Monday, October 20, 2008

Our sad state of affairs

I grew up reading Bloom County.  When I first started enjoying the strip, I'll admit, I didn't get all of the jokes.  The anxiety closet, Oliver Wendell Jones, the swimming hole, all of those, I got.  It took me awhile, but once I figured out what a "Tomato" was, well, I got it.  Pretty much all of it.  I laughed my face off when "The fishes were going to tear gas us".

For awhile I've felt that we (The United States) have become too divisive.  Our national pasttime has become tearing down opposing viewpoints, in the loudest, brashest manner.  The easy "food" for this is the media generated garbage that is spewed forth.  Some talking head gets on TV, says something, and is made "Media-Fact" before anyone takes a second to check the veracity of the statement.

I mean seriously, who gives a crap what Tyra Banks thinks about the election?  Do people really take Adam Baldwin seriously (Don't answer that, I'm finding out that Yes, people do).

My family is pretty representative of the voting demographic.  We've got staunch republicans, devoted democrats, and fringe idiots that seem to enjoy typifying the "arguing for arguings sake" problem.
The email exchanges were fast and furious.  It seems that the older generation is particularly mouthy, and willing to accept as gospel anything that is printed in the press (If it's on the internet, it must be true, right??!?).
The emails came to a screeching halt when my cousin piped up with some fact checking, and multi-source comparisons of facts.  It seems that she decided "Enough is enough", and just went out and checked some of the facts in these emails.  After the first email, she realized "Hey, I've struck gold", and started digging in all of the emails.  Her final email was about as bi-partisan as it could be (because both sides were spewing pure crap, in some cases), and pretty long.  A weak attempt was made by one party (who I'll just label as "fringey" for now) to attack one of her facts, but that was the end of the "Fact"-backed political email argument.

It seems that facts get in the way of a really good argument.  

I've had this conversation with my father (and a couple of others).  There have been several big media stories where the fundamental facts have been understated, or misconstrued.  I don't remember this happening when I was growing up.  I guess I had this childish innocence then, but I seem to remember being able to take newspapers as fundamentally accurate.  I was told that I was being naive, and that this had always been happening.  The media has always had a bias, in one way or another, and that the extremes have always been there.

From off stage comes Mr. Breathed, with an upsetting annoucement, and shoring up of my sanity and perceptions.
I feel like a friend has died (again).  If Opus can't keep us "Real", and grounded, I am truly horrified.  Hopefully someone else will come back to tell us we need to attack dandelion puffballs, and kick back on the hill looking for shapes in the clouds.  We need to open the closet door and face down our anxieties (frequently with harsh, glaring realities).  

I'm glad that Mr. Breathed has stepped from behind his characters to tell people that there is a problem.  That we're heading for a bad place (hell, that we're already there).  That we should be paying attention to not just what we're saying, but what we're attacking.  That our fundamental tolerance is slipping, and this tolerance is what our country is supposed to be based on.  This is countered by our supposed grounding in reality.  Our education, our critical thinking, and our willingness to face realities, and force those around us to face those realities (if you haven't read page two of the interview linked above, make sure you read it).

I hope, either way, that Opus will retire to when he should be.  I hope that it includes his harem, a waterhole free of snakes, and an unlimited number of dandelions.  Either way, the tears on my face will be real, as a childhood friend will be passing on.

Prayer pimples for hairy fishnuts.

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