Ever notice how sometimes you begin to notice something you never really noticed before? Whatever it was, it was there all the time, from the beginning. You just never noticed it.
Damn. He’s right there!
For example: you buy a new car, say … a Prius. You never paid any attention to them before. But now you have one. Suddenly, you notice there are hundreds of them everywhere. Every time you are on the road you see dozens of Priuses. Where the hell did they all come from? Why are zillions of people suddenly going out and buying a Prius?
The answer is of course, they were there all along. There is a reason this happens. There’s a part of your brain called the Reticular Formation. It does a lot of things. But the most interesting one is that it acts as a filter for useless stuff.
You take in everything around you with your eyes, ears, nose, and so on, but most of it is not worth your paying attention to it. So your brain blocks it out. It also filters out stuff that happens again and again. This is why people in the city can sleep with all the traffic noise. After a while, your brain ignores it. But, when something breaks through that guard post, you see or hear it all the time.
Which brings me to the word unprecedented.
Since this whole Trump Train Wreck started, the use of “unprecedented” has become, well, unprecedented. I hear it dozens of times every day. Almost always on the news or late-night talk shows, but also from friends. I use it myself all the time.
But think about the meaning of word. It means something that has never happened before, yet every day, we use the word. Because everyday, something which has never happened before, happens. Every single day!
The world is a few billion years old. Lots of shit has happened. I mean really, a lot of shit. You’d think pretty much everything that could happen, has happened. Before Cheesy McCheese Head came down the ‘golden escalator of doom,’ we used to say things like:
“Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”
“History might not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme a lot.”
“Don’t run with scissors!”
But today all you hear is “UNPRECEDENTED.” Sometimes you hear synonyms of the word, like bizarre, uncommon, unheard-of, aberrant, or abnormal. But mostly, it’s just “unprecedented”.
My question is “how does he do it?” How can every day bring a new insanity nobody imagined could — or would — ever happen? How is he creating so much … unprecedentedness?
Is that a word? If not, I’m claiming it. My trademark word. Back off Colbert!
I think the answer has to do with a thing called “social norms.” These are rules we live by. We didn’t learn them. We accept them and take them for granted. There are things you can or can’t do. More specifically, things that you shouldn’t, wouldn’t, or simply DON’T do. There aren’t any laws saying you can’t do that thing, but you know — everybody knows — you are not supposed to do it.
There’s no law saying you can’t deliberately let out a big fart in a crowded elevator, but the vast majority of humans realize it’s not a good idea. So, they don’t do it.
There’s no law against running with scissors, but we know we shouldn’t do it. (Seriously, don’t do that. You could put an eye out.)
A subset of social norms would be political norms. There are things you are supposed to do. Kiss babies, wear an American Flag lapel pin, release your tax returns. Stuff like that. Of course, there were other things politicians know they were not supposed to do. If they did, their careers were over. It used to be things like saying fuck in public, or making fun of a handicapped person.
Or molesting children.
Do any of these things and they’d be gone. There aren’t any laws saying you can or can’t do this stuff. Wait a minute –let me change that. There absolutely are laws against molesting children. But what with reality shifting so often, who knows for sure?
You simply knew to do or not do those things. It was part of being human, part of society. It went with stuff like the peaceful transition of power every four years, having only one President at a time, and having a President putting all his money in a blind trust while in office.
Those kinds of things.
But our current SCROTUS believes if it ain’t illegal, fuck it. He’ll do it. Political norms mean nothing to this asshole. No ethics, no compassion, no “for the good of the country.”
Release my tax returns? Fuck you.
You can’t hire your kids? Watch me.
Conflicts of interest? Kiss my ass.
Think about it. Nobody, including most constitutional scholars, had ever heard of, or really paid any attention to the emoluments clause which is 49 words in Article I of the Constitution.
“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
Notice that this is part of the beginning (Article I) of the Constitution. It clearly says a President can’t accept any kind of gift or bribe. And until now, no President since Washington would have dreamed of doing such a stupid thing!
CONSTITUTION: You can’t take a bribe or any kind of gift.
TRUMP: Oh yeah? Hold my beer.
We have a person occupying the White House, who — last week — admitted in a Tweet that he obstructed justice. His lawyer’s response? Trump can’t break the law. He is the law. Above the law. Meanwhile, until — yesterday? the day before? — I’m pretty sure being a pedophile was worse than being a liberal Democrat. Guess what? Not anymore!
So basically, he has ruined social norms. He’s destroyed political norms. He’s broken all the rules and he’s getting away with it. So, from now on, we’re going to have to make everything a law. Everything. You farted in a crowded elevator? You have the right to remain silent (and deadly).
So, thanks SCROTUS. You ruined it for everybody! This is why we can’t have nice things!
Now that you’ve read this, the number of times you notice the word unprecedented will be, well, unprecedented.