Thursday, September 9, 2010

5% of Nothing = Nothing

The Five Percent Doctrine:

A minister in Gainesville, Fla., has created an international uproar by vowing to burn the Koran on Sept. 11. This is under the theory that the best way to honor Americans who died at the hands of religious extremists is to do something that is both religious and extreme.

This week, New York City was visited by another minister, with the depressing title of “Internet evangelist” who announced plans to build a “9/11 Christian center at ground zero” in response to “the lies of Islam.”

When this sort of thing happens, it is important to remember that about 5 percent of our population is and always will be totally crazy. I don’t mean mentally ill. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 26 percent of American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. So, basically, that’s just normal life. I mean crazy in the sense of “Thinks it is a good plan to joke with the flight attendant about seeing a bomb in the restroom.”

There is nothing you can do about the crazy 5 percent except ask the police to keep an eye on them during large public events, where they sometimes appear carrying machine guns just to make a political point about the Second Amendment. And, in situations like a Koran-burning, make it clear that the rest of us disagree.

I think Gail Collins pretty much nails it. It's unfortunate that such clownish behavior is receiving the over-saturated coverage that it is. Neither of these guys ministers to or represents more than 100 people, total, and yet they are receiving international attention over their proposed actions.

Worse, the media breathlessly covers the story, and then in the worst kind of navel-gazing, has their own "experts" come on and analyze the coverage of the coverage; which inevitably concludes that "these people" should be covered because they represent a danger to society.

What they represent is the 5% Collins mentions above. The only audience "these people" deserve is the one we allow them, and in this case it should be nothing.

Ah, but nothing sells soap quite like the court jester, the proverbial kook or crank who makes for great copy and a five share bump in the ratings. By all means, let's stay focused on the stupid, so we don't have to focus on real social problems.

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