The Right and their supporters are trying to have it both ways.
WARNING: The following example is intended to be as disturbingly repugnant as possible, to make a highly legitimate point.
Let’s say you and your committed partner/spouse/date have been invited to visit that partner’s brother-in-law’s new home. You need to use the bathroom, but because the one in the hall is occupied, you are directed to the one in the master bedroom. While there, you come across a magazine devoted to bestiality. The pages are filled with photos of women engaging all manner of sexual activity with a full range of farm animals and large dogs.
Although, to the best of my knowledge, there’s nothing whatsoever illegal about a consenting adult either engaging that sort of activity or owning photographs depicting same, I cannot imagine many folks would simply pass it off as “Oh, that’s just John being John, everyone’s got a right to enjoy what turns them on, so long as no one else is getting hurt.” While that may be technically correct, my guess is that most would find the first opportunity to excuse themselves from John’s presence and would refuse all further association with him. Keeping peace in the family would have nothing to do with it. “Peace be damned, I don’t want anything to do with the SOB” is the attitude I’d bet most would assume.
Decades ago I took a graduate class on marketing. The premier case study featured was that of Marlboro cigarettes. Demographically, by the numbers, only a minority today recalls when cigarettes were widely advertised on television, and when the Marlboro Man commercials roamed our TV sets as the chisel-jawed, rugged cowboy atop his horse, overlooking broad and lonely expanses of the American West while the theme from the Magnificent Seven http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9_VJFnm6Rs&feature=related) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLTHW0ZwK7U (Still sends chills down the spine, no wonder it worked in the campaign) movie filled the background. The best I was able to do for this epistle was to find one black & white Marlboro commercial. It only features the movie theme at the end of it. Included here is that ad, plus a YouTube to the actual theme of the movie.
Fewer yet recall the initial market segment the brand sought to capture, and how it failed miserably. The cigarette initially targeted the emerging sophisticated distaff element of the population. Featured in the advertising was sex-Siren, British lounge singer Julie London who, in her sultry, smoky voice crooned, “You get a lot to like with a Marlboro: filter, flavor, pack or box.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvgQpsFXkqA)
Revamp to the Marlboro Man, and sales soared. It remains today what it was then: the single most successful ad campaign in product history. Advertising works. Appeal to what the subconscious identifies with, and behaviors can be influenced toward whatever the manipulator’s ends may be. Absolutely, the object of the manipulative efforts has the overriding and very last responsibility, concerning his or her behaviors, regardless how predisposed the subconscious may be to a suggested alternative. That the subconscious of the object of the operant conditioning can be influenced, however, is beyond clinical dispute. It has been shown to be so by endless series of psychological studies. Indeed, it’s that truth that is behind every advertisement you see on television, on billboards, in magazines and in the papers, and over the radio.
En route to the quest of market-share dominance, all any manufacturer or provider of a service seeks is an edge up. Every study on the topic has overwhelmingly concluded that, all things being relatively equal, the eventual choice of a product or service is prompted from the subconscious. And all any manufacturer or service provider wants in its ad campaign is to forge some involuntary, unconscious link between an everyday experience and their product or service. You hear “Qua-a-ck,” and do you see an AFLAC duck? Or, for those old enough, what are you flicking when you “Flick your ---“? If the ad company really struck gold, their jingle or song became so popular that it carried over to commercial success as a stand alone recording. One of the best was Coca-Cola’s “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” by the Seekers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAgh86j5alI) Another was Alka-Seltzer’s “No Matter What Shape” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6PuGcB0lO4). And as translated into an instrumental top hit by the T-bones, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdO1KGI-dvo&feature=related)
Point made, that people’s behaviors are subject to intentional manipulation? You bet it has.
The heat on rightwing shock-talk radio and Rupert Murdock’s Fox News and Washington Times was turned way up during Obama’s presidential nomination campaign. The dial was rotated to “Scorching” once he had won the nomination, and it hasn’t been turned to a lower setting since. The tone from Limbaugh, from O’Reilly, from Glenn Beck, from Sean Hannity, from Michael “Savage” Weiner, and all others has been, to be as kind as reason allows, hateful and intentionally inciting to violence.
It isn’t as if we haven’t seen hate-born aspirations use these tactics, and the responses to those tactics in our own country more than just a few times. Whether it was the lynchings and burnings in the South, following the Civil War, or the precursor to the urban riots in the 60s . . . agitators priming the pump. Then again, perhaps the most vivid examples of all were in Nazi Germany.
Tragically, within the past few days the country has been witness to what happens when the kindling of political hate is set afire; first with the slaying of Dr. Tillman, in his church. That was soon afterwards followed by deadly violance at the Holocaust Museum. Years earlier, in 1995, it was the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that was razed to white ash by rightwing white supremacists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, and that resulted in the murder of 168 and the terrible maiming of more than 800.
What we have today are the fully grown carnivorous, ugly blossoms of Richard Nixon’s Republican Party’s unabashedly hate-driven “Southern Strategy” seeds. These are same plants, having germinated and poked through the Nashtoba County, Mississippi soil that Ronald Reagan fertilized in his opening presidential gambit, and that were meticulously tended in the mid-90s by born-again televangelists and Gingrich farmers who claimed the ground and the notion that they, and only they, could be True Americans and True Christians, which, per their oft Spoken Word, were in fact one and the same.
The blossoms broadcast wide the seeds of the same carnivorous plant. Through the entirety of Senator Obama’s campaigns and to this hour has been the cry that “He is the anti-Christ”, “an America-hating, anti-Christian Muslim who wants to emasculate this country, to deliver it into the hands of our enemies.” At the Republican fund-raising dinner a number of days ago, aging actor Jon Voight was thanked by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell for his comments: “Barack Obama is a false prophet” and that the gathered, “we and we alone are the right frame of mind to free this nation from this Obama oppression.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/12/opinion/12krugman.html?th&emc=th)
Those comments were of the same tenor and intent as those made by Fox television’s Bill O’Reilly who repeatedly referred to Dr. George Tiller as “Dr. Tiller the Baby Killer” and asserted the doctor had “blood on his hands” because he was “operating a death mill.” The same tenor and intent as Glenn Beck who venomously reported that FEMA “might be building concentration camps as part of the Obama administration’s totalitarian policies.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/12/opinion/12krugman.html?th&emc=th)
(And the call to “free this nation from this Obama oppression” is not seeking the very same reaction as over and over and over referring to a physician as “Dr. Tiller the Baby Killer”? Don’t insult me. Let us not feign stupid, okay. Everyone knows exactly what is being sought by the use of that phrase.)