From the beginning, it seems, I’ve been a radical, always pushing concepts that some readers aren’t OK with. Dang me all to heck, along with the ideas of facts, context and the like. Sheer socialism!
No one who writes in a public forum is immune to accusations of bias, or to having their words twisted.
Sometimes it’s just a simple misunderstanding, and once a discussion is had, it’s cleared up. But what about the people who deliberately misinterpret what is said or who just make things up out of whole cloth?
Those most wed to certain points of view seem to be averse to facts, and they’re none too happy when someone points out their flaws in reasoning or tenuous grasp of the truth. I started writing this column in late 2013, and within months I was receiving more than enough troll attacks. In February 2014, I wrote: “Apparently there are readers who have been reading between the lines in my columns and divining my every thought and bias. Hey, stop that!
“Here are the facts: I have not said that I personally am nonpartisan; I very clearly have specific ideas about certain matters. Just ask me about the Tea Party if you don’t believe me. …”
Oh, for the days of the Tea Party being the most strident political caucus. I miss that. At least they never attempted to take over the Capitol.
“However,” I wrote, “I don’t treat liberal and conservative letters differently when choosing letters because the goal is to put a variety of opinion on the Voices page. Until the last few years, Arkansas was predominantly a Democratic-voting state, so having a page that pretty much just features conservative ideas is unrealistic and more than a little insane. Likewise, excluding freethinkers or fundamentalists would ignore the breadth of views in the state.
“In my columns, you’re much more likely to find a bit of cynicism laced with a weird sense of humor than subtext outlining my outrageously liberal plot to rule the world. What you see (and read) is pretty much what you get.”
Not that it matters to the detractors, who make up stories about things I’ve written, including that I’ve claimed to be nonpartisan, once using an entire column to do so; in checking through past posts, I haven’t found that to be true. I have talked a lot about nonpartisan (or more accurately bipartisan) sources and fact-checkers, and I’ve many times referred to myself as moderate, a realist, a centrist, and independent, but not nonpartisan. Sure, my Facebook profile says I’m a “Part-time woke radical moderate,” but that’s obviously a joke. If you believe there are actually radical moderates … well …
I’ve also dared to puncture partisan talking points with facts (on both sides of the spectrum) which, when those facts are about someone the detractor hates (such as their favorite punching bag Nancy Pelosi), signals to them that I’m “defending” said punching bag.
Because I used facts and context, or simply repeated what was widely reported.
While facts are a defense, reporting them is not necessarily an act of defense, whether it’s by reporters or by me in a column. I mean, I’ve debunked tales about things Donald Trump supposedly said that didn’t reflect well on him or those who voted for him, but I’ve yet to be accused of defending him.
Then there’s my use of words as they’re defined in the dictionary rather than by political parties—gasp! how dare I! That’s at least as bad as my leaning on sociological and psychological concepts like confirmation bias to try to make sense of the messed-up politics of today, or my desire to get back to the spirit of bipartisanship that once allowed things to get done in D.C. for the good of all.
I know, I know. I should be OK with letting illogical hatred and hyperpartisan insanity keep everything at a standstill … except for anger. We’ve got plenty of that.
Meh. It’s not like hyperpartisan outrage has caused any problems. Those were just spirited tourists at the Capitol, and that Bernie Bro was just taking his gun for a walk by the congressional practice field. No biggie.
With any luck, I’ll be back on the job by the time you read this, at least on a limited capacity (not in the office just yet). I’ve missed the regularity in my schedule; while the time off has been refreshing, it’s hard to find non-straining ways to fill the time other than napping, reading, playing games or watching Disney+.
The critters at my friend Sarah’s house have been very entertaining, but they won’t be going home with me (don’t think I didn’t think seriously about tucking Charlie in a bag). As I said on a Facebook post Tuesday, the biggest danger at Sarah’s house would be the temptation of bothering Josie and Charlie (especially Charlie, also known as Chucklebutt) instead of doing my work. As much as I love Sarah and those furkids, I do have to earn some money to pay my medical bills since I don’t see any sugar daddies in the offing.
It seems appropriate to me that my first day back be my mom’s birthday. She would have been 80 today, and would be urging me to get off my ample behind … and to grab her some chocolate since I’m up anyway. I inherited my tendency toward workaholism from her, but I also inherited her love for diverting activities for my downtime, most of which I can still do while I wait on full clearance from my doctor in about a month’s time.
And if I manage to embarrass myself in the process, I also got the ability to laugh at myself. If you hear thunder rolling today, she’s probably decided to join in.