Editor’s Note: Did you ever open up the newspaper, and say to yourself, what in the hell is that all about?! The older I get, the more it seems to happen, and my mother, who’s even older than I am, tells me it’s going to get worse.
What’s the World Coming To?
The older I get, the more I seem to require a phrase that combines “What’s the world coming to?” with “Does anyone see the irony in this?” Texters express this concept with three simple letters: “WTF?”
Meanwhile, The History Channel runs endless episodes of “Cajun Pawn Stars,” “Swamp People” and “Larry the Cable Guy.” And when it does cover history, it’s often day-long marathons on “Ancient Astronauts,” the writings of Nostradamus or the search for Noah’s Ark. What’s next, “Scientific American” articles on creationism and astrology or papers on phrenology and faith healing in the “Journal of the American Medical Association”? WTF?
Closer to home, the former CEO of Northeast Utilities is retiring with a $34.6 million golden parachute, despite widespread dissatisfaction with his company’s response to the freak October 2011 snowstorm and Hurricane Irene. Ironically, his package is $10 million more than the $25 million that public outrage forced the utility to spend on pruning the trees around its wires, a task it had long neglected.
More sadly ironic, the gun deaths in Sandy Hook have been a boon for the NRA, which added 100,000 new members in the month after Newtown, and for its patron, the gun industry. Since Newtown, the manufacturers’ top lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre, has played on the paranoia of survivalists and militia members who worry the black helicopters will soon be disgorging SWAT teams to take away their guns, and sales of weapons and ammunition are booming.
In 2008, NRA ads spread the lie that an Obama administration would rescind Second Amendment rights, and repeated this nonsense during the 2012 campaign. Gun owners who feel the need for large-scale arsenals are buying assault weapons like crazy, and WalMart has reportedly run out of semiautomatics in five states. So the deaths of children by gunfire benefits both weapons manufacturers and their symbiotic lobbyists. WTF?
I heard myself say WTF? when I realized I was on the same side of this issue as far-right broadcaster Sean Hannity and the ultraconservative American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). The ACLJ’s primary mandate is eroding the wall of separation between church and state, but it was also one of the first groups to focus major attention on the Egyptian arms deal.
And I heard myself say WTF? when I found myself agreeing with Pope Benedict. The pontiff’s New Year’s speech decried the burgeoning gap between rich and poor. Of course, a sermon on income inequality might have carried more weight if he hadn’t delivered it from a solid-gold throne.
Perhaps the Pope wasn’t the best messenger for this message, but then he’s the leader of a cadre of celibates who dictate in excruciating detail how the faithful should run their sex lives, so the Vatican may be just a tad irony-impaired. As in so many other situations, someone in the public relations department should have asked, “WTF?”
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