partly: (IMNSHO)
There are a lot of reasons that I don't discuss politics online but it's mostly because almost no one ever discusses politics online. You see, the only point of any online political commentary to belittle and deride the person who is making the political commentary.

The tactics for political discussion are simple: Don't focus on the statements being made, the ideas being posited or the theories that are presented. Instead focus on the person making the statement and create the illusion that they are completely dismissible -- that they are so mentally, emotionally, educationally or even physically unsound that anything they say or do is to be ignored, humored or pitied.

It all smacks of the bullying tactics that I have lived with most of my life:
  • "You can't listen to her -- she's just a girl."
  • "She's from {insert place of choice}. What could she know?"
  • "She's just being overly emotional, women are that way after all."
  • "She's just saying that because she's {insert any religious or non-religious belief here}."
  • "You can't trust anyone who would wear that outfit."
  • "Oh, come on! She's obviously too {old/young/uneducated/blonde/busty} to have any good thoughts."
See how easy it is? Don't even adress the issue. By dismissing the person saying it, you automatically place yourself in a superior position. Hell, if you do it right, you can even make yourself seem like you only have that person's best interest at heart. "You can't take anything he says seriously. Look at him! He's just so fat and stupid! I mean, it's unhealthy for him to be that way. I'm just saying all this because he should really lose some weight." Belittle and dismiss the speaker and make yourself look kind and caring in the same sentence!

What's worse, is that online, all this is considered riotously clever and funny. Just as the school-yard bully would garner laughs when they would sing "fatty-fatty-two-by-four" or trip someone with glasses calling them "four-eyes" the internet is full of examples of people who enjoy watching a bully at work.  And it's even justified by the same sediments that a run-of-the-mill-bully would use: Well, if they can't take it they shouldn't be part of [politics/choir/football team/this school]."

In the end, I suppose, it's too threatening to acknowledge that there may be someone out there who is your equal and yet can hold an opinion that is opposite of yours. It takes courage to respect someone who holds an oposite view. It threatens the black and white view that most hold on politics -- the "there is only one right view and anyone who thinks differently must be ignorant or evil" line of thought that most hold.

This isn't done just by individuals, either. It's institutionalized.  It's like the teachers and the principals are the ones leading the bullying charge.  Just read the articles about politics and see how often the writers spend most of the space painting the speaker as so insignificant that they can dismiss what that speaker said without ever addressing the points brought up.

In Wisconsin I've been living with this crap for more than a year and I don't see it changing after the election.  The world is full of poor losers who all own poison pens and see bullying as a valid tactic to get ahead.
partly: (IMNSHO)
There's a whole lot of stuff going on right now. I'd complain but that would just worry people or have them tell me all the things that I don't need to complain about...

This mood could be due to the weather, which isn't quite nice enough to be nice but still better than winter. Which, in a way, is much like the stuff going on in my life.

But I think a lot of it has to do with all the crap surrounding the election and re-call here in the state. I wish I could claim a side as the "One True Side". I really wish I could be a true believer for one side and go with it. But I can't. Everyone is throwing crap and claiming that they don't stink or pointing out that the "other side" is evil while they do the same damn thing they condemn the "other side" for doing.

I find it ironic that the very webpages that reek of sarcasm and deeming comments will promote ads for "anti-bullying" and "acceptance". Lets face it, most of the web celebrates bullies and mean-spiritedness. Sarcasm and belittling comments are the cash of the realm when it comes to most pop-culture and political websites. Somehow "cruel" has become synonymous with "clever" -- unless, of course, the comments are directed at someone or something we care about. Then it's just cruel, of course.

I can't work up a lot of passion for someone who is decrying how evil someone is for doing something that I have seen them do in the past.

Bad behavior -- nasty behavior -- mean-spiritedness and cruelty -- these things have an inherent quality of evil about them and they are evil no matter who the victims are. The worst thing isn't what this evil does to the people it's directed at. No. The worst thing is the evil that it does to the people who use it. It leads to self-righteousness and egocentric behavior. It makes you close-minded while believing that you are being accepting and open. It makes you judge people not based on who they are but on how many points they agree with you on. And it makes you hate people you've never met simply because they choose to believe something different than you. Which was, most likely, the behavior you were trying to condemn in the first place.

Yeah. Time to go to bed. No live TV or blogs for me tomorrow!
partly: (Poised)
I was watching my cousin's little girl today. She's six and adorable. She loves to play games, so we were doing all the standard kid games and she wanted to play a Memory card game. Now, I hate Memory. Always have, but it's a good enough game to play to pass some time and she loves it. She's also VERY good at it. She rarely misses a pair when one has been flipped over. It was fun watching her play, so very sure and quick.

But the most interesting thing was what I learned about myself and my inability to see things the way they are.

There were 36 cards laid out in four rows of nine cards each and we sat across the table from each other. Once we started playing I'd flip over a card that I know I had seen a match to and then I would reach to where I was really sure the match was. I was usually wrong. She would laugh and, before I even flipped the cards back over, would flip over the match I'd been looking for.

