People self-identifying as Deplorables

I have one word of advice for anybody offended by Hillary Clinton’s statement about a percentage of Donald Trump’s supporters being in her words, “deplorables” who is thinking of changing their social media handle to include the word “deplorable” as a prefix, or is thinking of posting some meme proudly announcing that they are part of the deplorables.
There are at least three reasons that I can think of why that would be a really really bad idea. Here they are in no particular order of importance.
(CAVEAT – Of course, you may read this and are already shouting out loud “I don’t give a ****, I don’t care what some whiny-ass xxxxxx thinks about me. ” In which case, hey, it’s a free country, you can go right ahead and do whatever the hell you want. )

1. You are not your social media handle

You have a real name, which should help to identify you, and your name and your social media presence, whether you realize it or not, defines you in the eyes of any stranger that finds you on social media. If you insist on labeling yourself with a slogan, not only are you not providing any unique insight into You, you may be giving people reading your handle a first impression that is not good. If your slogan is a self-identification as part of a large group, they will tend to see you as part of a herd, a large internet group, and if they are of the opinion that (for example) Deplorables are not the sort of herd people that they want to interact with, you probably just lost an opportunity for interaction.

2. The term “deplorable” has now become a stereotype, and nobody lives up to stereotype
All of the stereotypes used in the world function as exaggerated shorthand slogans for well-known behavior pathologies. Think “jock”, “Jewish Princess”. Those words conjure up ideas about behavior that are rarely flattering. Quite the reverse.
So, if you want to self-identify as a Deplorable, yes, you can do that, but you are not positively elevating yourself on social media or distinguishing yourself. All you are doing is engaging in tribal bonding or affiliation. The term is now a perjorative shorthand stereotypical description. People do not live up to stereotype..

3. You are, whether you like it or not, associating with a large number of people who are currently, in many of their interactions, proving Hillary Clinton’s statement to be correct

Here are a couple of examples from my Twitter feed today from self-identified Deplorables who are definitely showing that they are either about to graduate from, or have graduated from Asshole School. These people are demonstrating that, given a keyboard, they too can be assholes in online forums. If they wanted to demonstrate that they are part of a group that is worthy of being described as deplorable, well…they just provided the proof that the use of that word is appropriate for describing them. Either they are immune to understanding the word “irony”, or they are, bluntly, being damn stupid.


Interview with Penn Jillette in HBR

Following the untimely death of Frank Zappa, the man who in many ways has taken up the banner of smart libertarian man in the modern USA is Penn Jillette, the higher-profile and more extrovert half of Penn and Teller.
This is a short but very interesting interview with him. The money quote is this one, when talking about what he describes as a non-social but practical working relationship with Teller:

It turns out that respect is more durable than affection.


Rodrigo Duterte and the anger of electorates

The appearance of the new Philippine Presidente Rodrigo Duterte on the world stage is proving to be awkward to say the least, with President Obama cancelling a meeting with him after Duterte announced his willingness to insult the President if he attempted to raise the issue of extra-judicial killings at the meeting.
Lost in the immediate churn of discussion about Duterte’s propensity for incendiary public statements is the question of how he came to be elected to the Presidency in the first place.
This article explains that, by a process that has many parallels to the rise of Donald Trump, Duterte, from a long-established provincial political family, positioned himself as an outsider who could restore law and order, and gained the support of middle-class electors, who are fed up with coddling the poor, who they consider to be the source of crime, and who are alienated from the rich oligarchs. Duterte’s public statements are those of a demagogue, but his supporters see a man who they think can sort the country out.
History tells us that if you give a demagogue a free hand and a blank cheque, they will swiftly take over all of the apparatus of the state and gain absolute power. The aftermath of Duterte’s election does not bode well for the future of democracy in the Philippines.

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