Friday, October 31, 2008

Political Hysteria

So here's the deal. Recently I found myself in the midst of a rather heated political discussion on a friend's blog, and I have decided to pull back and refrain from commenting any more over there. But I wanted to post something here, knowing that some of her readers also visit my blog on occasion, and it's better for me to continue my discussion on my own blog rather than take up so much space in the comment section of hers.

I actually do count amongst my circle of family and friends some conservative people - conservative politically, conservative socially, conservative religiously. And I respect them and (I hope) they respect me, and we have several topics on which we agree to disagree. And that is just how it should be.

What bothers me in a discussion is when the arguments veer off from facts and rational opinions. And yes, I do know that the word "rational" is subjective. I accept that. So you may not always agree with what I consider rational, but in my mind rational does not include lies, personal slurs, or exaggerations which defy logic.

Examples:
I don't agree with many of Mitt Romney's religious beliefs = rational
Mitt Romney wants to legalize polygamy = irrational

I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman = rational
If gays are allowed to married, polygamy and beastiality will quickly follow = irrational

I disagree with Obama's position on abortion because I believe abortion for any reason is wrong = rational
Senator Obama feels it is ok to let babies that have survived an abortion to be placed to[sic] a closet and to be left to die, they are alive and he is a twisted man = irrational



I found a site which had an article about "political hysteria" and read it with interest as it seemed to capture much of what I am trying to explain here.

Here's a portion of what that article said:

"Political hysteria" is when emotional forces serve a political, ideological purpose. . . .
In "poor reality testing" emotions overwhelm accurate perceptions and assessment of objective reality, resulting in poor judgment, denial of obvious facts and evidence. Reason has no effect. "My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with the facts." . . .
It is essential to address fears in effective, specific ways that reassure and correct misperceptions. McCain did this when reassuring a woman that Obama was decent and she didn't have to fear his presidency.


I am happy to agree to disagree. I understand and expect and count on other people having different opinions from my own. I learn a lot from others' points of view. But I get upset when I believe people to be propagating dangerous exaggerations or lies. I feel dark and clammy and heavy inside, and I want to just move away from the source of that feeling. Because really, there is nothing I can do about it except take a deep breath and move on.

10 comments:

Calandria said...

Happy Halloween!

Ave said...

So are the comments marked as "rational" your personal political beliefs and "irrational" other peoples? Or, are the "rational" beliefs things that you have heard people say and can logically respect?

I guess I believe in a slippery slope. Take for instance how girls dress in school now. It started out with mini skirts, then the fashion changed to bare midriffs, then all of a sudden we are seeing bum crack and lots of cleavage. Gross. If there had just been a rule of no mini skirts we might not be at cleavage.

Ave said...

Oh, and I do enjoy your blog Karen, and your comments. I like reading blogs of women who have strong feelings and passion, thank goodness for women!

Mama Ava said...

No, I think beliefs and statements can be very rational and completely "disagreeable-with." There are many statements about John McCain and Sarah Palin that are rational arguments in terms of why people support them and I completely disagree that they are the ones that are right for our country. There are also so many irrational and personal attacks on them that I find offensive, even though I personally cannot support them.

It's completely understandable, at least to me, that 2 groups of people can see the same problems and needs of our country and see two very different ways of resolving those problems.

I have had my temperature raised by Karen's and Calandria's postings but I have enjoyed.

And as for mini-skirts and teenage clothing (or nowadays pre-teen and little girls)you would find me as conservative as any Mormon...maybe even Amish-like in my horror at what passes for fashion. Here in China I canNOT believe how short a skirt can get! Thankfully now that the weather is turning, tights are beginning to make an appearance so I don't have to be afraid of a small gust of wind.

shawn said...

