Saturday, April 22, 2006

Should I start a political blog or just shoot myself in the head?

Let me start by saying how much I admire Barry Eisler's courage in hosting his new blog, Heart of the Matter, an open forum on important topics. The beginnings have been a little rocky, but not as bad as one might think given the bitter divisions in American politics.


Barry's posts, and one from his friend, former Spec Ops officer who goes by the nom de guerre of Slugg, have been thoughtful, considerate, and informed.

Some of the comments, however have not. One accused Barry of posting nothing more than what he could get from "the drive-by media," the exact phrase I heard yesterday from Rush Limbaugh. So we know what that guy listens to as he scopes out the local elementary school playgrounds.

Then someone suggested that he didn't know you had to be a Special Forces officer in order to cut and paste Seymour Hersch, implying that Slugg's post was just a rehash of what Mr. Hersch had written in the New Yorker, you know, that liberal magazine. Barry promptly set fire to the guy and he left.

Now, I expect things to split along ideological lines, and if you can look way off to your left, you'll see where I'm coming from, and that's OK. Dusty and I have both had fistfights with Charlie Stella, a man of terrific writing ability, in spite of his Neanderthal politics.

Just kidding, Charlie.

No, I'm not.

We all made up in the end and I expect we'll have a few good drinks together in Arizona, and that'll be great. I'm too old to let politics get in the way of alcoholic comraderie. Life is far too short.

But, you know how it is. There's always one guy. One commenter who is stupid or dishonest or sometimes both.

The argument in question went something like this (and I've edited this to make me look smarter and more reasonable. Let the other guy start his own damn blog):

The jerk: "Linguistically speaking, if you're not Pro-Life then the only other choice is Pro-Death."

Me: "I prefer to think of abortion as a right to privacy issue. And nothing is this black and white."

Jerk: "What does politics have to do with abortion? It’s a matter of right and wrong, moral and immoral, life and death. Not politics."

Me: "I'm just saying that nothing is this black and white. There are always shades of gray. There are even contradictions in the Bible, but please, don't start throwing scripture at me."

Around this time the guy asked me why I assumed he was Christian and I, assuming I'd made an incorrect assumption, apologized, to which he replied (and this is a quote):

"Why, because I'm Christian? I think it says something (what I'm not sure) when you feel you have to apologize because you confused me with being Christian. Is being Christian an insult? As far as killing life of any kind, I could very well and might possibly be, a Buddhist. The sad thing is that had I mentioned the unwarranted killing of insects as the Buddhist believe, no one would have said a thing."

Now, if the president was a born-again Buddhist, or the Buddhists were campaigning to get their cosmic tale taught in science class, or if Fox News was reporting every day on the War on Buddhists, then I could see how relevant Buddhisim was to a political discussion, but they're not.

And this guy knows it. Suddenly, he's turned a political discussion, one started as a thread on linguistic spin, into an assault on his religion and he went on to wonder why I was not allowing him (as if I had this magical blog power) to quote scripture.

Jesus Jumping Christ, I had to walk away to keep from reaching through the lines and throttling the guy.

So, while I applaud Barry for trying to host a thoughtful blog on politics, I worry that dishonest asshats like this, armed with the smug surety of the convert, will make it impossible to have an honest give and take.

That's why I save my political rants for the Planet, where I can openly mock people's most deeply held convictions. It's much more fun.

15 comments:

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian said...

I can't wrap my head around all these so-called Christian, "pro-lifers" saying that pro-choice=pro-death.

If they want to bring the whole "pro-death" thing into the argument, they should they take a look at our foreign policy which is, basically, "do what we want you to or we'll bomb this shit out of you".

Do they not realize that bombing the shit out of people is mass murder?

James Lincoln Warren said...

You may as well face it, Dave. You're doomed to roast in hell. How dare you insult somebody's religion because you assumed he belonged to the religion he he actually did and could have been a Buddhist instead. The logic there is inescapable.

If you want to know what's in store for you, scheming blasphemer and stem-cell murderer, visit http://www.swordquill.com/GodWill.mp3.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Wonderful post David. This is why I don't like to admit that I graduated from Bible school. Not even the born-again's want to claim me as their own now, but the issues I have with religious self-righteousness...

Brian, yeah, rant about being pro-life and then support invading countries and dropping bombs. It isn't really about the sanctity of life - it's about people taking control of other people's lives and judging how they live and setting themselves up as the Voice of Truth for the world. I mean, it's okay to go kill Islamic people - they're going to hell anyway, right?

Fuck that shit. I've no time for people who are going to split hairs over religion, cast judgments and decide who's worthy to live or to die. Jesus said pray for those who persecute you. Okay, so I'm not exactly advocating that as our military defense strategy, but it's ironic that the people who shove their morals down everyone's throat about other things are also wholeheartedly supporting this war.

