Sorrow For Glenn Beck –Robert M. Shelby, 2-6-11. [904 txt wds]

We really must feel sorry for poor Glenn Beck. Nightly — or more often if you treat yourself to his radio program — we are witness to his repressed experience of what can only be a traumatic disharmony between his superstition-babbling bubble of a mind and the fact of his bodily symmetry. One could suppose that were he to attain fully integrated consistency he would either have to give up what he thinks is his mind or else gouge out his left eye, sew up his left nostril, pull out the teeth on the left side of his mouth, cut off his left ear and remove his left arm, left leg and left testicle. I can’t imagine how he’d manage his rectum, for it too has a left side he’d have much trouble doing without. His internal organs could scarcely adapt to the demands of rightist, wingnut purity.

We can usually know what to expect of rash Rush Limbaugh and coltish Ann Coulter, but ghoulish Glenn keeps coming up with fresh nonsense from outside any ballpark of intelligible dimension. If Beck were to pass one course in high school or college science his head would come apart and mouth explode from the residue of past lies. He would look in the mirror and gain sudden intuition about bad karma. As he now is, he likely thinks karma is the great mother of all luxury automobiles. That would reflect his version of sound thinking. He is the world’s greatest living exponent of Tarzan thinking which means swinging by slender vines of association from one idea to another with no tests for strength or validity. Beck is an untethered balloon on the winds of imagination. His method results in bad poetry that mimics the prose of shoddy thought. If Glenn were somehow to gain sanity it would start an implosion on the far right with sudden, reactive shrapnel of scattered wingnuts.

Oddly enough, he may be the Liberal Progressives’ greatest asset in the ranks of Rightist Wrongers. His consistently shifty if colorful examples of grammar school teaching method must ultimately effect a drain, away from the Right, of all brains reaching mature balance and states of solid sapience about well-founded information. Beck professes fresh forms of unreason every week. He remains enormously popular and influential among people who know less than they can learn from newspapers but more than anyone can read into the Constitution.

Was one of those Jared Lee Loughner? It’s not possible, right now, to say with any certainty. Surely they share delusional views of the world. Poor Loughner’s trouble lay in being too young and needing more education. Too little informed for the problems swirling in his mind, he was not yet able to deal with them to his own satisfaction. On August 25, 2007, he attended a constituent rally for Arizona’s Rep. Gabrielle Gifford. She opened the floor for questions.  Nick Baumann of Mother Jones reports (1-10-11) that Loughner asked: “What is government if words have no meaning?”

This must have seemed so unclear to Gifford as to be unanswerable in any brief way. Naturally, then, her off-putting response struck Loughner as totally unsatisfactory. He seems to have decided she was too shallow for her important congressional job and therefore a “fake.” We should sympathize with both Gifford and Loughner, for this is a seminal type of question that opens more than one can of semantic worms. It took considerable native intelligence to form the question and ask it.

The question would have seemed distinctly challenging to Gifford as possibly critical of her own verbal consistency or perspicuity. Otherwise, it probed into philosophical matters of no immediate concern to her, to the audience or to specific legislative issues. Loughner was, unfortunately, outside the ballpark, feeling wrongfully excluded. It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t her fault; unless you consider that with her greater education and experience, she bore some responsibility for anwering more thoughtfully, giving the question a clarifying analysis bearing on what government is, how ours works and how speech interrelates the governed and governing, and how communication fails or succeeds. What Loughner needed was a series of lectures and readings on all subjects relevant to political science from language and communication to social psychology and rhetorical persuasion. But, learning takes patience, humility and steadfast application. It helps us also to have networks of sensible, well-informed associates.

It is not surprising that so deep a sense of powerless ignorance and unimportance should have turned him toward the instantly gratifying influence over others provided by fire-power. His total profile is more complex than this, but highly concerned outsiders tend to grow impatient with their own shortcomings and the disregard of others toward them. Indeed, what governs any of us when we have neither organized knowledge nor the language skills needed to inform our thinking? What government can endure not being understood by those it should govern — those who understand so little or so poorly that they must somehow be governed by others?

The similarity between Glenn Beck and Jared Lee Loughner is in their profound ignorance. The differences between them are age and the fact of Beck’s immense support by the FOX programming staff. Beck may have a better controlled emotionality but Loughner’s mind seems much more questing and earnest. Beck is nothing but a hired clown. Loughner cares about truth.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email is never shared.Required fields are marked *