Posts Tagged ‘Politics and Governance’

h1

“WHY ARE PEOPLE SO ANGRY?”

October 17, 2009

WhySoAngryLOGO

Recently, my son, Adam, asked this question while we were at the airport getting a quick bite, before his return to LA. I mentally replayed the conversation on my drive home and realized the question is a very good one, with many possible answers.

There are the obvious answers: unemployment is high, the economy is bad, the stock market crash greatly diminished peoples’ savings, and so on. It’s easy to be angry about any of these issues, but that anger is just one “symptom.” There is also blame, which leads to hate, which leads to unrest. At times, the combination of two or more of these “symptoms” can be volatile.

But these “symptoms” are just that – symptoms. The root cause is fear. It’s fear that makes people angry, blaming others and even hating enough to lash out. Sometimes that retaliation is physical, but most of the time it’s verbal or the written word.

With that said, I have a first-person, written-word example to share with you, that happened earlier today.

Recently, a comment on one of my posts resulted in me responding to their post, and so on. It was a good dialogue with both of us agreeing in most areas and having some minor differences in other areas.

This morning, I received notice of a response to one of my comments on that post by someone who calls himself “John Doe.” (I don’t understand why people don’t identify themselves.) Here’s his recent comment about me after I once again, discredited Rush Limbaugh. (I know the graphics will be too small for most to read, so I’ve inlcuded the text below each one.) 

JohnDoe01

John Doe

Michael Kontras is a blowhard. Rush Limbaugh is a political commentator. He does not make the news (usually), he takes items that are in the news and comments on them; he merely gives his opinion as to how they are relevant, why a particular person is doing what they are doing, how a particular new policy will affect us, etc. Obviously know it alls such as Mr. Kontras do not like what he says (”99% false”? Methinks you exaggerate there, twit boy). Obviously, what Limbaugh says resonates with many in society today. That’s why he has a twenty-million odd listership, and Mr. Kontras has a puny little blog that nobody reads.

This bit about the “government owns the radio airwaves” is just a convoluted way of trying to get around the First Amendment. The “government owns” them because the Government made a power play long ago to take control of them. No different than the Government taking over national parks. Or if the Government took over the internet bandwidths and said that it “owns” the internet. Or if it took over all newspapers and magazines. When the Government starts censoring what is said on the radio stations, then it runs afoul of the First Amendment. “Congress shall make NO law respecting… the Freedom of Speech…”

I had no intention of engaging in a back-and-forth of personal insults. This person has so many “facts” wrong, but because he is angry, any dialogue opposing his view would only elevate his anger. I responded with this:

MK01

Michael Kontras

Better to be an informed “blowhard” or “twit” than an uninformed blogger. 

Thanks for your comment, Mr. “Doe.”

Okay, maybe just a tinge of sarcasm – but hardly a personal “attack,” in my opinion.

We then heard from the owner of the blog, Federal Farmer.” This is a portion of the response:

FedFarm01

Federal Farmer

I debated…but ultimately decided against…editing out the exchange between “Mr. Doe” and Micheal Kontras. For one thing, the first comment in the fight was a followup that showed up without me accepting it. By the time I saw it, Micheal Kontras had seen it and had sent in a reply. I felt obliged by that time let the entire exchange be shown (though I’ve had enough of it). In my opinion, the personal attacks are not necessary; in fact, they truncate the debate, as can be seen in Kontras’ curt reply. The substantive issues quickly recede and the conversation ends. This seems counterproductive to me where the purpose is to discuss political ideas. Moreover, I question the human tendency to “slide” from political differences of opinion to personal insults.

I thanked “Federal Farmer:”

MK02

Michael Kontras

My thanks to you, “Federal Farmer.”

You are obviously doing your best to keep the focus on the issues, and you are to be commended for your efforts.

If my response was deemed inappropriate, it was certainly not my intention. My curtness was a way of saying to Mr. “Doe” that I have no intention of engaging in personal insults. Calling him an “uninformed blogger” didn’t seem to be over the line, but if it was, I sincerely apologize.

There is plenty of valid information on all the substantive issues, including what our Founding Fathers considered to be “Free Speech.” I’m all for having a healthy discussion on this (or any) issue without the insults.

Mr. “Doe” continued his angry rhetoric: (The host took it down before I could grab a shot of the screen, but I managed to capture the text.)

