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Anger Porn

February 13, 2014

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A few weeks ago, a Facebook meme was going around of a sign for the Orange Church of God condemning skateboarders, artists, addicts, occupiers, and vegetarians to hell. Every time the meme got shared, the comments were angry, cynical, and outraged. There go those hateful evangelicals again.

The problem with this meme is that it generated real anger against a fake church. The Orange Church of God does not exist. So the meme serves only the purpose of creating anger. It is anger porn. 

Like lust, wrath is categorized as one of the seven deadly sins. The seven deadly sins are primarily sins of thought, foundational motivators to the sins done in action. The seven deadly sins are also pernicious, related to proper needs and desires taken to extremes. Greed is a disordered desire for wealth. Gluttony is a disordered desire for consumption. Lust is a disordered sexual desire. Wrath is a disordered desire for protection or for justice. The desires are natural and proper. The sin occurs when the desires take a disordered control of our actions. Just as pornography stimulates lust, so also anger porn stimulates anger because, well, we just like to be angry. 

Just as porn caters to every fetish, anger porn caters to every political and religious demographic–conservative, liberal, libertarian, evangelical, atheist, pro-gun, anti-gun, Occupiers, Tea Partiers, and so forth. The recent Coke commercial, the reaction to the commercial, and the reaction to the reaction have all been anger porn.* Much of the discussion of gay marriage, pro and con, has been anger porn. We have entire cable stations providing anger porn 24/7. 

We justify our uses of anger porn because we believe we are right. After the recent creationism debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, a few social scientists observed that its likely outcome is only to solidify the previously-held biases of the viewers, rather than to persuade anyone to change his or her mind. That debate was classic anger porn, resulting in entirely predictable scorn and derision from every side

Anger porn works, I think, just like regular porn–the more we use it, the more justified we feel in the rightness of our anger, and so we use it even more. Thus, whether we hate the homosexual or whether we hate the homophobe, we justify our anger to ourselves and hate our enemy. Quite contrary to Christ’s exhortation to love our enemies. Consider that when people kill others in the heat of anger, they always feel an initial justification in the act. 

Because anger can come from a legitimate desire for justice, we would do well to remember the exhortation in the epistle of James: “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (1:19, 20). No matter how righteous one’s anger, the anger itself cannot be the end. 

“Anger’s my meat,” Shakespeare wrote. “I sup upon myself, and so shall starve with feeding.” Try not looking at the things which make you angry all the time. 

 

*The Coke commercial referenced above was aired early in 2014. It presented “America the Beautiful” in multiple languages. When I have said that the commercial itself is anger porn, my reasoning is that I believe the Coca-Cola Company anticipated and expected the angry response. I have no objection to the content of the commercial as such, but I think we should pause long enough to ask ourselves how the advertisement is Itself a commercial ploy. What is the calculation involved in the idea of motivating anger to generate sales? 

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One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on Ruizetics and commented:
    Written by a colleague of mine. Worth the read.

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