..or is it getting dark around here?
People often give me free, bad business advice. This usually comes from leftist ideologues who can’t brook a difference of opinion on any political issue and would prefer their favorite apple farmer keep quiet. I say “bad” advice, but the vast majority of young social media consultants would disagree. Small business isn’t allowed to have an opinion on anything but their product, and, even then, “the customer is always right” about that too. “Shut up, Mr. Businessman, and make me an apple pie.”
Conventional wisdom has even expanded, these days, to include a small business obligation to appear socially responsible, with editorial nods of approval on everything from lamenting fossil fuels to glowing about gender-neutral restrooms.
Enter Jim Riley who is too smart for all that nonsense. Seriously, it is difficult work even being a little intelligent these days, because there is no “common” sense, no cultural consensus, and most folks don’t even know it. If you can’t salute the flag, can’t stand for the anthem, can’t abide a prayer at your kid’s graduation, you’re too dumb to understand that, as a nation, we no longer have a spiritual roof over our heads or a philosophical foundation under our feet; some of you are doing your level best to dismantle our common values and then you wonder why the fight is getting so ugly. If you don’t celebrate freedom of speech, if you don’t see rights as being ordained by God, and therefore not up for a vote or a state-sanctioned boycott, you are too stupid to understand that everything crumbles as a result, including your right to disagree with me.
A few years ago, on my personal Twitter account, when I was asked to apologize for being white, I called that out for racism and a dimwit elementary school teacher was scandalized by the sheer un-wokeness of the thing. How could someone be so impolitic as to point out Louis Farrakhan’s hateful black supremacy? How could someone share a laugh at the expense of Stormy Daniels or David Hogg? These things are just not done. Small minds need to be left unchallenged by ideas. (Never mind that our living history programs have nothing to do with my personal political views.)
Of course the smart money is always on shutting up. Don’t even have an opinion, much less share it, particularly if you sell a product to government-worshiping civil servants.
Well, two things: not all teachers drink the Kool-Aid, and since they don’t, the smart ones love you extra special for telling the truth. It’s something like the relief my wife feels when she hears someone say Kevin Costner can’t act; she knows she’s around a straight-talker. It’s nice to be in a room where we don’t have to pretend Kevin Costner is a great actor.
But, still, the pragmatic money is always on shutting up. In our case, the controversy cost us a few school districts and the free advice came pouring in. “It’s your fault.” “I can’t believe you discussed politics on your business page.” “You aren’t taking care of business.”
The odd thing? If I had played it safe, the great Commie Virus Scare of 2020 would have wiped it all out anyway. Field trips came to a grinding halt across the board, not just at Jim Riley’s living history farm but EVERYWHERE.
As it turns out, I was shining the light before the room went dark. The people who make big, public decisions in our society “play it safe” so well they may have destroyed the greatest economy on earth. They “play it safe” with ideas so well, future generations may not get to read Shakespeare or Mark Twain or even, if you can believe it, Dr. Seuss. They played it safe so well with mail in ballots that a vast portion of the electorate no longer believes they have a vote.
Playing it safe is overrated. Do you really want to live in a world where high-maintenance neurotics check your child’s vaccine history every hour and deem Little House on the Prairie too traumatizing for young minds?
As you know, Godwin’s law prevents us from discussing very appropriate historical parallels, but we all have to make up our mind at some point. Is market share, is your job, is your relationship with toxic but economically necessary people really worth it? You don’t have to pick a fight every day, but you do need to pick the necessary ones.
I predict a boom market in comedians who make fun of woke culture, in pastors who preach real sin and a real Jesus, in politicians who take pictures holding machine guns.
We’re sick of the silence. It’s time for a debate.
..and by the way, our public walk-on business this year is now up 92% on Saturdays.