Monday, August 6, 2012

Not Very Sporting of Chomsky

If you're looking for someone to put a wet blanket all over the Olympic flame, heeeeeeeere's Noam Chomsky!

...sports - that's another crucial example of the indoctrination system in my view. For one thing, because it offers people something to pay attention to that's of no importance. It keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might get an idea to do something about....I remember in high school...I suddenly asked myself at one point "Why do I care if my high-school team wins the football game? I don't know anybody on the team....Why am I cheering for my team? It doesn't make any sense." But the point is it does make sense. It's a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements. In fact, it's training in irrational jingoism.

One suspects that he would find it deeply troubling that a winning boxer and a losing sailor are deemed more newsworthy, more important, than a defecting politician. One also suspects that he would be troubled by the fact that my 5 year-old nephew could tell you how many gold medals Steve Redgrave has won, or what event Ryan "Lofty" got his gold medal in, but try asking him about key moments in Irish history and you'll be greeted by an embarrassed silence. (Embarrassed because he doesn't like not knowing the answer to "hard questions".)

This raises a number of issues. 1) Is Chomsky just a bit of a kill joy who doesn't understand the nature and passion of sport and the necessarily irrational component of loyal love? (Aside: Was/Is Yhwh an irrational a good way?) 2) Have we been indoctrinated into thinking that sport matters, with our emotions, time, intellect and energy being poured into this rather trivial sphere of life while we remain largely numb, unintelligent and impotent as political animals and community members? 3) Given the capacity of children to learn and retain, are we short-changing them by educating them in the trivial and thus teaching them to love the inconsequential? (Does this explain why many churches send the children and youth out the door when the sermon is about to begin?)

This post has already gone places where I never intended it to go, but as we listen to news reports from the clay pigeon shooting arena it's worth considering if there is something more going on.

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