"Three Italians, Four Opinions..." -- Unknown
I think I have discussed this topic before on this page, but it is a phenomenon which bears repeated examination, if only because it is one of life's little annoyances and so precisely indicative of human stupidity that it should never be out of the realm of our waking thoughts for too long a time.
It is a serious problem and it has only gotten worse with the advent of the Intertoobies, and probably leads to more misunderstanding, chaos and the decreasing ability of the average person to engage their critical thinking apparatus when needed.
This is the ability of people who have no first-hand knowledge of things, who have no direct experience of events, who apparently are too young (or miseducated) to understand or remember, who are incapable of doing context -- in any form -- but who feel, for whatever reason, that they have an expertise that I don't.
I wish to stop right here and say that while The Overlord is, indeed, expert in many topics, his vast store of (often useless) knowledge and great intelligence, sadly, do not permit him to claim expertise in everything under the sun.
This knowledge of where my own experience and expertise come to an end does not, however, give pause to every boneheaded idiot who hasn't recognized the boundaries of their own expertise and experience from chiming in on every subject, nonetheless.
I will give some examples from the last two weeks (which have been FASCINATING for a variety of reasons that I might write about later, if I feel like it) in which I have been engaged in conversation on subjects, various and sundry, by people who, on a good day, might be able to scratch their own asses without the assistance of a government program, if only for the purposes of sniffing their fingers afterwards.
People are easily amused...
Something I've noticed is that people will often ask for an opinion, and then argue with me because they disagree. This happens an awful lot, and because I'm a sucker for a good argument (because I love to do so, but, alas, the competition is usually not up to snuff) I sort of fall easily into this moron trap and then wonder why I didn't just save time, effort and aggravation and just shoot myself at the beginning.
This curious convention, where someone asks for an opinion and then feels compelled to start yelling at me, troubles me greatly. If only because I fear I may lose the self-control that prevents me from ripping off their heads and shitting down their necks.
If the purpose of ASKING for an opinion was to start a fight, then don't ask.
If the purpose of asking for an opinion was to get another perspective on something, then the fight was wholly unnecessary, because apparently, your mind was already made up and did not require additional input from me.
Just know that if you're asking just to engage in a battle of wits, then Buddy Boy, you've arrived completely disarmed.
If it is in my wheelhouse, I'll fucking bury you.
Anyway...If you ever wish to ask to hear one of my opinions/have a serious discussion/start a fight with me, here are The Rulez:
1. If I do not know about something I will quite plainly state that I don't know. Repeated prodding will not change my answer, nor will the requisite knowledge magically appear in my head. Nine times out of ten, what you want to hear, discuss, or fight with me about is usually outside the realm of your knowledge and experience, anyway, because you're an idiot, and most likely just regurgitating something you've read or saw on television.
You will be punched in the face.
2. If you intend to engage in this skirmish for the purposes of exhibiting some form of phony erudition, I will (rhetorically) shove your argument back up your ass, sideways, and then ridicule you mercilessly.
And then you will be punched in the face.
3. If, in the course of argument, you make an assertion that either defies logic or for which there is no physical evidence -- that doesn't involve some guy in his mother's basement, transmitting on YouTube wearing a tinfoil hat and matching underwear; that doesn't count -- I will hold your cat for ransom, send a Bag of Dicks to your mother every week with a love letter attached, and then...punch you in the face.
4. If you intend to to tell me "the truth" of events and circumstances that occurred before you were born, if you have not actually lived them yourself, if your "evidence" is anecdotal and runs contrary to any that I may have from direct observation or experience, I'm going to (rhetorically) ass-rape you. hold you up for all the world to see as the sad result of poor genetics, and then punch you in the face.
And so it was that I was engaged in rhetorical combat with a slew of dingbats on a variety of issues.
The first problematic shithead I'd like to talk about is the guy who wanted to tell me how The War on Drugs is a farce, it was all a CIA-plot to destroy the black community in America (why bother? They were already doing a good job of it themselves), the Crack Epidemic was a product of deliberate government policy, and because of it the criminal justice system is inherently biased against People O' Color.
Mind you, my opponent is an Italian (hence the quote above)...who lives in Italy. He is fifteen years younger than I am, so that while I was already an adult and living through the events related to crack, drug use and the militarization of police forces, he was still suckling on his mother's tit.
