As someone who has already voted, I can tell you two options that aren’t listed on a ballot anywhere are Civility and Common Courtesy. And that makes national debate the loser in this election.
I was struck by “Red State Blue State,” this past weekend’s episode of “This American Life,” which I heard on Iowa Public Radio. The broadcast gave voice to why I’ve largely withdrawn from political discussion on Facebook and elsewhere. After 2008, I decided it would be better to maintain better relations with some of my relatives and friends. The fact that I may have voted for Barack Obama shouldn’t hurt my relationship with the people who are closest to me and shame on us if we let happen.
But it’s difficult to completely ignore what passes these days for political discourse. In the past 24 hours, I scanned through my Facebook page and found these comments interesting:
- A friend of a friend — someone I don’t know — wrote: “Shut up Lori…i swear your one of the biggest idiots i know.”
- On another friend’s page, someone I don’t know wrote: Maybe if the idiot that wrote this had another sheet of fake paper he would have wrote 9 things that were actually funny.”
- A third friend shared the photo of the note placed on someone’s windshield by the so-called Good Samaritan. When I asked why it is funny to insult someone just because they may disagree with you, my friend said it was just good humor and poking fun. If you can’t laugh at yourself or your team, he said, you are way too serious.
I agree with my friend’s point — we are too serious about the elections. For what it’s worth, I don’t expect much in this country to change if President Barack Obama defeats former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or vice versa.
But in debating the merits of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, do we really need to call one another idiot or knucklehead — or, in many cases, names that are much, much worse? It seems to me you are losing the debate when you have to resort to name-calling.
And in the instances cited above, I can’t help but wonder about people who would call someone else an idiot even though they:
- Don’t appear to know the difference between your and you’re.
- Say things such as: “he would have wrote” instead of he would have WRITTEN.
Someone, I suppose, will read this and say: It’s only a comment on Facebook and here comes Steinbach — just another grammar-cop troll on the Internet. And that’s OK. Maybe I’m the only person who questions the opinion of someone who doesn’t know how to conjugate a verb.
But, if you ask me, comments such as these show why we should all be slower to point fingers. Whenever we do, we always have more fingers pointing back at us. We should all remember that the next time we’re tempted to call someone else an idiot or a knucklehead simply because they disagree with us.