Mr. Wizard Part 4: Back to School
I share a fair number of videos from Prager U, which of course is not a “real” university. But then again, since “real” universities now offer courses in tree climbing, television watching, and lesbian midget basket weaving, I’m not sure that’s much of a criticism.
Anyways, the Prager U videos are short little summaries on various topics told from a conservative viewpoint. I mostly agree with them, though not always. But when I find something interesting I pass it along in case someone else might too. Nothing nefarious about it.
Social media 101.
But for some reason these videos especially annoyed Mr. Wizard. That could easily have been cured by simply continuing to scroll down the page, but Mr. Wizard was still on a crusade against me, whose purpose only he knew.
One of these videos was a Venezuelan guy talking about how he thought socialism had ruined his country.
To this Mr. Wizard responded with, “Well, socialism isn’t all bad, people like fire departments…”
Of what possible use was this to the guy in Venezuela? Hey man, totally sucks that there’s no toilet paper and you’ve got to chase pigeons to eat, but hey, people like fire departments!
But of course the comment was not directed at the guy in Venezuela, it was directed at me. Did Mr. Wizard seriously think I was unaware that people like fire departments? I guess he was just regurgitating the Bernie Sanders view that fire departments are inherently socialist.
But is that true?
For if socialism means, as Marx put it, “public control of the means of production,” then the answer would have to be “no.” The fire department is not a means of production. It is a means of “protection.”
The fire department is not involved in the transfer or production of wealth or property. The fire department “protects” private property, it does not redistribute it. The fire department maintains the social and economic order, it does not seek to revolutionize it for any ideology.
And the method of funding is irrelevant. Fire departments have existed under every form of government and economic system since at least the Roman Republic. Long before Karl Marx was even a gleam in his father’s eye.
But did I really want to get into the history of fire prevention or character of socialism with Mr. Wizard?
No I did not.
I considered replying with the much shorter, “Well, capitalism isn’t all bad, people like donut shops…”
But I was pretty sure the point of the sarcasm would be missed, and that I would be drawn into yet more time-wasting activity.
So I just deleted his comment.
There were more videos. More comments. And more deletions. Not because I had no response, but because I did not want to spend my time responding, or even feeling a need to respond. I thought my time better spent down at the pool hall. So that’s where I went.
One day, and I suppose fueled by the constant deletions, Mr. Wizard walked into the pool hall and said: “The world can’t be explained by a Prager U video.”
Perhaps Mr. Wizard should be renamed Capt. Obvious. He thought that was something I didn’t know? Why in the hell would he presume that the sum total of my world view was formed by Prager U? Because I posted a few videos?
But perhaps more importantly, why in the hell did he care so much what I thought about anything? I had no idea and didn’t really care. But there he was right in front of me, so I guess I had to say something.
I said, “Those videos are not to explain the world, just to give fair hearing to points of view some people may not have heard before.”
“Yeah well, I thought you should know that there’s more to the world than Prager U.”
What the fuck? I just fucking told you that I am aware of that you shit-for-brains little prick. You have no idea what I read or watch or listen to and you don’t even have the good sense to ask. This is why I don’t want to talk to you.
But he was still standing there, so I didn’t have a choice for the moment. I said, “Hey man, you don’t have to look, like, or agree with them. Nor does anyone else. But, in order to truly disagree, one must know exactly what one is disagreeing with, as expressed by someone who actually holds that view. That’s the purpose of the videos.”
So I’m standing there looking at the pool table like a long lost lover, praying that Mr. Wizards query has been answered to his satisfaction, and I could go back to my game, but the next thing out of his mouth was:
“Yeah well, there’s other points of view out there.”
Oh fuck off, just fuck off, is what I wanted to say, please stop wasting my time telling me things I already know you annoying little fuck. But that seemed both kind of rude and certain to prolong the agony, so I settled for, “Okay thanks man, I’ll keep that in mind.”
Finally, Mr. Wizard walked away with a self-satisfied grin, like he had finally set me straight. Victory was his. He had saved me. No more would my mind be a slave to the evil cult of Prager U.
Free at last! Free at last! Thank Mr. Wizard almighty I was free at last!
But of course, one can never be too free. And so emboldened by his recent “success,” Mr. Wizard would soon return to free me even more.
I could hardly wait.