Blame-Shifting: Our National Pastime

« May 2008 »

Memo to Katherine Kersten: NO.

And frankly, fuck you right in the ear for trying. You've talked a lot of shit over the years, but for the most part, you've been happy to be the local echo of your national conservative chamber. You've iterated tired old tropes in typical, slightly dull ways, fighting the evils of the gays and the Muslims with a muted fervor and a throttled-back zeal that's inspired no more than occasional contempt in me.

Well congratulations, Katherine. You've pissed me off.

As a liberal, as a secularist, and as a believer in science, I'm used to being blamed for shit I didn't do. For example. When a right-wing Christian rose to power in Germany, and decided he didn't like the Jews, and killed millions of them? Over the years, I've watched as the people whose personal philosophies hew closest to Adolf's try to hide that fact by blaming EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of my belief system for the Holocaust.

Pat Robertson says atheism did it. Right-wingers say socialism did it. Ben Stein says evolution did it. None of them will ever admit that a fascist, power-mad dictator did it, because of a toxic combination of political expediency and secret love for power-mad fascist dictating. And now Katherine Kersten is blaming the Holocaust on... wait for it... wait for it! GRAND THEFT AUTO IV.

I need to stop at this point and correct two misapprehensions that you may be in possession from as a result of, well, reading what I just wrote. Kersten technically did not blame GTA4 for causing the Holocaust. She's not saying they found a Playstation 3 in Hitler's bunker. What she actually said was that GTA4 titillates the dark impulses of the human soul, the same dark impulses that led to the Holocaust. This is still a mind-bogglingly stupid position to take, of course, but that leads us to the second misapprehension - that this claim is what pissed me off. No, it's just required for the setup. After establishing that GTA4 pokes us in the evil place, and when the evil place gets poked, Holocausts happen, she continued her example thusly. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Contemporary Americans are not immune from sadistic impulses. The renegade U.S. soldiers who humiliated and maltreated prisoners at Abu Ghraib were reportedly imitating the pornified culture from which they came. Games like GTA IV stimulate and glamorize our dark impulses. They create a taste for the psychological thrill that can come from dominating and degrading others. They encourage us to strip our fellow human beings of their dignity, and view them merely as objects of violence or sexual desire."

You want to stimulate my dark impulses? There isn't an act in GTA4 perverse, violent, or degraded enough that I can suggest you do it to yourself for the crime of trying to pin Abu Ghraib on the culture wars. You're so worried about obscenity on the XBox that you'll let an infinitely greater obscenity go out under your byline, Kersten. That is FOUL.

Abu Ghraib has causes. We know what those causes are. Those causes start with an invasion and occupation motivated by greed and executed in incompetence. Those causes include, as we now know, and the President himself has acknowledged, a policy of using "enhanced interrogation techniques" against detainees, techniques that included the exact same stress positions and sexual humiliations that were revealed in the Abu Ghraib photographs. Renegade soldiers from a pornified culture? That bullshit was debunked and trite when they tried to make us swallow it four years ago.

Fuck. You. You get to keep that one, Kersten. The war you started, the occupation you botched, the torture you defended, all of that stays on your thick, meaty, evil fucking heads. Your moral upbringing, steadfast avoidance of cultural poison, and secret glee at the pain of the Other is where Abu Ghraib came from, and the more you try and shift the blame onto increasingly ludicrous targets, the more I become convinced that you lie awake at night, terrified that someday the bestial, rabid chickens you gave birth to are about to come home to roost.

And more than anything, I hope that fear is exceptionally well-founded.