People should always be careful about what they say. You don't want to hurt anyone, offend anyone, give away any secrets. It's just as important in the political realm, where you can wind up looking like an idiot or making someone else look like one, and that's just to start.
So I try to get both sides of an issue before I come up with an opinion on it. Or at least I make a pretense. I only read two right-wing bloggers regularly compared to half a dozen left-wingers, and they aren't even very far to the right, but I read those two a LOT, dammit! :) On anything that seems serious, I go to mainstream, legitimate news sources, even if only for collaboration of the wild slanted accusations made on my favorite blogs.
And I try to avoid hyperbole. I'm not perfect, sure, but I try. Because for all the problems with this country, it could be a hell of a lot worse. When left-wingers call Bush et al. fascist or racist, they're taking real, actual fascism and racism lightly. When someone implies that Operation Infinite Justice* is as bad as Vietnam was, I wonder just a little bit about their command of history and/or their sense of proportion.
Sooner or later though, I start to doubt if restraint isn't appropriate any more, if the people talking about fascism and bigotry aren't exaggerating too much. When I read this, for example. From the Indianapolis Star:
An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."
The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.
Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.
Bradford refused to remove the provision after the 9-year-old boy's outraged parents, Thomas E. Jones Jr. and his ex-wife, Tammie U. Bristol, protested last fall.
If I try to poke holes in everything stupid, evil and outrageous about this, I will be here all night. And it's not like I have to, since better bloggers than me have already been writing about it.
I see some people are arguing that of course this judge was stupid, but this was one single incident, it says so right there in the article, anyone wasting time complaining about this is just revealing their own [anti-American/anti-Christian/whatever] prejudices. And sure, this was just one judge in one divorce case and all the experts agree that it's a fluke.
But does that really mean it's insignificant? Really?
This judge did get into office somehow. Do you think he had to lie about his religious convictions to get elected? Somehow I think it only helped him. If it was just one wacko, this would be insignificant. But apparently it's 51% of one county - is that still insignificant? And it's not like this county is on a desert island; Indianapolis is the capital and largest city of Indiana. And besides what the judge himself said, look at the article.
Jones said he does not consider himself a witch or practice anything resembling witchcraft.
During the divorce, he told a court official that Wiccans are not devil worshippers. And he said he does not practice a form of Wicca that involves nudity.
Let's think about this for a minute. Let's think about why the writer might have decided to put those grafs in. Do Indianans (Indianites? Indianapoloids?) really need to be told that Wicca is not, contrary to popular belief, Satanism? Is that a misconception that was begging to be corrected?
Can we make Jesusland jokes as long as we make it clear we're just talking about Indiana? Are Wiccans entitled, but no one else? Is it still inappropriate and offensive to make fun of what some people call Red America, as long as there aren't any actual laws against teaching evolution being passed? Are we required to treat the people who voted Bradford into office with the utmost respect? Has the right wing gone too far yet, or am I worrying over nothing until a bill setting pi equal to three passes the Senate?
* I've decided to use the original name for the war whenever possible. If Bush and friends decide to come right out and say they want to go on a crusade, who am I to stop them?