First, a pre-emptive apology for the intentional non-humor to follow. I promise that all future non-humor will be strictly unintentional.
We've all witnessed a lot of insanity in American politics over the last few years. Up until the last few days, none of it has seriously bothered me; hey, just more grist for the satire mill. But after witnessing the media's blitzkreig on Joe 'the Plumber' Wurzelbacher, I can only muster anger, and no small amount of fear.
Politicians -- Sarah Palin, Bill Clinton, et al. -- obviously have to put up with some rude, nasty shit, but it's right there in the jobs description. Joe the Plumber is different. He was a guy tossing a football with his kid in the front yard of his $125,000 house when a politician picked him out as a prop for a 30 second newsbite for the cable news cameras. Joe simply had the temerity to speak truth (or, if you prefer, an uninformed opinion) to power, for which the politico-media axis apparently determined that he must be humiliated, harassed, smashed, destroyed. The viciousness and glee with which they set about the task ought to concern anyone who still cares about citizen participation, and freedom of speech, and all that old crap they taught in Civics class before politics turned into Narrative Deathrace 3000, and Web 2.0 turned into Berlin 1932.0.
Godwin's Law! you say? if the jackboot fits, wear it.
If it's meta-memes and meta-meta-narratives these media headlice want, so be it. I hope you will join me in expressing a simple bit of solidarity with this guy, Spartacus style. I AM JOE. I am a Wal Mart schlub in flyover country who changes my own oil and unclogs drains without a license. I smoke and drink beer and toss the football in the front yard with my kid, and I figure I can fend my way without handouts from some Magic Messiah's candy bags. Most everyone in my family and most everyone I grew up with is another Joe, and if you screw with them, you screw with me.
Are you a Joe? Say it proud. Leave it on every goddamn newspaper comment section and online forum. Let these pressroom and online thugs know you won't stay silent when they try to destroy the life of a private citizen for speaking his mind -- because for every one of them, there are a million Joe Wurzelbachers. And for that we should all be thankful.
Update: G.M. writes:
"I just am so mad about this media anal exam they're giving this guy that I made a graphic...if you like it you can use it or post it for download to get people showing solidarity."
You can download the full size original of G.M.'s graphic here.
Update II: I have received several requests asking permission to use the graphic above to make t-shirts and bumper stickers and assorted tchochkes for sale. The answer is NO. The thought of anyone benefiting financially from this (other than Joe Wurzelbacher) is repulsive. If you want to use it as a bumper sticker, please feel free to download the image and apply with duct tape. If you want, office supply stores sell blank bumper stickers that you can put in your printer. PLEASE do not patronize any merchandise vendors (Cafe Press, etc.) who are trying to make a buck off this, unless EVERY LAST RED CENT of the proceeds go directly to Joe Wurzelbacher.
Update III. Some thieving assholes are now selling merchandise at Cafe Press with the graphic without permission. They have nothing to do with Joe, or G.M., who created it. Cafe Press has been contacted with a cease-and-desist. If you want to sell stuff with the logo and can prove all of the net will go to Joe, I will get get you the necessary permission. In the mean time, DO NOT PURCHASE anything there, or elsewhere with the logo. Print the damn thing off yourself, make your own t-shirts and such. You'll save a bunch of money, which you can send straight to Joe.
David, I've come up with a graphic as well in solidarity with Joe... I'm Joe too, and I'm sick beyond belief, but no longer surprised at all the crap he's been put through because he had the audacity to ask a simple question.
Image from a reader in Kansas.