When I saw the title of last night's Top Comments diary, I was stoked. I, too, like Chrislove, am a map addict. The overlay of demographic data onto topography so often yields cool, "aha!" moments. Just about any link with the words "this cool map" will draw my clicking finger.
And the maps Chris posted were indeed cool, informative and "aha!" But, on seeing one of them, my aha immediately morphed to "Ahahhhh...crap."
The map was a classic most/least state map of the US, with the metric being the word most associated with the states in google queries (i.e. "Why is this state so __?").
Here is that map:
Having lived in Louisiana for nearly all of my adult life, I'm aware of the numerous flaws of the Sportsman's Paradise.
Ignorance? Seen it. Sometimes makes for funny quotes.
Obesity? Sure, but considering the cuisines, it's a fair trade.
Corruption? Terrible, but, again, sometimes leads to humor. Like the judge upstate who threw a case in the early 80s because the defendant agreed to resurface his driveway. Or the fear that, when we switched to electronic voting and sold our old lever machines to Mexico, Huey Long would end up president of la republica.
And racism? Inescapable. It's woven into the fabric, so casual in some that they're not even aware it's there.
But, for those of us who are, and who strive to root it out from our own hearts and minds, there's always been the feeling of progress, that we're getting somewhere. The worst offenders strike us as rapidly aging, rapidly marginalizing crazies no one takes seriously, even those with reality shows.
Until something like that map comes along to remind us that, no matter how we feel, no matter who we've become, there are still enough backward, backwoods, backbrained bozos that the first thing people want to know about our state is how the hell we got so many of them.
Not "How did one place produce all that cool music?" or "How is it people who seem like they can't even speak right can out-cook the world's finest chefs?"
No, it's "What's up with all the racism, dude?"
I've shared this map and my reaction to it on Facebook and gotten the predictable spectrum of reaction. "Sigh." "Hey, we're not really that way. People just believe what they see in movies." And the inevitable "F--- 'em. Why should we care what they think?"
There are actually a lot of reasons why we should care, social, political and, especially economic.
Mostly, I suppose I care because I can't help feeling that, if so many people ask why we're that way, maybe we are. And I find that rather depressing.