Sunday, July 22, 2018
I Know You Heard What I Said But Did You Understand What I Meant?
I've been writing Another Opinion since 2005, but my articles go back a lot further than that (I've got some 500 or so articles under my belt as far as A/O goes). I've had articles published in numerous professional journals, magazines, and newspapers. I've appeared on television and been a guest of various radio shows. I've even co-hosted a top rated Independent radio show of my own. My opinions have sometimes changed on various topics as new information became available, but I don't think its affected my core beliefs. One of those core beliefs has been to be open minded; to at least actually listen to the other person. While rarely my opinion was changed, I've have often learned something new or became aware of something I wanted to know more about. If you don't change and evolve, you stagnate and decay. It applies just as much to ideas as to life, and dogmas aren't very good at change.
However, I've noticed a decided change of late where an exchange of opinions, especially opposing opinions are increasingly not tolerated any more. It's like one side or another has decided that what the other person's has to say is not only automatically "wrong" because it's different, that person doesn't even have the right to express it. We're seeing it on college campuses (which should be the last place where freedom of expression and speech should be denied), high school and elementary school, and even in the corporate world (where a single comment or even word, taken out of context, almost automatically leads to manufactured condemnation, boycotts, and public ridicule).
We've seen individuals attacked, protests which have turned into near riots with businesses vandalized. Even those who have been invited to speak have found themselves assaulted, the stage swarmed, and deprived of the opportunity to express their opinion, all because its differs from the current "groupthink" or "echo chamber" mentality which simply reinforces one's beliefs and values by being exposed to one narrative only. People are then left assuming that their particular opinion is the only valid one. Meanwhile, the other side is demonized.
Some college administrators have recently had to cancel speakers over threats of protests and possible violence. Even I have had individuals complain about some of my posts; usually claiming that I write, post, or comment about just one side and not the other. A few have directed their comments (or emojis) at me personally if they happened to dislike an article I came across and posted. I've even had fellow writers, vloggers, and talk radio jocks who've been attacked verbally and in some cases, physically threatened over their articles or comments What happened to civility folks?
I recall an old quote by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, an English writer of Voltaire, which goes something like this, "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it", which reminds me of another quote which is equally important, especially these days, "Your freedom of expression stops where my personal space begins" (paraphrased from Judicial philosopher and civil libertarian Zechariah Chafee Jr, who said "Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man's nose begins"). Again, it all goes back to civility and the right of individuals to express their opinion on various topics in a mutually respectful matter and environment.
Of course, much of the disrespect these days is manufactured by paid political operatives hiding behind fake shill groups and amplified by the corporate-owned media for the purpose of shutting the other side in an effort to control the political narrative. It's a coordinated effort to end or discourage public discourse in order to control the political (and thus social and economic) direction this country pursues. What this reminds me of is the running street battles between the SA (Brownshirts) and the Communists during the early 1930s in Germany. Each side would attack the other's speakers and/or disrupt meetings and events, except here most of the attacks and disrupting are being done just by one side (so far).
As I've often pointed out (and been equally criticized about for reminding people), Hillary's defeat amid charges of repeatedly lying to Congress, illegal weapons and uranium sales, rigging of the Democratic Primary (in conjunction with the then DNC Chairperson, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who was fired for her role but immediately hired by the Clinton Campaign), the Benghazi Scandal, and other charges along with the election of Donald Trump, the non-Establishment Republican candidate, may historically represent the tipping point
Some would argue that Obama was the tipping point, and there's certainly a good argument for that given his gutting of ICE and suing the State of Arizona for enforcing immigration laws (and allowing Mexico to join in the lawsuit---a first), Eric Holder's illegal arms deal with the drug cartels (resulting in the deaths of border agents as well as DEA agents), and repeated efforts to invade Syria just to mention a tiny few. Of course, one could equally argue George W Bush was the tipping point. Lord knows he bungled enough! We could start with the invasion of Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein, which destabilized the entire region and led to the rise of ISIS and Boko Harem and the genocide of Assyrian Christians, Yazidis, and Kurds. It also triggered the mass influx of "migrants" into Europe (thanks also to the imbecilic political "leadership" in Europe), but there's so much more than just that. The point is that regardless of their political parties, we've witnessed a recent history of disastrous policy mistakes.
