DUSTY RHOADES: Scary New Political Disease: SWORS
Today, friends, I'm here to tell you about a disease that's affecting people every day. It may even be happening to someone you know and love.
I'm talking about Spasmodic Wingnut Outrage Syndrome, or SWORS.
SWORS is a disorder of the central nervous system that causes impairment of higher brain function in some American conservatives. Sufferers from SWORS experience a near-total loss of any sense of proportion and become prone to manic outbursts of indignation over trivial events.
For example, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden recently dropped into a Washington burger joint and ordered lunch. Obama ordered his burger with, and I quote, "spicy mustard, Dijon mustard, something like that."
Dijon mustard, it should be noted, is a common item which one can find at the local Walmart. But to someone in the grip of SWORS, even condiments are omens of dark portent. A virulent outbreak ensued when Sean Hannity (who spreads SWORS in much the same way a tick carries Lyme disease) began raving on his show against "President Poupon."
Others were immediately infected, dubbed the visit "Dijon-gate," and demanded to know why MSNBC was "covering up" the president's choice of allegedly elitist mustard. (As a side note, it is not currently known why Democratic politicians' dietary choices are most likely to bring on an attack of SWORS. More research into this is needed.)
Occasionally, long-term sufferers from SWORS begin talking in a sort of private language, a code only they and other people with the disease understand. If a conservative is prone to randomly dropping cryptic references to ACORN, arugula, or presidential birth certificates into political conversations that have nothing to do with these topics, they may be suffering from SWORS.
Other symptoms can include mass-forwarding of angry and poorly researched e-mails, writing incoherent letters to the editor, or hosting national television or radio talk shows, particularly on the FOX News channel.
People who have SWORS are prone to embarrassing public gaffes. Right-wing blogger Andrew "Big Hollywood" Breitbart recently wrote a moving tale regarding his own battle with SWORS. He described an incident that occurred as he was having drinks with his wife at a hotel on California's "ritzy Santa Monica shoreline."
When Breitbart observed a group of young people protesting outside the hotel, SWORS took over his brain. He assumed that what he was seeing was a protest against all things good and true and American, and that the "anti-warriors were trying to destroy the peaceful seaside vibe and our pleasant Jose Cuervo buzz." He therefore proceeded to rush to a nearby balcony, where an American flag waved. "Positioned next to Old Glory," he writes, "I countered the young punk and reached out my right arm directing my middle finger in his direction."
Unfortunately, as Breitbart later discovered when his seizure wore off, the protest was against the enslavement and use of children as soldiers in Uganda and the Congo. To Breitbart's credit, he's actually against those things. And, he admits, he was "a jerk."
Don't beat yourself up, Andrew. You just can't help yourself. But admitting you have a problem is the first step in finding the cure.
So what can we do to stop the spread of this embarrassing and destructive illness? Not much, I'm afraid. People with SWORS are not only resistant to treatment; they often see anyone attempting to diagnose the disease as part of the threatening conspiracy that forms the core of their delusion. In fact, it's a sad fact that the very description of the syndrome contained in this column may trigger an outbreak.
If you encounter someone in the throes of a SWORS attack, under no circumstances should you attempt to reason with them. Since irrational outbursts of anger and disjointed rants are the primary symptoms of the disease, injury or extreme boredom may occur. Best just to change the subject.
Fortunately, sufferers are only really dangerous when they hold or are seeking political power. The only thing to do is watch them carefully, try to keep them isolated, and hope someday there may be a cure.
Maybe we should have a telethon.
Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage.
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