Perhaps it’s a misunderstanding on my part but I’ve always considered the word “liberal” as being somewhat synonymous with the term “open-minded.” Now into my second week on the Huffington Post I’m finding that my understanding of the definition is far from correct.
In the interest of fairness, in my brief time at the Post I have to say that I now have 13 “Fans” and 12 “Friends”. Please don’t ask me the difference between those two categories because I don’t know what it is. But that is certainly more than the number of “Followers” who signed up for future posts on Word Press during the same period of time when I first started this blog. On the other hand, I don’t know what the readership of either site is, so it’s difficult for me to gauge what that means.
Today I engaged in a conversation with a woman who uses as her byline, “I’m so liberal I would hug a conservative.” That was one of the most refreshing moments I have yet experienced on the site and I began my reply to her comment by saying, “I love your byline. If more people on both sides of the political spectrum had your viewpoint, we would go a long way toward being able to engage in real dialogue and perhaps arrive at real solutions.” This woman’s attitude is, I assure you, not what I have typically encountered.
It seems rather obvious that if a company’s business is distilling liquor, advertising in a magazine whose readership consists primarily of people who believed in “temperance” would be a poor use of its money. In order to appeal to its readership it is understandable that the Huffington Post chooses to highlight stories that appeal to its liberal base. And there is probably the same amount of hyperbolic bias in their headlines and a similar amount of bias in the stories it promotes as one finds in ultra-conservative publications. What surprises me is the near uniformity of opinion that is expressed in the comments that readers leave.
The other day the Post published a story about Rep. Michael Grimm (R – NY) who has decided to embrace the theory of “climate change.” As you may be aware, the congressman has some legal problems to deal with (although the Post had not referred to them at the time this story was published). I was aware of them and thought that comments like, “Yeah, he’s doing this just to get re-elected and save his *ss” would be posted. But instead the community, in a sort of left-handed complimentary way, left comments like, “At least one of those Neanderthals has finally admitted the truth.”
I did leave a response to the story which I titled, “Syllogism 101”
1. All Republicans are wrong about everything.
2. Rep. Michael Grimm is a Republican who believes in climate change.
3. Climate change is a myth.
Need I tell you that comment didn’t make it past the Board of Censors?
The following day the Post put up a story that Rep. Grimm is soon to be indicted for a variety of alleged misdeeds. As much jubilation as there was the day before that “finally Republicans might be waking up,” that evaporated and the hate-mongers among the readership crucified Grimm. “Wasn’t he the guy who threatened a reporter saying he ‘would break him in half like a little girl?’”
I knew that the attention span of the average person isn’t terribly long, but I admit to taking a deep breath when I saw how easily people can be manipulated into completely reversing the opinion to which they clung just yesterday. Are we really that shallow and thoughtless? Many of the people who expressed their opinions on Grimm had commented on both articles in an almost diametrically opposed way.
But there is one thing that is perhaps the most telling in my brief time at the Post. That is that when challenged to move beyond hyperbole into the real world of facts, I never receive a response to my request to support the statements made in the comments.
One comment I left was with regard to why the government should not be in the business of selecting “winners and losers” when it comes to backing business enterprises. I chose Solyndra as my example. And I received a response from one reader who said, “Your statement doesn’t mean anything. The government didn’t run Solyndra (I had never suggested it did). And there are 25 success stories for every failure.”
I apologized to this fellow that I was unaware of the success stories he cited and requested some specific information about who they were so I could be better informed. I have yet to hear back from him – nor do I expect to at any time soon. He’s not the first person with whom I followed up and who has gone silent.
It must be very unfulfilling to cling to opinions that are unsupported by facts and which can only be maintained by spending time with people who believe in the same unsustainable reality. I feel truly sorry for them. Reality can be cruel but is there an alternative? Apparently, to the liberal way of thinking and to use the patois of the times, “NOT.” It goes far to explain why, among the vast majority of the liberal community, there is strong support for the legalization of pot. They need something to help them through the day.