“People tell me what to say/what to think/and what to play/I said, people tell me what to say/what to think/and what to play.”
"Hush" – Tool
I was sitting watching television the other night. As is typically the case with me, I don’t have a lot of time for TV viewing, so when I do watch, it’s typically the news. This particular night was no exception.
So I’m watching and the talking heads come on. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the setup – an issue, a view from the right, a view from the left, and the supposed unbiased moderator in the form of the show’s host.
I don’t remember what the exact issue was and I don’t remember exactly who the two debating the issue were because I got completely derailed in my train of thought when one of the two going back and forth accused the other of treason.
Treason … ? Really … ? What, for disagreeing with your opinion? So of course this got me going and I went and looked up treason –
Oran's Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as: "…[a]…citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]. In many nations, it is also often considered treason to attempt or conspire to overthrow the government, even if no foreign country is aided or involved by such an endeavor.”
Like I said, I can’t remember the exact issue but it was something like abortion or foreign oil or some other such thing – nothing that either side was saying was treasonous.
Heated? Sure. Passionate? Sure. On opposite ends of the political spectrum? But of course!
See, that’s what’s wrong with our political discourse these days – how in the world can you have an honest, open debate about the issues at hand if any side is willing to drop to the lowest of accusations to try and discredit the other's point of view?
Anybody who’s ever debated politics has, at one point or another, had to deal with some dunderhead pulling the Nazi card or the traitor card at some point — and at that point the debate’s over. They’ve just exposed themselves for the idiot that they are, unwilling to hear the other side. Is either side going to change any minds? Probably not — we’re pretty invested in our opinions and don’t take to kindly to anything that challenges notions we’ve developed. But does having a different opinion make the other person a traitor? Again, probably, and in the vast majority of cases, not.
It’s an old saying — opinions are like … well, you know the rest. Everyone’s got one … and you, and you, and you, are not a traitor for having one that differs from mine. And you, and you, and you, are not a Nazi for having a different opinion from them. But neither am I.
The absolute beauty of this country is that we are all entitled to our opinions, entitled to say what we feel — even those who do pull the traitor or Nazi card. We hope the best, most well-reasoned ideas are the ones that make it to the top, take hold, and actually get acted upon.
You don’t have to tell me how horribly naïve that is. I know, but it doesn’t mean we can’t strive for it.