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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Third Way Forward

by 3rd Way

Until recently it appeared as if Obama was willing to shun FoxNews in protest to their partisan coverage. It would spell doom for his candidacy if he were to do so. Fox has far too many viewers to disregard them completely. Although unable to continue them, Obama's actions sent a good message. Divisive partisan media of any stripe isn't worthy of our attention.

I pride myself in being an individual that attempts to pull my information from as many sources as I possible in the attempt to stay non-partisan. I certainly lean left, but I try to respect and appreciate the arguments of all parts of the political spectrum. I honestly belief that in nearly any political movement you can name there is a way to find some merits in some of their arguments. With that conviction in mind I fairly recently became active in what I would come to know as the cheddarsphere. In my travels throughout the cheddarsphere I encountered heaps of ridiculous partisan arguments, websites devoted to discrediting other websites and witnessed an individuals arrest for foolish comments. The thing I found most striking with the local blogs was the disrespect and outright hatred in the tone of much of the discourse. Throughout all of this I tried to keep my mind open and refrain from partaking in any sort of discourse I would not conduct if I were conversing face to face, although I was unable to always remain above the fray with my comments.

A local blog advertises itself with this: "DISCUSS IDEAS HERE, WE ASK THAT YOU KEEP YOUR TONE IN CHECK AND RESPECT THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO SHARE." In reality the blog functions the same way as most message boards you will encounter. The partisan vitriol boils over the instant a divergent viewpoint is heard. The attacks and insults thrown around would never be encountered if we led a purely analog existence. Anonymous digital communication has brought this incivility into our lives. Yesterday I became fed up with the intolerance of divergent viewpoints and vowed to stop wasting my time commenting somewhere that is not interested in fostering a productive debate. In my final comment I bid farewell and regretfully referred to the blog owner as a dolt and noted some of his observable physical traits. I had no intention of returning, but for this transgression I was banned from the website. This is the same website where I observed a commenter threaten (non-jokingly he assured) to break another commenter's legs. In that instance the offending comment was deleted without any acknowledgment that it had ever occurred nor any ban imposed on the commenter.

As the sole proprietors of their sites bloggers and their commenters are free to partake in whatever sort of shenanigans they wish. It is a harmless source of entertainment for many. When employees of the largest media conglomerate in the state start to play the disrespectful bipartisan games of the blogosphere I call foul. One of the most influential radio personalities in our state drew criticism from the community for promoting the offensive satire of a local blogger. My introduction to the blogosphere started with frequent and mostly cordial debate with a prominent editorialist for this same conglomerate. After a post that stated it was only a matter of time until the American left was siding with Jihadists I decided it was time to stop dignifying his partisan drivel with my audience. As consumers of media and participants in debate the only recourse we have to combat caustic bipartisanship is by refusing to participate.

The dichotomy of right vs. left / red vs. blue that frames every political issue has been detrimental to our political process and it is certainly detrimental to political discourse. Bipartisans among us will continue to disrespect, and not debate, the viewpoints of others if there is no consequence for their actions. If those of us that belief that neither side has all the answers were willing to adopt a third perspective, disregard the extremists and promote non-partisanship maybe we could someday see an improvement in online and political civility. We would all be better served if those that wish to sow the seeds of division and vilify those of divergent views were shunned by the rest of us. I will support anyone that sees a third way to approaches our partisan political atmosphere. Early in this presidential nomination process I knew who had my support.

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