I was watching Southpark with some friends, doubling over in laughter as the kids worried about going to Hell if they didn’t confess in front of a Priest before dying, while Satan contemplated two timing his boyfriend with his ex, Saddam Hussein. And all the while the phrase ‘what’s your moral outrage’ kept swimming in my head. Why? Well if you ever saw the fight between Jon Stewart and Tucker Carlson over how spin alley and shows such as CNN’s Crossfire are hurting America, you’d know. Stewart said that he believed that some political commentators and the like used dishonest arguments to further their case. Later, when Tucker asked him what he thought of the ongoing Bill O’Reilly phone sex scandal, Stewart replied ‘I don’t. What’s your moral outrage?’. The thing about Southpark that strikes a chord with so many of us that most of the reasons for so many complications and politics in life is the ‘moral outrage’ factor. Through the eyes of children, we can all look ridiculous.
And yet, this weekend made me wonder if we don’t do the reverse as well. At times, we have no moral outrage about things. We rationalize everything, or we accept it because we have seen it before. It becomes part of the system.
So its not surprising that I was relating all these thoughts back to this book I’m currently reading called ‘Out of Order’ by Thomas E. Patterson. I’ve been trying to find someone who has made an argument that spin alley etc are a result of the current media structure that exists right now- this incredible demand for news all the time, feeding an never ending well of consumption. Now, receiving the news within context is important. But when you create pseudo-news because of the demand, it becomes farcical. You see it everywhere, no more obvious than in entertainment news. I don’t know why they bother calling it news when its really trying to define people’s lives in the context of the show on TV right now—bad breakups to Punk’d. Anyway, to the point. The reason a politician needs a media consultant is because the media creates such a heavy demand on the lives of some, they need help to handle it. Not saying they don’t deserve the flak for what they do wrong, but the truth is moral outrages are everywhere and one has to ready for them.
I was thinking about pseudo moral outrages and what they are used for, and especially how much time they can waste. But this again requires a judgement call from me- to have a moral outrage over a moral outrage and this thought really hurt my head more than I’d like. I guess it hovers back to the point I made in a earlier post that as academics we somehow think pointing out the flaws in the system separates us from those faults to a degree. For the moment I have no answer.
So. What’s your moral outrage?