RE: Culture: Selective Amfisbitophobia

(Go ahead and Google it, I had to as well.)

Hey guys! Welcome to another installment of RE: Culture, my column on basically whatever I want, though I try to shoehorn a bit about culture in somewhere. Also, since I’m both lazy andshameless, I’m going to start today’s column where last week’s left off, the question: “Why do regular Americans hesitate to argue politics?” It’s an important question with an annoyingly common answer. But before we get to answering it, and since I want to inflate the size of this article, I’m going to throw in a topical quote. Enjoy!

Americans love to fight – traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble player; the fastest runner; the big league ball players; the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win – all the time.” -General George S. Patton Jr.


I begin this article with that quote for a good reason.  That reason is that it’s still true.
Americans still love winners and still hate losers, even if the venues of competition have changed.
The Voice, American Idol, Iron Chef, America’s Next Top Model, Shark Tank; these are some of the most watched shows on TV.  What do they have in common?  Well, they all have obnoxious judges.  But they’re also all competitions where eventually a winner or winners will be crowned.  That, and  they all have reallyintense fanbases.  Vigorous arguments erupt at the drop of a hat (sometimes even literally; Project Runway gets VERY tense at the drop of a hat) over every bit of these shows and their competitors.  Bold calls of “Bullshit!” and “You’re wrong, and here’s why!” are heard in homes across the country.  This pugilistic behavior isn’t reserved solely for reality TV, of course.  Sports of all kinds are debated full time on tons of different channels, and music is always a hot topic of debate.  [Editor’s note: RATM is an overrated band.]

And then, there’s politics.  And then, we freeze.

What is it about politics that changes our “No, I’M Right!” attitudes into something even Sargent Schultz would mock?  What causes us to turn from Mr. Hyde into Dr. Jekyll?

In my amateur opinion, it’s because of the common misconception that talking with your friends and families about politics is, ironically, politically incorrect. When you get caught up in political correctness, you cease to fight in “the win or lose” arena of Top Chef; it becomes you versus everyone, a threat of wide scale alienation.  Yep, good old political incorrectness’ll do a job on anyone’s confidence.  Mine included. However, in my experience, if you can bullshit about sports or TV with somebody, your chances are very good that they won’t chastise you for talking about politics, particularly if you hear out their opinions.  And you should.  How else would they figure out that “gun free zones” aren’t good ideas?  Or that School Choice is currently being fought for all over the place?  Or Benghazi?  As odd as it might sound, not everyone listens to political talk radio, reads political blogs, or watches The Five or Red Eye (the only news shows on TV really worth watching for difference of opinion).  They aren’t bad or irresponsible for  skipping out on our milieu (I can only take so much of Hannity or Levin myself), there are many who are turned off by it.  But that’s where you come in.  You already KNOW how to argue with your buddies, and you have some understanding of the issues, you just need to start a discussion.

A discussion, by the way, that is an integral part of what makes us better than every other country in the world.  Our freedom of speech and our free market of ideas must not be stifled.  How do you feel when you hear about the government holding hearings on violent video games?  When the press is compliant with the President’s every whim?
Not good, right?  Then please, don’t let YOU stifle YOUR freedom of speech because of  a PC Sword of Damocles.  I’ve been hit with it before; it turns out it’s a Nerf.

Oh, one last thing.  A friend of mine reminded me, while I’m on the topic, to ask you guys how your Holidays went.  Seeing as how we were coming off a pretty contentious political season, did you get into any discussions, friendly or otherwise?  How did they go?  Let me know in the comments!