Boiling Frogs: Is the Water hot or not?

By now, if you’ve stood around any incarnation of water cooler, you’ve heard about boiling frogs.  Warnings on cigarette packages.  “Check this box if you DON’T want our Partner’s Promotional Emails.” Interleague play in major league baseball.  A ban on automatic weapons. Obama and Hitler.

First comes Smoke-free aisles on airplanes, then Smoke-free Restaurants, then Smoke-free cities (Del Mar, California) then in your own home (San Rafael, California.)

First comes interleague exhibition games, then interleague regular season, then, pretty soon the World Series is irrelevant because it’s already been played!

First comes licenses issued by the government to carry, then a ban on magazine size, then a ban on automatic weapons, then a ban on handguns, then the “right of the people to bear arms” is gone, the Revolution comes and the people have nothing to fight with!

First, you don’t check the box saying you opt out, then you get an email and inattentively click and then you’re in a hundred email databases and then your opponents attorney finds your teen arraignment for theft of bubble gum and your privacy is gone!

Think about the things you first bridled against but have gotten used to.  You might not be the guy with the red stapler in the movie Office Space who eventually finds himself in the basement storeroom, without birthday cake, his stapler or a paycheck, but the precedent is pretty clear that our relativistic nature can be hazardous.

That last one…Obama and Hitler. What about that one?

You may or may not have heard of Kitty Werthmann, but there’s an email and a video link floating around that raises the question about how hot our cultural pot has gotten and whether we’re aware of how and whether we’ll all get boiled, thinking up to the last minute we were in a hot tub, relaxing.

I’m not bashful in expressing my concern about the juggernaut I perceive as hidden in claims to “help me” by a growing government.  Not too long ago, in responding to a friend’s enthusiasm for Barack’s State of the Union address in January 2013, I wrote this on Facebook:

“Such lovely mixing of traditional American catch phrases and concepts. The speech is a competent assembly of all that sounds American…except for those passages that serve as clues to the underlying theme of class warfare that he uses to accrete power – through taxation and centralization in Obama’s case. There was another fellow who used the same oratorical devices to gather the electorate together as class against class for the purpose of consolidating power. How does this sound and guess who said it and when: “Socially backward-that is, a State orientated entirely in the interests of a comparatively small and thin upper stratum and the ****(redacted as too obvious a clue to the speaker’s identity) clique with which it is allied. The interests of the broad masses are of no weight in determining the orientation of this State. Here again propaganda phrases must serve. One speaks about freedom, one speaks about democracy, one speaks about the achievements of a Liberal system meaning nothing but the stabilization of the regime of a section of society, which, thanks to its capital, is able to get hold of the Press, to organize and direct it, and to create public opinion. Thus, in a State commanding the riches of the world, having gigantic living space at its disposal, in a State with altogether hardly one inhabitant per square kilometre, in a State so blessed by nature, millions are excluded from these benefits, and live in greater poverty than the population of any of the over-populated central European States. The country which is a paradise for a few, is nothing but continuous misery for many, that is, for the masses. Misery in nourishment, misery in clothing, misery particularly in housing; misery in security of income, and in the entire social legislation. “

It’s always difficult to tell, in the moment, where the sweep of history is taking everyone.  You have a backyard pool, lots of kids, spending too much on chlorine: you can add a chemical to the water that turns pee a bright red.  Wish there was a similar equitable additive for the popular consciousness that told us which way we’re going.

A thoughtful writer on the liberal side, took a crack at digging into Kitty’s story on the DailyKos.  The best he could do inservice to his own ideals was write a pejorative headline while writing a mostly well-balanced article admitting it’s hard to tell how close the story parallels current events.  Surely, the world would have reacted differently in 1938 if it had a live video feed from 1945.  I hope.

Snopes.com, that debunker of  impending Facebook charges, burns cured by flour and a stack of claims about the effects of urine comes up with “Undetermined” in analyzing Kitty’s recollections.

To make use of Santayana’s warning about history repeating itself, first we have to remember the history, only then can we take a stab at doing something differently.  The fact that all this discussion is taking place is good because it means,  ostensibly,  people are examining at least some version of it.

You see, here’s the real edge to the tip of the point of the issue: no matter what you believe now, if the water is, in fact, just about to boil, you will be cooked and no one’s to blame except you for not getting out of it in time.

My advice?  Read up…and not just from the voices that are comfortable to hear.


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