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Cast your net wide enough, and you're gonna catch some idiots.

The nationalization of trivia has turned us all into nervous wrecks – Kevin Drum:

I call this the "big country problem": in a nation of 300 million people, there's always someone doing something stupid every single day of the year. If you want to scare people into thinking that liberals are going to take their guns away, it's easy to find dozens of examples of some local nitwit doing or saying something about taking people's guns away. If you want to scare people into thinking that fascism is overtaking America, it's easy to find dozens of example of some local nitwit doing or saying something about gunning down protesters in the streets.

I started noticing back in the mid-2000s, when sites like MediaMatters and ThinkProgress would post daily stories about some state legislator or a mayor that had said something outrageous. True, the quotes were often reprehensible, but they are of little national import until sites like MediaMatters and ThinkProgress started posting them.

Of course, the problem is much worse now. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube not only supply a platform for distributing this stuff way beyond its local environment; they also amplify it via their algorithms, thereby insuring that Moron G. Retrograde from the Mississippi state house or the Bumblestump Town Board is busily cooking up some new batch of wingnuttery to try to get his fifteen minutes.

None of the above is meant to excuse the crazy, ignorant stuff that is happening at the local and state level, nor is to say that we should not be concerned about creeping extremism across the country. It’s a serious problem. Unfortunately, we no longer live in a world when we can assume that the lunatic fringe will mostly be relegated to the crank handing out mimeographed Lyndon Larouche flyers in front of the post office.

Still, when you see a post or a share about some nutbar saying something offensive or stupid, it is worth taking a minute to put it in perspective. We live in a pretty large country, and our public conversation is unfortunately conducted largely upon platforms that are interested mainly in accelerating the worst voices. They may amplify the assholes, but you don’t have to listen.

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