The Luv Doc: It’s Bad, and It’s Nationwide

Comfort is the turd in which the mushroom of ignorance grows

Dear Luv Doc,

Last year my husband's brother moved to Austin from a conservative city just up I-35 a ways. Really he moved to a suburb about 30 minutes from Austin, but close enough! We have been to their house a couple of times and they have been to our house as well. Both of us have children the same age and they get along decently, so overall our interactions with them have been pleasant – at least until last Monday when we were invited to his house to watch the national championship. This was the first time we have been around my brother-in-law and his "new Austin friends" and it was a real eye-opener. I know we were there to watch a football game, but I was still shocked at the amount of sexism/misogyny/racism/bizarre MAGA hat/QAnon type stuff getting casually tossed around. I asked my husband if this was some sort of football thing and he said it shocked him as well. Neither one of us called anyone out about it at the time because we didn't want to make a scene, but now I feel guilty that I didn't. At least we know that in the future we won't be going to any gatherings that involve his friends, but I still think one of us should say something to him. Should we? Or should we just leave it alone?

– Bad Brodown in the Burbs

I think everyone can agree that Jan. 9 was a tough night for anyone who had money on the Horned Frogs. That said, extreme humiliation is no excuse for deplorable behavior. Ignorance, on the other hand, is a perfect excuse, and it sounds like you were swimming in it at your brother-in-law's bowl party. That's not a judgment on TCU fans either. I am sure there are scads of well-mannered, intelligent horned frogs skittering about even though I don't personally know any – nor am I likely to now that TCU purple is getting shoved to the back of everyone's drawers like it's a big, veiny dildo.

Plus, for all I know your brother-in-law's friends were all dyed-in-the-wool Bulldog fans. This may come as a bit of a jaw-dropper for some people, but even though Athens, Georgia, boasts some amazing alternative acts like Neutral Milk Hotel, the Mendoza Line, Love Tractor, and the Olivia Tremor Control – oh, and also Widespread Panic, Drive-By Truckers, the B-52s and ... what's that other band's name? I'm sure I'll think of it in a minute ... anyway, even though Athens, Georgia, itself might be a liberal cultural oasis, Georgia football fans are, to a large extent, bloated, obnoxious, suburban redneck frat boy types. Just like Longhorn fans, only with better school colors! So, it's probably best not to fall back on tribalism to explain away your brother-in-law's friends' behavior.

No, to borrow a phrase from ZZ Top (none of whom were college matriculants, lest anyone think I am waxing elitist) ignorance is bad, and it's nationwide. More importantly, an increasing number of folks are wearing it like it's a badge of honor. You're not going to seduce them with your grandiose notions of public education and health care! Americans will never fall for the panacea of socialism, and certainly not Texans. True Texans are willing to drive their tweens to get backroom abortions as long as they can dig up enough spare change to take the tollway. Money wasted on public education and health care is money you can't spend wisely trying to get rich on crypto and swole on bone broth.

Look, I don't have any grand ideas on how to fight ignorance on a global or even micro scale. In his satire Candide, Voltaire basically ends with, "Tend your own fucking garden." That is great advice. Of course, I much prefer the folksier Kacey Musgraves variant: "Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy." Why? Because I ain't stuck up. They're both right: You rarely change minds by shouting them down, but I'll be damned if it isn't delightfully cathartic.

I know I'm armchair quarterbacking here, but the time to call out racism/sexism/misogyny is when it's actually happening. That takes some huevos gigantes because it almost always creates uncomfortable situations, but comfort is the turd in which the mushroom of ignorance grows. Confronting your brother-in-law about it after the fact won't have much effect, but it couldn't hurt, so feel free to take a verbal dump on him and his friends' behavior. Next bowl game, lean into awkwardness, kick that turd. Open up a dialogue.

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