Again: The most important thing to remember about politics and society at large is that most human beings are barely one intellectual step up from howler monkeys, and half of those are below average. Do not expect town halls to have the intellectual heft of Galileo discoursing with Einstein in the afterlife’s most posh science-themed tavern. Don’t even get your hopes up that Diogenes will walk in and start throwing plucked chickens at people in order to make a witty point.
Most human beings have evolved only to the point necessary to work their own home appliances, and the multipage pamphlets of warnings that get packaged with those home appliances should give you a good feel for just how tenuous a grip humanity has on even that. Lower your standards. No, lower than that. Keep going. I’ll tell you when you—actually, you know what, let’s just use an example here.
Mother Jones brings us the absolutely smashing new tale of a Brighton, New York, battle against a new Planned Parenthood clinic that features residents (and this is an atypically posh neighborhood, mind you, one where nearly all residents consider themselves to be skilled in home appliance usage and few people bother to read warning labels) arguing that the community cannot possibly abide a new clinic lest its pristine waterways be clogged with … aborted fetuses.
Mother Jones notes that the activists making these claims have the “help of national legal strategists,” meaning that this unhinged f–kery is partly the product of an organization of unhinged f–kers doing f–kery on an industrial scale, but the level of weirdness involved here is more than can be explained by the presence of lawyers. This is “help, I have gotten my hands trapped in a toaster and then used my tongue to accidentally push down the lever and now my hands are being cooked to a crisp shade of—hang on, let me check the dial—number 4” levels of civic engagement.
Oh, there’s more. There’s so much more. A resident who we will not identify because it seems in poor taste to even acknowledge such a humiliating public episode “argued that patients who are prescribed abortion pills to take at home would flush their fetal remains in the toilet and pollute the local waterways” and speculated that if “in a given day, twenty such fetuses are flushed” then it “would be the equivalent of a shredded forearm or foot being passed through the system” and before you know it your local stream is full of fetuses or … something.
Before you start getting too bent out of shape about this argument, please remember the howler monkey rule. What we have here is an American who has been, for quite some time, apparently using their toilet wrong. They clearly do not understand that other town residents are regularly (or irregularly) using their toilets to flush down human waste the size of, say, a Chipotle burrito and yet none of the resulting horrors are floating past you in the park, but a not-implanted bunch of cells will somehow weave through the system to pop up in Aborted Fetus Creek.
Then there’s the whole reality of sewage systems, which collect, um, plenty of clumps of human and other cells for various reasons that system engineers will fall all over themselves to describe to you if you give them an opening. Given the high number of all pregnancies that end in miscarriage, often without women ever even knowing, falling into a manhole has a good chance of you ending up covered with—
—wait, what are we even talking about? How did we even get to the idea that people only take “abortion pills” in close proximity to clinics? And how do these people imagine their town sewer systems are laid out? And on what planet are we talking about clumps of tissue of such size that 20 of them are the size of a “shredded forearm,” and why the hell does this person have an internal image of what the size of a “shredded forearm” might roughly be, and why—
No. No, just no. Remember the howler monkey rule. Remember the toaster.
Anyway, other resident complaints consist of worries that undesirables would come to the new clinic to “loiter” while “playing loud music” and smoking the marijuanas. Yeah. Yeah, that’s what the kids do these days. Can’t have a hot weekend without cruising to the local medical clinic to loiter and smoke all the pots. Don’t we all remember the glory days of our youth, wasting away our Friday nights hanging out at the town abortion clinic? And we tied shredded forearms to our belts, which was the style at the time, and watched the ducks in the pond bob for miscarriages.
There’s some other complaints from team NIMBY but I don’t even care, and it turns out the medical clinic was canceled for other reasons. There’s mention of “baby eating” because everything is garbage and honestly Mother Jones could have left that part out because it’s already been a long damn week and we’re all still reeling from Captain Active Imagination’s scenes of fetus-clogged waterways in their idyllic but dystopian suburb. I blame whatever music genre is currently popular in Brighton or Bristol or wherever the hell it is because clearly the town’s adults are under the influence of dark, weird forces.
The important thing to remember here, again, is that humanity is forever on thin ice civilization-wise, and every human institution is designed around the premise that you really shouldn’t be listening to most people about freaking anything. But if you abstract public opinions out to larger chunks, things mostly work out because all the weirdest paranoias tend to merge together into a generic self-nullifying slurry in which no one theory about shredded forearms or smoking of pots can make it through the great Election Day settling tanks. Or something. To be honest, I don’t have a moral on this one; I’m still pretty convinced humanity has reached the stage where its technologies have so eclipsed its evolutionary smarts that this is pretty much it for us. No Mars colonies, no deep ocean cities, just individual residents on public Zoom calls screaming into the void, forever.
You all are on your own—I need to go lie down for a while. This one’s going to take some time to recover from.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.