Of Politics and Pulp Fiction (or at least that one basement scene)

Just because you think something is right, or just, or good, does not mean you should applaud it if it’s done the wrong way. It may feel good to watch people you hate in a horrible compromising position but just remember it could easily have been you. This reminds me, for reasons that are somewhat mysterious and make my family a bit concerned, of that scene from Pulp Fiction where Bruce Willis (whose character name I am too lazy to look up) decides to go save Marcellus Wallace from the weird redneck guys in the basement. Sure, he and Wallace were just trying to kill each other, but I think he stops not out of some humane loyalty to all men. He kind of knew that it easily could have been him down there, and he did what he would have hoped someone would do for him even though it meant saving someone that wanted him dead. Ok, so it isn’t a perfect analogy but it’s what I am working with here.

Ahem.

A few months ago some trolling college student in Colorado decided to make a giant novelty “Thank You” card to the IRS for allegedly targeting conservative groups trying to get tax exempt status. He got quite a few people to sign the card, though I have a feeling more than one signed it because they were in on the big joke on the big card; that just because you think the end result is enjoyable, in this case conservative groups having less chance to raise money and spew their message, that being done the wrong way is nothing to celebrate. Still, I think a lot of those students actually though it was a good and just use of government power to punch down people that they disagreed with.

This reminds me of my own time in college, when smoking was permitted inside dorm rooms. There was a movement on campus to have smoking banned and moved away from any building, with a petition for students to sign. The petition easily got enough signatures to ban smoking from the dorms, which many if not most people would be for, or at the very least indifferent to. One of those indifferent people was a neighbor of mine, who signed the petition not because she cared about smoking in any room except her own, but because anyone signing the petition got some free swag. It’s been long enough I can’t remember if it was a key chain or a cup or some other cheap item that college students feel a burning need to have and then ignore as soon as they have it. I always wondered how many people signed that petition because they felt it didn’t affect them one way or the other, and the promise of something vaguely shiny compelled them to sign on. College students, regardless of what they shout loudly in coffee shops, are not always the most discerning people when it comes to the finer points of politics, and by finer I mean anything too complex to fit onto the front of a t-shirt (I suppose nowadays replace t-shirt with its modern-day equivalent, the tweet.) I pick on the college students only because they tend to be more vocal, or honest, about their ability to justify means by the end result. They certainly aren’t the only ones to do it, they just haven’t learned that in polite society you are supposed to lie about that sort of thing, or at the very least blame whichever party is in power at the moment. The point is that the ban was probably a good thing, but I have to wonder if it succeeded at the time for reasons that had less to do with the content of the petition and more on the content of a swag bag. Had it been about something else, maybe banning all liquor from campus or getting money from the college to have Anne Coulter speak, would many of the people be outraged that signatures were possibly bought?

Let’s bring it back home to the current IRS scandal, if it indeed is a scandal I can’t tell yet but at the very least I am annoyed that all the evidence either way seems to be disappearing faster than Anne Coulter at a World Cup Game (look folks, I’m topical!) We have politicians of one party who are trying to ignore or downplay that something might have happened which is in the “kinda probably shady” realm. Then we have politicians of another party who are acting as if this is Watergate, Iran-Contra, and “New Coke” all rolled into one, who may have reacted with at least a bit more caution had it been 2005. For some depressingly hilarious antics like this, check out the debate over the “nuclear option” in the Senate over the years or how an empty Senate seat should be filled in Massachusetts, it’s like everyone accidentally got the wrong script handed to them for a few years then realized the error and switched back. The IRS problem is very troubling though, we really do not want to set a precedent that it’s mostly ok to screw over a political group as long as they aren’t too popular or have too much political influence in the highest levels.

I’m sure at least some must be thinking “it’s only the Tea Party right? Who cares about them, they are complete knobs and whatever they get they deserve!” You could put any name in there though, and have someone make the same argument because from their perspective, the other side is just plain wrong and evil and shouldn’t even be allowed the same stage.
This kind of attitude is destructive though, and it always has been. The main problem with giving a pass to some shady dealings as long as you get what you want in the end is that you aren’t always going to be the one enjoying the outcome. Sure it may be “your” people in charge now currently ball gagging and bending over those that sorely deserve it, but unless you happen to live in a dictatorship the power will eventually shift and you may find yourself staring straight into the soulful leather clad eyes of the gimp left to watch you. Of course, most people will at this point of role reversal scream and cry about the injustice of it all, and if it weren’t for those damn [insert political party or group here] currently in charge no one would ever have to stand by this injustice. They never realize how they all but bought the ball gag, handcuffed themselves and cranked up “Comanche” all the while laughing at that poor sucker getting what he deserved. Suddenly it isn’t so funny when you are dealing with the problems of a corrupt system. We live in a society that tends to defend the indefensible, just because we all want to share in the right to our own personal freedoms. The ACLU doesn’t defend members of NAMBLA because they really love pedophilia, they do it because they want to make a point that there is a line in the sand of what is legally permissible and that line is so far in to Crazyland that anyone who isn’t bat-shit insane, or even many who may be, are safe to voice their opinions. If the Westboro Baptist Church gets to publicly show how hateful and evil one family can be, then dammit everyone should be ok to vocalize what they think about taxes, pot, gay marriage, or bringing back Firefly so we can all get some damn closure (I would be more topical if it was still 2005!). So as much as it may feel good now, be careful that you don’t enjoy your Schadenfreude so much today that you find yourself smiling and giggling while the new bringers of “justice” are lubing up behind you.

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