Around about this time in 2008, I became an addict to outrage. By fall, my perpetually clenched jaw was a telltale sign that I was bottoming out.
It was the presidential race driving this demon. I fed it through right-wing sites, left-wing sites, PUMA sites. And while I never mainlined talk radio, those hits on the morning and afternoon drives to and from work didn't help.
What gave fire to my outrage was that, deep down, I was worried that They (also known as Them) had a point. Barack was inexperienced, Hillary was being treated unfairly, etc.
Obama's election was an instant cure. The outrage vanished because the fix was no longer fixed. They and Them have tended to focus on things that were not only untrue but super dumb: the birth certificate stuff, the Muslim stuff. (Have you read the email currently making the rounds about Obama and dog Bo not riding in the same airplane?)
One thing that I find highly irritating is how They and Them — and, yes, We and Us sometimes too — are taking the "They hit us first" tack. One of the more recent and obnoxious examples stems from the Rush Limbaugh slut slur. That Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann, et al., have been pigs does not in any way excuse Limbaugh, and hitting back is not the mature approach.
Until They and Them provide a legitimate defense to such matters, one that I find to have some virtue, I'm in no danger of relapsing.
A change of subject ... Literacy Mid-South is midway through its Twitter campaign called "What Are You Reading, Memphis?" for Read Across America Month.
It is what it sounds like. Literacy Mid-South wants you to tweet them what you've been reading. Responses so far have ranged from The Pillars of the Earth to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I just finished Devil's Knot, Mara Leveritt's 2002 book on the West Memphis Three. It's fascinating and chilling. Definitely recommended.
The "What Are You Reading, Memphis?" campaign continues through March 31st. Tweet to @LiteracyMSouth with the hashtag #ReadMemphis.
Bruce VanWyngarden's column returns next week.