Monday, May 3, 2010

Everything is your fault

I often wondered why many politicians behave with such snivelling dishonesty. Lies and back-stabbing seem a poor way to get popular support. Also, why spend so much on controlling public relations? Surely the public know that spin doctors twist the news, and knowing this renders the whole daft charade irrelevant since they won’t be taken in by it?

I couldn’t figure it out – until this happened:

Speaking in Santiago, Chile, Cardinal Bertone, the Pope's 'prime minister', said the Pontiff would soon take more surprising initiatives regarding the sex-abuse scandal but he did not elaborate.

He told a news conference: "Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and paedophilia but many others have shown that there is a relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia."

Wow! What a spectacularly dumb statement. Apart from being medically incorrect, Bertone just killed off whatever lingering little respect many still kept for the Catholic Church. Few organisations in the world are quite as clumsy and clueless when it comes to news control as the Vatican. For an institution that has been convincing people of the unproveable for 2,000 years its grasp on PR is absolutely atrocious.

But hang on, that's a good thing.

We all should be happy; their clumsiness should make a satisfying contrast with the polished lies of the politicians. Instead the Church seems to be taking more flak than any other organisation for child abuse, even though priests are no more likely to abuse children than any other men, and even though other institutions (like schools and secular orphanages) have been concealing widespread sexual abuse for ages too.

Then I thought: so that’s why politicians use PR, it actually does work. People really are that gullible and easily fooled, and anyone who can’t manipulate information will be defeated by those who can. The Catholic Church is rubbish at it, so they pay.

Political spin doctors exist because the electorate are gullible enough to fall for it. It’s the people’s fault.

The housing bubble that led to the economic crisis was partly caused by the ordinary people foolishly accepting massive mortgages. For months people have been blaming bankers for lending them the money to waste on impossibly big properties, instead of admitting responsibility for their own greed. Everyone who built during the boom was part of the problem.

The people killed Princess Diana. The people bought all those lousy tabloids that sent miserable paparazzi to chase her to her death and then, blood all over their hands, hurled abuse at the agents their spending on tabloids employed.

The people murdered 18,000 Mexicans since 2006, by buying the drugs Mexican drug gangs produce and smuggle. The people fund the Taliban every time they buy heroin, and support Colombian militia with every snort of cocaine. It’s the people’s fault – the drug gangs are just providing a service that wouldn’t exist without the people demanding it.

The people are the reason political debate is so often vacuous, hinging on image and sound bites. The people tell media to dumb down and simplify news every time they choose to buy dumbed down news products.

Not all people, of course. Some don’t buy illegal drugs, read trashy paparazzi magazines, vote based on snappy campaign slogans or arrange mortgages they can’t afford. Top-down evil exists too. But blaming cynical elites, when they are empowered by ordinary people, is getting tiresome.

If I could meet the Common Man, I’d blame him for buying all the crap the media and banks and governments sell, because it’s his fault. Sid Vicious had it right when he was asked if the Sex Pistols thought of the man on the street while making music:

Nah! I’ve met the man on the street – he’s a cunt.

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