Friday, May 4, 2012

God, Guns and Government: "Houston, We Have A Problem"

"Of course I'm well-informed.  I watch the news..."
- Just About Everybody

What if your view of people different from you was entirely built by television?...

So might rename this blog "A long, winding conversation with Roger."

Because Roger asked an interesting question in my comments: "But why is there a 'strong right-wing base'?  In any case, I'm more worried about 'normal' people being sold on loss of freedom based on their concepts of God, guns, and, ironically, freedom."

For some reason, when I went back and looked at the comment, I thought "Wait, what Roger means by 'normal' is 'not me.'"  Maybe that's incorrect, but I don't think so.

Because I love, you know, God, country, guns, etc.  The whole kit-n-kaboodle.  And I even have a lot of friends who love God, country, guns, etc... but... I have to admit I'm not like them.

I have to admit at the university I'm perceived as the "nice slightly right-wing screwball."  Or at least that's my perception of how my ideas are received.  With my husband's military friends they have referred to me as "our resident hippy."

But, although I love my friends who are gun-loving, God-loving Americans a bit like me, in other ways... they're not like me.  And, for many of them, their families are very much "not like me."

I love religion for its profound philosophy, poetry and story.  A lot of people I know are a lot more literalist than I am.  I'm very patriotic in my way, but I'm certainly not uncritical of my country.  As Proverbs says, I rebuke a friend when I criticize my country (Proverbs 27:5-6.)  I love my country; I'm not so deluded as to think it's perfect.

But I know many, many people with really backwards views of people of different religions, races, etc.  I know people who think that crime is out of control, even though it's down.

Stop and really, really think what your view of the world would be if you never met a Muslim in your life; if you never worked with people from different backgrounds and races; if your entire life all the people that you know are your family and your town and people who shop at the gas station where you work...

And now picture that whole thing, but the only information from the outside world is fed to you via FOX News.  And it doesn't seem weird, because all the people you know watch FOX News, too.

Would you really think the world is round if every person you knew also knew that the world was flat?  You can see it - it's obviously flat, isn't it?

Why would you question something that is obviously true, that everyone around you knows is true?

This is a serious, serious problem, because it explains very well why so many rural people - and isolated people in general - are right wing.

If you look at the news and don't dig deeper, it really looks all bad.  We're living in a dangerous, dangerous world according to the news.

What would Muslims look like from that perspective?  What would people of other races look like?  I think that they'd look pretty dangerous.

Why?  The news is not there to inform you, it's there to get you to buy the stuff advertised during commercial breaks.  And what will make you keep watching?  A long, winding argument about foreign affairs?  An in-depth coverage of the national debt?

Would you seriously watch somebody basically try to balance the nation's checkbook on TV?  Would most people?...

If it looks like the rest of the world is really dangerous, you need somebody to protect you.

And that's how really, really bad things have happened throughout history.  The outside, different world is scary and dangerous, and we need protection from them.


  1. I had to laugh at the initial typo, which you fixed before I could note: Huston - I thought it was going to be about the filmmaker. I joked on Facebook that idiocy took over around 2003. this is when we went to war with Iraq for no good reason. Worse, Congress complained that France didn't join us in this escapade - we saved their bacon in WWII - and changed French fries to "freedom fries". I knew then we were all screwed.

  2. Yeah, I immediately noticed the typo, and then immediately fixed it, and the blog preview didn't show it, and I was think "AAAH! I look like an idiot!!!"

    Yeah, but This Is Bad. We have so much information now that everybody thinks they're really, really well-informed. And they're not because they're living in their own little information universe.

    "Freedom fries" was... retarded. But so was Elmo testifying before Congress.

  3. Ken Levine did The Worst Songs of All-Time and someone wrote: "I think you've combined three different types in your list: Weeper songs (Patches, Wildfire), novelty songs (Martian Hop, Transfusion, Dead Skunk), and just plain dreck (Seasons in the Sun, The Night Chicago Died, Ben)." I tend to agree. The novelty songs on the list I thought, mostly, didn't belong.

    Elmo in front of Congress may be silly (but Congressional hearings are generally so BORING, I'd give that a pass.) Colbert's testimony before Congress weas just bizarre. But Congress changing the name of a food for political reasons was just outrageous. I find it a false comparison who appears before Congress with what Congress does.

  4. I agree that "what congress - or anyone - does is way more important than what they say."

    I do actually get bothered by "experts" testifying that are obviously just there for propaganda purposes. Elmo is an easy one to see, because he's not a "he," it's a sock with someone's hand in it.

    But how often does an expert look legitimate - they're not actually literally made of plush - and they're just there for propaganda purposes as well?

    Can you tell? I don't know if I could tell in a discipline I haven't studied deeply.

    And then what "experts" do you believe and which ones do you doubt? Comes down to confirmation bias.

  5. The Welsh have a saying, "Pwy Sydd Fel Nyni? (Who are like us?)" The best answers are both "None" and "Everyone." (The Welsh say "none," but they are only interested in 1) singing; 2) mining coal; and 3) singing about mining coal, so you see where they are coming from.)

    It is "none" because no two people are alike. It is "everyone," since all people want to eat regularly, sleep where needed and to be treated as being of some intrinsic importance.

    People are set in their ways. It can be good, faith to the traditions of Halacha, or it can be bad, persistence of de jure segregation for most of 100 years AFTER the Civil War and amendments to the US Constitution to end not only the institution of Slavery but its "badges and instruments" as well.

    In the final analysis, you have to decide where true fealty to tradition lies.

  6. Eh, I've met a Welshman or two during my time in Europe. They might disagree on your list. Pasties and sausages, for example, are notably absent from your list. ;-)

    What I worry is that people are getting a very skewed view of reality from the TV they watch. It looks very "real" to them and so they think they "know" people from different cultures.