Just A Thought

Sunday, November 21, 2010
Today's Thought:
FACT: Like a boomerang, to cast an aspersion is to guarantee that it will revisited on you.

When did a disagreement become a zero sum game? When did being right have to balanced with being wrong? Why has political discourse in the US (and perhaps elsewhere) become a daily dance of name calling?

I have been thinking about the Jon Stewart/Steven Colbert rally and the backlash from the pundits on the left. The phrase those pundit's zeroed in on was this
The country's 24-hour, political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the dangerous, unexpected flaming ants epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.
Famously, Keith Olbermann responded via Twitter by saying:
It wasn't a big shark but Jon Stewart jumped one just now with the "everybody on Thr cable is the same" naivete
Bill Maher also took offense by saying:
If you're going to have a rally where hundreds of thousands of people show up, you might as well go ahead and make it about something.

Now, with all due respect to my friends Jon and Stephen, it seems to me that if you truly wanted to come down on the side of restoring sanity and reason, you'd side with the sane and reasonable, and not try to pretend that the sanity is equally distributed in both parties. Keith Olbermann is right when he says he's not the equivalent of Glenn Beck. One reports facts, the other one is very close to playing with his poop.

And the big mistake of modern media has been this notion of balance for balances’ sake. That the left is just as violent and cruel as the right, that unions are just as powerful as corporations, that reverse racism is just as damaging as racism. There's a difference between a mad man, and a madman.
Being the moderate I am, let me straddle this fence by saying this; They are all right and they are just a little wrong.

I understand that many progressives are feeling kind of sketchy following the election. I understand that many liberals are pretty unimpressed with what the President has accomplished so far. I think these things have contributed to a perceived enthusiasm gap. I also believe this is not the only factor and maybe not even the most important factor in this issue

The whole false equivalency argument is clouding the conversation. Sure, you can find examples on the left where people have called for armed insurrection in the dark days of the Bush presidency, if you look hard enough.

So, how does this make both sides a right and just a little wrong? Every minute spent arguing about how the extremists on either side tainting the well of political conversation, is another minute banked to prove that the extremists are controlling the debate.

I know that the extreme right seems to be controlling the political discourse these days. For them the false equivalency argument has become a way to justify their own extreme political views.

Where Mr. Stewart is right is in the way the Left frequently is visibly contemptuous of those members of the right wing. This only plays into their own narrative. I think this is the point Jon was trying to make in the interview with Rachel Maddow.

It is human nature to defend yourself when you feel you disagree with characterization. Jon was wrong to compare pundits on the left with pundits on the right. Keith was wrong to react so quickly.

This is a great example of what I mean. Everyone is feeling skittish and raw, so naturally we will tend to be defensive. I honestly believe that as long as both sides are couching the current state of politics as the end of the country nothing is going to change.

Of course, the biggest difference between the right and the left is differing sides can sit down and have an honest discussion on the topic (see the linked Maddow/Stewart Interview).

Picture Courtesy Johnny Automatic via Openclipart.org
 This is blog post 125 for 2010. Only 16 more to go to meet last years output.


  1. This isn't just the predominant discourse in the US of A - it's happening in Oz, too.

  2. Diane2:14 PM

    I agree that the extremists are talking so loud no one else can be heard. And the problem with that was well stated here. Extremists on both sides argue so loudly that the rest of us feel that our voices can't possibly be heard...so we say nothing at all. And THAT is the real problem.


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