Mar 07, 2021
2 mins read
This loudest hype around the Dr Seuss News - that six of his books will be removed from publication (source) - reminds me a bit of the "Suing McDonald's for hot coffee" panic and the yearly "War on Christmas" whining. Why?
All are examples of straw-man arguments whipped up by the Conservative Complain-o-Sphere (Fox News, the Trump cult, QAnon weirdos, etc.) There are others, but let's discuss these three.
Professional whiners take a small, usually isolated - often made up - incident and try to paint it as a huge problem in our culture.
Their real agenda is propaganda.
They claim: "Dr. Seuss is being canceled by PC Culture!" He's not. His estate has decided 6 of the lesser-known books have offensive imagery. The other books will continue. The larger goal of the bad guys here is making you think that "politically correct" culture (the ideal of being respectful to others) is all bad because it results in silly censorship. Sure, people can take things too far, but this is not the case here.
The "lady sues over hot coffee" story was the same. A lady sued McDonald's for spilling hot coffee on herself. You can argue it was her fault, or you can argue the company was warned their coffee was dangerously too hot according to food prep safety laws. The details are in the fantastic documentary "Hot Coffee."
Regardless, the Conservative Complain-o-Sphere spun the incident as "OMG lawsuits against big companies are soooo stupid. We should limit all lawsuits against big companies." The larger agenda was pushing "tort reform" - which is a fancy way of saying ALL lawsuit damages should be limited. Whether a company made coffee too hot, or whether they dumped fracking waste in your drinking water, all damages should be restricted.
The War on Christmas? Same thing. Complain-o-nauts take one instance of people protesting a Christmas display. Maybe the protests are uptight, maybe they are not. We'd have to decide each individually. But the whiners claim it's a nationwide cultural crisis that is the core of everything wrong with the USA. I feel most of the time, it's people trying to be more inclusive, as not everyone is Christian. Or to keep government bodies separate (as in the separation of Church and State described in the first amendment (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...)
On it goes.
The Conservative Rage-o-Sphere tries to convince you there's a "War on Christmas" so they can push their books about Christian culture.
They try to convince you there's a "War on Companies" and that all lawsuits need to be severely limited.
Now they're trying to sell you on "War on Children's books." The larger goal there being so you stop calling out outdated or offensive imagery.
Of course there's some crazy people out there who sue, protest children's books, protest Christmas for terrible reasons, but the Conservative Rage-o-Sphere is more often just trying to take the worst examples of good ideas and portray those ideas as damaging.
The solution is: don't take one tiny example and trash an idea. In other words watch out for "strawman" arguments. And try to admit what I'm about to admit...
I could be wrong.