November 27th, 2005


Sticker shock

Yesterday morning we enjoyed pumpkin muffins that goudabonbon made for breakfast (actually, it was more of a hobbity "second breakfast" for Sweetness, who popped out of bed at 6:30 a.m. or some comparably ungodly hour). Sweetness had eaten/dismantled one of hers and started going for one of mine, saying something like "I'll have one of mine -- from YOUR plate." We explained to her that there's a more polite way of saying that.

But it reminded me of a bumper sticker that I may never have actually seen in real life, only read in a book or article, that says "What's OUR oil doing under THEIR land?" It's the kind of thing that's so ugly-Americanish that you at first can't believe is true -- then can believe all too well on further reflection.

A few months ago I was motoring down Monroe Drive one evening (given the hour and location, I must've been coming from a screening at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, like 'Tim Burton's Corpse Bride' or 'Happy Endings') and at the intersection of Piedmont was behind an elphantine pickup festoon with right-wing bumper stickers (including, I'm sure "W The President" which led to the great variation "F The President." I seem to recall some kind of hunting-season-for-liberals, I'm not sure exactly what it said, but there was one that was so strange I remember it vividly. I'm pretty sure the exact wording was: "Conservatives hate people for what they do. Liberals hate people for who they are."

It took me a while just to decipher what it was TRYING to say, but I think it's a hate-the-sin-but-love-the-sinner sentiment, maintaining that conservatives hate the sin, and liberals hate the sinner. Which sounds totally bogus to me -- oh, so right-wingers are the real "bleeding hearts?" Sure they are. They're models of tolerance.

What made it stick with me was the way it defines the two groups according HATE. I wouldn't say that hatred is the salient characteristic of EITHER conservatives or liberals (although I certainly believe one has a higher comfort level with hatefulness than the other). It struck me as very revealing that this guy (or at least, the sticker he used to represent his views to the public) is comfortable using hate as his yardstick.

And the sticker -- and the yobbo's whole car, for that matter -- made me wonder exactly how distorted this driver's mental image of "liberals" could be. You wonder if he's ever met or seen one, or has any inkling of what liberals are beyond how Limbaugh, Hannity and Coulter characterize, say, Hilary Clinton. (During the Clinton Administration my mother and I would have arguments about Bill Clinton, in which she could, in the same breath, accuse him of being wildly left-wing while stealing the Republicans' best ideas.)

It reminded me of a "Simpsons" episode when Homer gets tickets to something like the ballet and goes "Woo-hoo!" Then one of his family asks him if he knows what the ballet IS, and he says "Sure, it's great!" Then, in his thought balloon, you see Homer watching a bear in a fez driving a shriner's car around a ring. As ballerinas are to bears driving cars, so are real liberals are to the average right-wing talk radio fans' perception.

The muffins were good, though.
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