As a child, I would sometimes spend an entire day hiking the creek and the small stretches of woods that were part of the short cut to the nearest convenience store in Madison. It was a special pleasure to be able to go to my grandparents’ house in Possumneck (five miles east of West) and explore their 100+ acres of farm, timber and wilderness and the high banks of the winding creek that runs along the rear 40.
During most of those expeditions, he was hunting snakes, trying to catch the unsuspecting scorned creatures to bring home and make them pets. Yeah, I was a weird kid, and that was fine with me. It was exciting to pretend to be an explorer, some kind of suburban redneck wannabe crocodile hunter, but almost two decades before he gained fame.
I tried really hard to find any snake, but especially those species that are supposed to make better pets: king snakes, corn snakes, or especially the super rare (and protected!) pine and indigo snakes. I spent every hour of the day looking for them, and ever since I was looking for them, every vine, every branch, and every ripple in the water looked like a snake at first glance.
A few years later, I started hunting squirrels (to kill, not to save). Dad would drive me down the road a few miles and drop me off with my shotgun, shells, sandwich, thermos, and high hopes, then pick me up in the dark. He sometimes stalked them, trying to sneak me quietly through the woods. Sometimes he would sit me still and wait for them to come to me. Sometimes I would try both. But every time I went, every time a tree branch shook or there was a flicker of movement or any rustle in the leaves, I would raise my .20 caliber, thinking it had to be a squirrel.
A couple of years after that, deer hunting became a passion. Whenever I could make the hour-long drive to the family land, I would sit in a deer stand. Weekends were spent in the forest. Every snap of a twig and every hint of movement I caught, I was sure was a trophy. During those pre-dawn and post-sunset rides, whenever there was a pair of glowing eyes along the way, it had to be a deer. There was never any doubt…
This is how our minds work. When we’re looking for something, and it’s all we think about, we “see” and “hear” what we’re looking for, even if it turns out that it isn’t. Anything that isn’t a snake or a squirrel or a deer has to prove that it’s not what you thought it was at first, or you’ll continue to believe it was. That’s because you were looking for it.
A more absurd (and entertaining) example of the power of suggestion can be found in the paranormal and ghost hunting culture. These people can build an hour-long show around a click of an electromagnetic field detector that makes them screech with vertigo or an illuminated dust particle they breathlessly call an “orb.” Every creak in an old house is automatically attributed to someone/something from the spirit world rather than the more logical explanation such as wood expanding and contracting with sudden changes in temperature, vermin, or just settling.
But where’s the fun in that? That same mentality explains how we have so many people who are perpetually offended.
This tragic group of people twist words out of context or even interpret an inadvertent omission or gesture as “an obvious message” that the targeted person is (take your pick) racist, homophobic, xenophobic, transphobic, science denier or , darling. prohibit, privileged. It’s what they’re looking for. It’s what they live for… and oh, what a sad life.
They see or hear something to be offended by in every statement or decision made by someone who is not of their tribe because that is what they are always looking for and “finding”, of course. When I was at my deer stand and raised my gun at the sound of footsteps coming through the leaves, I lowered the barrel after seeing it was a squirrel. They do not. They shoot first. And don’t bother asking questions later.
They have to want to make other people as miserable as they need to be. There can be no other motivation to be as completely ridiculous as they are. They go to the fertile hunting grounds of Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and even these pages, to find their prey. Politicians with an “R” next to their name, successful businessmen, or the rare celebrity (blacklisted, no doubt) who is labeled “conservative” also provide excellent opportunities for this type of hunting.
They have a hair trigger when it comes to hearing “outrageous” sentiments expressed, such as supporting constitutional rights, making America great, self-reliance and personal responsibility, judging people by the content of their character rather than the color of their his skin, biology is not debatable, etc.
And interestingly enough, they are incredibly lenient on politicians with a “D” next to their name, or anyone else who is in their field, if they say they are exactly the same as one of the people in the “R” field or another Man. Orange. followers.
Biden’s now-infamous passive racist comments about Obama or even being characterized as a bigot on the bus issue by his own vice president? It doesn’t matter anymore. It is not the substance, it is the speaker. They get away with it because people prepared to be offended aren’t armed and on the prowl when they’re in their preferred safe spaces.
As with all of the aforementioned analogies, it’s understandable how such virtuous victims do what they do. What is not so clear is why they have been assigned so much power.
Anyone who has achieved any level of success, or even stability, on their own merit simply says, “Shut up and grow,” and moves on. But our government and the media have given more grease to the loudest while shitting on those of us who make the country work. And yet, they claim, without any hint of self-awareness, that they are oppressed and powerless. We are living in crazy times.
Finding snakes is not that difficult these days. Hell, they find me. They are everywhere, spreading their poison wherever they go. And they are destroying the country.