Disagreeing with the war doesn't equal not supporting the soldiers. We can care about their lives, that they get the right equipment, the best leadership, etc. and still not want there to be a war. The difference is not spitting in their faces when they come home.

Barry's blog hasn't been good for my blood pressure. But on the other hand, it makes visiting Satan's blog seem more entertaining and less annoying on the average day.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I probably shouldn't admit this, because I'm a writer and I'm supposed to be tough as nails and impervious to bullets, but...Barry's blog scares me. I mean the comments section. Flaming moderate that I am, there appears to be no place I can put up my thoughts, banal as they might be from that middle-of-the-road perspective. I like his top posts. Those are thoughtful and interesting, but when the shells start landing in the comments section, and the tone takes a shrill turn I'm reminded of the adage about avoiding discussion of politics and religion.

It happens in the outside world also. Nobody invites a person with a middle of the road view to join a talking heads debate. I thought Heart of the Matter would be interesting, because, to me, heart means core and most people hang out in the core. The core is where things are reasoned, compromises are made and progress achieved.

That said, I can tell people are trying to restrain themselves at Barry's, but I don't know that restraint really results in discussion, it just results in politeness, making the timid afraid to step a foot in the water.

David Terrenoire said...

m.g.

You are exhibiting more sense than every one of those commenters, yours truly included.

Hell, especially yours truly.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Thanks, David. A high compliment. You've raised valid, insightful points and I've enjoyed reading them. I guess the trick is not letting the buttons get pushed. Some people just like pushing them, y'know?

Sandra Ruttan said...

I can't say this at Barry's but wtf is it with calling people a "girl" and suggesting you made them "cry" because they told you to mind your manners?

I'm sure a certain person only wishes they made Slugg and Barry cry. More like haven't raised points valid enough to make people do more than scoff, but they've talked in a way that's offensive and condescending to others.

And the fact that Barry's prepared to stand up to people like that and tell them to shape up or ship out - that's a real man.

Not that I think being a "girl" is a valid insult, but still. Three cheers for Barry, but I didn't want to be sarcastic on his blog. That's what David's blog is for.

Charlie Stella said...

Sorry, Dave, I put this in the wrong comment section (long day here) ...

Anyway, you're all right by me, brother. It's hard being a guy who switched parties these days (I used to be a bleeding heart, believe it or not ... and I still am to some degree very liberal on social issues--that weakenss aside ... you and JD are good sports and great writers ... and I look very forward to the beer fest.

And, come on, that was one great line you hit me with last week. I've been using it since with my wife. "Don't abuse my fragility, baby," I tell her.

"Get over yourself," she tells me.

I saw what's going on at Barry's blog and it's a shame ... but it's the nature of politics, I suppose.

I'm trying to get some work done and that doesn't permit me to blog ... plus the wife'll beat me senseless ... so, to avoid this political stuff (and being sucked in full speed), I'm just glancing in now and then and taking my 12-step program to avoid politics very seriously ... I'm sure you know how it can be.

Anyway, please forward this along to JD ... we'll have a good laugh about this stuff some day.

I'll buy the first dozen rounds.

And, hey, I'd enjoy jamming with you some day. I'm a drummer ...

David Terrenoire said...

Charlie,

If you're ever in this neck, let me know. If it's the right night, I can get you behind some drums, buddy.

I took JD to my favorite spot and I think he had a good time.

JD? Did the Bayou do you right?

Charlie, are you doing Phoenix? I'm still hocking a few pieces of the neighbors' lawn furniture, but I expect to be there. I'd be happy to let you buy a round.

Oh, and Sandra, I'm so glad you know what this blog is for because I don't have a clue. But yes, sarcasm fits right in here.

Kick off your shoes, make yourselves at home. I'm proud to know you.

Steve Ordog said...

As a non practicing Buddhist who was up too late drinking red wine and blasting the blues in downtown Raleigh last night, I take offence to everything discussed here and all views expressed! I have had enough of you Christians - and non Christians - forcing your views on all of us! :-)

charlie stella said...

Dave:

We just had a life altering situation here in Brooklyn. Our dog nearly died of diabeties so we now have to give him two insulin shots a day (every 12 hours) ... talk about hocking the furniture, I might have to consider bank jobs soon. I doubt we'll be going anywhere for a long while (we're both anal with the dog). If not Phoenix, somewhere else for sure.

Love to sit with you guys some time. Back to work ...

David Terrenoire said...

Oh, Charlie, I'm sorry about the pooch. I'm owned by two of the beasties myself, and I know how you feel.

I'm in NY every now and then, less now that my daughter's no longer in Brooklyn, but when I am up, I'll be sure to let you know.

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