Friday, February 11, 2011

We Should Not Be Embarrassed

Regarding a friend's sharing of an article where a British MP blasted Glenn Beck for being a bigot, many of his friends chimed in about how it's so embarrassing to us as Americans that Beck even has a show on TV.  I don't buy this at all.  In fact, it ought to be a point of pride for all Americans.

I think the fact that we even have people on TV who can espouse whatever views (dimwitted or otherwise) that they see fit is a positive for our country, no matter what opinion foreigners may have about the specific TV personalities.  Our freedoms, like those of speech and the press, are what make our country great, and no American should be embarrassed.  Because the TV personalities are not dictators forcing adherence among the citizenry to a specific agenda or dogmatic set of beliefs, we are all free to change the channel.  That's not embarrassing at all.  It's something to be celebrated.  Hence why I would defend to the death the right of Keith Olbermann to spew his own brand of vitriolic hatred.

Responses I got to this seemed to be lukewarm at best.  Some obviously took issue that I would lump Olbermann in with Beck.  Apparently, if it's something they agree with, it's okay.  But if it's rhetoric of the temperature but a different flavor, it's suddenly unacceptable and embarrassing.  Is it ignorance that causes people to be so hypocritical regarding tolerance?  Blind faith in "their side"?  Maybe being a libertarian helps me out in this regard, since I am not dogmatically and staunchly invested in one of the two "sides," no ifs, ands, or buts, no matter what they are selling.  I suppose I find it easier to call out people on either side on any given issue.  So, I can very safely put Olbermann and Beck in the same category, since they both yell at the top of their lungs about what they think is the right path forward, dismissively denigrating any opposing viewpoint with generalizing platitudes, unhelpful insults, and divisive attacks. To a lot of people, Olbermann is incredibly bigoted...just not against the same people or ideas that Beck is accused of being bigoted against.  Neither one helps achieve any semblance of progress or compromise on any issue.  And above all else, they are both all about ratings and entertainment. They both make a ton of money off of the art of blowing a lot of hot air.

One commenter remarked, "Yes, freedom of speech is an amazing part of our country, and something to defend vigorously. But the lack of civility, sense, and regard for the truth is what's embarrassing. No one's proud of rabble rousing and appealing to the baser nature of fools."  I told her she'd hit the nail on the head...mostly.  We don't have to be proud, per se, of the specific TV personalities or the stuff they say.  But one needn't be ashamed either, especially if it's not what one believes.  The existence of the TV personality or of their opinion, for that matter, within our country does not necessarily make any categorical statement about any other American, other than those who would agree and make the same statements.  And I'm guessing they don't really feel embarrassed.  Either way, it's no skin off our backs.  So don't be "embarrassed."

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