Which they all do in Italy until they start shaving, anyway.
Especially the girls.
So that to counter this complete blather with experience -- I was here; I have memories of how bad it got; crack became a problem because the dealers had flooded the market with powdered cocaine and drove the price (and profits) down, meaning they had to find a new market. I recall, vividly, the Al $harptons and Je$$E Jacksons, the Maxine Waters, and the rest of that motley crew screaming, nay, BEGGING, for more and more-aggressive policing, harsher criminal penalties, stricter sentencing, Three-Strikes laws, and so on and so forth.
The War on Crack and Inner-city crime are prime examples of American government -- at all levels -- responding to the wishes of the electorate. Now, almost 40 years later, if it has resulted in 2 million black men in jails, if it has seen prosecutors use the "lesser-included charge" as a means of forcing plea bargains, if "Stop-and-Frisk" became a daily annoyance to many, if militarized cops with tanks and Special Forces became ubiquitous, this is why.
You ASKED for it.
Now, my interlocutor lives in Italy. He has all of his life. He has visited the United States a relative handful of times, but like most Europeans, if you asked him where he's been, you get answers like "Florida", "Disneyland", and "New York", which means they came to spend two weeks in the sun at a beachy resort, spent a week in a theme park where they never left the hotel right next door, or they were here once or twice on business for a few days. Of course, all of this means they don't know jack shit about America, what it's laws are, how they came to be, and the only people they came into contact with were probably there to serve them in some capacity.
It's not like they were taking leisurely walks through Harlem at 4 a.m. to take in the local scenery and culture. They certainly weren't entering the backwoods to make contact with the sort of people who moonshine and run meth labs. They hardly see or know of places like "Brooklyn" (to them, Manhattan is the entirety of New York), or Columbus, OH, Erie, PA, or West Pig-fucker Hollow, AR. They don't bother to take the three-hour drive or bus trip to the Amish Country from here, or the journey north to Boston.
And yet every European I have every met, with few exceptions, believes that they can spend two weeks every other year here in some tourist trap and emerge as a complete expert on All Things American...including our social and criminal problems.
In the case of Italians, specifically, this attitude is a result of a wholly-undemonstrated belief in their "higher culture". Remind an Italian that this highly-developed, classical culture is a) a knock-off of Greek culture, and b) was created by people far more capable, efficient, intelligent, and intellectually-curious people who all died between 500 and 2,500 years ago, and they get insulted. I have been in Italy once or twice in modern times and my opinion is that it is an ungodly shithole of crumbling everything, non-functioning everything, and people who might be able to muster enough intelligence to fart thrice day, a consequence of all the olive oil they consume.
Modern Italians, to judge from my experience of them, bear no resemblance to the giants of antiquity; none can make an argument like Cicero; few, if any, believes in anything other than soccer; the entire country frequently goes days without bathing (a reason why Italians are tops in perfume-making); and that, generally-speaking, the higher up the social and educational ladder an Italian goes, the more he seems to fall in love with Communism -- for everyone else, of course, not for Italians.
In the end, their nonsense is really just an expression of an inferiority complex.
I have seen a similar tendency in the British, though not quite so pronounced. One of the curious experiences I have had of British people is that the closer one gets to London, the snobbier one tends to become (this happens with the imports from the Midwest to NYC, too). I've also noticed that personal proximity to lower social class tends to send this snobbishness into higher RPMs, so that the son of a sheep herder from Cornwall, for example, as soon as he attends university and gets himself a bullshit office job in London, starts to think of himself as an urban sophisticate, par excellence, who wouldn't dare associate with the working classes because it just wouldn't do.
Of course, he has no trouble with the working lasses, however, because while he doesn't want to be poor, he certainly doesn't mind fucking it. The one-generation-removed-from-farmer office boy in Canary Wharf becomes status- and class-conscious the second you put him in a suit.
Trading an address in East Anglia for one in Knightsbridge suddenly makes the plumber's daughter a member of the nobility, or something. This is why when I have visited the UK, I have tended to haunt the countryside, where people may be poorer and less-polished, but they are more-honest, friendlier, and less-judgemental (disclaimer: I have not been in the UK for 15 years, so maybe things have changed, but I doubt it from the contacts I often deal with).
