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can't we all just get along?

[I don't know what's gotten into me today - I seem to be in rant mode and can't escape it. I hope this is the last of things that light my fire today]

Jack - a liberal blogger - is calling for civility between bloggers when it comes to politics.

For some time now, I've been concerned with the execrable quality of political discourse in this country. Quite frankly, the quality of debate sucks, and we Liberals are doing NOTHING to help our cause in this respect (not that Conservatives are doing much to help...). Michele beat me to this one, but we seem to be on the same wavelength here. Politically, we are seldom on the same page, but we seem to agree that this madness has gone far enough. As Exhibit A, I offer MoveOn.org's commercial contest, which I will not dignify here with a link. It has turned into a vicious, mean-spirited, "I-hate-Bush" fest.

Jack and I go way back. He's someone I like and admire and what he has to say today is important. We've always kind of agreed to disagree and I think we go at it more vehemently about football than we do politics. It is possible to have a poltical conversation with someone who is the polar opposite of you without using ugly words and nasty innuendos.

I agree with Jack that you can find just as much ugliness and name-calling on the right as you do on the left. And I'm not just talking about the folks at Free Republic, which is just as much a barometer of typical Republicans as Democratic Underground is for typical Democrats. That is, not at all. Far, far, far in the vast, dark corners of the left and right lie the ugly children of both political movements. I refer to them as flefts and frights and one is as monstrous as the other.

Sometimes these people find their way into the mainstream. They identify with Moveon.Org or hail Mike Savage as a hero but they tend to keep those ideologies on an even keel, until something turns them into Mr. Hyde. Some of them never switched back to good old Dr. Jeckell. They stayed in that ugly alter-ego so long it became a part of them, yet they kept their home in the blogosphere. They're out there. You know they are. And mostly, they are hypocrites.

See, taking offense at someone equating Bush to Hitler is all well and good until you go and compare Howard Dean to a different nazi. Hello? What makes that so different than what the folks who entered the MoveOn contest did? And when you call for the annihilation of an entire country based on the raging lunacy of some of that country's citizens, you are no differen than the wackos who inhabit Indymedia.

Different sides, same song. And I've been singing this very song for way too long. Jack, this is why I stopped - for the most part - blogging partisan politics. When I do, I try to write the post with humor so I don't end up with a fight to the death in my comments, with slurs being thrown all around. There are quite a few blogs I stopped reading because I can no longer stand their juvenile references and violent, vicious attitudes. It's one thing to state how you feel. It's quite another thing to infuse your words with unecessary adjectives and death wishes.

Sure, I've wished Arafat dead many times. I've called the people at Indymedia so many names I lost track. But when I wish for Arafat's head to be separated from his body, I don't ask that the entire Middle East go with him. And I don't think my posts about Indymedia have ever been so arrogantly violent as some of the things I've read from both the left and the right.

I am as guilty as others in causing the chasm in the blogosphere. I've not only fed the fires, but started a few as well. When I said back in November that I was done with all that, I meant it. It never felt good. It never felt right. And I never even sunk to the levels that others did. I can't imagine how they look themselves in the mirror and like what they see.

I'm all about civility now. I like Jack. I like Oliver Willis. I like August. Hell, I've even had lengthy, civil email conversations with Latuff himself. There are other things in life besides politics. I am not my party. I am not who I endorse for president. I like baseball and football and comic books. I watch a lot of movies and listen to a lot of music. There are so many other things that make up my personality besides which political party I belong to. We can talk about all those things. Cliche as this is going to sound - and I'm quoting Depeche Mode here, so don't blame me - People are people, so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully? I don't hate you because of your politics. But I will certainly find the energy to hate you if you use poltics as a means to belittle an entire race of people, for instance.

If I have wronged anyone in this way in the past, I am sorry for it. I've been directing my anger at the wrong people. The best thing for me to do is exactly what I've been doing - writing about everything except the Freepers and DU'ers and the Ted Ralls and Ann Coulters. They bring out the worst in me and I probably unleashed that worst at some bloggers who did not deserve it.

No, I haven't turned into some tree-hugging hippie. This is still a Blog for Bush, etc. My liberal friend Jack just hit a nerve with me today and I needed to unload.

Thanks, Jack.


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I agree wholeheartedly.

That being said, why are goons like Hannity, Coulter, Limbaugh et al so popular?

c'mon, Michele, admit it...

you think this:
is funny

I'm taking a wild guess then, Michele, that this means you didn't vote for my ad.... (crickets)

That said, I'll also add that the MoveOn thing, even coming from someone who submitted one of the entries, admittedly had its fair share of bad and over-pompous messages. That's why winners and loser were selected.

As for the anger against the contest for being a "bash Bush-fest," not to be abrupt, but that was sort of the point: it was a contest for negative ads about the President. The issue is what's legitimate negative opinion and what's ridiculous or overdone; for the easiest example the Hitler stuff.

I think it's ironic that there's attacks against MoveOn's contest now, when it seems that the ultimate goal of the contest is/was to weed out the extremist rhetoric from the left that those on the Right detest and focus on a better message, even if it's one you disagree with.

I saw that Bush ad, Augie, and it was a hate fest, pure and simple. I'm not buying the idea that the intent is to weed out the bile. It's the opposite.

And Michele, you said it all for me. I don't discuss politics with anyone anymore. It's too frustrating when issues become personal and rudeness passes for discourse. By the way, I just found a whole bunch of original National Lampoons. Want 'em?

Michele, I'll be sending my students to visit some of your blog posts that involve politics, and I'll be sending them to other blogs, news sites, and organizations, too, since I've found quite a few good posts to share. I want to use the recent MoveOn ads, but, to be "fair and balanced," as the saying goes, I need conservative versions, too. Oy, my search continues!

If you or anyone else has suggestions -- ads, images, essays, etc. -- that offer a decidedly conservative-bent angle that is as equally outrageous as the MoveOn ads, please share! :)

Things get wierd when sides get too far apart:

Exhibit #1: every now and then the Jerusalem post prints an article from Egypts Al Ahram. It's like something from a Nazi paper, and I'm sure that the Likud party gains a voter whenever someone reads Arab propaganda... See it's wierd when propaganda for one side is so insane it helps the other side.

Exhibit #2: today iowahawk wrote a funny parody of the Neal Starkman article and came up with epithets like "Chimpy the Texas Wonder Nazi"...

Excuse me, but if I were to call Bush "Chimpy the Texas Wonder Nazi" my leftist friends would think I'd seen the light and welcome me back into the fold. It wouldn't even occur to them that they're being mocked, in fact they'd probably start useing the phrase themselves - and improving on it maybe calling him "Chimpy the Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre Boy-Wonder Nazi"

See we've already reached that point of no return that inevitabley end with liberals strapping on suicide belts and blowing up the hillbilly section of Nascar races.

If we judge by this notorious piece from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jack has some counterparts who are not nearly as well-disposed. See this for further thoughts.

I couldn't agree more.
I've never really understood why so many people enjoy yelling at each other about politics. There's just nothing to be gained from diametrically opposed people screaming at each other - great effort is being expended that accomplishes absolutely nothing.

I don't mind arguing politics, but it has to be in a situation where there's mutual respect or it's pointless.

Hatred is never a basis for debate or argument. Yes, Virginia, there is a difference.

I find I'm listening to a lot more rock 'n' roll and a lot less talk radio. As a result, I get home in the evening in a much better mood.

I believe the reason the political debate has become so intense is that more people realize that the stakes are higher and more personal since September 11. The extreme positions represent real threats to our way of life.