Thursday, January 05, 2006

Vacation All I Ever Wanted

So this is my, let's see, second and a half week of vacation, my second as a SAHD taking care of little dude whilst Mrs. Wife finishes out her term with St. Hed's. "Good God, Holmes!" you gasp. "Whatever do you do with so much time on your hands?!" Well, my first response is that anyone asking such a question has obviously never been a stay at home parent. Time? What are you, stupid? Between feeding him, changing him, playing with him, trying to get him to nap, picking him back up when he awakens the very instant I set him down, and yelling at the dogs to shut the fuck up, I find that I eat most of my meals one handed and standing up.

Insults aside, I have found time to do a few non baby related things, ie staying up late reading and eating cereal. Going to the gym late at night. Not shaving. Showering infrequently. Reading Chuck Palahniuk and books about software requirements. And then days like today when I find myself delving particularly deep into blogland, specifically into blogs of a socio-political nature. Most of the blogs I visit on a regular basis (that is, those that are by people other than my friends) tend to be those that align somewhere along my field of belief. We all need validation, to know that there are others out there who see things the way we do, lest we begin to think ourselves crazy. Thus, I tend to check out Daily Kos, The Rude Pundit, Wonkette, and James Wolcott, among others, and then the Baldo Lady for a good dose of parenting humor and honesty (btw, her book ROCKS). Today however, after a series of clicks I found myself looking at a post by one Mr. Roger L. Simon, which referenced a blog posting at neo-neocon, which was in response to this article in The American ThinkerBookworm Room. The primary theme of these posts has to do with the difficulties that self-proclaimed (or in some cases unproclaimed) neo-conservatives have with speaking up about their political views due to fears of being ostracized by left-leaning friends and colleagues. The argument goes that most liberals are too closed-minded to accept viewpoints that differ from their own. "Ho ho ho, isn't it ironic? They call themselves liberals, but they have closed minds? Yeah I really do think." Eesh, how many times have we heard that one.
by a contributor to

Now let me just say, I don't typically delve into politics on this blog. I originally started this thing as a place to showcase some of my work as a playwright and to write about what-the-shit ever I pleased, which as of late has been pretty much just my newborn kiddo -- cripes, I don't think I've mentioned theater or playwriting in ages. But anyway, without trying too hard, you can find any number of people writing about politics much better than I can. In fact, one of the other playwrights in Loaded Gun Theory has written several plays that are overtly political because that is his real and true passion. I've wondered in the past if I should take my own theatrical writing in that direction, but I've since decided that doing something just to "be political" is ridiculously juvenile. You can't create based on passion you don't have.

For some reason, however, I feel compelled to respond to these articles. The first thing I'll say is that, in one respect, I actually agree with each of these writers. You're right to say that many liberals are very closed-minded. But the reason for that has less to do with a liberal mindset and more to do with the fact that many people are closed-minded. Just because you've been shunned by liberals does not mean that the left has a monopoly on inflexibility. Me, I live in Austin, Texas, and while this may get labelled a hippie town and this county typically votes blue, I'll remind you that we are surrounded by miles and miles of red (Texas is big, yo). Driving down any given Austin highway or street, you're just as likely to see a "W" sticker affixed to the back of an F-150 as you are a "W" sticker on the back of a Prius. Opinions you'll find in this beautiful city go as far to the right as they do to the left. And yet somehow, we manage not to erupt into a mushroom cloud of spontaneously combusted animosity.

And just to get it out of the way, in case you were wondering, in case you haven't figured it out yet, I do indeed identify with the liberal left. But I say that only out of a sense of fairness, to fill you in a little bit about who's writing the words you're reading here. This is not a left vs. right commentary. This isn't going to devolve into a listing of factoids about the evils of the right wing which will close with a decisive Cypress Hill-esque "BOO-YA!" It's just that, as I read these articles (and I did read them, along with a lot of their comments) I just thought to myself about how both sides of the political spectrum tend to accuse each other of the same exact things again and again.

  • "Liberals/Conservatives are so closed-minded, they can't even handle a civil debate."
  • "Liberals/Conservatives are so stupid."
  • "Liberals/Conservatives are so uninformed. They get their information from biased sources."
  • "Democrats/Republicans can't see the big picture, they only see things in black and white."
  • "That fucking hippie/fascist asshole is only a Democrat/Republican because his/her parents were. I bet he/she has never even thought about what he/she really believes in."

Now assuming that there are more than just robots reading this blog, I know that I'm inviting any number of people to shoot any number of factoids at me that support why any of the above statements are true for one side or the other. And I know, I KNOW that any of them could be argued to be true, but the fact is that they can be applied to members of both sides of the debate. I've seen it myself, uninformed conservatives, liberals with a black and white view, and plenty of stupidity all around. We can go back and forth all day long pointing to examples of members of each side committing any number of indiscretions. "Look at what this Republican did." "Oh yeah, well it's no better than what this Democrat did." "Oh but that was reported inaccurately by that publication which has shown itself to have a bias in that direction." Christ, it's endless.


Right, the point. Yes. Let's back up from politics for just a second and try to wrap our minds around something bigger, and maybe I'll get to something resembling a point. I am not a liberal because I live in Austin or because I was raised in a liberal household or because I like the color blue more than red. It's not because I prefer the Daily Show to the O'Reilly Factor or because I hate Bush or love Clinton or because I think the Democratic party is so much more honorable than the Republicans. Because that type of reasoning would be backwards. Anyone deciding their politics based on items like these is building their house on sand. My decisions, my feelings about the above items and so many more are informed not by the fact that I can be labelled a liberal, but by the values I have come to believe in during my time so far on this earth. I believe that all people deserve to be free, and in the old saying that one person's freedom ends where the next person's begins. I believe in people and the environment over profits and wealth. I believe that families come in many shapes and sizes and that they all have the right to exist without persecution. I believe that violence must always be the absolute last option in resolving conflict, and even then it is an impermanent solution. And simply, I believe that government should serve the people, not the other way around. These points of view and the conclusions they lead to on any number of issues, at least the ones I come to, have come to be labelled "liberal" by whatever societal labelling mechanisms are in place. I think "liberal" and "conservative" are actually pretty inaccurate labels, but we can talk semantics another day.

So to the authors of the aforementioned articles, my response to you is, Tough. We are all of us free to believe as we wish and to express or not express those beliefs, but none of us are guaranteed an ideal response. If it's any consolation, there are liberals all over the red parts of Texas and beyond that know exactly how you feel. The world would undoubtedly be a better place if people could get past the countless labels that we use to separate ourselves from each other, but we've probably a bit more evolving as a society before we get there.

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