Some days, there seems no succor against the raging ignorance that plagues the United States. But others, there’s hope, and today, history has an answer: hearing loss.
I first learned of the joys of presbycusis—age-related hearing loss—while perusing the July 16, 1880 issue of the Hickman Courier (KY.). The article, “Deafness of the Aged,” reads, in part, “The gradual loss of hearing is effected for the best purpose, it being intended to give ease and quietude to the decline of life, when any noise or sound from without but discomposes the enfeebled mind and prevents peaceful meditation. Indeed, the gradual withdrawal of all the senses and the decay of the frame of old age has been wisely ordained in order to wean the human mind from the concerns and pleasures of the world, and to induce a longing for a perfect state of existence.”
What a surprise to learn that geriatric aural degeneration offers a certain bliss, albeit patronizing and dogmatic. But that’s not so bad because, well, isn’t today’s ignominy of ignorance giving you the vapors? Wouldn’t a wee loss of hearing provide a comforting mute to the blare of absurdity that greets our morning ablutions? Wouldn’t you welcome a respite from the barking lunatics who hound us through the day, nipping at our heels as we attempt to flee the mongrel bastards of bigotry, misogyny, idiocy?
One trepidatious step outside the sanctuary of my study, and my quietude is shattered by an onslaught of ill-reasoned offenses. Even the unintended irony of advertising renders me disconsolate.
Consider the for-profit online education firm K12.com and its recent news-hour ad spot, “Rewards.” The advertisement features a testimonial appearance from “Teresa,” a homeschooling mother who declares, “You just need to be a mom that loves their child.”
No, no you don’t. To take advantage of K12.com’s corporatized educational unit delivery system, you just need to be a mom who doesn’t care about English grammar. Those moms who do, know you just need to be a mom who loves her child. And where are the dads?
Perhaps some of them are lining up at the U.S.-Mexico border to terrify child refugees—the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free from drug wars, poverty and corruption.* The border vigilantes can join the uncommodious company of the Ku Klux Klan. Imperial Wizard Robert Jones, of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, is calling for a shoot-to-kill law to forestall the immigrant hordes from the south—including children. He said in an Aljazeera interview, “If we can’t turn them back, I think if we pop a couple of them off and leave their corpses laying on the border, maybe they’ll see that we’re serious about stopping immigration.”
Jones’ mind might be enfeebled, but hate is hate is hate, no matter how withdrawn his senses.
Equally befuddled by critical thinking, Brian Brown of National Organization for Marriage bellowed his buffoonery in a recent email attempt to refute the logic of same-sex marriage. Declaring definitions important, his point’s illustration was a G. K. Chesterton quote from his essay, “The Suicide of Thought,” in which Chesterton defends the need for categorization in order to communicate: “If all chairs were quite different, you could not call them ‘all chairs.’”
Indeed, chairs might be different in size or shape or color, in the individual character of each, but they have more in common than they are different, they all serve the same purpose—to provide seating—hence the common word they all share, ‘chair.’ Just as marriages might be different in size or shape or color, in the individual character of each, but they have more in common than they are different, they all serve the same purpose—to unite two committed people—hence the common word they share, ‘marriage.’
This particular of Chesterton’s essays can more readily be said to support the logic of same-sex marriage than to refute it, but Brown’s bellicosity blinds him to logic.
Similarly, U.S. Supreme Court Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, Thomas and Scalia appear blinded to any human experience they’ve not know as privileged males. (Yes, Justice Thomas wasn’t born into privilege, but, alas, he’s no Thurgood Marshall). The five justices’ recent Hobby Lobby decision, supporting a corporation’s right to impose its owners’ religious dogma on its female employees—blocking their healthcare coverage for contraception—buggers the senses much worse than aging, as it broadcasts the five justices’ incomprehension of women’s reproductive lives—and of the repercussions of their disastrous decision.
In fact, our nation’s abandonment of common sense at every level of decision-making, our abandonment of respect for others, of generosity, of gratitude for our many riches, of accommodations for the world weary, of reverence for democracy, of our collective humanity; this great and comprehensive decline discomposes the mind, prevents peaceful meditation, lays waste to the pleasures of the world.
And so I yearn for that decline of life, the decay of my frame, for a perfect state of existence. I crave the deafness of the aged.
Although, I’d far prefer that the blathering ignorami shut up.
* My apologies to Emma Lazarus.
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Kit-Bacon Gressitt's commentary and political fiction can be read on her blog Excuse Me, I'm Writing and have been published by San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, The Ocean Beach Rag, The Progressive Post and San Diego Free Press. She formerly worked for the North County Times. She is also host of Fallbrook's monthly Writers Read open mic and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.