Tag Archives: ideology

Porcine Problems

As I travel the country, I am exposed to many different kinds of people. Some of these people share similar ideals and tastes as me and we get along quite well. Others have differing viewpoints and we deal with each other in a cordial manner as often as possible. Whenever people congregate, it is important to be respectful of other’s sensibilities. To that end, those in polite company try to avoid intentionally and deliberately offending others. This was a lesson I—and many of my peers—was taught growing up. It is the polite thing to do. It is not, however, mandated by law. Imagine a world where anything found to be offensive to anyone could subject one to stiff penalties including flogging or death. No one would ever interact out of fear for their life. Thankfully we live in a country that protects free speech. Or do we? The media is filled with stories of people taken to task for the crime of uttering their personal beliefs. Perhaps we will soon face the troubles plaguing other countries. A family in the UK had to deal with a particularly onerous issue when confronted on a bus by an Islamic woman wearing a hijab.

According to a story in The Daily Mail, the young couple was trying to comfort their autistic 15-month-old by singing the theme song to the popular children’s show Peppa Pig. The show is about a family of pigs and the song features snorting sounds. The Islamic woman approached the couple and expressed her offense after which the bus driver told the couple to leave the bus two miles from their stop.

In a land that celebrates free speech, who is in the wrong here? Is it the couple trying to comfort a child? Or is it the woman expressing her outrage at what she deems an offensive song? In my opinion, it is the bus driver for sticking his nose in the matter. Both parties have the right to express their opinion and they did so, but to eject a person from a public bus for inadvertently offending another is the real crime here. If the couple intentionally sang the song knowing that in doing so they would inflict emotional harm on another, then some kind of sanction might—and I stress MIGHT—be in order. But even then, free speech is protected by law, so the sanction could not be by the state or any representative of the state.

Now, as this happened in the UK and I am not up to date on British law, I cannot address the legality of speech in that country. If this happened in the US, however, I would recommend that driver be removed from his post and the Islamic woman be strapped down and forced to binge watch Peppa Pig episodes until she sings the song in her sleep. But I digress.

Lately it seems that people are so self absorbed that they cannot acknowledge others. So self absorbed that they focus only on their own sensibilities to the exclusion of everyone else. What this means is that they feel their needs supersede the needs of others, and that they are more important than anyone else. This creates a morbid sense of entitlement that threatens to shatter social decorum.

If something creates any degree of offense, no matter if it was intended or not, it is the equivalent of committing a mortal sin worthy of death. People have opinions and just as no two people are exactly alike, no two opinions are the same. A collection of opinions forms an ideal. Quite often the ideals are diametrically opposed to the point that they may cause offense. This is where the problem lay.

A lot of progressives and liberals will shout the mantra of inclusiveness and diversity from the rooftops until they encounter someone whose ideology runs afoul of theirs. They cry for society to be tolerant of Islam while they browbeat Christians. When Muslims cry out in offense, liberals demand that society accommodate them. When Christians express offense, liberals slap them with separation of church and state.

Now we face situations where one group of people is trying to dictate what the rest of the world can and cannot do. While Christian students are banned from praying in school, Muslim students are given a special room to use to pray. Students in many schools have to abide a uniform policy that dictates what they can and cannot wear; Muslim students are exempted from this. Soon, schools may be forced to remove food items from the menu that offend Muslims. We may find our entertainment dictated by the auspices of these ideologues. Peppa Pig may get cancelled by Sharia law.

If a mother cannot comfort her child by singing a song because it offends one person, then we are already on the path to the end of our society. The best that we can hope for is that liberals realize the door swings both ways. Tolerance does not apply only to Muslims. Everyone has to be able to express themselves as they see fit, even if that way is to sing a song about pigs on a bus full of Muslims.

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One Land, Separate Ideals

America has never been so polarized, so divided or so fractured—or so says the media. Many pundits and analysts have offered observations and predictions based on this perceived dichotomy that is American society. Red states and blue states, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and republicans and other designations are the rally points for differing ideologies across the nation. Issues from immigration to gay marriage, from education to health care, and from foreign policy to domestic issues are driving the debates that separate the nation. Many people wonder why America has come to these crossroads especially given the advent of the Internet and the social media that was expected to unite everyone in the utopia that is instant connectivity of shared ideas. This is not just a fallacy; it is exactly the opposite of what is happening. The Internet is actually the tool that is dividing us.

idealpqThe mainstream media, ostensibly a long-time proponent of free interchange of ideas, touted web 2.0 tools such as Twitter and Facebook for their role in the 2010 Arab spring uprisings in the Middle East, which was expected to foster democratic movements in those countries. The ability to reach out and contact so many people at once is supposed to have been the cause for so many people coming together in such short order to force the revolutions and ouster of the supposed dictators of those countries.

