On the Prevalence of Exaggeration and Over-Reaction

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

I noticed this first on weather forecasting and reporting. Every dinky little storm became a crisis. Every warning became a near catastrophe or near miss. Every snowfall in a southern state became a tragedy. Even storms got names. This began with wind-chill indexes. The outside temperature was 20 but the wind-chill was 5. Everyone should now get excited. We now have cable tv shows being interrupted by tests of an emergency broadcast message. There is no emergency but we get periodic tests that sound a buzzer. The weather is being exaggerated. If there’s no bad weather in America, then report some storm in South Africa. If there’s no bad weather in New York, find some hill in the Ozarks where it’s pouring rain. I am told that some governments are now calling people by phone to tell them of some weather event. FEMA is the national version of these menaces that are supposed to warrant fear and trepidation. Reasonable precautions and reactions that are common knowledge are no longer enough. The government is in the act.

The next place I noticed this was on any matter of civil rights. If some woman objected to seeing lesbians kissing on tv, the full force of the lesbian-gay community was brought down on the poor woman’s head. If a man didn’t want gay men cavorting in the bathroom of his bar, he became a pariah. He alone had to bear the exaggerated outrage of every gay man everywhere whose rights were being violated.

Then we have the poor children subjected to punishment for doing nothing. If a boy pointed his finger and said “bang”, he was a criminal. He should be isolated and reprimanded. If in high school, suspend him. If he accidentally brought a beer to school instead of soda, throw him in jail under a million dollar bond.

There is, of course, the easy charge of anti-Semitism to be hurled against anyone who suggests that Israel shouldn’t be influencing U.S. foreign policy or who points to Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians or to its record of expansion.

Poor Walter Block was criticized even for pointing out that slaves had no rights of association. The upholders of PC (political correctness) are ever anxious to show that they are on the right side of the gods.

The last time I looked there was no shortage of water or electricity, or energy in general, but the exaggerators have still been active, causing toilets and lightbulbs to be redesigned and forced on everyone.

Am I perhaps myself exaggerating to hypothesize that exaggeration might possibly be a root cause (one of several) of a good deal of misbegotten legislation? No, I think not. How much energy legislation is the result of exageration? Isn’t Obamacare sold as a remedy for an exaggerated concept of people being uninsured? Hasn’t the U.S. launched several major wars out of exaggerated notions of an enemy or what some enemy did to an American force or interest? This hypothesis has to be taken seriously.

I do believe that America is a veritable mad house of exaggeration and then over-reaction in certain respects. Like Thoreau, I find solace in looking at trees, clouds and the sky. They are roiled with the winds at times, but at least they are not the unreasonable creatures that now frequent America. The deer who wander through these woods have more sense and beauty than the cacophanous American scene.

So now we have a “crisis” over Crimea. Again exaggeration and over-reaction. The existing pols want to show their bona-fides, that they are as sternly against aggression as were the generations that preceded them. “We too are possessed of huge reserves of tenacity and moral rectitude,” they want to tell us, but they can’t find any significant instance to display it, so they invent one or exaggerate some piddling case somewhere in the world, blowing it up out of all proportion.

3:58 am on March 8, 2014
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts