Kage Baker was always leery of expressing opinions on current events. She maintained this reticence even more determinedly after taking to the aether of the Internet, because one of the first things she noticed was how insanely furious people got in conversations over that medium.
Something about finding themselves invisible made some people fearlessly angry. Something about not being able to lock eyes with people who disagreed with them made them insanely abusive. Something about feeling safe behind their electronic fences spurred them on to symbolic murder, in conversations too violent to be indulged in Real Life.
Kage had a low opinion of people, anyway – or rather, of individual human beings. Her opinion of humanity, in the abstract, was cautious but hopeful. It was specific single examples of the breed that appalled her. What goes on amid the flashing photons of the Internet only increased her natural anthropophobia: it has turned out to be – along with many other things that are actually good – a perfect environment for hateful morons.
Kage came to that conclusion quite early in her exploration of the Net, and adjusted her habits accordingly. She always felt a careful retreat and a well-maintained redoubt were much better than running, screaming noisily, away from conflict … or towards it. When her correspondents morphed into fanged, foaming trolls, she retreated.
I have never had radar as sensitive as Kage’s. I often don’t recognize an insult or an asshole until I suddenly get hit in the head with a mud pie. And my first impulse is always to scrape the mud off, add a few rocks, and pitch it right back. This leads to seriously unhappy situations, and Kage was always metaphorically (or literally, sometimes) kicking me in the shins under the table to make me shut up.
In my first solo, post-Kage explorations into the aether, I got int o a lot of fights. Same think happened in grammar school – it took me until 4th grade to figure out that banging a bully’s head into the wall did not make me his moral superior. Kage operated as my braking system for a long, long time – all I have left is the memory of her voice, telling to calm down and retreat. Luckily, I have a good memory …
The voices in the aetheric wind are full of nastiness.
Right now, barely a week into the new year, the news is already deep in the foam of an incoming tide of Idiots In Conflict. The new Congress in Washington has set to work faster than at any other point in the last 6 years – but what they are doing with such exemplary speed is cutting benefits to the poor, the old, the sick, the veterans of our wars. They are voting precisely to the orders of their corporate masters. Consequently, all their constituents are howling and throwing stones at them and one another; screaming, depending on their viewpoint, Faster! More! or Slower! Less!
Phyllis Schafly was an infamous conservative Medusa of the 1960’s; also, appropriately enough, as stupid as a box of rocks … To my amazement, she’s not only not dead but is still uttering perfect bullshit. She announced recently that the rise of rapes on college campuses is because “too many women are going to college”.
Jeb Bush is flirting with the idea of a Presidential run. That family aren’t bushes, they’re executive kudzu. But not to worry; Mike Huckabee, a rabid commentator from Fox News, may challenge him. What a wonderful choice …
Fundamentalist Orthodox Jews are pressuring the Israeli government to force airlines operating there to segregate their planes by gender: because they don’t want to sit next to women, and become “unclean”.
Planes continue to fall out of the Malaysian sky, scattering bodies over the drowned Sunda Plain. Oklahoma and Texas are frakking earthquake swarms into existence. The East Coast is reminiscing about the days when New York was a mile deep in ice; the Great Lakes are freezing over – again. Europe is having its own nostalgia as it moves back into the Little Ice Age; except for their earthquakes, in Russia and Finland and Greece and Albania and Turkey. And it’s better not to think too much about Africa, which is leading the world in new ways to die from rare diseases.
And, of course, there is the latest terrorist crisis – or at least, the latest one getting publicity, since it had the gall to happen in Paris. The City of Lights and La Belle France have been a bastion of civilization for 1,000 years, if you don’t count the Black Death, the witchcraft scare, the lycanthropy epidemic, the Revolution and the Nazi invasion. And right now, it’s deep in mourning for the dozen people shot to death by Islamist fundamentalists: they invaded the offices of Charlie Hedbo – which is sort of Mad magazine a la francais – killing two police officers and 10 journalists.
Quite rightly, the world is now taking sides and showing support. Most are behind France; some are behind Islamic nations, none of which seem to have had anything to do with it. The shooters were Muslims, but they were also French.
But sides must be taken. Arguments are already blossoming all over the Interwebs. Who is to blame? Who is the most injured? Who is screaming the loudest, threatening the most people, feeling the worst pain? Who is deciding what the sides are? It’s all up for grabs.
No wonder Kage left the chatrooms and posting boards. No wonder she advised me to do the same. And no wonder at all that I did.
Goodnight, Dear Readers. I’m going to go read a book about the Plague.