Saturday, June 28, 2014

Let's not talk politics.....

I don't like to talk politics.  Simple as that.  Sports, yeah. Even though I don't know a fullback from a tailback, or a point guard from a forward, I'll talk sports before I talk politics.  Of course, the reason is simple: many, MANY people are passionate about their political views, and here in Orange County, the bastion of conservatism in a liberal California, you find many that are vehemently anti-Obama, and even to an extent, anti-government.  They view Fox News as reliable and factual, whereas any other media source - be it the Libertarian-bent Orange County Register, or the moderate public radio station out of Pasadena, KPCC - are actually leftist. And God-forbid the liberal rag, the L.A. Times! Subsequently, you find a vocal minority who will not discuss politics with you as much as preach that they're right and you're wrong.  I am not saying ALL of the right-leaning people are this way.  The irony is that the ones you could hold a civil discussion with, or at least a healthy, respectful argument, are usually the ones that don't wish to discuss it, because they may feel that they'll be facing someone that is too far left and too solidly entrenched in their viewpoints.  And I'm sure that if I were living on the west side of L.A., like Santa Monica or West Hollywood, I'd find the other extreme.  There, people would watch Bill Maher and MSNBC and feel that those sources are reliable and accurate.

Frankly, what I don't like about political viewpoints is the extremism.  I cannot stand comments from people who think that Obama should be impeached, yet will not listen to an opposing extreme viewpoint of having Bush and Cheney brought up as war criminals for the deception that lead to the war in Iraq.  On the flip side, I cannot tolerate the hateful rhetoric that paints Republicans as idiots, or war mongerers, or something else derogatory, and yet refuse to listen to fiscal conservative arguments.  They lump all Republicans in the same model as Bible- and gun-toting Creationists, without realizing that the media highlights this visible minority as a means to gain viewership in either the print media or online media.

It seems that with the advent of social media, even more than just the internet itself, there are those who now vocalize their extreme viewpoints (on either side of the spectrum) freely, but without thinking of what they are really saying, or without realizing that sometimes what they write might be agreed upon by their friends or followers, but that others might view them as extremists (and extremists don't care if you like what they post or not).  It is so easy to go to Facebook at write something without checking facts, without really analyzing who the source is, be it Fox News or Mother Jones, and then share that as "truth".  Yes, Facebook is "social" media, and there is an encouragement to express one's viewpoints.  But I think we all need to impose a sense of self-censorship or even tact, and avoid putting up incendiary comments that could actually make us look like, well, idiots. 

The media - be it online or televised, print or radio, has always been a way to get the populace incited into action, or to elicit a strong and extreme emotion.  Unbiased media coverage is extremely difficult to find.  But they are playing a numbers game: Fox and MSNBC are not covering these extreme viewpoints in order to educate: they are doing it to gain listenership and therefore, increase advertising revenue.  For all I know, the head of Fox News might be a Bill Maher fan, and his or her counterpart at MSNBC might give money to Ted Cruz's campaign.  There is no altruism in media: it's about advertising revenue.

So, I take everything I read with a grain of salt.  I examine the source, and then often check for its validity. And, on occasion, I might find another moderate who is not affected by extreme viewpoints, and can, with clarity and lucidity, without passion, and I can have a discussion with them, but that is rare.  

So, I just won't talk politics.

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