Stop the Madness!
I find it somewhat interesting that most of the stuff I write about deals with comics, theatre, sci-fi, movies, and music. For example, these are some topics I'm currently considering blogging: the death of Optimus Prime in The Transformers: The Movie (which just had its 20th Anniversary DVD release), Lego's super-awesome "Exo-Force" line, my new favorite TV show Heroes, a review of Steve Hackett's new album Wild Orchids, and the status of my upcoming Christmas album, Under the Star.
Why is that interesting? Because I may have more responses to the two or three political articles I've written than to everything else combined. Before I proceed any further, I want to take a moment to write something about political writing.
I have often held back from talking about politics on this blog for several reasons, and I want to mention a few of them here.
It's often been said that the fastest way to ruin a friendship is by talking about politics. I know it's often said, because I say it often, especially in my classroom, where so many of my students have their natural, healthy, high school drama students' anti-establishmentarianism firmly in place. Frankly, I want people to like me, not be angry, and most political writing makes people of the opposing viewpoint angry. I really don't want my friends to be angry.
Further complicating the matter is the fact that I am a socially conservative white heterosexual Fundamentalist Christian male. This makes me the majority in many places in the country, but a very very small minority in every field I work in: theatre, music, and teaching. In theatre in particular, it is just assumed that everyone in the community is of a like mind about certain social and political issues. Well, sometimes I am and sometimes I'm not, and both the assumption that I feel a certain way and the open attacking of the opposing perspective (in green rooms, rehearsals, meetings, etc.) makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I feel like I have to be in the closet or I'm going to be ostracized. Open Bush-bashing, in particular, is de rigeur at both of my places of business, and regardless of my feelings about the man, I have a very old-school sense that the office of the president is due more respect than that. I absolutely hated President Clinton at times, and never believed him, but I went out of my way to speak of him with the respect he had earned from years of incredibly grueling and difficult public service.
So I have historically tried to keep my beliefs my own for the sake of survival. I do know of cases where conservatives, and Christians in particular, have been blacklisted (or I guess redlisted) in certain performing arts communities, and I know for a fact that it would have been much easier for me to get a university teaching job if I were a black lesbian Buddhist. I was told straight-up that they were looking for a black woman at one school I applied to. Not only is that illegal, it's incredibly stupid to tell someone who might sue you for discrimination that you're discriminating against him. Moron.
When I talk about something political on this blog, it isn't to vent, it isn't to glorify my perspective, it isn't to slurp a party, and it certainly isn't to get people mad so they write mad responses that I can shoot down self-righteously. If you'll look at my scant political postings, I hope you'll see a pattern, and it's this: I feel like someone needs to write about something that isn't being reported by the mainstream media. Cases in point: 1) the massive amount of fallacious and insulting implications in the Michael J. Fox campaign ad, and 2) the assumption that the Democratic victory last Tuesday was gigantic and sweeping when it was, in point of fact, far less than it probably should have been.
When I write about politics or social issues, my intention is almost never "I'm right and you're wrong." My intention is to provide perspective, and to say "You're probably not getting this angle or this piece of information, and you really should see it." I don't write about serious issues unless I have done a lot of thinking, praying, and research into them. And I'm not not not going to be writing about issues that I know do nothing but polarize, such as abortion, gay marriage, and the death penalty.
Here's my core belief when approaching sociopolitical debate: I think that honest discussion between opposing viewpoints is probably the single most important thing a republic needs to function. I also think that we have not had much of any honest discussion since the Kennedy administration, and pretty much none whatsoever since 2000. There are culprits on both sides.
For honest discussion and debate to take place, three things need to happen:
1) Both sides need to assume that the other side believes what they believe because they genuinely think it's right. We must assume that our opponents have thought it out and have made their decisions on what to believe in good conscience. Imbuing the opposition with sinister motives is totally counter-productive, almost always inaccurate, and impossible to prove unless you've developed telepathy and haven't told anyone. (If you have developed telepathy, please don't tell me. My mind will go to complete filth as soon as you enter the room.) Don't get me wrong, there are bastards out there on both sides of the aisle. I'm not talking about defending Mark Foley or William Jefferson, both of whom are demostrably corrupt nincompoops. I'm talking about ideas. (Hee hee hee. "Poops.")
2) Both sides need to be able to look in a mirror and say, "I may be completely and totally wrong on this one, and it is my responsibility to listen to opposing ideas with a genuinely open mind."
3) Both sides need to actually listen, and not just wait for their turn to talk.
So I want to hear what you, gentle readers (all three of you), think I should do. My impulse is to take a vacation from political writing for a while, focusing instead on the aforementioned music and toy-related subjects. But it's possible that social issues may be something we want to keep talking about. I have really felt blessed and flattered by the number of intelligent, passionate, respectful responses to the Michael J Fox and Election articles, and no one has insulted my mother yet...
Don't get me wrong, this is my blog and I'm going to write about what I want to write about, but if you're taking the time to read, your thoughts are something I want to hear. If you don't want to post them as a reply, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And come out to the Alba Emoting workshop, PLEASE. Attendance is very light for the Training Department, and I'd like it to grow rather than vanish.