Of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and Joy Reid

(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Back in January of 1971, some four months after its release in England, Black Sabbath’s sophomore album Paranoid came out here. Created while the band was still young and hungry and could not yet afford the massive drug and alcohol habits that led to its ever-increasing decline throughout the decade until Ronnie James Dio dragged it back to excellence with 1980’s Heaven and Hell, Paranoid laid the foundation, set the standard, and pretty much cemented into place everything that made heavy metal … well, heavy metal, as evidenced by the fact the album’s title track and “Iron Man” are daily staples of classic rock radio.

The song “Paranoid” has its own bits of history woven throughout its thunder. It was the last song written for the album, as the band realized it was one track short just before completing recording. It was thrown together in a half-hour. It was chosen by the band’s record label as the title track too late to change the cover artwork, this explaining why the cover has a weapon-wielding man wearing a pig mask as the original title was War Pigs.

Getting back to “Paranoid,” the song title never appears in the lyrics. In fact, neither does the topic of paranoia, as the song is about depression. Apparently Black Sabbath’s bass player/lyricist Geezer Butler didn’t know the difference between the two, this leading one to suspect that perhaps he got a head start on the band’s aforementioned drug and alcohol habits. But I digress.

What brings the song to mind is the opening earlier this week of Joy Reid’s MSNBC show. Link is here, although I’ll save you the trouble of watching it by providing the transcript below.

“Also, the disturbing reality of the white evangelical movement, why so many followers now believe the gospel of Trump and anti-vax and QAnon. And one year ago today, tonight’s absolute worst set the wheels in motion for the near overthrow of the U.S. government on January 6th.”

First, a little hint for the crack researchers at MSNBC. As most of you who bring yourself to watch the clip doubtless noticed, there’s a rather obvious mistake in the visuals. Namely, if you’re going to be talking about the evangelical church, you might want to pick a stock photo of something other than the interior of a Catholic Church. There is a difference between the two denominations, as any member of either establishment will be glad to detail. I am reminded of what Ed Roland, pastor’s son and lead singer of Collective Soul, said some years ago when I saw the band in concert and he was attempting to lead a call-and-respond which gathered no response from the otherwise rabidly supportive crowd: “It is obvious to me that none of you people have ever been to f‐‐‐‐‐g church.”

We move on. I doubt Ms. Reid actually knows many white evangelicals. I do, and I bring news. They do not march lockstep on matters regarding the body politic. Are many politically conservative and Trump supporters? Yes. Anti-vax? Some, although the majority 1) have been vaccinated 2) believe people have the right to choose for themselves whether they get vaccinated 3) are well aware that the vaccines are hardly bulletproof 4) are more than a little tired of the near-daily rewrites in the Gospel According to St. Fauci. It’s a mite difficult to trust the science when the science can’t tell the same story twice. And no one, as in no one, believes in QAnon anymore.

However, such facts are anathema to the hive mind of Reid and company. They prefer to remain unaware by stereotyping, and attempting to stigmatize, any who dare to hold a different view regarding such matters. Far better, and easier, to both believe and propagate the lie of a white man’s Jesus being used as a cover for racism. This is attempted deflection; Nathan Thurm in real time. This also evidences zero knowledge of the actual Christ, Who as it is noted in the Scriptures was the original promoter of inclusivity regardless of race and the like.

Moving on to Ms. Reid’s histrionics regarding January 6th, while neither excusing, nor making light of, illegal actions it’s a little difficult to accept defining some schmuck indulging in Horny Mike cosplay as Robespierre reincarnated. There is no defense for the lawbreakers, but there was also no genuine danger to governmental institutions that day. The lunatic fringe is a threat to no one save its own rapidly self-depleted dignity.

One wonders if Ms. Reid and compatriots genuinely believe the words coming out of their mouths. Perhaps I am giving too much credit, but I’d like to believe that even at their most feverish and frenzied they understand they are grossly overstating and simplifying the scenario. They see their own ratings; they know they are having little direct impact. Instead, the hoped-for goal is the gradual cultural dissemination to those of low interest in such matters, feeding them sufficient feldergarb through the grapevine as to convince the masses of their proclaimed truths without the masses having the slightest idea from where the information originates.

This is where thoughts turn cynical. These people know they are lying, yet they continue to incessantly lie in the hope it will, via sheer repetition, be accepted as truth. Reid’s rant has no roots anywhere within its content that reach into reality’s fertile soil. Instead, Reid implies truth and fact without laying upon herself any great burden of proving her words are truthful. It is the journalistic equivalent of declaring oneself an expert witness at a trial with the only proof of this status being the declaration itself.

This is another example of why we must not abandon the culture war, self-isolating and letting the world slide ever further downward without so much as a cursory effort to stem the tide. Be awake and stay awake. You are most likely not going to dissuade the fervent Reid supporters lapping up her every proclamation no matter how outrageous. Instead, concentrate on those unaware of how Reid and company are poisoning the community well. Learn, and speak with polite unwavering authority, about how capitalism is not evil, and everything cannot be defined by race, and personal responsibility is not white privilege. Speak against the haters of Christ hiding behind political diatribes. Tell the truth, and make yourself available to as many people as possible for the purpose of telling the truth. These are the things we must do if we wish to have any genuine societal impact.

”Paranoid” is a great song, but when others preach paranoia it’s time to push back.