While that may be true (and we have yet to see those Arab Spring revolutions foster democracy in any of those countries) the ability to communicate with so many instantaneously is also fraught with peril. The Internet is worldwide, to be sure. But in this wonderful wide world, there has long been a collection of disparate, different and dissonant societies, many of which who cannot tolerate those that are different. They have existed on the same ball of dirt simply because of the distance that separates them. Now that the Internet has removed that distance, those conflicting ideas ignite into hostility.

This is observable in America as well. The map of the United States shows how the divisions play out. People tend to cluster around like-minded people. This is how communities began. This is how the colonies got their starts in the 1700s. People gathered around those with whom they could identify; typically people of the same nationalities and ethnicities held the same beliefs systems. Thus the community prospered with minimal ideological conflict and churches fostered and nurtured the community.

With the advent of technology, people began travelling to other communities and clustering in cities and in those groupings, nationality and ideology were pushed aside for economic development and prosperity. But the stressors of ethnicity began a slow boil that eventually erupted into the civil rights movement. People of different ethnicities and nationalities began to bicker and fight. Legislation may have quelled the worst of it, but even today different ideologies thrust together into common geographic space breed hostility.

At the foundation of our nation, literacy was not commonplace. Only a few learned individuals possessed the tools and skills to communicate to the masses effectively. In those days, “the masses” was defined by those who gathered around the public square. Again, in those days, the public square was in a community of like-minded people with shared nationality and ethnicity and ideology. Today, anyone can say anything to anybody at anytime. Instant public speech is possible with a world-wide audience.

In England, the people were forbidden to speak out against the government. One of the founding principles of American government was the freedom to speak out against the government without fear of reprisals. It is inscribed in the first Amendment along with a line about how the government cannot dictate how individuals practice their religious beliefs. This freedom has been bastardized by those who think that it allows anyone to say absolutely anything they desire. This is not true. It just means one cannot be arrested for it. Many people have found out through lost jobs and lost relationships that speaking one’s mind on the internet can have consequences.

A teacher posted a picture in which she enjoys an adult beverage while on vacation. Her school terminated her for the posting. A healthcare worker posted a comment in which she advocated mass murder for criminals rioting in Ferguson Missouri. She was terminated by the hospital that employed her. A college professor was fired after joking on a Facebook post about hiring a hit man. Many celebrities have been called to task when they make comments that are picked up in the media and broadcast. Public outcry resulted in the forced sale of the L.A. Clippers after the owner made private comments that were made public by someone else.

In many of these cases, advocates claim these people should be protected by the first amendment for free speech. Again, none of these people have been arrested for their statements. None are facing federal charges. The first amendment is working in these cases. It is other people who are squelching the principle of free speech.

This is because people are communicating—albeit inadvertently—with a global audience and not a local community of like-minded people. A statement decrying abortion would gather great support in a small community where everyone shared nationality, ethnicity and ideology. Make the same statement on the Internet and it is likely to be met with hatred, vitriol and threats of violence.

Human beings are not the same. We still have unique nationalities, ethnicities and ideologies and many of these are incompatible with others. The crisis is the middle east is a glowing example. Ideologues from Palestine cannot abide the existence of an Israeli state and no amount of negotiation can change that. Radical Muslims will never accept any other religion and will always refer to any non-Muslim as “Infidel” and declare a Jihad to kill them.

Democrats and Republicans have different beliefs of the role of government. These differences are fundamental. The only way both can exist in governing is to be willing to surrender some of the ideals in order to achieve a greater good. This idea sounds great in theory, but those who are steadfast in their beliefs cannot abide surrender and they have the support of like-minded community members who rally around them shouting and holding signs. These people look crazy to the members of the opposing community who also rally together and try to shout down the opposition. This is where the dichotomy breeds and it is nowhere more apparent than on the internet.

We are products of our communities; we develop ideals based on interactions with those around us. The “Global Community” is a dream that cannot be realized because of the vast differences that exist between nations, ethnicities and ideologies. Perhaps in a century, if all national borders are eradicated and all ethnicities have blended into a homogenous amalgam of humanity, we might be close to a universal ideology. But don’t count on it. I, for one, would not want to live in such a world. And many in my community agree with me.

 

 

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