LARSON: Outrage by proxy: where are all the actual victims and villains?

It was one of the latest Paulette Jordan episodes of weirdness. Apparently an adoring artsy fan had created a very heavenly Virgin Mary-like image. But instead of featuring Jesus’ mother, Jordan’s likeness — surrounded by a divine glow — was dressed in something Elvis might wear. The strange image was displayed prominently during one of the candidate’s recent campaign events.

Tongue-in-cheek I said into my radio microphone “I’m not even Catholic and I’m offended.” A good friend texted me within seconds, laughingly approving of my feigned proxy outrage. While I was fully kidding, the kernel of truth found in that humor became evident pretty quickly. Proxy outrage may be more prevalent than I thought.

It’s no secret that progressives love to create imaginary victims. Then they leverage sympathy for — or fear of — these imaginary victims into a position of control over a largely polite society. A few years ago, a school district in the region was considering changing their “Redskins” mascot to something else. In an interview with the school superintendent I asked how many people had contacted the district upset over the mascot. I wanted to know exactly how much agitation existed locally for such a change. After a few seconds of silence, he conceded that none had called up to complain or express offense.

The flipside of imaginary victims are imaginary villains.

Earlier this year, the city of Idaho Falls briefly pulled down a POW-MIA flag from the city offices after the city’s attorney made the recommendation to do so. The sequence of events that began with a government attorney’s opinion — which has no executive teeth whatsoever — to the actual removal of that important flag is rather absurd. At some recent point a group asked if they could hang a banner on the side of a city building. The city declined the request, and the city attorney began to wring his hands along with an accommodating mayor. He felt that someone, somewhere out there could be offended and take legal action. More proxy offense!

So, somehow this benign request for a temporary banner on the side of a government building led to a sophisticated legal theory that a flag honoring our missing veterans at city hall is a litigation risk. Keep in mind, no other municipality in America is being sued for displaying the POW-MIA flag. Nobody anywhere has asked to have it taken down. Nobody has demanded to display their message with equal prominence. The flag is even mentioned proactively in the state code as suitable for display at city hall on any day the US flag is flown. The litigation risk is as real as the Chupacabra.

Perhaps what is so infuriating is a seemingly dissent-averse city council that is visibly too timid to stand up to a very imaginative attorney and a mayor who vigorously asks how everyone will feel when the Nazis show up wanting their flag raised, too. That shuts down conversation quickly. Somehow thousands of cities across America do it day after day without being inundated by an onslaught of left-out Nazis, but in Idaho Falls it seems problematic. And they’re apparently crafting policy around these imaginary offended Nazis. Consider the irony of taking down a flag honoring those missing from World War II (among other conflicts) in a pre-emptive effort to placate the Nazis. Churchillian this is not.

Where are the actual victims and villains? Seems we’re making a few things up.

Associated​ ​Press​ ​award-winning​ ​columnist​ ​Neal​ ​Larson​ ​of​ ​Idaho​ ​Falls ​is​ ​the​ ​author​ ​of​ ​“Living​ ​in Spin.”​ ​He​ ​is​ ​a​ ​conservative​ ​talk​ ​show​ ​host​ ​on​ ​KID​ ​Newsradio​ ​106.3​ ​and​ ​92.1,​ ​and​ ​also​ ​at​ ​“The​ ​Neal​ ​Larson​ ​Show”​ ​can​ ​be​ ​heard​ ​weekday​ ​mornings​ ​from​ ​6:00​ ​to​ ​10:00. His​ ​email​ ​address​ ​is​ ​