A story about one of Oliver’s few triggers.
I don’t mind when people disagree with me. I prefer it, really. If everyone agreed with me, we’d be living in a pretty strange world. Sports announcers would always show up to work in an existential funk. You’d never be able to find the DMV, but you could always find a Mexican/Irish fusion restaurant to foment in.
A strange world.
Disagreeing with me is often a good idea. Like…you know…because somebody disagrees with my values, there’s such a thing as breaking news, that lubricant of social progress.
Imagine a world without breaking news.
Nobody would know what to panic about in the morning. Without breaking news you’d have to sensationalize your own breakfast if you wanted your morning jolt. (The bacon is overdone! The toast has sharpened edges! I’m finally escaping this joint! Woosh!) You don’t have that problem with breaking news. You get your heart attacks forced upon you.
Much more convenient that way.
So I don’t mind the fact that people disagree with me.
But if you do, I hope you’re prepared to defend your position. Honestly. Because I will remember what you say, and you will hear about it from me. Oh, yes, you most certainly will… In a year or two. After I’ve sufficiently formed my own arguments. I would not care to put forward my counter-proposal without sufficient preparation. Got to be prepared.
Disagree with me as much as you like. That’s all I’m saying. I love it. That’s the true life force of human development, I think. If breaking news is the defibrillator of the human species, jolting us to action, then I think the spirit of disagreement is the sustaining force of us, giving us energy to soldier into the future.
Disagree as much as you like. I don’t mind. I encourage it.
But, you know, it sort of depends on the format.
There is one kind of argument that I can’t stand.
And I genuinely get angry about this. I don’t get angry about a lot. I’m a pretty calm guy. I’ve often been mistaken for someone who is in fact high off my tits.
I’m so calm, usually, that you could dye my hair blue, gel it into a huge ice cream cone shape, and decorate your cubicle with me as if I were an enormous pot-belly troll, staring at you with that harmless grin they have like they found the spot over the heat vent and nobody else knows.
That’s about…maybe nearly as calm as I am.
But there is something that makes me angry. This one thing. This one kind of argument.
I shall tell you what it is.
The one kind of argument that makes me angry…
Now, I know some of you might laugh, but hear me out.
If you’re talking to somebody and they disagree with you, then you can talk to them.
Incredible revelation, I know. If you are both rational human beings you can have a calm discourse about whatever it is. It’s possible anyway. Or so I’ve heard. Even if your opinions demand an immediate contest of blood letting or, heaven forbid, a “dance off” to resolve your differences, even at those times, you can still have a conversation with somebody if they are speaking to you and standing with you and respecting you with their proximity. You may never agree, but you can, at least, talk. Even if it ends in blood, in the meantime there’s a discourse.
There’s a nobility to that, I think.
But if someone chooses to make their arguments through bumper stickers — those reductions of whole world views emblazoned across these shells that are already designed to keep reality out anyway — if you think about it, they’re making an adult equivalent of a child shouting, “I hate everything!” then proceeding to scream with their fingers in their ears, expressing their free will and realization of self.
There is no environment that we have yet designed that more aggressively forces reality to stay away than cars. Maybe space shuttles, but SUVs are a close second.
From inside these aluminum sarcophagi, we can control the world.
We can bend time in them, traveling distances that a few generations ago would have caused our ancestors to cry “witch!” and run at us.
We can change weather in them! “I don’t like that’s it’s summer! Fortunately I have this ‘fuck off, sunshine!’ button here in my pocket reality.”
The mere act of driving somewhere is already an act in saying to the world, “shut up! I’m not listening to you!”
It’s the ultimate conclusion of that child’s act of self-realization in the form of ignoring and then proceeding to out-whine reality.
And that’s just unfair. To announce views in a public place, loudly and aggressively, without inviting or permitting anyone to have their own position on the issue. It just seems to lack social grace.
Which is why, even if I happen to agree with your bumper sticker that explains what problems duck tape solves, even if I agree with the relationship you claim from your bumper stickers to have to dragons or velociraptors or to Kansas (the band or the state), even if your bumper sticker makes the most exquisite claims of the usefulness of commas to prevent cannibalism, even if you and I would get along if we spoke in real life, I will still grow so angry about seeing your choice to express yourself in soundbites of twenty words or less that I’ll probably defame you to the world by composing my thoughts about the whole situation into a very stern Tweet.
I may rethink that punchline.
Let’s have an adventure.
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