There are some commonly used quotes that people need to just stop using. I'm not talking about movie lines that everybody quotes because they think they're funny or cool. I'm talking about quotations that didn't make much sense to begin with and are so over-used that they have become irritating cliches, and any relevance they might have had has been lost. So everyone, please stop repeating the following:
"You can't shout 'fire' in a crowded theater."
Okay, first of all, the quote is "falsely shout 'fire'." I know that's basically a given, but people sound stupid when they omit that word, so I don't understand why everybody does. And secondly, yes, you actually can yell "fire" in a crowded theater. The quote is usually used to refute an argument concerning the First Amendment. But it's a bad argument, because shouting "fire" in a crowded theater is protected by the First Amendment, according to Brandenburg vs. Ohio, which determined that only language intentionally meant to incite imminent lawless action is not protected by the First Amendment. So, yeah, fuck you, Mr. First Amendment Violation Apologist.
"Nature abhors a vacuum."
Well, no. Nature is not sentient, and is therefore not capable of abhorring anything. But even if it were, vacuums are clearly not something it would abhor. Vacuums exist in nature. The universe is in fact one giant vacuum with a little bit of matter floating around. I think this quote is attributed to Aristotle. Are we really taking science lessons from a guy who lived over 2000 years ago?
"In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes."
This one's just stupid. It's clearly not true, as the world is filled with people who will never, ever be famous, and no one is ever famous for a mere 15 minutes. That's not even possible. The world would have to learn about this person and then promptly forget about them all within a 15-minute interval. Yeah, yeah, it's not meant to be taken literally, but even taken figuratively, it's meaningless and useless, and just plain dumb. Isn't it time we stopped pretending that Andy Warhol was in any way profound or wise?
"When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back."
What does this even mean? I mean, I know what people think it means, and I think I know what Nietzsche thought he meant. But it doesn't actually mean any of that. It doesn't really mean anything. But it sounds cool, so people still use it.
I think there are others, and in fact I think I'm forgetting the one that prompted me to write this post in the first place, but I can't remember.
But on a related note, here's something else that annoys me: song lyrics that make no sense. I don't mean esoteric lyrics that not everyone gets, I mean lyrics that are quite simply nonsense. There are three in particular that bug me:
"I'm finding it hard to believe we're in heaven." - Bryan Adams, "Heaven"
I may have written about this one before, because it's been bothering me for a long time. I like Bryan Adams ("Summer of '69" is one of the best rock songs ever), but he screwed up here. The only way this line makes any sense is if he's singing about a couple who died and literally went to heaven, but heaven is really boring and crappy, so he's having a tough time believing that it's really heaven. But I don't think that's what he meant.
"Too Much Time on My Hands" by Styx
I also like Styx, but pretty much this entire song is written incorrectly. The song's about some loser who does nothing but sit around and drink and watch soap operas and so forth. Then each verse ends with, "Is it any wonder I'm not crazy? Is it any wonder I'm sane at all?" or a variation on that ("Is it any wonder I'm not a criminal," etc). But, well... yes, it is a wonder. What he meant to say was, "Is it any wonder I am crazy/a criminal, etc.?" Either that, or, "It's a wonder I'm not crazy." But asking it in the form of a question like that implies that the evidence supports a negative answer to the question. But it doesn't, it contradicts it. Unless that's the point, that he's so drunk and crazy that he doesn't realize he's misusing the expression. Curiously, though, he gets it right for the chorus: "Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?" No, it's not a wonder, and that's the point!
"No one ever died for my sins in hell." - Green Day, "Jesus of Surbubia"
Green Day is my favorite band, and "Jesus of Suburbia" is probably my favorite song by them. But one thing Billie Joe Armstrong is not is a great lyricist. What does that line mean? Does it mean no one died in hell, which isn't possible because if they're in hell they're presumably already dead? Or is it the sins that are in hell? I guess it means that no one ever died for the acts he committed which the denizens of hell would consider to be sinful, but it seems like a bit of a reach just to create a rhyme with "as far as I can tell."
I think Penn Jillette should be President. And Teller Vice-President. And I'm totally serious. And this is coming from someone who's becoming more and more of a socialist, and they're Libertarians, which is basically the opposite of a socialist, and I'd still vote for them in a heartbeat. I like how Bullshit exists just to point out everything that's wrong with society.
Except for smoking being banned in restaurants. I think they were wrong about that. The smoking ban is a good thing. It actually seems strange to me to remember restaurants having smoking sections (and even stranger to remember airplanes having smoking sections!). Why not have a masturbating section, too? Or a defecating section? Or a stomping on rodents with high heels section? These, to me, are just as weird and arbitrary as going to a restaurant and lighting tobacco on fire.