A couple things crossed my social media feed and challenged / moved me in the last few days. And I’m not just talking spoiler-laden clips of Game of Thrones’ season finale. (But holy cow did they fit a lot into that episode!)
1. With regard to the Brexit vote, before it happened, here’s a powerful and masterful example of persuasive public speech.
I know a lot of people opposed Britain leaving the EU, arguably for some good reasons. What I hate is the idea some spread or implied which said that every “Leave” supporter is some xenophobic, racist, greedy, hateful miser only out for themselves. Several million people voted for this (what was it, 19M+ if memory serves). Are we really supposed to believe that the vast majority of them are motivated politically by hatred and fear? Take a listen and enjoy a well-stated perspective, even if you don’t agree.
2. After the tragic and horrific shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, my wall exploded with different views on what should be addressed, what could have been done, what the real problems in America are, and so on. Accusations of Islamophobia (and maybe some actual Islamophobia) all peppered the mix. As if it’s so simple as suggesting adopting “if we just had a stricter law about guns” or “if the President would have called it radical Islam” or some other myopic opinion masquerading as a solution.
In the midst of all that, I found this OpEd on CNN: Well-stated views about what Muslims in America could do about the current state they’re in. On the one hand, I don’t like the idea that an entire, complex group of people is painted with the same shade, with one massive brush. But the writer seems to pragmatically state, “Well here we are, what can we do about it?”
3. Another piece of very persuasive and energetic public speech appeared on my feed today. I don’t know who Jesse Williams is, but he issues a challenge to all those with something to say about Black Lives Matter and about how African-Americans should deal with racial tensions. Those of us who aren’t forced by daily experience to consider all the ramifications and consequences of something as basic as skin tone might do well to listen with an open mind. We might not see it how Mr. Williams sees it. We might not agree with his conclusions. But there is a wide swath of America that does see it that way–a large percentage of Americans for whom Mr. Williams’ comments are spot on, addressing their day-to-day reality. If we’re willing to understand, we can’t assume we’ve got the whole picture on something so complex as race.
If you’re only going to watch one of these, I suggest the third option. Click the image below for a link to the speech.
I’m usually a pretty calm person, especially when it comes to dealing with other people. It takes a lot for someone to really get under my skin.
I do have my moments. Technology that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, for example, is like turning on a flamethrower in my chest. (I’m looking at you, Microsoft products, with all the ways you try to ‘help’ me by complicating the simplest tasks.)
My dog peeing everywhere, just brazen and unashamed. Yeah, that gets me ‘perturbed.’
But mostly, I keep calm and drink my coffee.
One thing that does get on my nerves is when people spew venom in the name of Christ.
I really hate it when they use children as their excuse.
I really, really hate it when they look right past their own faults to point at the faults of others.
You can’t expect mercy for your sins while proclaiming judgment on everyone else’s.
(I probably hate that because I’m often guilty of that myself.)
So… at some point or other I got signed up for a “defend marriage as one man and one woman” page on Facebook. I only recently noticed some of the stuff they post in pursuit of their cause.
I’ve gotten into it with the faceless individual(s) behind the page. Every now and then, someone says something completely asinine, and I feel compelled to share a reasonable voice with a logical counterpoint to the ignorance. It would be one thing if people were having thoughtful discussions and clarifying how their beliefs intersect with government and freedom and tolerance and all that. Most everyone I know is willing to admit we may not all agree, but we can disagree in a civil manner and hopefully all learn something from the debate.
Not everyone seems so inclined.
This little tragedy of grammar and graphics got posted on my wall today:
I don’t know why, but I happened to read the ten comments on the picture.
It was like a religious frat party, with people giving each other textual fist bumps by reminding everyone about God’s original plan for marriage and how sad it would be when the child eventually says, “I wish I had a father.” Someone ridiculed the smiling faces, conveying the tragic nature of this hypothetical union and its dangerous impact on the child’s development. Someone simply responded with, “Oh, barf!!!!!”
I’ll leave aside the fact that there are children being raised by gay couples around the world and not all of them are collapsing under the burden of self-loathing or grief. Both sides will point to various “experts” with studies that “prove” that gay couples raising children is “no harm done” OR there is irreparable damage. Whatever. Let’s just agree that there are a lot of kids out there who are going to grow up with two mommies or daddies (yes, this is a proper time to use the plural ‘daddies’).
And they’ll be just fine.
