*In 1975, advertising executive Gary Dahl came up with the idea of a “Pet Rock.” Made from smooth stones from Mexico’s Rosarito Beach, and custom cardboard boxes, Dahl’s low-budget invention sold for four dollars each and made him a millionaire.
The fad lasted for about six months. With his profit Dahl opened a bar in Los Gatos, California called “Carry Nations” in reference to Carrie Nation, a radical member of the temperance movement, which opposed alcohol before the introduction of Prohibition. Known as “Hatchet Granny” for busting up stock in bars and taverns, Carrie came from a family where some suffered from mental illness and delusions.
The “perfect pet,” born out of a conversation with friends complaining about their pets, was the basis for Dahl’s advertisement – a rock would not have to be fed, walked, bathed or groomed; and would not become sick, die or be disobedient. In other words, it would eliminate all responsibility for maintaining a healthy, well-trained, and happy pet!
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Forty-five years later in 2020, after people had long stopped buying Pet Rocks, they began to “buy” into “The Big Lie” when former president Donald Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden. Birthed by Trump (another “birthing” scheme) pitching baseless claims of “election fraud,” and “the stolen election” fanned by conspiracy theories by the likes of the delusional QAnon believers, “The Big Lie” has taken on a life of its own. Without evidence of any widescale fraud being presented in court hearings, people have confirmation bias believing what they want to see or hear.
So, just as people bought into the Pet Rock craze 45 years ago and opted out of the responsibility and reality of owning a real pet, people today are opting out of the responsibility and reality of owning a true democracy. Whereas people made the pet rock the scapegoat for their laziness, irresponsibility, and disengagement, they have made Trump the scapegoat “rock” for their bigotry, supremacy, and exceptionalism that is no longer acceptable in today’s climate of accountability as shown in recent prominent court cases.
Although Carrie Nation had an admirable, and understandable motive for busting up bars and taverns (her first husband, a physician, died from alcoholism), she was ostracized for her tactics. Likewise, in changing and improving government we vote for people who are best suited to represent the people; we follow current events by informed means (not hearsay); and we engage, among other things, in our communities without prejudice. Rioting and destroying our Capitol on January 6, 2021, was wrong. Our democracy is not a passing fad! You can’t (over) throw it away as if you were throwing a rock!
Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based contributing writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” and “Book To The Future” (Amazon); two insightful books that speak to our moral conscience in times like these. Email: [email protected]