[NOTE: UPDATE: CT edscan
has been banned was issued a Sternly Worded Warning from dKos. Could the words of such an unpopular an essayist as me have been any more prescient?]
During the election campaign, I met my fair share of people spouting the emailed Republican talking points. I could discern them, not because anyone I knew personally was idiot enough to send them to me, but because I learned of them through various internet sites. My friends, neighbors and family – politically in sync or not – also knew better than to forward such tripe to my inbox, thus, none did.
Last night, at the most unlikely of places imaginable (at least for me), I met my first flesh-and-blood CT.
The conversation started innocently enough with dog talk at the local dog park followed by discussion of the economy and the bailout. Then, the worm turned to politics. Not just any politics – Texas-style politics.
Now, I love a good political debate as much as – okay, MORE than – the next guy. What has happened over time, however, is the implosion of logic and civility to the point of a reduction to partisan talking points. People read or hear a thing, embrace it or reject it along party lines without feeling a need to parse it, scrutinize it or consider, even for a moment, that they might have an independent thought about it.
This all leads me to yesterday. Aside from the fact that I was able to recognize that this fellow was working hard to get me to appreciate his daughter and son-in-law’s defrauding of the military housing system, which I could not nor would not do, he had formed other theories under which the federal government was “coming to get him.” Combine this theory with the fact that he couldn’t even keep the family his-story straight provided me some insight into his delusions.
Now, I appreciate a good CT as much as the next guy. Heck, I questioned the origin of the HIV virus in its early stages and, in those questions, developed some of my own theories. So there you go. But here I was faced with the advocacy of secession, bailout money for restoring the Governor’s Mansion and why California hates welfare recipients.
How did I identify this as CTnuttery on sight? Unlike regular nuttery, this had its own, unique aroma. He espoused, for example, that Obama was a hypnotic speaker. Citing a web site by name, but for which he could not elucidate an underlying premise, my dog owner friend could explain how Obama’s four and eight word sentences, combined with pointing a writing instrument in a certain fashion, hypnotized the nation into its voting pattern during the last election. It was an email link after all, ya know.
Then there was secession. An amazing blend of “The Texas constitution always allowed for secession” and “Texas is the fifth largest economy in the world” with a soupcon of “The state can always recall its federal military once it’s a separate nation.” Oh, and I need to accept that last premise – I a 20-year, 28-day retired Army veteran – on the word of the daughter, a private first class aboard a Navy ship in the Air Force. (In case you’re wondering where that discussion went off the skids: Neither the Navy nor the Air Force have Privates, first class or otherwise; few Army or Air Force are assigned to Naval ships; daughters who are still in the service stationed in Suffolk, VA, don’t live with their parents in San Antonio, TX.) Just sayin’.
This wasn’t your garden variety wingnuttery – you know, the sort that regurgitates party talking points without scrutiny as noted above. No, I’ve had my fill of that sort of talk. Just the other night, I kicked a neighbor out of my house with my plea to speak to me no more of politics. When he refused to cease, I just let loose my frustrations: I don’t want to hear unsubstantiated foolishness. It’ stupid. You’re stoopid. Just stoopyd.
I want my politicians, pundits and casual political talk to be grown up. I want to discuss real political differences. I don’t want to engage people who fear differing opinions for the sake of fear alone. I want to be stolid and rigid in my beliefs yet hear cogent arguments that challenge me in such a way I have no choice but to rethink them. And I can’t allow myself to rethink ideas based on blather.
It is in the mulling over of valid challenge that often brings me to change based on coherent logic. I am willing to change. I am willing to say, I might be wrong. But that doesn’t come easily for me. I have to dust off old books that I once believed in and re-read with a question mark over my head. I have to go back and re-read old news stories that helped form those beliefs with an air of skepticism. I have to be enticed by some modicum of logic to do that.
So on this magnificent Memorial Day weekend, I want to broadcast a request for three precious things:
Excellent argument for whatever is in one’s heart
Logic, civility and decorum, backed with fact, in our political discourse
More pootie pics involving tinfoil for those of us who need it
Happy Memorial Day!