I ended an online friendship today.
Any time you terminate a human relationship (especially one that has lasted many years) it is cause for sadness and reflection. That this was an acquaintance from high school, who I stayed in touch with only over social media, didn’t make it any less sad.
As hard as I try, I can’t be a Trump supporter. However, as much as I can, I accept and respect those individuals who are. My motto is the same as the one that Voltaire was credited with: “I may disapprove of what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it.”
Apparently, my former friend didn’t want to give me the same respect.
We had talked about it before. When she would put snarky responses underneath news or memes I had posted on Facebook about Trump or other Republicans. I had very gently reminded her that she was welcome to be as snarky as she liked, but not on my page. That’s what her page was for.
Because what she put on her page often struck me as childish and painfully ignorant, I stopped looking at what she posted. It was an agree to disagree understanding.
Today, she told me I was being petty, and posted MAGA (“Make America Great Again”) in all caps on my page under some comments I made about Donald and Melania Trump.
I have very little patience with what I consider ‘ignorant’ behavior. She had been repeatedly warned. It was time to put a stop to her actions on my Facebook page.
And so, I did.
Which brings us to recent decisions about what I listen to on the radio.
A lot of my job requires me to travel in my car. I have a large number of CD’s that help that not be boring. I also listen to the news-talk stations quite a bit. I happened upon Michael Savage shortly before the world took a harrowing step into surreal-ville and elected Donald Trump as president.
It was hard listening. I found myself loudly disagreeing with what Mr. Savage was saying. I knew he had a right to say it, and I was curious as to the logic behind his remarks. I wanted to find some grain of truth or wisdom.
I couldn’t find anything.
Not a thing.
I believe in respectful debate. Michael Savage yelled, name-called, and basically acted like a school-yard bully. He said things about then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that seemed to me to be very close to libel.
If you disagreed with him on the call in part of his show, he ridiculed you. Or, hung up on you. He openly said that calls to the show were screened beforehand to ensure the ‘right’ kind of callers got airtime.
If someone dared to be kind or express concern for the environment, women’s rights, and ending racism they were called ‘snowflakes.’ When his radio show time was changed on the news talk station I most frequently listened to, I was very relieved.
Having said that, NPR, my other preferred station, sometimes gives me the heebie jeebies too.
I’m not a touchy-feely person. There is a time and a place to stop, be real, and say what the truth is. Even if it hurts someone else’s feelings. What government today is sadly lacking is people who mean what they say, and say what they mean. Someone who will actually answer a question.
I don’t want to call a world-wide pity party. But I do want honest discussion with respect for all ideas. 16 years as a social worker in tough environments has led me to be compassionate– all day long—but not enabling. I don’t think I’d fit Mr. Savage’s definition of a snowflake–unless his snowflakes have ingredients which include steel.
If the Savage Nation was meant to be entertainment, it had no place on news radio. Unless there was a disclaimer, saying this was meant to be comedy. NPR has a great comedy show, “Wait, wait, don’t tell me,” that has quizzes, sometimes on current events. But I have never thought that they were trying to propagandize, or spread hatred.
After having listened to his show for over 6 months (before it was moved to a different part of the schedule late at night) I definitely think that Michael Savage is a warped, angry man, hell-bent on spewing his hate-filled views to anyone who will listen, and then calling himself a ‘legitimate’ journalist.
I wondered if there were others like Mr. Savage on news stations. I found that there were. Rush Limbaugh had been there forever, but I had long ago discounted him as a crude reactionary. There was one local guy, last name Kruser, who was long winded, but fair. He did not veer too far to the left or the right. He gave his listeners credit for having both intelligence and maturity.
And then, there was Chris Plante.
If Michael Savage was bad, then Chris Plante manages to be worse. He not only name-calls, but calls people mentally ill (he doesn’t have MD after his name to my knowledge). He freely throws out petulant insults, seeming to stop up his ears if anyone disagrees with him. He talks about women in view of his attraction to them, calls them ‘gals,’ and sounds like Archie Bunker on a really bad day.
I am open to hearing what people who don’t agree with me have to say. As long as it is done respectfully. As long as the content has actual facts included. When mud-slinging happens, that’s when I put on my hat and coat and exit the political shit storm.
Some say that the events which recently put a unprepared man with a proven unethical and exploitative track record in the oval office were the result of back-lash. The voters for Trump were tired of pity-parties, people not wanting to work, people who didn’t want to follow the rules. People who tried to enforce what you could say and not say. I’m willing to admit some of that did happen over the years before Trump.
However, at some point the backlash turned into a tsunami and now it seems we have the Barnum Bailey Circus having a daily show at our nation’s capitol.
I am the first to admit that I have ridiculed Trump. I have put up some wicked memes about him. However, I do that on my personal space, and not on the space of another person.
If someone doesn’t like what my Facebook, blog or other social media accounts say, they are welcome to not visit. They are welcome to try to change my mind with documented facts. However, they are not welcome to act like a 3rd grader thumbing their nose, which is largely what my former Facebook friend did today.
Even when I ridicule, I am responding to something factual from a respected news source. If you have other sources, sure, show me. But don’t try to annihilate me because what I say contradicts your personal world view.
I am (I’d like to think) a fair person. However, my tolerance only stretches so far. If anyone, liberal, conservative, tea-party, whatever steps too far and tries to ram their views down my throat, they’re going to get push-back from me.
If you disagree with what I say, don’t label me, don’t throw silly acronyms at me. Sensibly tell me why you disagree. Make sure those facts are from legitimate reporters who lean neither to the left or the right. I’ll listen to you if you treat me with respect.
And I promise, I will not turn you off.