I have come to terms with the fact that Seth MacFarlane is pretty much a liberal. Just like liberals can enjoy libertarian-leaning episodes of South Park, so too, can I enjoy Family Guy.
However, tonight’s newest episode “Peter Joins the Tea Party” sadly missed the mark and ventured into the extremes of ad hominem and reducto ad absurdum attacks on people with legitimate political views.
Normally, I respect Seth MacFarlane and his usally transparent liberal views. That’s fine. Unlike CNN and MSNBC, Fox hosts a bunch of shows critical to its news reporting. For that, they are to be commended. Just tonight, The Simpsons opened with a helicopter dragging a banner that said something to the effect of:
Dear Fox News: We don’t hate you, we just like CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and CBS more.
Most people would think that is a fireable offense, or depending on how the contract is written, a breach of contract. Either way, I am sure Fox is laughing all the way to the bank in good humor. I don’t think Fox should stop carrying Family Guy because of one really bad episode.
So, how did Seth miss the mark in tonight’s episode, you ask? In short, he painted the Tea Party this way:
- It’s not run by regular people, it’s run by big business in an effort to screw people over.
- It supports eliminating all government.
- It’s violent.
I wouldn’t consider myself first and foremost to be a “Tea Partier.” This isn’t because I disagree with them on many things, I am largely in agreement. I do disagree with them on term limits, government retirement for elected officials, and their pay. I think many people who are elected to Congress are severely underpaid. However, there is not an easy or simple way to pay elected officials what they are worth. Some are grossly overpaid, and others are making less than my high school classmates who are neophyte lawyers. Many of these members should command far greater payment than that.
It’s just that I am a Tea Party hipster — I was for it before the Tea Party existed.
First off, while I do concede that there is corporate influence in the Tea Party, it’s no different than unions having influence in Democratic politics. It’s a tale as old as time, to quote Beauty and the Beast. To be sure, some members of the Tea Party support crony capitalism, which is no different than Occupiers and liberal Democrats supporting crony capitalism for the causes they believe in.
However, the distinctive difference is that most Tea Party members, at least in my experience, are opposed to having government pick winners and losers. That is where MacFarlane gets it so wrong.
Second, only anarcho-libertarians on the right and anarchists on the left support total elimination of government. The combined mass of both groups represents an infinitesimal percentage of the electorate. Many members of the Tea Party advocate significantly fewer regulations, and much smaller government, but that is not to say they support no government at all. My back of the napkin estimate is that less than 1% of all voters would push for that.
Suggesting that Tea Partiers are all no government zealots is both disingenuous and and reckless. Supporting less government and fewer government interventions in the economy is far from saying government has no place at all.
Lastly, MacFarlane portrays the Tea Party as violent. Early in its infancy, many in the mainstream media sought to portray them as such, but with little success. Any serious look at the record will show the Tea Party as an almost exclusively non-violent movement. The same cannot be said for Occupy Wall Street.
Here is a .gif image of how MacFarlane portrays the Tea Party:
Somebody calling for “A Little Bit of Government” gets beaten to a pulp with signs. Hardly the record of the Tea Party.
As next Sunday night comes around, of course, I will watch The Simpsons and Family Guy. However, I’d hope that Seth MacFarlane takes note and doesn’t completely distort a very clear record of truth to viewers who might not know better. We deserve better.