The interesting part? Eight times out of ten the matching card would be in a spot that was a mirror image to where I was looking. If I had thought it was in the row closest to me, it was actually in the row furthest away from me. If I flipped over a card two columns in from the right, the actual spot it would be was two columns in from the left. It wasn't that I was flipping over the wrong card right next to the correct card, no, I was completely in the wrong quadrant of the playing field.

I actually started to do the opposite of what I thought was right and my game improved. If my first impulse was to reach to the right side, I would force myself to go to the left. Instead of picking the side closest to me, I would do the side furthest from me. Granted I still sucked, but I did better.

I don't know why that surprised me, really. I mean, I know I have issue with things like that. Left and right, for example. I understand that most people do the left and right thing with no issues but I can't. I mean, I can't. If I'd be ambidextrous, I would never know which way is right because I know right is the side that I "write" with. I actually have to hold my hand as if I'm holding a pencil and then I know which side is right.

I usually don't tell people this because it immediately places me in the "dumber than a kindergartener" category, but it's something I've had to learn how to deal with all my life. Ask anyone who's ever taken directions from me. They will tell you that they always follow the way I point rather than what I say because if I want someone to go left I will point left but I will often say "go right".

It's always interesting, what people chose to judge "smart" and "intelligent" by. You screw up right and left? You will never be seen as smart. Have a hard time memorizing the multiplication tables? Dumb becomes your middle name. It doesn't matter if you can recite the whole damn Hamlet soliloquy, if you mess up "7 x 8" and you're automatically in the shallow end of the gene pool. Misspell common words? Hell, might as well just curl up and die before you infect the rest of the world with your obviously contagious stupidity.

Ok, that's probably an overstatement and most people over the age of 18 probably won't say those things to your face, but it's not exactly wrong, either. Our society -- especially our on-line society -- places a great deal of emphasis on "smart". Defining "smart" is a lot harder than one would think, though. So people chose to define "dumb" instead. And they usually define dumb as "people who can't do the things that come easily to me". That's just human nature -- we think of ourselves as smart, we quantify those things that we do that "make" us smart and we judge other people by those same standards.

I understand all of that. And quite frankly, I'd like to think that I'm too secure (or at least too damn old) to care what people I've really never even met think of me. Most of the time I manage that, too.

I think what really bugs me about these things is that if I could come up with a label to give people -- like "I'm dyslexic" -- that covers all of these "shortcomings" everyone's attitude would change. You see, we will accept people's shortcoming if there's a nice, neat label to toss on them. If someone's dyslexic, we'll benevolently forgive their "stupidity". We will overlook their "failings" as long as they can have a label that excuses them. You don't have that label, well you're out of luck. You're just dumb.

It pisses me off that people need a label to be considerate or in order for people to accept that intelligence comes in more than one flavor. It's wrong that a diagnosis is needed in order for people to be tolerant and accepting.

Obviously, this is a sore spot for me. This post has been sitting around in one form or another for years. I've come to terms with the fact that this will never change. I understand that most of the world needs such labels in order to know how to treat people. I only pull out the "I'm dyslexic" defense when I'm really stressed. Usually, I don't need to. Most times, I just try not to care what people will think. The rest of the time, I know my limitations and work hard to address them or avoid situations where they will cause me problems. I work hard at hiding my shortcomings so I don't have to justify them to the world.

It is, after all, the smart thing to do.
partly: (IMNSHO)
Before the rant: Please vote. You get a say in what happens. Go. Speak.

On the the rant. No real politics invoked. )

Yeah, I'm really glad the election is today. My fear is that tomorrow everyone is going to start campaigning again. You see, what the pundits are going to say is that [insert party/candidate that lost here] didn't start early enough, didn't get their message out to the people soon enough, that the average citizens out there are foolishly not paying attention to what is really best for them and that it's only through massive media propaganda that [insert party/candidate that lost here] will be able to win the next election.

I hope I'm wrong. But I don't think so. No one loses quite as poorly as political candidates.
partly: (Burn)
Perhaps before you send me political flyers telling me that I should "Vote like my job depends on it" you should check to make sure that I still have a job.

Perhaps before admonishing that I should be afraid of a candidate that proposes that public employees take mandatory furlough days, you should know that my county employee union refused to consider furlough days as a measure to save jobs because they "had to consider what was best for the majority of union employees".

Perhaps instead of sending me endless flyers and bombarding the airways with annoying ads and calling my home with polls and candidate suggestions, you could have actually spent some time trying to save my damn job. Or at least put the effort to pretend that my job, my position as a dues-paying union employee, was something more than sacrificial lamb, low-man-on-the-totum poll employee who gets to loose her job so that all the other union employees can pretend that there's nothing wrong.

I should point out that when it appears that the county that laid me off cared more that I lost job than the Union that was supposed to be protecting that job, you guys messed up somewhere.

You really should think about fixing that before asking me to trust your judgement on how best to "keep my job".
partly: (Rat)
Watched Close to Home tonight. Well, I watched some of Close to Home. It wasn't bad. It wasn't anything special either. The bad guys were really should have ran around and twirled their mustaches... they were that obvious.

You want to know what really bugged me? The lead character. I like the actress well enough. She's personable and talented but she's only 26 years old. Her character is an important and respected prosecutor one year out of law school? And three months of that time she was home on maternity leave?

...

Yeah. That's believable.

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