(Added note: When I first wrote this essay, I thought that the point of my extended parable would be achingly obvious to all readers. Alas, no-one seems to able to decode the cipher. For a while, I considered rewriting, but it may be better to let the article stand as is. Consider the following text to be a puzzle-piece -- or, perhaps, an exercise in surrealism.)
The point I hope to express in this essay is easy to misunderstand -- in fact, I suspect that some people will intentionally
misunderstand and misrepresent it. Perhaps the use of metaphor will help.
Very well then. I'd like to talk (metaphorically) about Farm Report
If you were a kid in the 1960s, and you got up before sunrise, before Captain Kangaroo started the day, there was only one program on one station. Farm Report
. At five in the morning, it was the only thing on teevee.
As I child, I thought that this program was the dullest thing imaginable. It was so dull that I had more fun watching the snow patterns on the non-functional channels.
At the time, the show was purely local. Later, it became a U.S. government production. But it was still very dull viewing for anyone not actively engaged in the business of agriculture.
Now, some of you may presume from the above paragraphs that I hate
You may say that I'm a farmer-basher. That I'm the sort of person who would hold up an ugly sign at the funeral of a farmer. That I'm the kind of guy who would pistol-whip a farmer and leave him tied to a fencepost like a scarecrow.
No. You're wrong. I don't feel hate. I just feel boredom -- if asked to watch Farm Report
Most farmers are, no doubt, fine and noble people. I just don't care to spend much time paying attention to their issues. I'm simply not farmer-curious. My interests are elsewhere. That's all.
Why would you have a problem with that?
Now imagine a world in which Farm Report
was not relegated to a 5 a.m. broadcast slot. Imagine a world in which the show plays at all hours of the day and night.
Nothing wrong with that, really. After all, we have many more channels now than we did in the 1960s. If cable television makes room for two or three channels devoted to broadcasting agricultural information on a 24/7 basis -- well, great
But no. That's not enough.
Imagine if you couldn't turn on any
channels, watch any
programs, without being forced to hear about the problems and the travails of the fucking farmers. Imagine if all of television had Farm Report
seeping into it. Imagine if every sitcom had to have at least one character who was a farmer, and that half the jokes seemed to be about farming.
Imagine if you couldn't surf the web for more than five minutes without
having to wade through those all-important references to land use and
Imagine if the farming community routinely exaggerated the number of people engaged in tilling the soil. Imagine if you dared not question their hallucinated numbers for fear of being called a farmer-hater. Imagine being called a bigot simply because you questioned the proposition that only farmers are capable of creativity.
Imagine if we couldn't have an election without hearing from a loud group of people insisting that the only issues that matter
were agricultural issues.
Screw global warming. Screw the mortgage crisis. Screw income inequality. Screw NSA outrages. Screw the assaults on the fourth amendment. Screw the failing schools. Screw the crumbling infrastructure. Screw the need for a jobs program.
Screw all of that.
Only one issue really, really counts: Farmer rights. Farmer self-esteem.
As long as there's a young farmer out there who doesn't like himself, we should focus on that
, because no other social ill is truly real.
Consider: There were four million slaves in the south before the Civil War. Today, there are roughly 30 million slaves in the world
Bet you never came across those numbers before, did you? That's because most people don't consider modern slavery a topic worthy of discussion.
And yet I'm certain that before this day is out, you'll hear someone bewail the woes of those poor, poor farmers. We will be allowed to worry about other things only when we live in a world in which every farmer everywhere radiates self-esteem at all times.
Non-farmers may wallow in self-loathing for all sorts of reasons. That's fine. That's just the nature of the human condition.
But farmers are different. Farmers are holy
If any farmer anywhere feels anything less than 100 percent blissful self-assurance for even a moment -- well, we should consider his self-image problem to be a tragedy worse than the death of the planet Krypton.
There's a British comic named Russell Brand who has been speaking forcefully about the corruption of our current political system and the need for a new paradigm. Part of me thinks he's a charismatic young idiot
, and part of me thinks he's on to something. Whatever the man's virtues, this much seems certain: There are people on the left who have decided that Brand is not worth hearing.
Why? Not because of anything he actually said. And not because he dared to say anything anti-farmer.
No (these critics said), we must ignore everything that Russell Brand says because he is not a farmer himself
. Only farmers have the moral right to leadership; only farmers deserve a political voice. I'm not kidding: See for yourself.
I don't consider myself a farmer-hater. I mean, I'd have no problem working for a boss who likes to grow crops in his spare time. I'd vote for a political candidate who was open about his background in agriculture. If I had a kid, I'd be perfectly fine with my offspring's decision to seed the fields that I myself preferred not to plow.
I'm usually a live-and-let-live kind of guy. Whatever activities other folks choose to get up to out there on the North 40 is their own damned business.
But in the political
realm -- well, I'll be frank. I'm beginning to think that most farmers are self-absorbed, manipulative and decadent.
I don't want farmers to be oppressed or mocked, and I don't want their lives to become more difficult. I just don't want to fucking hear
about them -- at least, not all the time. I want other topics to be considered important. I want the world to pay attention to non
Is that so wrong of me?
And every once in a while, I'd like to be able to turn on my goddamned teevee and watch that 16x9 rectangle for two consecutive hours without a single bloody hint of Farm Report
in my programming.