrades,” but it hits the ear the same way: forced, a little condescending, overly familiar in tone, and just downright irritating in the way that people who want to hug you when you are first introduced are. You're not my friend: you're an asshole.
“The American People”
“The American People” has a lot in common (besides just two words) with “We the People.” It is a meaningless phrase, even when supported by polling data, as polling outcomes depend hugely on how a poll is worded. Just ask Frank Luntz! “The American People,” however, is much more widely used than “We the People.” Virtually every United States politician in history has used this little gem, and it has been absolute garbage every time it has been used. Unless this opener is immediately followed by “require water, food, and oxygen to survive,” rest assured that it is a wretched lie, as the only things “the American people” agree on are jack and shit.
Nothing says “Alex Jones is the truth-teller of choice for intelligent and discerning fellows such as my self, no really, he's great stop laughing” like calling people who don't buy your conspiracy theory of the day as “sheeple.” Tossing this little portmanteau into an argument is less like landing a killing blow with your rapier wit than like defecating explosively into the conversational hot tub: nobody thinks it's clever, everyone thinks it's gross, and the only thing it proves is that, mazel tov! You're an asshole.
Bernard's Law states that the cogency and intelligence of a political argument is inversely proportional to its adherents' use of “The Matrix” as a metaphor. Everyone from libertarians to men's rights activists to Marxists to, for all I know, the anti-fluoridation community like to say “sure, you might not agree with what I'm saying, but that's because you haven't taken the red pill yet! You're trapped in the Matrix, maaaaan!” No, I only wish I was trapped in the Matrix, snuggled up in my goo with tubes running out of every orifice imaginable, far, far away from you.
In closing, this post has been brought to you by Not Being An Asshole. Try it out today: you'll be amazed how good it feels! (Not that I'd know.)