Party Crashers

By: George Coyoy

Picture yourself throwing a party. You want to throw a great party because bad parties always end up looking like an episode of ‘King of the Hill’ – a bunch of guys standing around drinking beer, spitting and talking about carburetors. Having been around the block once or twice before you’re also experienced enough to know that you don’t want to throw a complete barn burner, so an open house party is off the table. Open house parties are the prog rock of parties – they’re an incoherent mess. They only lead to broken property, sketchy weirdos, and inexplicable stains everywhere. Better to let the high school kids deal with all that, so the plan is to invite your inner circle and allow them to bring guests. The only caveat is that permission for each guest must be granted before the invitation is extended. You’re pretty liberal about whose invitation you approve, as this policy is more about keeping out certain periphery troublemakers you know will ruin the party. You know the type – the trashy guys who start fights, those who are rude, or those who are just plain weird and won’t fit in well. You know who they are and you don’t want them to ruin your party, so you implement this vetting strategy. Your guests all comply with your wishes – though with some mild protest – and run potential guests by you before extending any invitations. You approve of almost all of the requests made and continue planning.

The night of the party comes and all seems to be going well. You’re on fire as a host – people are laughing at your jokes, everyone seems to be thoroughly entertained, and the general energy of the party is positive. At some point, however, party crashers come and change the entire dynamic of the night. Those trashy guys you didn’t want showing up come in and inject themselves into the party as if they were invited guests. Even worse, some didn’t bring any beer or liquor. By the time you’ve noticed them it looks like they have been there for a while and have settled into the party. To be sure, some of these party crashers are fine, in fact, a majority of them are. One even brought two 18-packs of Modelo. You know all of these people and, generally, you would have no problem inviting some of them as one-offs to the party. The problem with inviting them to the party was always that they would bring with them a small crowd that is capable of doing big damage, a small crowd that is now a big part of your party. As you ponder your next move you realize that you will either have to confront them now and ask them to leave or allow them to stay, risking that they behave poorly, as you expect they will, or that other crashers now have an excuse to come to your party.

The politics of asking the party crashers to leave quickly dawns on you. Some of your guests actually like them and mildly protested your decision not to invite them from the beginning. Asking the crashers to leave would single them out and punish the entire group, despite the fact that some of the people in that group are decent and would have been invited had they not been so close with the more volatile crashers. Other guests are clearly annoyed by them and could decide to leave the party early should this continue, leaving you with a bunch of people you don’t like at your own party. It is obvious that your decision will prove divisive no matter what you do, meaning this situation now requires more analysis than you hoped it would – after all, you just want to party! As host, however, decisions must be made meaning consequences must be weighed.

In Hippie Utopia this would be an open house party and all would come in peace, having the night of their lives while indulging their deepest inhibitions without consequence. Unfortunately, Hippie Utopia doesn’t exist and thus whatever you decide will have consequences. Asking the crashers to leave could escalate into confrontation or worse, and would certainly upset some of your guests. Ignoring the problem tacitly declares the party to be an open house party, giving any and all who want to invite other people a legitimate argument moving forward. “They weren’t invited but they came anyway,” the argument would go. “So why can’t we invite who we want to invite?” After all, all of the guests were told that anyone they invited had to be pre-approved. Allowing the crashers to stay is signaling to all in attendance that this is no longer an invite-only event. Once that word gets out it’s likely a cascade of uninvited guests will show up and this party will descend into the chaotic mess you wanted to avoid. It is easy to see how different partygoers will take different sides, only further complicating the matter and making the decision all the more difficult over time. Despite this fact you realize that the rhetoric is rapidly escalating, meaning it is better to make a decision now than allow the decision to become more controversial later. For whatever reason, however, you go against your better judgment and do nothing.

Let us now assume that the small group of party crashers you knew were potentially problematic actually become problematic. They’re being rude and overly aggressive as you thought they would. They’re instigating stupid arguments and threatening fights. They’re disrespecting all of the rules of the house, such as going into rooms that are off limits and raiding the refrigerator. One guy is smoking cigarettes inside. Allowing them to break the initial rule of coming in uninvited emboldened them to do whatever they want and you now have to deal with it. You finally make your decision. You make what is, in your mind, a reasonable bargain and say that the group of troublemakers must leave, but the uninvited guests who are being respectable and pleasant can stay. Especially the guy who brought the Modelos. You’ve made your decision and with a show of strength you successfully kick the jerks out.

