Halloween is just days away, so it seems the perfect time to talk about some of the things that scare me. No, not blood-soaked movies (I much prefer suspense over gore, which has become a crutch for weak stories) or spiders and snakes (don’t like ’em, but in most cases they’re not that scary). What scares me might be a little surprising to some.
Longtime readers, though, will be very familiar with these, but hey—still scary … and seriously annoying.
☠ Hyperpartisanship—Whether it’s far left or far right, or just rigid adherence to the mainline party platform, hyperpartisanship has a way of keeping things from getting done.
Once upon a time, members of Congress were more willing to work together for the common good. Now, however, reaching across the aisle—or even socializing—is seen as sacrilege of the highest order among those who care far more for party than country.
Some might blame Newt Gingrich … for a lot of things, really, but in this case for heightening politicization and advancing the idea that fraternizing with congressional colleagues on both sides of the aisle is bad. Where once members might stay in D.C. over the weekend and share drinks, barbecues and baseball games as well as ideas on solving problems, now being seen in the home districts are the goal … even if nothing is accomplished.
But here’s the thing: Compromise is necessary for good law to be made. If neither side is willing to bargain, opting to stay entrenched in ideology instead of what’s best for constituents (meaning all of them, not just the ones from that party), then we’ll just stay mired in a stalemate or be stuck with legislation that benefits only some of the people.
But ya know, the other side is icky, and centrists are the devil. At least that’s the echo chamber says.
😠 Grammar nazis/snobs—Yeah, I know, it might seem strange for someone who deals with grammar all the time, but that’s what you get with a descriptivist. Besides, I’m chiefly a word nerd who works in a section of the paper that is written in mostly a conversational tone, and strict grammar rules don’t quite cut it in conversation.
Stan Carey of the Sentence First blog described the differences between the approaches to grammar: “Prescriptivism and descriptivism are contrasting approaches to grammar and usage, particularly to how they are taught. Both are concerned with the state of a language—descriptivism with how it’s used, prescriptivism with how it should be used. Descriptivists describe, systematically recording and analysing the endlessly changing ways people speak and write. … Prescriptivists prescribe and sometimes proscribe, emphasising rules and guidelines based on the conservation of customs (and sometimes a mythical ideal of correctness), and on judging what is or isn’t acceptable—which poses, among other questions: acceptable to whom, when, and why?”
OK, I had to double-check to make sure he was talking about grammarians and not political ideologies. (And in case you were wondering, he’s Irish, so uses British spellings.)
Considering that language evolves, strict adherence to rules that may not make all that much sense anymore and may interfere with understanding seems a little foolish to me, especially in conversation. Some, for example, would insist that words like “and” and “but” should never start a sentence. And that’s when the little sister in me decides to be rebellious.
😭Perpetual victims—There are people out there who are genuine victims, and it’s not a group anyone should be hot to join. And yet …
Apparently, being a victim is the thing to do, especially with the Maniacal Mango in the Oval Office. Nothing is ever the fault of you or those who believe what you do—it’s the fault of whoever opposes you. Insult Gold Star families? Their fault (they don’t like you, they’re mean, and they’re out to get you). People are protesting against you? Why would they do that? You’re great ad have done nothing wrong! It’s obviously a setup to make you look bad.
Not sure how to be a victim since you’re not actually suffering? Make something up! We all know “Happy holidays” is a communist plot to persecute Christians (especially those who loudly proclaim they’re Christians rather than quietly living the life of one), so we must battle against political correctness (which apparently now includes being polite and considerate of others’ beliefs) and demand that everyone say “Merry Christmas.” Now, dammit!
And Starbucks, you’d better have some snowmen and fir trees on those cups … you know, because of their deep connection to Jesus.
😵 People who refuse to live in reality—This used to be a pretty small segment of the population, but it’s grown, though it’s still not as large as that segment believes (volume is not the same as size, people).
Dr. Saul Levine wrote in Psychology Today that denial in psychoanalytic theory is “a psychological defense we all use at times to reduce our anxiety when it feels particularly disturbing.” He also referenced the denial that we see a lot today “whereby seemingly intelligent and sane adults vehemently deny truths despite a body of irrefutable data.”
Both of these forms of denial seem to be rampant at the moment, and no amount of evidence can convince true believers that what they think they’re seeing isn’t reality. What’s going on now (as it was during the Obama administration) is neither paradise nor the last days, and the longer some people refuse to see things as they are, the harder it will be for us to move forward.
A few realities: Minorities and women do face disadvantages simply because of things over which they have no control, but sometimes efforts to level the field go too far. The economy is still not spectacular, but it’s not terrible, and is continuing the recovery it’s been in since 2009-ish; sooner or later, it will more than likely experience a downturn, just as it has many times before. The media’s job is to cover news, and often that includes things hyperpartisans would not like … you know, like facts, even the ones that don’t make them look good.
And one more: Disagreeing with you doesn’t make someone evil. Being evil does.
There are other things that scare me, but those things don’t annoy and scare me.
You’ll never get me to spend any more time than necessary with a clown (blame John Wayne Gacy and Pennywise … and the circus clown who scared preschool me). I have no desire whatsoever to skydive or do other things that take me much more than a few feet off the ground (it’s not so much the height that scares me, but falling from that height … but I’m not crazy about the height either).
What I’m not afraid of, though, is standing up for those in the media who do things the right way (fact-checking is necessary, and it’s not evil), and to encourage people to broaden their news diet.
I know. That means I’m evil. I can live with it.