Saturday, September 06, 2008

Politics and Religion

Are there two more dangerous things to discuss, even with friends and family, then political and religious topics? I have to doubt it.

In fact, when it comes to politics, especially as the U.S. presidential election draws closer and closer, I find myself going out of my way to avoid all the ranting, rumor-pushing, lying and media bias that seems to be everywhere. Frankly, it doesn't matter which side it comes from - all of it irritates me and I can't wait for the election to be over because of the way that the subject of politics is now creeping into even those few places I used to be able to go to escape all of that nonsense.

Political blogs are easy to recognize and that makes them easy to avoid. When it comes to magazines and newspapers, it's not too difficult just to skip the political commentary sections but I find myself generally reading magazines and papers less than ever because they tend to allow biased politics to creep even into their entertainment and news sections. I know which movies are little more than political propaganda, which directors seem to have gone off the deep end, and I can very easily ignore them. I know that most of the cable news programs, and even those on the national networks, are run by biased people, especially the talking-heads who host them, so I don't watch unless morbid curiosity gets the best of me.

Really, all of it is pretty easy to avoid. But now I'm seeing politics "discussed" even in book blogs, sports blogs, tech blogs and music blogs, and that bugs me because I read those blogs to relax and to learn about subjects that interest me. Frankly, when I read a blog about baseball, music, books, computers, and the like, I really don't want to hear about the blog author's political leanings. I don't care what they think about politics. I find the whole topic to be an irrelevant, but jarring, distraction that ruins the whole experience of the blog. And what is most irritating is that I sometimes find myself being sucked into a discussion that I later kick myself for getting involved in, an experience that ultimately leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I can't wait for things to get back to normal.


  1. I know what you mean, Sam. I typically avoid any religious or political posts on my book blog. I made a bit of an exception today because the subject was really about book banning/censoring...but it was motivated by an article that appeared re: Palin's apparent attempts to ban/censor books at the Wasilla Public Library when she was Mayor. I thought long and hard about posting anything, but ultimately felt that the subject was appropriate to a book blog.

  2. Wendy, I agree that one is a very fine line and I considered posting about it myself, in fact. But then I noticed the kind of comments that it leads to, all over the map and nothing to do with books, and I decided not to risk it.

    I'm not even going to elaborate what I've learned about that story here in the comments because it opens up that whole can of worms.

    Honestly, I'd rather not know a thing about the politics or religious beliefs of those I read or correspond with on the internet.

  3. 100% agreed. The frenetic obsession with the immediate is exhausting. And it's worse since the campaigns have been going on for years already.

    (And to answer your first question, the topic of dietary choices is closing in on those two, fast.)

  4. It's mentally and spiritually exhausting, Mella. It brings out the worst in human nature and I'm sick of the process and what it does to ordinary people who get so caught up in the hate. It changes them forever, and that's why I avoid the conversation as much as possible.

    Luckily, I haven't much run into the third option you would certainly grow old fast, I agree.

  5. While I get the sentiment, Sam, and certainly agree that politics and religion can be among the most dangerous to discuss in that conversation can turn volatile, I wonder if it's not more dangerous not to discuss them. Both have such tremendous impact on us, our neighbors, our culture, and the world that I think it's somewhat shortsighted to dismiss them away and hope they go away.

    Because, of course, they won't. Politics, at very least, cannot, because it's how society functions, which, right now, is extraordinarily important; the new boss isn't always the same as the old boss, or doesn't have to be.

    I've had heated discussions with friends in the past, and, in fact, some of my very best friends are people whose ideals I diametrically oppose but who I respect and admire anyway. I've never believed any two people can agree, completely, on any one thing, and any two people who think they actually do probably just haven't talked about it fully enough yet.

  6. Will, I don't mind discussing politics, or even religion, at times, but I do mind when it intrudes into one of the few areas these days that I can escape it. There is a place for those discussions and there are places where it doesn't belong.

    If I want to discuss politics, and I can do it as well as most people I've read on the internet, I can go to a political blog or a newspaper website. And there it is...I can go crazy to my heart's delight and I can butt heads with people who are no more likely to change their minds then I am to change mine.

    We can call national candidates names; we can spread rumors; we can tell lies; we can have all the sex, lies and videotape that our little hearts desire. Of course, none of us should expect to accomplish anything but to score a few points for "our side." And maybe that's the problem for me. By trying to see both points-of-view, I catch hell from both sides.

    All of us have tempers and we tend to lose them every so often, especially when the right buttons are pushed. Some of us are literally crazier than others and some of the behavior I've seen on the internet is so disgusting that I've decided that I done with internet politics. It's just an exercise in futility, anyway.

    Good grief...I've lost ALL resepect for an entire network - CNBC/NBC. Major national magazines, Newsweek and Time, don't seem to be worth the paper they are printed on anymore. Hollywood insults my intelligence in a way that I never dreamed possible. Directors like Michael Moore and Oliver Stone are rewriting history for a generation so gullible they believe that what they see on the big screen has to be true. Hollywood has become nothing much but a propaganda machine for anti-American millionaires.

    No, I've pretty much had it with discussing politics on the internet and, for damn sure, I've had it with discussing politics on my favorite book sites, sports sites, and tech sites. Those sites have just become other political sites for me and that means they are to be avoided.

    Why? Because I'm weak enough to jump in and say things in a rather blunt way, and then 24 hours later I feel like I would have done more good by bashing my head into the wall behind my desk. It's all pretty pointless in a society in which no one listens anymore. We all want to be heard but none of us want to listen. We are all right and everyone who disagrees with us is wrong. And we will never change our minds - or theirs.

    I don't want to lose respect for bloggers and writers I've come to know pretty well over the last two or three years. I don't want to lose their friendship and I don't want them to stop respecting me for who I am.

    And who I am is someone who has had it with all the screaming at each other. This country is in a sorry state; we are split almost right down the middle at close to 50-50, with a very small percentage of people who might flip from voting for one party or the other...or not voting at all.

    Politics, thanks to the net, has become an even dirtier game than it has historically been. The internet allows it to be so dirty and so dishonest, in fact, that what is on the net is pretty much useless now.

    So I want safe havens, places where I can escape the nonsense. If that means I have to give up some of my favorite websites, so be it. There's more to life than calling George Bush a chimp, Sarah Palin a bitch, Obama a secret Muslim, McCain an old man who is on his deathbed,and Biden a doofus...over and over and over again.

    Enough is enough...

  7. Very well said, Sam. And totally agree about NBC. I gave up on MSNBC and its ilk many moons ago.