Rhymes With Fuchsia

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Can We All Get Along?

This post was supposed to be about Pine Street Inn squares, on which I am still way behind, but working on it. I may have to start crocheting soon. In the meantime, though, something is really bothering me.

Last night as the election results were coming in and it became more and more clear that Obama would win, I made the mistake of looking at a couple of the McCain boards on Ravelry. I'll admit that there was an element of schadenfreude in this, but I didn't intend to do more than take a quick look and then go away.

I saw Obama voters referred to as "stupid people," "socialists," "asshat libtards" who "blame Bush for everything," and so on. Free riders who want to sit on our butts sponging off others' hard work. One person feared the impending "celebratory riots" (of which, let me point out, there have been none).

Now, I know that disappointed people need to vent, and I know that none of this was directed at me or at anyone personally. But, I need to ask you, especially if you disagree with me politically: do you really think I am stupid or evil? I am a real American just like you, and I love my country too. Can we not have legitimate and respectful disagreements on how to uphold American values and make this country better for all of us? I need to believe that we can. I really think that it's important to listen to people who differ with us, because differences of opinion keep us honest. If I'm trying out a pattern and you see big problems with it, I'd rather you point them out than let me end up hours of work later with a useless mess.

The following statement appears at the top of one of these groups:
Warning for the opposition - Your candidate will be made fun of in this group, and you will read things on this forum that may upset you, so my suggestion is that you take a deep breath and think about how much you might resemble this quote… “I am incapable of letting those I disagree with express their views in public; I am uncomfortable with free expression and at heart a fascist, as I do not believe opposing viewpoints should be heard.”

I believe opposing viewpoints should and must be heard. I'll freely admit to being upset, though. Our problems are big enough that we'll need all the disagreement we can get to have any hope of solving them. By disagreement I mean debating the pros and cons of (for example) progressive taxation. It doesn't seem to me that calling each other names is at all useful. (ETA2: I need to clarify this too. I will defend to the death your right to call me whatever names you like. I will, however, persist in my opinion that it doesn't get us anywhere.)

ETA: I should emphasize here that this goes for our side as well. I don't personally know that many conservatives, but I do know a few, and I'm trying to listen respectfully to their views and ideas with sock firmly in mouth. (Not a handknit sock, I hasten to add. That would be wrong.) And, guilty pleasure though it would be, I don't plan to join the Palin-bashing festival now going on in parts of the leftosphere: the long campaign is over, we've savored the moment, now let's roll up our sleeves and deal with the mess we won.

Am I overreacting here? Am I way off base? Can we all get along?


  • I've read some of those forums, too, and was also upset. I've decided to just stay away from the negative now and focus on the new future we have. Hopefully those people will let go of their bitterness and anger but if they don't I think it says way more about them than it does about us.

    By Blogger Carole Knits, at 5:36 AM  

  • You know, I have a really hard time with this too. I don't want to feel anger anymore but this type of talk brings it out. Carole is right though. We need to lead by example and ignore the hate talk. I am surprised that Ravelry allows that type of talk on the site though. Freedom of expression does not mean yelling fire in a crowded movie theater.

    By Blogger Carol, at 6:56 AM  

  • I try to keep the discourse civil and based on facts. Because I have friends and family who are McCain voters. They're not asshats or idiots, they just have a very different idea than I do of what is good for the country. I may think that their ideas are wrong, or even bad ideas, but I don't think that they are evil people for thinking them. If I did, I would advocate for a one-party system, and we've all seen how well that works. I've stayed the fuck away from the Ravelry boards for good reason, it seems.

    By Blogger Danielle, at 7:01 AM  

  • As a conservative (see now you know one more!), I have been bashed repeatedly in the last 48 hours. My cubicle was filled with Obama campaign signs and tissues (for crying?)... I don't think Obama supporters are/were asshats. I did support another candidate. I am fully prepared to support the president, but I am a conservative. I listened to all sides of the election and made my choices. I did not discuss politics once outside my home before the election. I believe, like religion, politics are personal and should be kept that way. My two cents... though, there will only be 1/2 a cent left after taxes (ha ha ha... needed to add a wee joke).

    By Blogger Mini, at 7:50 AM  

  • There's some stuff on those Ravelry boards that crosses seriously over the line, stuff that makes me wonder if the authors are getting themselves fitted for tinfoil hats, and stuff that doesn't seem any worse than some of the jokes and invective I have heard (and/or said, I admit it) about Bush. I wasn't surprised by the latter, as I seriously doubt that had Obama lost his supporters would have been singing songs of togetherness and unicorns the day after the election, and indeed, it would seem that some Obama supporters have chosen to celebrate by PMing people from the McCain forums just to gloat.