John Doe

Federal Farmer, thanks for sounding reasonable. Please allow me to explain. Kontras attacked Rush Limbaugh (and by extension, his listeners, of whom I proudly count myself). Make no mistake, he used fancy words but HE ATTACKED Limbaugh. Rush is a “shock jock” and a “shill” and “99%” of what he says is false. What are those if not personal attacks? Is it “not a personal attack” so long as he is attacking somebody who doesn’t bother to read your blog? Why not just call him a paid whore who is always wrong? That’s what he meant. Trust me, Kontras, I am more highly educated than you are, and more informed on the issues. My blog’s bigger than your blog, my blog’s bigger than yours…” he he.

I agree that such attacks are “counter-productive” but so are attacks on those who are bigger and better than you are, who have actually DONE something with their lives, when they can’t defend themselves. Here me, Mr. Kontras?

As I said earlier, my original response to Mr. “Doe” hardly qualifies as an “attack” on him. I know he was itching for a “fight,” much like some high school bully, but out of respect for the owner of the blog, I did not engage him at all after my first and only comment.

However, allow me to have a little fun here, since I have “…a puny little blog that nobody reads.”

I don’t believe I have ever met Mr. “Doe.” So I am truly amazed at how he “knows” that I’m less educated than him. Trust me, Kontras, I am more highly educated than you are…” Really? Come on. I used “…fancy words… didn’t I? Maybe I should have used the “…highly educated…” word: “…whore.”  That would certainly put us on an equal intellectual plain, wouldn’t it?

“ ‘My blog’s bigger than your blog, my blog’s bigger than yours…’ he he.”  Spoken like a true third-grader in need of some parental “guidance.”

There is no doubt that Rush Limbaugh has “…actually DONE something…” with his life – especially for someone who dropped out of college after two semesters. But unlike Mr. “Doe,” who thinks Rush is “…bigger and better…” than me, I enjoy my angry-free life and have no desire to emulate Rush Limbaugh’s lifestyle, or anyone elses, for that matter.

As for my use of the word “shill”, I do have this tendency to resort to those pesky little things called “facts.”

Here are Rush’s own words – in the 2008 interview with the New York Times Magazine – upon receiving his $400,000,000, eight year contract: “First and foremost I’m a businessman,” Mr. Limbaugh told the magazine. “My first goal is to attract the largest possible audience so I can charge confiscatory ad rates… that enables me to sell airtime.” He didn’t say, “First and foremost, I’m a Conservative.” He’s deceiving people, making them think he cares about the Conservative Movement or the Republican Party, when in fact, his wallet is his only priority. He’s a shill, by definition.

“Federal Farmer” posted a very insightful comment about presiding over a debate, as opposed to getting involved in one. He felt we were both insulting. Here’s part of what was said:

FedFarm02

In moderating this post and subsequent discussion, I am reminded that George Washington did not proffer his opinion on any of the debated topics during the constitutional convention because he was presiding. To preside literally means to stand before (from the latin). Being partisan on whatever issue is being debated detracts from ones credibility, and thus ability, to preside. Were I to have sided with Micheal Kontras, for example, “Mr. Doe” would not have given my effort to moderate the discussion much credibility. He would have begun fighting me, which would have put me in a conflict of interest…protecting myself vs. managing the blog. It is possible that Mr. Doe could then post a comment that contributes to the discussion even though it attacks me. I would be operating in a conflict of intersts–that of protecting myself and managing the blog.

I mention this as a hypothetical (in actuality, I view both parties to the dispute as being out of line in insulting the other) because I don’t think we as Americans realize that when the US President takes sides on an issue being debated, he undercuts his credibility to preside.

I agree with 99% of “Federal Farmer’s” comments. 🙂

Sincerely,

signature2

www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – I received an e-mail from “Federal Farmer” later in the evening. Here’s some of what he had to say: “Thanks for visiting my blog… I’ve learned a lot today in terms of political theory (yes, I am too logical! lol) from moderating that discussion.  Mr. Doe has sent two additional comments that contained insults so I am blocking further posts from him. In any case, I appreciated that you stopped fighting with him.  I don’t know how I could have made it more transparent for him that I didn’t want continued insults.  Like I said in the blog, who knows what sorts of psychologies play out in politics at the grassroots level?”

Another good question.