A little political musing, anyone? I read entirely too many online news articles/editorials/blogs. Where I used to "read the paper," now I sit with a laptop and surf--sometimes for hours on end. I really need to scale back (and I intend to). But after I read a story, sometimes the most illuminating part of the read is the "comments" section. And this brings me to a pet peeve of mine.
If you read the comments on almost any story, article, or op-ed with even a hint of the political, you'll almost immediately get a string of ad hominem attacks that impugn the motives of the other side. To take two extremes, you have the folks who insist that our entire post-9/11 security apparatus was either rooted in Dick Cheney's desire to make Haliburton stockholders rich or George W. Bush's perverse desire to torture perfect strangers. And on the other hand, you have those who look at our current economic situation under President Obama and say that our current deficits, entitlements, etc. are out of whack on purpose because Obama/Reid/Pelosi want to bankrupt the country and usher in an age of neo-socialism.
How about we back off from that just a bit? Is it that hard to imagine that good people can reasonably disagree on principles without ulterior motives? That doesn't mean I have to agree with them--I can (and do) think that many modern liberal principles are naive and economically unsound. But I accept that some wonderful, very intelligent people hold them. I much prefer the economic theories of Hayek or Milton Friedman to John Maynard Keynes. But that doesn't mean that every Keynesian is a knave or a fool--indeed, there are plenty of Keynesians much smarter than me.
And if I can say that about my liberal friends, shouldn't I get the same benefit of the doubt in return? When a facebook friend posts an article about evil, heartless conservative shills for the insurance industry who want grandma to die for the sake of profits, I think, "do you really believe that about ME?" I just think the math doesn't work. You know me! You've known me for years! Do you think I am one of "them," or that "they" are evil, while I am simply deluded? Because I don't want to think that about you.