As a middle school student, we were assigned Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. I laughed my guts out, but soon realized that many were appalled by the idea that Irish babies should be used to feed the poor. As I grew up, I read Vonnegut with the avidity that presaged the kind of fandom that we see kids have nowadays for video games, and for it, I was a bit of an outsider. The word I learned in medical school was concrete -most of the world is concrete. They can process black and white, but are blind to shades of gray. A pie in the face is funny, but a pie made of Irish babies, not so much.
You can see this in the audience for comedy -in the 90’s, it was fans of Leno versus Letterman (and now O’Brien), Jeff Foxworthy versus Jerry Seinfeld, and Britney Spears versus Lady Gaga. It’s the divide that separates America into Walmart and Target. There are people who take Sarah Palin seriously and those who see a cosmic joke. It is with utmost seriousness that I propose a new DSM personality disorder -the Irony Deficit Disorder or IDD.
IDD is marked by a lack of curiosity of the world beyond the experience offered by life within earshot and immediate view. People with IDD have limited affect and rarely express themselves with their hands. They hew to orthodoxy and are great believers of world views constructed by dead people. They are suspicious of the new and generally feel uncomfortable around people who don’t share their background. IDD is found across the political and socioeconomic spectrum. People with IDD are easily offended. They will likely be offended by this piece. These people find change distressful and uncomfortable. At first, new things are regarded with disdain and suspicion, and the ethical and moral dimensions are weighed from the viewpoint of their particular flavor of orthodoxy. When change threatens to intrude, they usually have been able to withdraw from it and the world, but not anymore. The internet, which back in the halcyon days of the nineties offered a utopian view of world connectedness -a New World Order, functions as both the irritant and the balm to those with IDD.
Every country now has its native Taliban fighting the bare-legged, ochre-skinned, breast implanted, spangly-pole dancing march to progress. It is the loss of tribe, social norms, and social status to barbarian invaders talking, looking, and thinking differently and dictating change while secretly sneering at the rubes, or so it seems to the bitter IDD person. They look at their internet in shock and awe – How can it be not wrong for a man to kiss a man and marry a man? How can it be not wrong for a white girl to kiss a black man? Why are they trying to get me to eat that horrible looking food? Why do I have to look at that person dressed that way? Why are those signs not in my native language? Why do I have to pronounce that name the way they want to? How can it be not wrong to assert that America is a country whose only mention of God in the Constitution is in the separation of church and state? Their fears are straightforward –They are trying to change my core values and by extension, denigrate them.
Now, having IDD in no way handicaps that individual. These people buy Toyotas and GM cars, use Windows, and wear red Christmas sweaters embroidered with reindeer. They pay taxes and abide the law. In fact, they are the majority, and their concerns have to be respected up to the point where someone else’s rights are infringed. Those of us endowed with the third eye of irony and rationalism have a difficult position because we will always be in the minority and vulnerable (see Qin Dynasty -burying of the scholars and burning of the books, Spanish Inquisition, Nazi Gleichshaltung, McCarthy Hearings, the Cultural Revolution, the Gulag, Taliban Kabul Soccer Stadium activities, the Iranian Election of 2009, The Glen Beck Show). A candle is mostly wax with a fine evanescent flame, easily blown out.
The bright lights of our world have to make a stand. Rather than retreat to Starbucks to grope out discontented tweets for a limited audience, we have to reach out and actively defend ourselves and our civilization which is the Modern Civilization. Rather than sneer behind our Kindle’s, we have to speak clearly for our Constitution and rule of law. We have to make our votes count and work with our like minded brethren in the opposing camp to come to rationale, workable solutions rather than digging trenches festooned with figures hung in effigy. The rational center must hold true to the convictions of Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Adams.
You now have the tee box.