This proves to be controversial amongst some of your guests. “Don’t you know that they have nowhere to go?” they claim. “It wasn’t their fault they were acting that way, it’s yours for upsetting them in the first place by not inviting them!” When you point out that only the troublemakers were kicked out and not those who crashed but did not cause any trouble, the Party Crasher Activists double down. “You’re separating them from their friends and dividing people! That’s so messed up!” The idea that these party crashers wouldn’t have been separated had they 1) not come in the first place and 2) not behaved like total jerks once here doesn’t click with these few guests, for whatever reason. Most guests agree with your decision to throw out the party crasher jerks and would probably agree with kicking out those who crashed but are being decent. They, however, stay silent as they would rather not be berated by the obnoxious, sanctimonious Party Crasher Activists. The few who take issue with your decision are being dramatic, staining the party with their incessant screeching and whining. You do your best to ignore it and, eventually, you and your other sane guests are able to separate from the drama and enjoy yourselves again. Even better, you’re able to do so drinking Modelo.

Shortly thereafter the jerks come back. They re-enter the party, now with loud defenders applauding their decision to boldly enter the party from which they were just expelled. “They have a right to be here!” claim the Party Crasher Activists. “Excluding people like this is wrong! Why should you have the right to decide who gets to party and who doesn’t?” Sovereignty over who can and cannot enter your own property is apparently a foreign concept to the Party Crasher Activists. As such, the situation has escalated to the point where your party is ruined. It is pure madness. “WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?!?!” one guy screams. Bless his stupid little heart. This sentiment is, of course, pure pablum but it doesn’t matter. Empty vessels love pablum and, as such, he is rewarded with applauds and praise. The Party Crasher Activists don’t understand why we can’t all just get along, never realizing that everyone was getting along just fine before the party crashers crashed your party. The guests who agree with you look at you and you just shrug. There is nothing left to do but end the party. The inmates are now running the asylum.

So your party failed. Miserably. The only positive is that you have some Modelos left. The party was still a failure though. You had a plan as to who you would let in and who you would keep out but, like flies and mosquitos, those you wanted to keep out found a way in. Not only did they crash your party but the volatile few ruined everything for everyone, just as you thought they would. Moreover, despite the majority of party crashers being decent party guests, the decent majority was ultimately irrelevant. The effect of the volatile few proved to be too much to overcome; they had driven too much of a wedge between the entire party to keep a decent party sustainable. They ignored the invite-only status of your party, they ignored the rules of the house after ignoring your party’s invite-only status, and then they came in and ruined everyone’s experience. The crashers were all-around disrespectful from the beginning and, thanks to your inaction and the inexplicable support they garnered from some of your guests, continued to disrespect you, your house, and your guests. So, again, the decent majority was completely irrelevant. All things considered my question to you is this: how would you have handled this situation?

If this is my party? I don’t hesitate in telling them to leave. Not asking. Not hinting. Telling. As soon as I see them they’re all gone. Except Modelo guy, of course. If the situation escalates, it escalates. If my guests are upset, then they’re upset. If they’re truly upset then they’re also are free to leave. A line must be drawn, however, and if one is to draw a line it should be the line that communicates that one will not be disrespected and that breaking one’s rules has consequences. Every single party crasher disrespected me by crashing my party. Every single crasher was essentially flipping the invite-only status of my party the bird by entering my party. The presence of each and every single party crasher was a massive, aggressively flipped bird pointed directly at me for every second they spent at my party. I don’t know about you, but I don’t take disrespect well.

Perhaps what I can ultimately take away from the experience is that I can afford to be a little more lax in my party invitation policies moving forward. Perhaps they were a bit too rigid and unfairly kept people who were good party guests out of the party. Especially Modelo guy. All of this is debatable. But my rules are my rules and this was my damn party. Those who knowingly broke my rules disrespected me, my guests, and the very concept of rules in itself, so why should I feel bad about kicking a guest who was never invited to my party out of my invite-only party? I shouldn’t.

And that’s how I view illegal immigration.

