Awhile back, when the Occupy Movement was at its zenith, I speculated on why the naysayers were concentrating on the cleanliness aspect of occupation sites:
Speaking of theories, I have a new one about Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS ads against Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic Senate candidates. It has to do with cleanliness. This is based on a limited number of data points but if the hard core Fox News lovers I know are any indication, there are lot of people who are very fastidious about their bodies. Chalk it up to a long gone era when virginity was prized (for some weird reason that bears no resemblance to reality) and nice girls didn’t indulge in unorthodox sexual activity. Home Ec was not an elective. Fastidiousness, cleanliness, keeping one’s personal habits and thoughts tidy or at least being ashamed of them- all very important. Holy hemiola!, have you ever heard one of them go off about homosexuality?? It’s all about the dirtiness, *physical* dirtiness, that they dislike. Now, I’m not sure that the typical Fox News viewer always felt this way about a little filth but for some reason, they are now. Some conditioning from 5 decades ago has been pricked and Rove knows how to work it. And just think about all that mud at Woodstock…
This is the video from the Crossroads foundation:
Looks like I was on to something. Yesterday, an article in the NYTimes explained our human reaction to disgusting things and how that reaction can be used politically:
Disgust is the Cinderella of emotions. While fear, sadness and anger, its nasty, flashy sisters, have drawn the rapt attention ofpsychologists, poor disgust has been hidden away in a corner, left to muck around in the ashes.
No longer. Disgust is having its moment in the light as researchers find that it does more than cause that sick feeling in the stomach. It protects human beings from disease and parasites, and affects almost every aspect of human relations, from romance to politics.
Speaking last week from a conference on disgust in Germany, Valerie Curtis, a self-described “disgustologist” from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, described her favorite emotion as “incredibly important.”
She continued: “It’s in our everyday life. It determines our hygiene behaviors. It determines how close we get to people. It determines who we’re going to kiss, who we’re going to mate with, who we’re going to sit next to. It determines the people that we shun, and that is something that we do a lot of.”
It begins early, she said: “Kids in the playground accuse other kids of having cooties. And it works, and people feel shame when disgust is turned on them.”
Some studies have suggested that political conservatives are more prone to disgust than liberals are. And it is clear that what people find disgusting they often find immoral, too.
It adds to the popularity of disgust as a subject of basic research that it is easier to elicit in an ethical manner than anger or fear. You don’t have to insult someone or make anyone afraid for his or her life — a bad smell will do the trick. And disgust has been relatively easy to locate in the brain, where it frequents the insula, the amygdala and other regions.
If you found yourself initially sympathizing with the Occupy Movement but stayed away from the sites because you found yourself disgusted with the thought of coming in contact with filth, lice and STDs, you’ve been pwned by some savvy political operatives who were probably retained by the 1% to trash the reputation of the nascent movement. Granted, some of those sites weren’t allowed access to toilets and their campsites were crude. But I never witnessed mounds of trash or vermin in Zuccotti park when I visited the site on multiple occasions. In fact, it was kept very clean with makeshift recycle stations made of recyclable cardboard and broom stands. Once I detected the scent of pee in one corner of the park but at the GA that evening, the issue was addressed: If you have to pee in the middle of the night, get your ass out of your sleeping bag and go find an open bathroom. Don’t pee in containers.
I now suspect that the feelings of disgust were very deliberately generated in the media and youtube videos in order to keep people from going down to the occupation sites and seeing that the Occupiers were just ordinary, everyday people. That’s the last thing the small evil group to which no one we know belongs wants. They don’t want us to mingle and start sympathizing with each other. That would mean visitors would go back and tell their friends and they would bring two people and so on and so on. Nooooo, that’s not a good thing. Too many people feeling a sense of community against the 1%? Before you know it, they would be turning off their TVs, feeding the poor, sympathizing with the unemployed and demanding the immediate arrest and indefinite detention of the bankers who are perched on Wall Street thinking they are untouchable by the long arm of the law. Obama might have to *do* something about it. We can’t have that.
By the way, the NYTimes is particularly good at making us disgusted with the unemployed. They perfected the front page story of the unemployed that featured middle aged, obese and unattractive women. Well, who wants to be one of *those* people? It’s sort of a carry over from the days when trashing Hillary supporters as being middle aged, uneducated, working class women ala Roseanne Barr. It makes it so much easier to f%^& them over when you think of them as low class losers, right? If you are wondering why there is so much antagonism towards the unemployed, you can thank the New York Times for doing its part. In fact, I don’t know anyone who looks like the people the Times featured as the typical unemployed person, including myself. Everyone I know who is unemployed is a former labrat with a fistful of degrees and none of them have a severe weight problem, lank, greasy hair or a slovenly appearance.
I expect to see more of this kind of thing. I think the researchers are right about conservatives being more sensitive to disgust and it’s relationship, in their minds, to immorality. Conservatives are easily disgusted by the thought of sex between men and sex in general. Oral sex? Instantly generates a gag reflex in them. (In fact, I don’t like giving advice to Republicans but if anyone’s interested in taking Gingrich out of the running, they might want to repeat the stories about him getting blow jobs in the front seat of his car. It will turn women over the age of 70 right off of their Newters kibble.) It doesn’t help that they get messages from their religious authorities about how dirty fornication is. Think “Purity Balls”. This is something you will probably not be able to overcome in the social conservative’s mind. It’s so hardwired from decades and decades of guilt tripping and punishment and an almost Pavlovian conditioning linking filth with sex that it’s just not worth the effort.
Frankly, I don’t know *what* will finally be the thing that gets through to them. What will it take before they realize that their own upbringing, generational history and backgrounds have been used against them to create the most unequal distribution of power and wealth this country has ever known? I have no idea but I’d hate to find out.
Filed under: General | Tagged: disgust, filth, immorality, New York Times, occupy movement, unemployed | 12 Comments »