    It's all unseemly, and detrimental to what I believe is our mutual purpose: "restor(ing) our prosperity, defend(ing) our security in a dangerous world, and leav(ing) our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited."

    See who I just quoted there? I'm feeling all bipartisan today.

    By Blogger Ruth, at 8:26 AM  

  • A very thoughtful post, which I read immediately after reading Kevin Drum's Dishing on Palin post. With one party in majority in both houses of Congress, we will need public disagreement from the minority to keep things in balance. But nasty name calling helps nothing. I very much long for this country to leave behind the rules of nasty, dirty tricks politics. It invaded our entire society. I want nice. I want cooperative. I want constructive criticism that can help move us forward, not mire us in muck. Bring on healthy disagreement and honest debate. And friendly jabs a la Mini (got a good giggle out of that joke - thanks!)

    By Anonymous chris, at 8:36 AM  

  • The next few years will be interesting times.

    By Blogger Roxie, at 9:25 AM  

  • I am another conservative (mainly fiscal like Mini) for your collection:) I don't read the Ravelry boards that cover politics so I don't know exactly what has been said but I imagine like everywhere else there are extremists. I'd like to see government on a national level get smaller and spend less money. Maybe you want something else but I'm not going to call you or the president-elect names. It's just not constructive. But remember just as you want them to let go of their bitterness and anger remember they have listened to a lot of Bush/conservative bashing the last 8 years and it may take some time for them to get over it.

    By Anonymous Karen, at 9:30 AM  

  • I am just so tired of the divisive, hate mongering that has been going on for what seems like forever. Since I appear to be equally passionate about my politics, my religion and my knitting, I try to keep them separate as much as possible. And I certainly do not go looking for any conversation regarding any of the above with people who are name callers, uninformed and unreasonable. I am finally learning to cut the chaff from the wheat in my life.

    By Anonymous Lynne, at 10:52 AM  

  • I am so damn sick of being called a socialist. Oh my GOD. If someone uses the "S" word again, I may scream. In all my conversations with folks and family members who voted McCain, I have tried really hard to maintain a very "we're all in this together, we must work together, let's put our party differences as aside as we can now that the election is over." kind of tone. And every single one of them has sniped and used inflammatory language at me, called names and been insulting and abusive.

    The next person to call me a socialist is getting something shoved somewhere unpleasant.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:32 PM  

  • After reading your post and the thoughtful comments from across the board, I have this to say: Pft. As in Pfotenouer, Limbaugh, Fox News... I get the "talking points" thrown in my face by conservative friends and family at every turn. The vague whiff of racism and anti-intellectualism behind the riot comments and the terrorist sub plot were all beneath reproach and, as many of you said, further the dialog not at all. Vitriol and disinformation.

    On the other hand, I heard just these words come out of a conservative caller's mouth on NPR in response to the campaign in a round-up report/call in show.

    What does this mean? Do we really filter what we hear so extensively?

    By Anonymous Annie, at 7:08 AM  

  • hey! i'm a little behind. first of all, congratulations! it's a hopeful time, isn't it.

    as for what is going on in the ravelry forums ... i did peek when ruth told me what was going on in there. but for once, and maybe it's because our candidate won, it didn't bother me so much. i've spent the past 8 years "hating" too and what i realized in the past few days is that what i was hating wasn't "conservatives" but the republican party of today. the ones who talk about small government, yet want to legislate morality. the ones who talk about keeping spending down yet who seem to think it's ok to rack up trillions of dollars of national debt. the ones who call me a socialist and yet have no problem with getting their medical care paid for by medicare.

    anyway, that's my two cents.

    By Anonymous maryse, at 8:19 AM  

  • No, I agree. I work in a library and we talk about free speech a lot. Even if I don;t like it, I have to put those Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh books on the shelves. But I'm not calling them names. Saying someone is a sh*thead is not the same thing as having an opping viewpoint. And I hate that people hide behind that excuse. I don't feel smug that Obama won, and I don;t think the people who voted for McCain are stupid. I just think we disagree.

    By Anonymous emma, at 8:33 AM  

  • Been thinking of this and had to come back to it.

    The increased polariztion of recent years - yes, I know there's always been "two sides", but it's gotten worse - has really brought out the lack of civil in people. Combine that with the anonymity of the internet that seems to free people up to say the nastiest things and call it free speech. I miss manners. Etiquette. Intelligent debate that relies on an at times heated exchange of ideas, but doesn't resort to namecalling. It's just too easy and I find it hard to respect an argument that uses those terms. Tell me my ideas are wrong is fine, telling me I'm stupid for having them is just ridiculous. How can you debate that without descending into "am not/are too"?

    I have high hopes for Obama possibly having a bit of a civilizing influence. He's a class act and hopefully, it'll spread.

    By Blogger Lene Andersen, at 10:25 AM  

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