When did outrage become a cottage industry in America?

There is not a cause today in this country that doesn’t spark some level of angry, deep-seeded, self-righteous indignation. In the world of vitriol, business is booming.

If outrage were a product to be sold—say, a $5 flavored coffee—people would be lined up around the block to get their Venti Crocodile Tears Latte (skinny, no foam). Starbucks stock prices would be through the roof. And job numbers would soar as unemployed young people with master’s degrees in anthropology found jobs as baristas.

Of course, in this scenario, the US economy could easily crash by those outraged over the color of the coffee cup at Christmas. But I digress.

The concept of outrage started in the Old Testament with God. The original sin resulted in the Holy eviction of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden—pretty outrageous stuff for being talked into eating an apple by a snake. God’s earthly expression of his indignation continued throughout the centuries as he flooded the land, brought on plagues and locusts, made people walk around the desert for years and turned spouses to stone. 

So the deep desire to act out one of our worst emotions is actually God-given.

Unlike God though—who saved such Biblical-style destruction for special occasions—our generation of Americans seemingly wants to express outrage at every alleged atrocity we encounter.

Someone disagrees with our political view—we’re outraged.

Someone says our religious beliefs (or lack thereof) are incorrect—we’re outraged.

Someone takes 16 items into the 15-item express lane—we’re outraged.

The Cincinnati Reds get rid of Aroldis Chapman—we’re outraged (okay, I’m still a little pissed about that one myself, but you get the idea). 

Before proceeding to the modern roots of today’s rancorous culture, note that “outrage” should not be confused with someone being “outrageous.” Robin Williams was outrageous. Bill O’Reilly is outraged. Assuming O’Reilly isn’t trying to be funny, there’s a big difference between the two.

Thus, I blame the rise of outrage on the decline of outrageous Looney Tunes cartoons. And I’m not referring to those stupid Baby Looney Tunes. I’m talking about original Mel Blanc-voiced Bugs Bunny cartoons with lisping ducks, dogs with southern accents, and stuttering pigs. The ones that entertained parents as much as kids.

One day a group of people (I assume bitter childless couples) became outraged by Looney Tunes. According to them a talking duck having its bill spun around after being shot in the face by an overweight hunter with a speech impediment, was offensive to, well, just about everyone. But that was the point. Bugs Bunny and the rest of his iconic pals were the voice of a politically incorrect generation. And they made us laugh.

But outrage won over humor. From there it was all downhill.

As the PC Police began determining what was appropriate to make children smile, Looney Tunes became a little less outrageous. And we became a little crankier. I suspect road rage was invented by a mom repeatedly listening to the Veggie Tales theme song on the VCR in her minivan. 

Want to cool everyone’s jets? Find something to remind us to laugh at ourselves once in a while.

I’d do it myself, but, quite honestly, I’m too outraged.

Th, th, th, that’s all, folks.