Our Regrettable Decline from Collective Discretion into Social Mobocracy

Most of us have received one of those emails displaying photos of so-called “Walmart People.” As you scroll down, you see a collection of pictures of Walmart shoppers wearing wild assortments of clothing, covering bodies that seem fashioned from silly putty or carved from tree stumps.

There are horribly overweight women wearing skimpy shorts, barely covering explosions of tattoo-blemished buttock flesh. There are men wearing pink leotards and combat boots. There are people who seem to have crawled out of a fissure in the earth–troglodytes, perhaps? Or conceivably, humanoid-like creatures from another planet that crash-landed into a Goodwill warehouse?

Can any of this be real? Do people really look like that? And do they go to Walmart and other places?

The answer is yes, yes, and yes. These are real people. They look like that and often abandon their dank and murky caves to venture into well-lit public places such as Walmart.

What happened? How did our nation spawn organisms that apparently have no concept of taste, style, or class?

Beyond these “Walmart people,” I think national taste and style hit a new low when the Northwestern University women’s 2005 national championship lacrosse team showed up at the White House wearing flip-flops. What does this say about respect for the nation’s highest office, let alone personal pride and class?

It says none of that matters anymore. It says if you want to go to a funeral wearing cargo shorts and a tank top, it’s OK because the most important thing is not showing a modicum of respect for the deceased but how YOU feel.

Too many people today are unfamiliar with the concept of “class” or what it means to be classy. Nothing is left to the imagination. In movies today, it has become de rigueur for the camera to pass through the bedroom door as actors and actresses engage in multiple forms of mattress gymnastics.

Remember movies when a couple would go through a door, and the next scene would be the next day? Isn’t that enough? Can’t we leave something to the imagination, for God’s sake?

Can you imagine Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Doris Day, Elizabeth Taylor, etc., baring it all for a scene with a nude Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Rock Hudson, or Burt Lancaster? It wouldn’t have happened. And it’s not just because the censors in those days would not have allowed it to happen. It’s because, once upon a time, Americans had an appreciation for elegance and taste.

Rita Hayworth

Great actresses today, such as Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Maggie Smith, and Emma Thompson, know you don’t have to do the horizontal jitterbug to exude sex appeal.

They leave something to the imagination.

So why do otherwise intelligent women show up at the White House in flip-flops?

Why do “Walmart people” feel they can go shopping looking like two-legged rubbish bins?

Dare I offer my humble opinion? I fear there is very little child-rearing. Too many parents are abrogating that responsibility to schools, daycare centers, etc. The result is a nation in which millions of kids have little or no understanding of shared values, self-discipline, social responsibility, respect for others, or what we used to call “good manners.”

All of that is utterly passé. The idea for too many young girls today is to look trashy, show as much booty as they can and have a big ugly tattoo poking out above their butt crack.

When I was teaching at the University of Illinois, I couldn’t believe how many female students came to my 8 a.m. class in their pajamas. They couldn’t have cared less about how they appeared. But hey, at least they were comfortable.

Attitudes began to change dramatically in the counterculture, hippie-fueled, “turn on, tune in, drop out” 1960s when the mantra was: “If it feels good, do it.”

Miss Manners was about as relevant back then as powdered wigs and hoop skirts.

Therefore, we can argue that it’s “generational.” OK, I agree, up to a point. Back in “the day” (and here I am dating myself), we wore tight jeans and white T-shirts with cigarette packs rolled up in short sleeves. Some of us had “Ducktails.” We liked to cruise around in customized cars equipped with side lake pipes and thunderous glass pack mufflers.

But how many of us looked like those people at Walmart—or, for that matter, at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, or I-Hop? I have seen them at those places, too.

Until the 1960s, people took a lot more pride in their appearance mainly because (in my case, at least) my mother would never have allowed me to walk out the door looking like a vagrant. I think too many parents today don’t provide that kind of supervision. Few teach their kids any discipline and instead infuse them with the idea that respecting others, their property, or their opinions is unnecessary.

School teachers today tell me that when they get kids from homes like that (and that means most kids), every time they attempt to punish them for bad behavior, the parents circle the wagons around their brats, and often, it’s the teacher who gets disciplined. I can’t imagine what it must be like to teach high school today.

That’s why there is such an excess of people who feel “entitled” to say and do anything they want. Think about the hordes of today’s barbarians who, like the Visa-goths and Huns who sacked Rome, are able to enter a Nieman-Marcus or Macy’s store with trash bags, strip shelves bare, and walk out with impunity.

A gang of thieves leaving Nieman-Marcus with loot

Why is this happening? Why? Because we are allowing it to happen. Because Black Lives Matter leaders say openly that what those people are doing is “not looting, but reparations.” What a ludicrous rationalization.

“These stores owe the black community,” BLM kingpins say. That’s ethical vigilantism and victim distortion. They are encouraging responses to a real or imagined injustice by urging remedial cheating, lying, and theft as “payback” for past indiscretions and biases. When someone belongs to a group that is commonly treated with bias or has a history of being so treated, or when an individual feels, perhaps legitimately, that he or she is personally discriminated against or disliked because of factors such as appearance, race, social background, or past indiscretions, they feel empowered to loot and steal. Some even go so far as to attack Asians, Jews, or elderly pensioners on the street–all because of their perceived victimhood.

It’s a dangerous victim mindset that creates a crippling rationalization that says stealing from a Walmart or Walgreens is okay because those allegedly aggrieved are filled with irrational and groundless hostility. There is also the fact that punishment is just about nil for this kind of unlawful activity.

The result is that significant portions of our nation are sliding dangerously into anarchy. It’s as if those violent “Purge” films, in which citizens are given one full day to commit any crime they want with impunity, are no longer Hollywood fiction but reality.

Who knows where all of this will end? Given the feckless and irresponsible leadership in our cities, I am not optimistic.


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About Ronald E. Yates

Ronald E. Yates is an award-winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. Read More About Ron Here

2 thoughts on “Our Regrettable Decline from Collective Discretion into Social Mobocracy”

  1. I have to admit that my “best attire” would be limited to bluejeans. In Alaska where most used to do physical work for a living the word “formal” meant clean blue jeans and the symphony would find guys fresh from work in Carhartts and bunny boots sitting with their wives in evening gowns and fur coats. You are correct that today the inmates are allowed to run the asylum. “Aggrieved” individuals and groups abound. They demand that everyone else accept their behavior and the legal system now juxtaposes the criminal and the victim. The guilty are worshipped and the innocent vilified. NOT BY ME!


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