Sunday, March 30, 2014

Vizsla Flashback: An Open Letter to America

This bears repeating - Originally published here September 5th of 2013

It was brought to my attention this morning how I've recently taken to making cheap shots about certain sections of the American public <cough>tea Party <cough>, the institutions of America <cough>public School system <cough>, and now I have a sore throat <cough>no, I really can't stop coughing...<cough>

That acknowledged, I felt like it might be appropriate for you and me to clear the air, America. 

I can't promise that this will entirely keep me from taking cheap shots at you for little things like having a complete disinterest in learning anything about anyone else, seeing as how I've never been able to pass up a cheap shot in my life....  But at the very least I think this will help you to understand where I'm coming from.

Dear America,

I realize that it's unfair of me to be mad at you for your behavior when I've never actually sat down with you and explained exactly what I need to get out of this relationship.

And so, in the spirit of trying to work through this together, here are the things about your recent behavior that I'm having a really difficult time dealing with.

You've taken to demonizing intellectual curiosity

Look, I'm not one of those guys that makes judgements about people based on how smart I think they are.  Partially because a persons intelligence level is about the least interesting and least important facet of their character that there is (look at curiosity, compassion, humor, and grace and then tell me intelligence is even in the freakin' ballpark when you're talking about important qualities.)  But much more importantly than that - when you make a judgement about someone else's intelligence level you are absolutely 100% guaranteed to be wrong. 

Which is why it's troubling to me that there's been a creeping trend toward using phrases like 'The Intellectual Elite' in smug little soundbites about how those smarty-smart-pants are trying to run your life and you're sure not gonna stand for that, are you?

You're starting to buy into a belief system that anyone with a college education is 'them' and that 'they' are your enemy, because 'they' think they're smarter than you are and are going to try to run your life.

First of all, the notion that the American population is made up of 'us' and 'them' is complete and utter bullshit and you should immediately question anyone that tries to tell you that it is.  There's just 'Us' America.  And regardless of anyone's personal level of education, we all have an equal stake in this and no one is going to sneak away from their Harvard Doctorate program to steal your children away in the night.

Different people take different paths.  Some people go to graduate school.  Some people work for the City mowing lawns or putting out fires.  Neither one of those is the 'right' choice, they're just different options.

So for the love of God, let's all try to remember that when somebody tries to play the 'Us' versus 'Them' card, they're really just trying to get you to continue doing point 2...

You've Taken to Accepting a Single News Source as Gospel without question

This is not, as it might appear at first glance, just a shot at Fox News.  Although God knows they are guilty of the 'them intellectual types are out to get you' politics.  But there are just as many people reading/watching Maddow/Anderson Cooper and not ever questioning the absolute truth of what they're reading/watching

(A disclaimer - I actually like both Maddow and Anderson Cooper quite a lot.  I'm still opposed to ever taking a single news source at face value without doing further research on your own)

You know who encourages you to not look into issues further or to crosscheck their facts?  People who know they are lying to you.

Which leads me to...

You've stopped caring if something is true as long as it confirms something you already believe.

According to non-partisan fact checking organizations, Michelle Bachmann has a 'lie' rating of over 70%.

Take a moment with that.

Of everything that horrible HORRIBLE woman says - nearly three out of four of them are simply not true.

It's not that they're viewpoints about which civilized people might disagree and deserve further discussion.  It's that they are fundamentally NOT TRUE.  Quotes attributed to people who never said them.  Articles claimed to be in bills that simply don't exist.  Conversations that never EVER happened.  Scientific proof that she has completely made up out of the blue.  And unlike her, I actively encourage you to go and double check this statistic for yourself.

And she is never EVER called on it in any meaningful way because people have stopped taking the time to hold the people they agree with accountable for accuracy.

That's not OK, America.

Which brings me also to...

You've given up on the belief that it's possible for two reasonable people with equal access to the facts to disagree about an issue without one of them, perforce, having to be the anti-Christ.

It is actually possible.  In fact, accepting that is kind of the only way our system works.  Holding everyone else ransom until you get your way on every single point leads to the Congress we currently see not getting anything done.

So.  That's where I sit.  I still love you, America.  I believe we can work this thing out.

Come on baby... .gimme a little sugar....

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