Ripped from the Headlines

Sometimes … well, fairly often … I despair of the world I live in. Sometimes I get mad.

Today’s bulletins included a story about a Tennessee legislator who defended low pay for teachers on the grounds that teaching is a “calling,” so we wouldn’t want people going into teaching for the wrong reasons (i.e., because of the pay), and then, in the next breath, defended giving legislators a raise on the grounds that it was important for them to be able to resist corruption.

Then there was the cute little graphic someone put up on Facebook showing the states in the U.S. where you can be fired from a job simply for being gay. More than half of the states.

I have not researched either of these stories in detail. Either of them could be fabricated. But even if they’re inaccurate in their details, they certainly illustrate what’s really going on in the world.

I watched a clip in which the head of Susan Komen for the Cure defended, or attempted to defend, her organization against the outrage over their de-funding of Planned Parenthood. She claimed, with a straight face, that they’re not de-funding Planned Parenthood, but she did it in a way that included careful phrasing. The MSNBC interviewer failed to ask for clarification, thus leaving the viewer no way to understand what’s going on.

The President has signed a bill that gives him the right to arrest and detain U.S. citizens without trial. His opponent in the fall election will be a Mormon whose income is $56,000 a day. The Supreme Court has removed all rational limits on mass distribution of right-wing propaganda by corporations. The police are still beating up peaceful protesters.

Sometimes, on Facebook, I say what I think. A guy I don’t know posts a message in a thread started by somebody I do know, and I say what I think. If the guy is anti-abortion, I call him a knuckle-dragging moron. Should I hold back? Should I “be nice”? What would be the gain?

So then the guy I know gets pissed at me because I insulted his friend. Understandable, but this whole thing about being nice, about “agreeing to disagree” — sometimes I think it can be taken too far. Sometimes I think it’s better to be honest. If you’re dealing with someone whose dangerous views make him a vicious monster, maybe it’s a good idea to say, “You’re a vicious monster.”

I don’t know. Maybe I’m over-reacting. But I seem to be living in a society in which rational discourse is no longer possible. Should I try in a calm, rational manner to convince the anti-abortion guy that his views are wrong? Raise your hand if you think that would work.

If rational discourse is futile, the only remaining options are confrontation and silence. If you’re silent, the vicious monsters just keep pumping out their propaganda, and they win. Maybe confrontation is okay. But I’m not sure. Maybe there are other ways to handle this type of disagreement.

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2 Responses to Ripped from the Headlines

  1. You ask many of my favorite questions, Jim.

    The gain in being nice to your political opponents lies in the fact that likely as not you are seeking to get them to identify less with ideas you oppose.

    Calling someone a racist is not quite as productive as pointing out why one feels their behavior seems racist to one.
    Calling someone an idiot does not improve the quality of thier cognition (unless speaking to one’s self).

    If you seek to get someone to distance themselves, and thier sense of self, or identity, from a given label, or identification, insistantly and voiciferously applying that label specifically to them does not help at all.

    To whatever degree one seeks actual enlightenment among others, one must be humble enough to seek it within first.

    • Oh, and vicious monsters should probably just be eliminated, but if we could agree on who are the vicious monsters they’d be impotent curiousities instead anyways.

      Up against the wall with everyone who thinks they know who needs to be shot!!! (does that include me?)

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