There was one voice of reason, who made the outrageous and satanic comment that “Making fun of gays is not going to help. This is a serious issue and a heated debate which deserves a thoughtful response. Insulting people is only going to burn bridges.”
One voice out of ten.
You can’t hear my sigh, but trust me, it’s a long one. (My wife can attest to this.)
The response from the page?
“We don’t believe putting adult lusts above the needs of children deserves consideration.”
Those dirty gays, sacrificing the souls of impressionable young kids on the altar of desire! /sarcasm
Full disclosure: I’m Christian, if you didn’t get that yet. I believe what the Bible says, though I understand a lot of it comes down to interpretation and theological debate. And the Bible seems to clearly identify homosexual activity as a sin.
But that’s not all it addresses.
What do I mean by that? I’ll let my response on Facebook to that picture speak for itself:
“Putting adult lusts above the needs of children is terrible, but people do it all the time. It’s just their sins are heterosexual. Or perhaps just gluttony, or alcoholism. Maybe it’s simple neglect. Maybe even it’s how some parents worship their work or ministry by devoting all their time and attention to those things while forsaking their responsibilities to their children.
“Maybe it’s the arrogance of adult Christians who forget that they’re looking down on the needs of some children out there, children who think they’re gay, who know they’re different from most everyone else, who absolutely know without any doubt that the Church is the very last place they’ll find love or acceptance (and I don’t mean acceptance of sin, but acceptance of them as a human being worthy of Christ’s sacrificial love expressed through us).
“Maybe our need to communicate how disgusting homosexuality is gets in the way of God’s desire to communicate to THEM how incredibly powerful and merciful and life-changing His love is, and maybe it gets in the way of His desire to communicate to us that in His holy sight all our sin is just as repulsive and ‘barf-worthy’ as theirs. ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ doesn’t mean much if we don’t do it.”
I don’t want to abuse God’s mercy or call sin ‘righteous.’ That’s not within my purview.
I haven’t torn out any passages in my Bible that claim homosexuality is a sin.
The difference is that I’m paying attention to the rest of the passages too.
Military jet fighters carry a type of air-to-air missile nicknamed “Fire and Forget.” Older missiles required continuous guidance from the pilot, who would need to keep a target locked on until the missile got close. But these missiles use active radar to find their targets, and the pilot is free to do other things (like focus on survival and avoiding enemy missiles). The pilot can “forget” the missile and let it do its job.
Politicians and reporters are now equipped with fire-and-forget missiles.
I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve seen a rash of outlandish statements, jumps to desired conclusions, opinion pieces disguised as facts, and blatant lies spread as truth.
I’m not talking about Weekly World News, whose cover stories I read with delight as a child. “UFO Base Found in New Mexico!” “Bat-Boy to be Wed! Pics of Sasquatch Bride on page 6!”
And I’m not talking about the Rush Limbaughs and Bill Mahers of the newstertainment industry, whose job it is to say whatever ridiculous thing gets them a riled-up audience.
I’m talking people who should know better, people whose job descriptions are all about communicating clearly and truthfully with the American public and the world at large.
I know this has been going on for a long time. Propaganda and “spin” and yellow journalism and so on are nothing new. You probably already have a particular news agency in mind. For some of you, it’s the Devil, Fox News. For others, it’s the real Devil, MSNBC or CNN or ABC or whoever last said something glowing about President Obama.
Let’s run down a few stories.
James Holmes shoots up a crowd at the midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO. This is a horrific tragedy, and not surprisingly inspires lots of conversations about how we can possibly avoid or prevent future tragedies on this scale. It also inspired ABC’s Brian Ross to point out,
“There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes, but it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colo.”
That was enough info for some people to run on. Even though it was later shown to be a different Jim Holmes and Ross later apologized, the damage was done. For some, the important association of Tea Party with the shooting had been proven.
This seemed familiar in an eerie way. I’d heard something like this before.
Perhaps you recall Jared Lee Loughner, the individual who shot U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords and several other people in Arizona. Immediately there was talk of “inflammatory rhetoric” and suggestions that this must be the work of extremists “like the Tea Party.” But no such connection ever materialized.
Oddly enough, when Army Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire in the Fort Hood incident, there were warnings to avoid a “rush to judgment” about his motivations.
Shouldn’t caution and restraint and thorough investigation be the default policy in cases like this?
Lest you think, dear reader, that I am a staunch Tea Party / Right Wing defender, allow me to turn the tables on my conservative friends’ lunacies.