The Yellow Plague, Chapter 1

By George Coyoy

 

You may have noticed that we’re living in a time of hyper-polarization. You may have noticed that your conversations with friends and family members seem a bit more hostile, more bitter, more frantic. And you may have noticed that everywhere you turn you’re bombarded with alarmist rhetoric. What you’ve noticed has been noticed by many. What you’ve noticed are the symptoms of the plague infecting our culture at large, and it’s time we let those spreading the disease that we won’t just passively take notice.

This is a moment of mass hysteria. From print to prime time, panicked headlines and ledes have become the norm in the partisan storm that is the 24-hour news cycle. Editorializing and alarmism are the defining characteristics of today’s journalism, whereas plain-spoken facts are becoming rarer by the day. The Superhero movie-fication of our national conversation – where every debate is had on adversarial, all-or-nothing terms – is in full swing, complete with bad actors, abusive directors and lethargic audiences all too eager for mindless consumption. In short, a plague of yellow journalism has infected American culture and the results have been socially devastating.

Yellow journalism is nothing new. Media outlets have abused their unique position of power from their inception and have no incentive to stop. Such business practices have proven to be highly, highly profitable, making the sensationalization of news somewhat understandable. What is new is the simultaneous rise of the 24-hour news cycle and technology which allows breaking news to be consumed in multiple mediums from a device that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. Media has thus become inescapable. The amount of media consumed by the average person has increased and with that increased consumption comes increased business opportunities, which implicitly means an increase in the spread of salacious, frenetic news consumed by an increased number of people. With this in mind it’s no wonder polarization has, yes, increased. Given everything considered the more shocking state affairs would be if it had not.

The understandable chasing of profits, however, does not absolve legacy media of any responsibility. Those behind the dissemination of information – the journalists, editors, and even entire outlets – are the infectious agents spreading this plague. To suggest otherwise is to assert that the default position of the media is to be purposely misleading, partisan actors. It is to assert that common people with bills, families, and innumerable other worries should watch the media like hawks, dedicating a considerable chunk of their time to fact checking the news and going to primary sources to get their information. Such a task takes the kind of time that most people simply do not have. Such a task is also what the legacy media purports to do professionally. The legacy media has taken as its job the distillation of all of the day’s information into what is most relevant and the presentation of it in an honest way. This is not to say news outlets must be perfectly objective and down the middle. It isn’t clear if that is even possible. As such, partisan leanings are acceptable so long as the outlet is honest about those leanings. This is why claims of neutrality from obviously partisan outlets such as CNN are such an insult to our collective intelligence and a slap in the face. Such outlets are premised on a lie – some would say they sit on a throne of lies. It also means that the outlet is either dumb enough to think the public is dumb enough to buy their lie, or that they’re so lacking in self-awareness that they don’t realize what they are doing. Having watched CNN over the past few years, it is easy to see the cause being a lot of both.

In this regard the legacy media has not only failed, it has largely behaved in a morally bankrupt, corrupt manner. Lying, distorting, concealing, misleading, cheating; editorializing and falsely moralizing… but enough about CNN. Enough complaining and enough analyzing the paralyzing, sickening effects of the legacy media on the culture at large. I’ve gotten enough off of my chest, plus those effects are widely understood, even if only implicitly. And yes, I realize the irony of accusing the legacy media of being responsible for a cultural “plague” while simultaneously chastising them for their alarmism. But such is life – sometimes ironic, often paradoxical, and always complicated.

The broader, more relevant point here is that our legacy media is decidedly not holding up their end of the bargain and it is having a disastrous effect on American culture. To put it plainly: I am absolutely asserting a strong cause and effect relationship between the irresponsible way in which our media reports the news and the way our conversations have become so toxic. The good news is that we common folk are not powerless. As such it is up to us as engaged citizens to hold their feet to the fire. It is up to us to aggressively call the legacy media out when we catch them spreading their lies and smears, to stigmatize lying journalists and unethical reporters. It is up to us to hold them accountable with our eyes and dollars – to change the channel and turn to alternative sources as often as we can. Look, I get it – the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, etc. are virtually unavoidable. That doesn’t mean we have to use them as our primary sources, or that we can’t criticize them when necessary while using them as sources. What it means is that we have to consciously support alternative outlets, with our eyes and our wallets, so that we can build them up and help introduce more competition into the media marketplace. Think of new media outlets as experimental, disease-fighting drugs that can help us cure this plague. The alternative is passively sitting by while we watch our republic rot away from within.