I read your blog yesterday.. and was going to comment.. but then thought that my comment left something out.. or needed or whatever..
I agree that there are rational and irrational beliefs. I agree to disagree with some people because I like who they are. I want to believe that most people can filter out good vs evil.
And I agree that I love to read your blog because it gets my blood boiling sometimes!! You know where I stand and what I agree or disagree with.. And to think that there are people out there who actually think that some of your "irrational" beliefs are true.. or that they will happen.. well.. like Hannah and my favorite saying right now.. "just because I can see the moon, doesn't make me an astronaut".. (Which I believe would be the rational thing here)
AND, as a mother of a pre-teen/teen.. let me put my 2 cents in about fashion as well.. Bare Midriffs big NO NO!! and I agree with Carla on this one.. I can be as conservative as anyone!! There is NO Ambercrombie or Hollister at this house.. Lucky we found Aeropostal which is "fashionable" yet fits perfect for the Mom who looks at some of the girls and says OMG!!! HOW COULD THEIR MOTHER LET THEM OUT OF THE HOUSE LIKE THAT!!
Lucky that some schools have a pretty strict dress code!!

Calandria said...

"I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman = rational
If gays are allowed to married, polygamy and beastiality will quickly follow = irrational"

At first I was confused by this and it took me a moment to realize that it's because you (I think?) see gay marriage as acceptable and polygamy as radical and unacceptable. I think you would find a fairly large percentage of people in Eastern cultures who would not understand what you're saying here and if they did, would at the very least find it all mixed up and turned around.

Polygamy is practiced by many people in this world. And there are many others who don't practice it but see it as acceptable and normal. Gay marriage is not practiced by many cultures and is not legal in most countries. You may see it as a-okay, but most people in the world do not. Thus, you may see that as a rational statement, but many, many others would laugh in disbelief.

Also, your statement seems to equate polygamy and bestiality. I'm sure you didn't mean that, but it could be taken that way and I'm afraid that would be grossly offensive to Muslims and others. I heard an interesting program on NPR about polygamy in the U.S. It wasn't about the Fundamentalist Mormons at all. It was about American Muslims (converts without any mideast ties) who are increasingly practicing polygamy. They interviewed several highly educated American Muslim women on the show who said they choose to practice it because they want to be married and have children, but with a devout Muslim man of which there are few in some areas.

Whoo! NEVER thought I would be defending polygamy. But I wanted to bring that up because I don't know that you had considered what you were doing when you wrote that example.

Karen ~ said...

Actually, for me all three of those examples have nothing to do with my own beliefs - they were simply written to highlight the difference between saying your opinion without exaggerations, distortions, or lies, vs. saying your opinion using false evidence or ridiculous exaggeration as "proof."

As it happens, I have no problem with Mitt Romney's religion, I do believe any two consenting adults should be able to marry (and, for the record, I am fine with polygamy, too, as long as all involved are consenting adults), and I think abortion always has to be a legal and medically safe option but I champion minimizing the need for it as much as is humanly possible.

Karen ~ said...

One more thing I forgot to say, and dang it, I can't find a way to edit my own comments to add it on.

In reply to Calandria's question about ploygamy and beastiality - my point with that example is that it's the implied "if, then" relationship in the comment I labeled irrational. It could have been "If gays are allowed to marry, then the price of milk will rise." It's the assumption that the one will CAUSE the other that I object to. I chose polygamy and beastiality because I have truly heard people say that.

Does that make sense?

shawn said...

I like your comment.. if, then.. if gays are allowed to marry, then the price of milk will increase.. one has nothing to do with the other, which is what I THOUGHT you were trying to say in your blog. Really, I agree, as long as the ADULTS are consenting.. well.. what ever floats their boats.. so to say.. And really I had/have nothing against Romney either.. by the way.. WHAT is his religon..
Gee.. seems to me that 40 years ago.. it was an issue with a canidates religion.. if a CATHOLIC should become president.. heaven forbid that should happen.. I don't think it matters what they believe in as far as religon.. What matters to me is if they can or how they will run the country.. That part is still, if I am not mistaken.. a separation of Church and State..
OK, off my soap box.. sorry...

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