The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘censorship’ Category

THE SPOKEN AND UNPUBLISHED WORD

It’s been about three weeks since I’ve had the opportunity to add a post to this blog.  I was not abducted by extraterrestrials (though sometimes I feel I’m living among them).  I have been actively adding my thoughts to the Huffington Post community in response both to stories they’ve published, in response to comments left by other readers and by responding to their critique of my comments.  This has become an exhausting effort.  The total number of these is now approaching five hundred.

In the process I’ve met some wonderful people who may not share my vision but who have the intellectual honesty to be willing to debate by using facts rather than hyperbole.  Of the 65 who are now “fans” they form a small coterie.  I suspect that many of the rest are only “fans” so that, given the opportunity, they can have the chance to leave a disparaging remark.  Fortunately, while I might have been an overly-sensitive child, my skin has thickened with the passage of time.

One of those, whose views are diametrically different than mine and with whom I have engaged in vigorous debate, was kind enough to respond to the snarky comment left by another reader, “What planet are you from? Uranus?” He advised, “Pay not attention to idiots.  I have your back.”  That comment literally caused my eyes to tear.

There are some decent people in the world – irrespective of whether we share the same political viewpoint.  But if we take the stand that we are the sole possessor or recipient of “truth” and anyone who disagrees is, by definition, “wrong” we will never reach any consensus or move toward a more prosperous future.  Sadly, that seems to be the majority view of those who comment on the Huffington Post and, in fairness, probably reflects much the same attitude one would find in an ultra-right publication as well.

One of the brief comments I left, which generated far more activity than I would have expected, pertained to the vote to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.  The rhetoric and hyperbole flowed fast and furiously (no pun intended).  The overwhelming majority of those focused on my being “un-American;” “having no concept of the Constitution – particularly the Fifth Amendment;” or simply pointed to this event as little more than a “Republican witch hunt.”

To summarize my three sentence comment I said, “I didn’t know whether Ms. Lerner had done anything illegal or whether the IRS had engaged in illegal or political activity but that it would be in all of our best interests to get to the truth and, if there were impropriety, to make sure it didn’t happen again.”

If I had a list of statements that I had made over the years which I personally considered “controversial,” this one wouldn’t have qualified.  That was not the reaction of HP readers, twenty-two of whom “faved” my comment – and thirty-eight of whom explained that I was a blithering idiot.  But at least this comment was allowed to stand by the “editorial board” at HP.

Another comment which also generated a lot of interest did not survive the censorship process.  That comment, which follows, was in response to a story which made fun of Brit Hume and FOX News (the greatest evil since Hitler discovered the gas chamber), over the social media effort to rescue the abducted Nigerian school girls by launching a hash tag campaign.

“There’s probably no one in the “civilized world” who doesn’t hope for the safe return of the abducted Christian Nigerian girls. (By civilized world I refer to those who are not members of Boko Haram or any other fundamentalist extreme Islamic terrorist organization).

But this incident is hardly without precedent since in late February, fifty-nine male students were attacked in their Nigerian school and were either shot or burned to death by the same outfit. Where was the outrage; where were the hash tags; where was the love?

Treating symptoms doesn’t cure diseases. And until we admit the real source of these problems and stamp it out as we did with smallpox, we’re all likely candidates for infection – with or without hash tags.

The story here isn’t FOX News. It’s medieval Islamic extremists.”

I can only guess why that comment was deemed as “too outrageous for publication” but I suspect that it was either by using the words, “Islam,” “extremism,” “terrorists,” or some combination of those which caused the deletion.

I would have liked to have had the opportunity to both read and respond to the twenty-two comments that other readers took the trouble to leave.  Sadly, my comment and their responses were deleted before I had the chance to do that.  That is both a discourtesy to me – but more so to those who wanted to share their thoughts.  And it does remind me that what was true more than two hundred years ago is just as true today.

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
― Benjamin Franklin

WHY LIBERALS ARE NOT

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.

LIFE AT THE HUFFINGTON POST–DAY 5-1/2 (MY INTRODUCTION TO CENSORSHIP)

I hope that my long term readers would agree that I try to make my points in a civil manner and without resorting to defamatory language.  At least that is my goal and if I am not meeting it, I would sincerely appreciate your honest chastisement.

I also understand that a user on a given site agrees to abide by the standards that site has established.  Being a person who believes in respectfulness, I read the terms of service for “The Huffington Post” and have tried to write my comments in keeping with their stated policy.

The “Post” put up a story about retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens who is touting his latest book in which he calls for amending the Constitution.  In the article the retired Justice admits that the amendments which he is suggesting are ones which, had they been in place, would have substantiated a number of the minority opinions he wrote when he sat on the bench.

I decided to leave the brief comment which follows:

“Both Justice Stevens and conservative commentator Mark Levin have suggested a variety of amendments to the Constitution which each feels are necessary.  Whether either of their hopes comes to fruition is probably a moot point, given the fact that the present administration seems to have difficulty enforcing the Constitution as it is presently written.”

Okay, that was my comment and apparently it generated some interest.  In my notification box I had five replies to it and was going to see what these fellow readers had to say.  So I clicked on the first one to find the following message:

“This comment has been deleted.”

And with the deletion of my comment came the deletion of the comment(s) left in response to it.  So I never got to read what those  commenters had taken the time to write.

This experience caused me to think of the verse from John 8:32:

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (KJV)

But apparently that isn’t true at “The Huffington Post.”

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