Monday, July 22, 2013


In gaming, there is the idea of "Wrongfun;" sometimes termed "Badwrongfun." It's been floating around for at least the past 25 years, perhaps much longer. It is, in a nutshell, the insistence that even with an activity that's meant to be fun, you can be having fun, yet still be doing it wrong and should be set on the correct path, because doing it right is an end in itself, and the simple fact that your activity suits your purposes isn't good enough.

The picture, gleaned from social media (Where else?), that opens this post reminds me of that concept, although, to be sure, it's not an exact analogy. But there's something strange, and annoyingly self-serving, about criticizing people not for ignoring injustice, but for not being upset enough over the proper injustice. For the people who are outraged enough by the verdict in the Zimmerman case to turn to rioting, "Government [sic]assasinations" are fairly low on their list of worries. Primarily because they're more concerned with the idea that their fellow citizens, government operatives or not, have been handed carte blanche to gun them down in the streets over some nebulous (and, they feel, often racially-motivated) idea of being "threatening." Drones hunting down people on the other side of the planet are of lesser concern.

The grousing of some good government types notwithstanding, the government of the United States does, more or less listen to it's citizenry. Of course, there are exceptions, and some elements of the government are intentional insulated against public opinion. But when legislators, especially, get the idea that doing what the public wants is essential to their chances of re-election, you can bet that many of them will act (or overreact) first, and worry about the consequences later, if ever. Similarly, legislators are often quick to oppose things that they feel their constituents are against. Amateur internet activists realize this (no less so than any politically-attentive organization) and, accordingly, understand that a certain level of public outcry is required for them to realize the changes they want. What they often don't seem to understand is that they are not entitled to that outcry.

Sophisticated political advertising doesn't tell people what to think or feel. It shows them a situation, real or imagined, and allows the audience to take it from there. The rage at the Zimmerman verdict is born of the same sort of phenomenon - just not an intentional one. People see a situation that frightens and angers them, and they react accordingly. Telling them that they're wrong for not getting their rage right isn't going to sway them.

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