The first time I saw the irrationality of large groups of adults happened when I was an adolescent in Lafayette, Louisiana. My mom took me to a parish council meeting (in case you don’t know, parishes are counties but they’re called “parishes” in Louisiana because Catholicism) for a debate over allowing fluoridation of the water in the community. I had asked to go because I’ve always been perverse that way. To my family, it seemed like the easiest call: Of course. We had moved from a town in Florida where the water was fluoridated and we were all fine.
I wasn’t really surprised at how many people opposed it. However, I remember being shocked (and, lemme be honest here, amused – I was around 12) by the passionate way these putative grown-ups, some of whom were parents of friends of mine, spouted insane bullshit. It wasn’t just that they were ignorant. They were proudly ignorant, wanting to share that ignorance with the whole goddamn city. Even in the dark ages of pre-internet time, they had done their own “research” and brandished supposed studies that showed how fluoride caused all kinds of maladies, from mental illness to bone destruction. It was weird and eye-opening. I mean, none of us who drank fluoridated water had grown a third arm or shit out teeth or gone dumb. Besides, the garbage put into the air by the oil industry and the chemical plants was gonna get us if the lead paint and asbestos in our schools didn’t first. That didn’t matter.
What mattered was some egghead doctors thought they knew better about how to take care of children’s teeth than the gathered moms and dads and that shit just wouldn’t fly. And to this day, there is no fluoride in the water in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, and the state’s overall dental health is consistently among the worst in the country.
Ignorance and cowardice won because, well, it usually does. Right now, for instance, the Covid vaccination rate in Lafayette Parish is around 39%, and it’s not close to the lowest in the state. And its rates of infection, hospitalization, and death are at or near the highest since the start of the pandemic, which proves that the fucking worst people can fuck things up even in a state with a Democratic governor who has issued a mask mandate that most everyone is just ignoring because all the right-wingers are ear- and eye-fucking them with waves of disinformation and lies that they gobble up like kibble from Jesus’s asshole.
That scene of brazen, public, proud ignorance I witnessed as a kid is playing out every damn day.
In Michigan, Kalamazoo County’s Health Department held a meeting on mask mandates where the people said shit like, “Don’t tell me how to raise my family” and “We as parents should decide what that risk is going to be.” At a Kent County meeting, you could hear some fucknut say, creepily, “We are responsible for our biological property, which is our children” while people fucking applauded those sentiments. Not to get all into moron logic, but the second your kids step outside your house, they gotta play by the rules or go the fuck home to their biological owners. (Yeah, that’s genuinely creepy. Can we get child protective services over to that house?)
Up the road a little ways in Ottawa County, parents dragged kids to chant, sing, and pray outside a Board of Commissioners meeting. One man-shaped butt plug shouted at the commissioners, “There’s hell coming and I’m not doing it to threaten anybody but there’s a lot of good guys out there ready to do bad things soon. Watch what’s coming.” These little bitches do this all the time: they aren’t threatening anyone, but here’s a threat. Fuck you, you fake warrior. Make a goddamn threat and take the consequences or sit the fuck down.
In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont had to stop a back-to-school roundtable at an actual high school because anti-mask dickmites showed up to yell at him and other officials. They were called “criminals” and one asshole called out, “When did we start living in Nazi Germany, Ned?” The answer, of course, is when a bunch of unelected thugs started refusing to follow legitimate laws and used force to shut down dissent with their extremist beliefs. But that’s a bit too nuanced for the Masks = Holocaust crowd.
I just wanna say to all of ’em, “Motherfuckers, we’re the ones who should be pissed off. We got vaccinated. We did what was good for the nation, what was good for everyone. We thought we were gonna be in unmasked bliss and getting back to normal, but you ignorant fucks blew it for everyone. Eat my whole ass.” But that won’t matter to someone who thinks they are so right and righteous in their stupidity that they need to show everyone, like a proud toddler with an erection.
And let’s not even begin to get into the basic fuckery behind Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order suspending laws so that no government nor any body that receives funds from the state can issue a vaccine mandate. Abbott, who has decided to try to out-Trump Trump on deranged and harmful acts, is sucking so hard at the nutzoid right teat that he’ll go cross-eyed from the effort. There should be a national vaccine mandate and anyone who doesn’t like it can go live on Covid island where they can pass around variants until they run out of Greek letters or people.
Or Florida. Jesus fuck, Florida.
The GOP has put this nation on a ledge and threatened to push it off. And every day, they keep chipping more and more of that ledge away through their actions and inaction. For those who know that they’re spreading utter bullshit, it’s brutal and cruel. For those who are true believers, it’s dumbfounding. We’re approaching a convulsion point where the only way some will know how to react is through violence. And that still won’t be enough for the conservative jackals feeding on our anxiety and rage and conflict.
We’ve been close to madness in modern times before as a nation, but each time, we seem to pull back just before we plunge over that edge. I’m not so sure we can this time.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on August 26, 2021 on The Rude Pundit, a website featuring commentary by Lee Papa. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Papa.