I’ve seen posts and Facebook-shared articles warning of President Obama’s devious plan to stage an assassination attempt against himself in order to declare martial law and prevent the 2012 elections from taking place. This reportedly got started with a blogger in Florida and grew in assured Truthiness (thanks, Colbert!) to the point that a Tennessee Republican sent a letter to his constituents to warn them of the possibility.
“The more we talk about [it]… the stronger is our defense against it actually occurring.” – Joe Angione, conservative blogger.
Hence all the discussion of the impending zombie apocalypse.
Again, the government official apologized, and most people realize it’s a tinfoil-hat conspiracy. But I still found the story being shared on Facebook. I’m not completely certain it was being shared in order to “clear up the confusion.”
Fox three! Fire and forget!
(“Fox three” is NATO brevity terminology for launching an active radar missile. That it might be mistaken as referring to a news agency related to this subject is mere delicious irony.)
Before Facebook became our go-to news source for everything that agrees with our existing point of view, I used to get e-mails forwarded from conservatives that detailed all manner of overblown Left Wing conspiracies and Obama Administration evildoing. Usually, these could be refuted with a quick facts check, but judging by the list of addresses in the forward chain, that probably never took place.
In almost every case, I’d hop on Snopes and have an answer–or at least a clarification–in seconds.
If you’re being told a story that proves exactly all the terrible things you’ve always believed about the “other side,” you’re probably not getting a fair and objective account of all the facts – regardless of the news organization’s slogan or stated objectives.
This Chick-fil-A business is no different, sadly. Did you know that Chick-fil-A dollars went into lobbying Congress to stop the U.S. Government from condemning a hate-filled bill in Uganda which would authorize life imprisonment and even death as punishment for the crime of homosexuality?
Yeah, neither did I until I saw it posted on Facebook.
Well, that would explain why people would be so up-in-arms about Chick-fil-A, I guess.
Except it’s not true.
Chick-fil-A’s profits supposedly go to a non-profit “charity” they run called WinShape Foundation. They donate to a variety of Christian groups, including the Family Research Council (FRC). A lot of these groups have, as part of their platform of political views, the idea that marriage is about one man and one woman. I totally get why people might object to that in and of itself.
But that’s not good enough for some, who want to paint a picture of Christians as filled with hate and murderous intent for anyone different from them. A picture made it to my Facebook wall that declared how Chick-fil-A was supporting the FRC who in turn used $25,000 to lobby Congress. The FRC’s goal, according to the picture? Stop Congress from condemning the Ugandan bill mentioned above.
It took about two minutes to find this article from CBS news where the FRC is allowed to clarify their position. Kind of in line with everything else they say and do, they’re not okay with wholesale murder of homosexuals. They’re also not keen on the U.S. Government declaring homosexuals a protected segment of the populace like how we protect people based on race, gender, religion, and so on. Again, I get why people don’t agree with or particularly like the FRC, based on that position. But at least make sure the position you’re angry with them about is the one they actually hold.
Still, the message is out there. FRC wants the Ugandan death bill to be passed. Chick-fil-A supports the FRC. Deep down, all those people who lined up at Chick-fil-A want nothing more than dead homosexuals. Obviously.
Why check facts when we already have an explanation for a given story?
Fire and forget. That missile will do it’s job. Actually, in this case, it’s more “fire and remember,” because the intended audience gets the message and makes the desired connection between the accused and whatever political agenda is being targeted. Sure, there may be retractions and apologies later, when no one cares.
And that’s if we’re lucky. It’s practically shameless.
MSNBC actually defended the edited video saying, “MSNBC did not edit anything out of order or out of sequence and at no time did we intend to deceive our viewers.” The video is worth watching as an example of what I’m talking about; there’s no way to conclude that the edited version was meant to accurately portray Governor Romney’s actual comments.
Maybe this is why people turn to Jon Stewart for a refreshing take on news stories. This site from ‘the Inquisitr’ is just what popped up on my Facebook wall and got me thinking more on this subject. At a guess, I imagine they’re probably just as bad as all the other sites and organizations out there. The two videos in the story are worth watching, though.
I know I’m not saying anything new here. This problem is known. Solutions for it aren’t easy, because ultimately, the public is clicking those links and hitting the “Like” and “Share” buttons on whatever news stories support their preexisting views. So these news sites keep firing off more junk and opinion-disguised as fact.
My wife saw the title to this post and came up with a good possible solution for reporters and politicians willing to speak in haste.
“Fire and forget? Oh, you mean, like, fire that guy, and forget about him?”