Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Plague of (and upon) Pundits

I've been wondering why it is that I (and it seems others as well) feel particularly weary of our politics these days.  No doubt this weariness is the result of the nature of our politicians, our political system, and the cynicism which they breed.  But I think also that, more and more, the ubiquity of pundits, who are displayed like totems by those who believe themselves to be journalists in these dark times (o tempora!) are to blame for our--or at least my--discontent, ennui.

I'm increasingly annoyed by the chihuahua-like yapping of Chris Matthews, the boorish, beefy locutions of Rush Limbaugh, the nasal pontifications of Bill Maher, the messianic vagaries of Glenn Beck...the list goes on, and on.  But these are only among the wealthier of those who, for reasons I find puzzling, are paid to tell us incessantly what they think about people and events.  There is always some lackey of a political candidate or party, some self-or-media appointed expert, someone, some person, regardless of qualification or party or preference who is called upon by some talking head to remark on whatever is considered news. 

Do broadcast journalists now think it impossible to function without some pundit or expert available to expound on something they speak on camera or to a microphone?  It cannot be that these people are used, or indeed are expected, to contribute to the knowledge of those who watch or listen, or provide some insight.  They generally say exactly what anyone with nominal intelligence would expect them to say based on their all-to-obvious interests or positions.  Why bother asking them to appear?  Has it become a custom of sorts?  Is there a general, implied agreement that pundits will be called upon on any topic?  Is there a kind of union of pundits which has compelled television and radio networks to employ at least one of its members whenever they are "on the air"?

Clearly, those of us who are not pundits or journalists are considered incapable of thinking for ourselves.  So, we are provided with pundits who will tell us what to think and why we should think it.  The fact that pundits increase and prosper, go forth and multiply, would seem to indicate that this is believed to be the case and, worse yet, may in fact be the case.  Or, if we are not yet incapable of thinking for ourselves--if there are still persons capable of thought among us--perhaps the plethora of pundits will inexorably assure that we will become incapable of making decisions on the issues of the day without their supposed assistance.

Unfortunately, pundits seem to impact our conduct more and more.  They tell us how to act, how to react.  That tell us who will or will not be elected.  They tell us what they will or will not do once they are elected.  They tell us what foreign countries will do, what religious people will do, what the markets will do, and what will happen (to us) when they do what they will do.

It is a kind of plague, and there is a way to avoid a plague and that is to avoid contamination.  That is, in this case, achieved rather simply despite the omnipresence of those who carry or propagate the plague.  Stop watching them; stop paying any attention to them.  Don't read them, don't listen to them.  There are only a few of them who know anything or have anything to tell you and you can, if you but try, find out what you need to make an informed decision all by yourself.  They must be quarantined.  There is no cure, they cannot be made well.  If we are fortunate, they will die off.

Save yourself, while you still can.  Think for yourself.

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