AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: The Handmaid's Tale DATE: 1/07/2005 10:10:00 AM ----- BODY:
I should have known better. I like to read Gut Rumbles, despite the fact that I disagree with Acidman's political views about 98% of the time. The way he expresses himself, though, is fair and most often decent. And sometimes he makes me change my mind. That's all you can ask for if you're a blogger, I think. Most of the time, though, I don't comment on the blog, and I'm what the kids who are down with the lingo call "a lurker". In fact, I lurk in a lot of places you might not expect. And sometimes my reaction isn't what you'd expect, either. I'm kind of not anywhere politically. At least not anything that I have yet heard encapsulated and defined. I am pro-choice, for example, but also pro death penalty. I am appalled by the degradation of civil rights in this country at present, but I count the right to bear arms among them. I think there are people who abuse the welfare system, but "faith-based" charity initiatives are not the answer. Et cetera. What I believe isn't necessarily important here, and my political manifesto is another subject for another time (which I have been meaning to write, by the way). Idealogically, though, I'm patchwork. I'm a crazy quilt. Emphasis on the "crazy". But...sigh...yesterday, when I read GR, Acidman had a post up about an Islamic cleric who explained that donations from Muslim sources to Asian tsunami victims have been sparse because the victims were seen to have lived "un-Islamic" lifestyles. Which is, of course, disgusting. But what Acidman made much of, and that I felt the need to comment about, was that this was a reflection on all of Islam, the whole, "yeah right, Islam is a religion of 'peace' *eyeroll*," Ann-Coulter type point of view. And I can understand that. But I still disagree. So, God help me, I commented. I'll let you read the replies for yourself. So the lesson I've learned here is that my previous policy of not commenting is probably a good idea. After all, I've always been a strict adherent of the idea that if you don't like something, there's always the "back" button on your web browser. Most of the time, things that really infuriate me, that I know I won't be able to listen to any disagreement about, I just turn around and leave. With this, I wasn't indignant or outraged by what Acidman had to say--just trying to mildly disagree. For whatever reason. But I was responded to as if I'd blasphemed the Holy Ghost. I mean, really. I don't think I said anything that justified a response of "May Allah have unprotected anal with you." But that's just silliness, really--the thing that really bothered me was the response calling my reply "moral relativism", that right-wing jargon essentially meaning "amoral". Is that what I am? Is the fact that I want to see all sides of an issue, consider the validity of many viewpoints, "moral relativism"? Does this mean I have "weak morals", and that all the "moral" people who voted for the "moral" candidate in the election because of the "moral" issue on the ballot about gay marriage are offended by how I think? What gives? I'm not offended by how they think much of the time, even if I disagree. I think it's perfectly reasonable--seriously--to believe either side, and each person is informed by their own experiences and prejudices, myself included. I can even understand if someone sees my point of view as...I guess, disorganized, or clouded, because their point of view is sharp, stark, black-and-white...I guess I'm such a "moral relativist" that I even, think, "eh, well, you've got a point," when people don't respect me. But this...? This was kind of scary. The reaction was so extreme, that it made me wonder. Is this how the people I see with the American flag magnet ribbons on their SUVs think? Is this how most of the country thinks? Is this really the knee-jerk response--such offense and indignance that it prompts people to make personal, sexually threatening remarks instead of just disagreeing with me and explaining their position--from people on the other side of these issues? Maybe, yes. I'm struggling to maintain my equilibrium, maintain my way of thinking even if people want to tell me it makes me weak, wishy-washy, a "flip-flopper." I'm reminded of the Daily Show quote that "What Republicans call flip-flopping, the rest of us call 'learning'." And what those other commenters are calling "moral relativism", I call "making sense." So, looking for something else to think about, I started going through the rest of my blogroll. When I clicked over to Chez Miscarriage, though, there was a story about a proposed bill by a Virginia representative that would make it a misdemeanor crime for any woman in Virginia suffering a miscarriage not to report it to the police within 12 hours. She got the story from another blog. Now, obviously, on its face, this is outrageous and nonsensical. But I tried to keep a calm head about it--for instance, if I hear of something like this from an opinion source--that is, a column or blog, or any other forum meant to showcase opinion statements--I try to get more information on it before I react. So, hoping to get the rest of the story, I read the original blog where the bill was written about, and Googled. And I Googled. And I Googled. And found absolutely nothing about the bill from any other news source. It's not that I don't believe it, of course. But I've covered enough political processes to know that people submit ridiculous legislation like this all. the. time. And that 99% of the time things like this die in committee or on the debate floor, or, barring that, are challenged in the courts and found unconstitutional. And of course, there's always bloggers and ordinary citizens willing to challenge it beforehand. At least, that's the way I usually think. But it's getting harder and harder to assume that people will keep a cool head in this country at present. It's getting harder and harder just to say, "well, it'll work out allright." It's getting harder and harder not to have to choose sides, take a stand, go to one extreme or another, on either side, and I hate that. I'm not a Bible-thumping moral absolutist, but I am not a sign-waving, button-wearing leftist, either, and I'm not ever going to be. But with the venom and vitriol coming to a boil in my surroundings of late, there's less and less room for the way I think. I'm going to post trackbacks to both blogs now, Gut Rumbles AND Chez Miscarriage, because I believe it's cowardly to do otherwise. We'll see if there's any response. Whatever it is, I like to believe I'm prepared for it.