One of the great things about America is that we have the freedom to believe in whatever we want. The other cool part of that? We have the freedom to call you a stupid asshole for your stupid belief.
It is a balance that quite frankly has become unbalanced lately. It is easy to blame the ignorant – But they are stupid, and you can’t expect to change them overnight. Chances are it’s actually YOUR fault. If you are reading this you are probably more educated and informed than most of the “unwashed masses” and you are not doing your job in putting dumb people on blast. Back in the day when co-workers were eating lunch together, or people gathered at a bar and somebody said something completely void of reasoning, logic, or a factual basis the rest of the table would call them out on it. If the person said something really insane they might even get smacked. I miss those days.
Somewhere along the way the idea that we needed to “respect” everyone’s positions became the prevailing method of rhetoric and accountability for bullshit went out the window. The idea that “Everyone gets a trophy” in the new America and that somehow the ignorant redneck who won’t let “them faggots” get married because Jesus said so is supposed to be given the same intellectual respect and credibility as somebody who took the time to be educated and informed on the issue and who has formed their opinion based on that research.
Think about it like this: At one point, people believed that the Earth was flat, and that the sun revolved around it. Can you imagine these people walking around today? People that despite science, facts, logic and overwhelming evidence believed something that was easily disproved? How would you look at somebody who still thought there should be slavery? What about somebody who thought women should still not be allowed to vote? What about interracial marriage? Can you picture how people 100 years from now will look back and laugh at the absurdity of some of the nonsense that we have allowed to be the driving force of social and economic policy today?
The sad thing is that there are still people who are that bigoted and unevolved that exist today. Women should be in the kitchen, black people should be in the fields, gays should not have any rights, and so on.
I don’t want to focus this primarily on religion, because that’s the easiest target. I’ve read the Bible – I know all of the stories, and it’s a really good book. There is a lot to be learned from the Bible, but it’s not a book of law or science and the people who try to use it as such should be lashed with a rosary. Ditto pretty much all other organized religions, but you know with this big “war on Christianity” that is going on, I just felt I needed to pile on I guess.
You have the right to believe that the Earth is 7,000 years old, or that dinosaurs are a myth that God left out of the Bible to “test your faith”. I have the right to wonder if you are mentally retarded.
One of my favorite books is “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien. In fact, I love the whole “Lord of the Rings” series. They are a literary masterpiece, and I’ve read the entire collection several times in my life. Now, if I walked around talking about how Dwarves really existed or that I had a magic ring that could control the world, people would think I lost my mind. Hey, I WANT to believe that I can find some sweet Elven chick who looks like Liv Tyler to go sail off into immortality with but unfortunately I just haven’t seen any evidence to support that claim.
It is your right to disagree with any opinion. But not facts. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t have your own facts.
So here’s basically the point of this as it relates to 2012 America: If you hear somebody who believes something that is easily disproved or rebutted – PLEASE DO THAT! If you do not confront these people, the country suffers. Your family suffers. Your community suffers. Your children suffer.
I’ll relate this to politics very simply, because I know a LOT of you are sick of “the season”. Having an opinion about a fact is fine. Making up facts is not so much ok.
When somebody calls Obama a Kenyan, or a secret Muslim – You have to tell them that they are wrong, and stupid.
When somebody thinks that 47% of the country doesn’t work and just sits around waiting for a government handout it is your responsibility to educate them about the working poor, elderly, disabled, and others who actually embody that 47%.
If you see somebody taking quotes out of context, give them the whole context.
Here – It’s actually REALLY REALLY easy to do, too:
“That’s interesting. Tell me why you think that.”
Yes, you should talk to these people like you are a 5 year old who doesn’t understand gravity, and make them actually substantiate their baseless claim. “Oh Obama apologized to terrorists? When and where did that happen? I must have missed it!”
Now look – You aren’t going to convince somebody who thinks that the sky is green that it isn’t because they are clearly not operating from the same reality… So pick your battles.
With freedom comes responsibility. If you want to sit back and let propaganda (on both sides, mind you) dictate our leaders and direction instead of engaging in meaningful dialogue about REAL issues – You are no better than the person screaming about tax returns or birth certificates. You should WANT to be better than that – We all should WANT to be better than that. You can’t allow somebody to claim that facts are lying. Hell, there are people now who literally dispute EVERYTHING they hear on the news (and not Fox News or MSNBC “news” – REAL news like the AP Wire) because it’s “biased”. That’s the new thing – The polls are biased, we don’t believe them. At what point do we as a country just say, “Come the fuck on. It is what it is. You don’t have to LIKE the facts, but you can’t pretend they don’t exist.”
We should all BELIEVE that this country could be better than it is.