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Potato Head Reveal

Mr. Potato Head got banned yesterday. Or at least the “Mr.” part did. They canceled him, or de-platformed him, or de-mistered him. Gave his wife the same treatment, too. The toy company Hasbro (and really, isn’t it time to drop the ‘bro‘?) tried to backtrack a bit in the face of public outcry. They explained that the Mr and Mrs would, in fact, continue to exist, but that the “brand name” had changed in order to be “more inclusive” and so that “all could feel welcome in the Potato Head world.” Too late fellas (ladies, dogs, chairs, eyebrows .. insert your appropriate designation here.)  This Potato Head world ain’t for me.

For a very long while now I’ve attempted to keep this blog free from the more hardened and reflexive aspects of my personal opinions. It isn’t that they didn’t always exist; those who know me best could attest to this. But even in its nascent stages, I realized that the Internet Is Forever, and no amount of deleting, canceling, or erasing would change that fact. I worried that, if I stated an actual opinion without carefully acknowledging its counter, I would forever be labeled an extremist, nut, or kook. But if you’ve read some of my writing you’ll also see that the people I most admire often turn out to be extremists, nuts, and kooks. What was it that I was afraid of and how long would this fear persist?

A good friend of mine recently revealed some advice from his ninety-year-old mother, who had conveyed to him that, the older she gets, the less she worries about what others think of her. What a liberating conclusion this must be. Somewhat ironically, this same friend and I had been engaged in a spirited debate over ‘politics’ (this word is entirely insufficient but will have to do for now) in the lead-up to the last election. The opinions revealed did little to alter my view of him and were more or less in line with what I’ve always suspected. But the same didn’t apply from his perspective, listening to me. There was a good deal of cognizant dissonance in that direction, and he had to rebalance the person he thought he knew with what was being revealed.

Another friend and I were recently discussing some of the more Potato Headesque elements of modern culture. I was expressing my shifting take on inveterate institutions like the New York Times as the inevitable occurs and its editorial positions are filled by 20 and 30 somethings. Still an avid ‘Times’ reader, he referenced his two daughters, liberal arts college students firmly planted in woke culture, and suggested that we (he and I) had “held the microphone long enough.” He said it was time to pass it to the next generation. It didn’t matter that I’ve never seen myself as much of a microphone-holder. I understood his point, and agree that it has some validity.

We all get labeled in life. Somehow, initial impressions tend to peg me as a “guy’s guy,” perhaps because I can talk about sports, am losing my hair, and have a rather stocky upper torso. I’m accustomed to a kind of wariness from liberal sorts when they first meet me, like I’m going to crack a Burgemeister, plant a confederate flag, and start blasting Lynyrd Skynyrd at any minute. Then, if they get to know me, they’re typically surprised to discover I’m ‘socially liberal,’ at least by former, standard designation. After this, they tend to give me a chance, and deeper connections are occasionally forged. On even rarer occasions, after these deeper connections are forged, they find out what it is that I “really think” and it goes to hell all over again.

Here’s the thing: This lockdown is having a bad impact on kids. While it sounds great and liberally-solid to say stuff like “follow the science” it really doesn’t mean anything if the science is inconclusive, constantly debated, and heavily politicized. We’re inundated by pussy bullshit right now like no other time in modern history. We’re constantly being fed crap, either intentionally or otherwise, that distracts us in substantially unhealthy ways. What we’re losing sight of is how tricky the process of socialization and integration is. Hell, I never figured it out and they didn’t shut down my school for long chunks of my formative years. Teacher’s unions have entirely too much power and political influence and often don’t reflect the wishes of teachers themselves. We need to open schools back up as a ground-floor measure, with appropriate precaution, and as a first step in pushing back on this illogical and increasingly Orwellian New World Order.

A bit of a non-sequitur. But wow .. I feel better already.

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