Dingus of the Week: Eric Zorn
Shots don’t make any sense, and you aren’t lazy, it’s capitalism
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This week, after a jury found police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd, local hero and columnist Eric Zorn published what he billed as a dispassionate discussion of the death of Adam Toledo, a teen shot by Chicago PD.
“Can we have a non-heated, forward-thinking conversation about the police killing of Adam Toledo? Civil rights lawyer Sheila Bedi and I prove that it’s possible!” wrote Zorn in his tweet promoting the column.
The conversation (don’t read it) is Zorn mounting a milquetoast defense of shooting children, and Bedi pointing out he’s wrong about, well, everything.
Columnists like Zorn, why do they even exist? I’ll tell you why. Because newspaper publishers are largely conservative white men who think their opinions, like “maybe the police should murder kids,” ought to be represented. Except the people who espouse those beliefs are bad writers and bad thinkers and, as it turns out, very interested in having a polite, civil discussion on who gets to die and who doesn’t. By the way, I know for a fact you can’t do this as a liberal and keep your job. Especially as a woman. So, only provocateurs (read: immoral dinguses) can be men or blond women on the right.
The fact that Zorn can have this conversation so politely proves that his life was and is never at risk of death by cop. It’s always easy to be dispassionate about a position that has no bearing on your life. It’s easy to sip your whiskey and smoke your cigar and treat the issues that endanger people’s lives as a mere rhetorical squabble when your life was never the one in the balance.
And what’s so wrong with emotion, anyway? I think of my favorite scene from Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail, when Tom Hanks’ shitty, neoliberal, pro-capitalist character comes to visit Meg Ryan’s character, who he just put out of business. And he says, “It wasn’t personal.”
The ideal of dispassionate rhetoric is actually harmful because it divorces reality from rhetoric. Making all ideas matters of polite dinner conversation rather than the flesh and blood reality of human existence.
“What is that supposed to mean?” she says. “I’m so sick of that. All that it means is that it wasn’t personal to you. But it was personal to me. It was personal to a lot of people. But what is so wrong with being personal, anyway?”
“Uh, nothing,” Hanks says.
“Because whatever anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”
Zorn, whatever else anything should be, it should be personal. The death of humans, all humans, should be personal to us. The ideal of dispassionate rhetoric is actually harmful because it divorces reality from rhetoric. Making all ideas matters of polite dinner conversation rather than the flesh and blood reality of human existence.
Help with a Legislative Roundup:
A small reminder, I am hoping to do a roundup of legislative dingii from around the country, but I need your help. Please nominate someone for this important honor. Share with your friends and family. Your towns, your communities.
What I Am Reading:
Men are exercising their rights to their bodily autonomy by not getting vaccinated. MEANWHILE, we are still litigating Roe v. Wade. Humans who don’t want you to abort a mass of cells are fine with condemning teens to a cell for life. Anne Helen Petersen wrote about our absolutely broken economy. And how workers aren’t lazy, they’re just tired of being exploited and are broken. And yes. I remember in July, crying in a meeting, asking to be taken off the Kids’ Gazette, which I loved, but as a single mom without childcare in a pandemic and with another full-time job, I was at my breaking point. I remember my boss saying, “We’ll come up with something.”
That’s when I told everyone I was off the page.
And maybe we aren’t failures when we say, enough. And maybe it’s not being lazy to say I won’t take whatever bullshit you give me. Maybe it’s change, and maybe it’s a revolution.
Philip Roth’s biographer has been credibly accused of rape, and this is my shocked face as I learn that a man who defended a man who was famously horrible to women is also horrible to women.
What I Am Drinking:
This week, I attempted to finally make two cocktails that you all suggested. And this week, I made the chocolate cake shot, which is just lemon, sugar, hazelnut liqueur, and vodka. You coat a lemon wedge in sugar, suck it, and with the juice in your mouth, down the liqueur and vodka. And okay, does it taste a bit like a cake? Yes. But to you I ask, in the words of a scholar, cui bono, bitches? What good is this drink?
First of all, shots have one purpose: to get you very drunk or to get the people you are with very drunk. The last time I “did shots” was in the before times when I took a friend of mine going through a divorce out for some drinks and the owner of the restaurant brought us some shots to help her forget her sorrows, and maybe it worked. But also, we are old and I was done in by them, and why?
If you aren’t creeping on someone at a bar, or if you aren’t in a sorority, what is the point of a shot? Why can’t we all just politely sip our drinks while eating Doritos out of our robe pockets like adults?
This week, I also tested a suggestion from a reader to mix cream soda and vodka into a drink. And I know how that will taste like: regret. So I looked up fancier recipes and discovered a caramel whiskey Italian soda concoction, which looked a little less like what a 50-year-old would buy for a 19-year-old at a bar. And I gotta say, it was bad.
Look, don’t flavor whiskey. Just don’t. It’s whiskey. It doesn’t need flavor. Just like coffee. It’s fine. Enjoy the actual flavor. If you are adding flavor, remember, you are not Guy Fieri, this is not Flavortown.
Also, this brings me to another point: Drinks should taste like drinks, not like other food items. It’s so weird when people are like, oh, this drink tastes like a cinnamon roll. If someone told me a drink tasted like mac and cheese, I’d punch them (in a COVID-19 safe manner of course). I love mac and cheese, but mac and cheese tastes like mac and cheese. We can’t cross flavors! What’s next, mac and steve??!
Sorry, that was a terrible joke. And I am sorry. You all generously gave me disgusting drink recipes and then I did not like them. As a peace offering, I’ll share this drink that my editor suggested: the Lion’s Tail.
Also, this week in Deep Thoughts: My agent pointed out: “Iowa, the land of chilly temperatures, puts ranch on everything. Meanwhile, New Mexico, the land of ranches, puts chilies on everything.” I’ll let you think about that.
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