We have to really want it badly

By Joe Tassi | Aug 02, 2009

Political solutions require political will. And political will exists only if the public is aware of and concerned enough about issues that affect their lives to pressure politicians.

But political will is blunted by the media onslaught and lobbying groups who methodically deliver crafted messages of misinformation − so many messages that we the intended audience have tuned them out. No longer able to distinguish the real from the manufactured, we succumb to the spectacle of celebrity and reality programming and news entertainment programming disguised as hard news. And while our attention is being diverted with spectacle and political controversy we don’t see the hurling objects heading straight for us. Advocating positions without taking time or having enough interest to investigate them, we declare our rightness, asserting that anybody who disagrees with us is wrong or stupid.

I bring this up because I have become a contributor to this paper and I am lately more interested in what people in our community are thinking about. So I have been reading the paper more carefully and I have been going online to read the .com version. I think it’s great that the online format allows readers to post comments about particular articles and issues. I think it is right for the paper to define guidelines regarding the content of posts. And in my opinion the online editor should have the authority to suspend anyone who posts a personal attack on someone just for disagreeing with a particular point of view.

A few posters that I have read have accused the online editor of censorship. Let me ask this: Isn’t posting a personal attack against someone you disagree with an attempt to suppress their argument? Isn’t that censorship? Conversely, presenting a passionate well thought out and researched argument is a great way to influence others who may read your post. In a medium like an online paper isn’t communicating with others the goal? If not, why not just pick up the phone and press zero and rail at the operator for a while (people really do that) if you just want to hear yourself rant.

When I read a disrespectful post my first question is: Why is that person so afraid? What horrible consequence could that person imagine happening if they just listened to and considered a different point of view? Fear, or resistance, call it what you like, is a formidable adversary, perhaps the most formidable adversary known to us. Disinformation and fear are tactics used by media, special interest government, and individuals in an effort to shape our perceptions. Understanding this is the best way to minimize its influence on us. Intolerance is fear, nothing more.

Making an argument is not having a fight. It is an exchange of views, a good airing of ideas. It is healthy and could lead to a better understanding of important ideas. Polarizing partisan arguments, with an absolute right and an absolute wrong, are the precise goal of the misinformation campaigns being waged against intellectual discovery.

At the hands of corporate media and lobbyists real truth is hard to find. So don’t expect politicians to have the will to lobby on our behalf until we can muster the will to argue the merits of an issue without resorting to the use of personal attacks and censorship through suppression. Change will be accomplished; political will can be bent but only when we are focused and united. But it has to start here, at home, with us; we have to really want it badly.
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