It's this point which is so often overlooked by critics (even friendly ones) of Another Opinion. From their preconditioned perspectives, I must either be Left or Right. It's one or the other. There are no other choices because the corporate-owned media has told them there are no other choices. The fact is that there are other choices. It's not all black or white (or red and blue in this case I suppose). I don't ascribe to any partisan party dogma. Been there. Done that. No thanks. I prefer to think for myself, which often means doing my own research and studying the pros and cons of every argument. But, that kind of thinking is viewed almost as heresy these days because it doesn't fit with the established political narrative which says that what ails you and society---whatever it is---is the fault of the other side.
The system is broken, at least as far as we are concerned. For the ruling elites which make up America's Oligarchy, it works just fine...as intended. It is this game which I won't play. I want our democratic Republic back. I believe that when someone is elected to office, they should cease being a Republican or Democrat or whatever. They cease representing a political party and it's myopic dogma and represent Americans and what's best for all of us, not just a few, and certainly not just the uber-wealthy and powerful. I believe in representatives not dependent on corporate money. I believe in a transparent government with public input (taxes, pay raises should all be voted on by the citizens). I believe there should be term limits.
I believe Congress and the Presidency should be bound by the same laws that we are (and that includes their insurance. They also should not receive lifetime salaries or security---they can pay for it if they want it). I also believe that the United States, like every other nation, has the right to protect their borders. Any group which aids illegal immigrants should be fined and lose their business or tax exempt status (suspended for six months with their first offense. One year with their second and permanent with their third). Only US Citizens should be entitled to any taxpayer based social services.
Everyone graduating from high school should be required to have two semesters of Civics minimum, which includes volunteering for some charity like Meals on Wheels or at the VA; maybe helping out with the Board of Elections doing voter registration drives. In addition, students graduating from high school should have a basic comprehension of math, science, history, and English (of course, I would love to see teachers paid on par with coaches too). I couldn't care less what kind of athlete they are. If they are on a sixth or eighth grade academic level, they don't graduate. On a unrelated note, the LBJ's "War on Drugs" is a failure. We need to legalized marijuana and focus more on rehabilitation for misdemeanors (being sure to segregate them from felony cases, especially violent and/or career criminals). Those convicted of violent crimes involving premeditated murder should be given a choice---solitary confinement for life or execution. Their choice. I don't want to hear about their sad little childhood. They're adults who made adult decisions, albeit bad ones.
While I'm at it, fully support a social safety net. We also need help at some point, and sometimes that help has to come from society (preferably as a last resort). However, never should living off of taxpayer charity be a "career choice". It should be temporary; just long enough to get retrained or find another job (and no, you shouldn't continue to get more money for continuing to have more children. If the national average is 2.5 for instance, the maximum amount of assistance should be three kids. Families on public support should not be penalized for having the male remain with the family. I don't support Affirmative Action. Sorry. I see it as simply legalized reverse discrimination. Employers should be able to hire the best qualified candidate. It's good for the business and its good for society in the long run.
I don't support intervention in the affairs of other nations, especially their elections unless there is a legitimate need. We get bent out of shape with claims of their alleged intervention in ours. The US has been overthrowing governments and assassinating duly elected leaders and backing military dictatorships. It's not our business who another country freely elections or what kind of government they want (for that matter, we need to stop propping up governments. We need to seriously start closing overseas bases where we don't have a real security need to be there, and that includes withdrawing from NATO. While we're at it, we need to reexamine who are our strategic allies are today instead of basing them on war which ended in 1990.