Which brings us to perhaps the biggest cocksuckers in all of Europe, the Belgians. I must admit to having never set foot on Belgian soil (which I imagine to be as smelly and gritty as they are), but I have done business with a Belgian firm here in America for many years (the contract is now up, so I don't have to be nice, anymore). Belgium has, so far as I can tell, only two redeeming virtues.
The first is that they put mayonnaise on everything.
The second is that they do a really, really, REALLY good job of exporting the absolute worst people they have to offer to go work in the United States (The Swiss run a close second).
A Belgian of my acquaintance recently told me that Slavery is America's Original Sin (like I haven't heard that one before) and because of it, we have always been a racist, oppressive country that treats people unfairly and is generally hate-y, oppress-y and racist-y.
Pointing out to her that it was EUROPEANS who began importing African slaves to the Americas -- after they had run out of criminals, debtors, indentured servants, political prisoners and religious non-conformists and the like --so that if slavery came to these shores, it did so under the flags of Spain, Britain, France, Portugal, The Netherlands and even Sweden (Delaware, for those who did not know, began as a Swedish colony), she should probably STFU.
If we were a slaveholding people, we only learned from the best...and they learned to be so from other Europeans, like the Greeks, Romans, Germans, Russians, Byzantines.
Why, there is only a entire group of people inhabiting Europe known as "Slavs", from whence we get the word slave, no?
Original Sin? Europe perfected slavery in various forms from the days of Homer all the way down to the exploitation and mass murder of concentration camp prisoners by both Nazi and Communist, The British Empire scattered Chinese and Indians to hell and back all over the Dominions, and Europe is busily importing the poverty-ridden dregs of Africa and the Middle East so that Belgians can retire at 50 with a government pension without having to worry about who will make their mayonnaise or decide which entitled, uppity, dumbfuck bitch gets sent to America to "work" for six figures with a company-provided apartment and car...
...because there soon won't be any dumbfuck bitches of Belgian extraction to send, for all the babies named "Muhammad".
But, that's not slavery, you see, because they are given access to the generous welfare system in Belgium.
** Facepalm **
I'm sure Belgians were handing out candy canes and lemonade to the natives in Africa, too.
And things like this happen all the time. Doesn't matter the subject: 9/11 (a perennial favorite with people who just want to argue non-facts and always tell me I'm lying when I regale them with my eyewitness account, having been at Ground Zero when the first airliner struck), the state of American politics, America's social issues, history, COVID (both Mrs. Overlord and myself had a coronavirus a year before anyone ever heard the word), whatever.
I am engaged in conversations with people who profess knowledge that they can't possibly have, they insist they are right and infallible, and a) I live here; you don't, b) I was alive, experiencing the events in real time, and remember them well, c) you weren't even born at the time, so what the fuck do you actually KNOW?, and d) perhaps you should look at your own history and country before you attempt to crap on mine. This application of logic somehow fails to stop them in their tracks.
And this problem is not confined to Europe, nor is it peculiar to Europeans, so that I have Australian friends who want to tell me what's wrong with my country, friends from the Midwestern and Southern States who all have expert opinions on all things New York, despite the fact they have never been here and often will proclaim that fact with pride. Colleagues in Finland chime in on American Gun Laws (Finland produces the ugliest people on Earth, btw).
The problem, as I've just said, isn't even limited to Europe. A recent weekend BBQ at a friends home put me into a discussion about addiction with a woman who finds lost luggage for a living, who between her fifth and possibly ninth Mojito wants to argue with me about the causes of addiction and how people should be treated, why they do the things they do, and the fact that I am a former alcoholic and have spent two decades helping other alcoholics and drug addicts get the help they need, means absolutely nothing.
She's a fucking expert on the subject, you see.
And then it dawned on me that I wasn't talking to someone who was having the discussion for the sake of conversation, but who was obviously worried about her own alcohol intake, but stuck in the quicksand of denial. Her "talking points" were all about justifications and excuses for her behavior. I've seen this before in addicts: they will talk to someone who has been there and done that for the purpose of engendering a feeling of "being judged", and having decided that they're being treated unfairly by someone who sees right through them, uses the "persecution" as an excuse to keep right on drinking.
I'm guessing in another month I'll hear she's been in rehab, left of her own accord having accomplished nothing, and then will be taking Mojitos intravenously.
I wish there was a way to combat this sort of thing, but punching people in the face gets tiresome.