Monday, June 25, 2012

Week of 06/25/2012

FCC Spanked But Still Dangerous
– by David Matthews 2

Longtime readers of my column know that from day one, I am first and foremost a supporter of the First Amendment. The very first article posted back in 1996 was about the degenerative effects of censorship in a medium like the Internet. I was part of the lawsuit that overturned the anti-American Communications Decency Act in that same year. I continued to speak out afterward against its equally anti-American successors, and I speak out against such efforts today.

But this wasn’t something that I magically came up with just because it involved the Internet. My support of free speech goes back to the 1980’s, when religious groups and so-called “pro-family organizations” launched their anti-American holy war against anything they deemed to be “offensive”. Magazines, videos, nightclubs, songs (yes, Al Gore, that included your wife’s crusade), even TV commercials were not safe.

Unfortunately, the freedom-hating religious groups have long had the upper hand when it comes to government, and this is especially true with the hold they have over the Federal Communications Commission.

From its inception back in the 1930’s, religious groups made sure that the FCC was given the power to regulate not only broadcasting bandwidth, but also its content. They wanted to make sure that nothing “offensive” was ever uttered, shown, or otherwise expressed. And that wasn’t just limited to sex or violence. It also included a blanket prohibition against messages that encouraged fascism, Nazism, or communism. Oh, and they justified their control over the airwaves by claiming that these were really “the people’s airwaves”; which “doesn’t sound the least bit communistic”, does it? Just like the dictatorial control over the airwaves wasn’t “the least bit fascistic”.

Ever since then, it has been an uphill struggle to deal with a dictatorial federal agency being manipulated by religious extremists. And that is not an exaggeration! It has been proven that one certain religious organization accounted for over ninety-nine percent of all complaints to the FCC in the 2000’s. And all it takes to get the FCC to issue millions of dollars in fines against a broadcaster is a group as small as just twenty-three people. Twenty-three people!

Every so often, though, our legal system steps in and does the right thing. It has to, because the officials in the FCC have clearly proven they lack any shred of integrity or consistency.

And that is apparently what the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court did the other week when they ruled against the FCC in two cases.

The first involved the so-called “fleeting explicative”. For instance, if you have a live TV broadcast and someone utters a curse word out-of-the-blue, then that is considered a “fleeting explicative”. The broadcasters cannot control it, they cannot warn against it, but the freedom-hating religious groups still wanted the broadcasters to suffer for it.

The second concerned the FCC’s off-and-on fine against the now-defunct ABC series “NYPD Blue”, which involved showing a naked woman’s rear for all of seven seconds at a time when such displays were supposed to be allowed under already-established FCC rules. The broadcasters were supposed to be free-and-clear to show so-called “indecent” material during the hours of 10pm and 6am, and the FCC had already said that male nudity on that same show was perfectly fine, and they initially said this was okay as well. But then the religious groups began complaining and the FCC then changed their minds on the subject.

Fifth Amendment? What Fifth Amendment?

In both instances, the FCC first said such incidents didn’t warrant crippling fines, and then changed their minds when religious groups demanded otherwise. For this reason, the justices said the FCC went too far.

Unfortunately, in doing so, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court did not go far enough in doing what really needs to be done.

Let’s get brutally honest here… the Federal Communications Commission is a regulatory body in desperate need of being either neutered or otherwise shut down entirely. It has long abused its power, it refuses to be consistent about its policies, and its only apparent reason for its existence is to serve as the enforcement arm of religious and social extremists whose very goals would violate the original regulations of the FCC if they were so broadcast.

Key to the FCC’s power over broadcasters is its arbitrary decision to declare something “indecent” – a term that the FCC refuses to this day to define for broadcasters – and to make this decision not only on a case-by-case basis, but to make it regardless of any previous cases. Not only that, but they change their minds about taking action based entirely on the manipulations of those religious and social groups. That part was aptly demonstrated with the “NYPD Blue” case that went before the justices.

Picture, if you will, a police officer pulling you over for speeding on the highway and letting you go with a warning. Then, six months later, that same cop decides to change his mind and issue you a ticket for it. Then a month later that cop decides to drop the ticket. Then five or even six years later that same cop decides to charge you with felony driving for that same incident.

This is what the FCC did with shows like “NYPD Blue”. This is what the justices said was abusive and dismissed the fines on it.

But they needed to do more. Much, much more.

The justices consciously passed on the opportunity to strip the FCC of their abusive power, which is what has needed to be done the moment the mandatory rating system was imposed on all television broadcasts starting in the late 90’s. The very justification that the courts gave in the original Pacifica decision to allow the FCC to wield this arbitrary power was rendered null and void with the ratings system. The justices have already required that government actions be based on, and I quote, “the least intrusive means”. When the ratings system and the means to block out TV shows based on those ratings were mandated, that became the “least intrusive means”.

By all rights, the FCC should have divested itself of its capricious authority then, but failed to do so. Likewise, the justices of the Supreme Court should have used this opportunity to strip the FCC of that same authority for that same reason, and they have failed to do so. Instead, they avoided the larger issue and only decided on the individual cases.

In other words, the FCC is still allowed to operate as the dysfunctional enforcement arm of social and religious extremists, assessing millions of dollars in fines in direct violation to the spirit and the letter of the United States Constitution, using justifications that are neither objective or follow any manner of precedence. They will continue to stifle televised content and force viewers to turn to other means for the entertainment they crave, and all to appease the dictatorial anti-American demands of those religious and social extremists.

This is why the extremists are actually celebrating a decision that they clearly lost; because now they know that the Justices of the Supreme Court adhere to a much higher responsibility than that of supporting and upholding the Constitution. They know that the justices would rather throw the Constitution to the fire than to dare disrupt the ever-present cult of the status quo, and in doing so they do this country a phenomenal disservice.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Week of 06/18/2012

Stop Lying! Government Creates Plenty Of Jobs!
– by David Matthews 2

This is the story of a small town job-creator here in Georgia…

In 2002, a Winder City manager named Ernie Graham resigned from his public position. Thanks to some relatively recent modifications to the city’s pension program, Graham was allowed to get his full pension for a job that supposedly was “too stressful for him”.

But apparently the job was not “stressful” enough for him to stop working. Once he started getting a pension check from the City of Winder, he went back to work for the city, doing the same job that he previously did, only this time as a “consultant”. So not only was he getting a full pension from the taxpayers, but he was now able to bill the city as an outside contractor for far more money than he could get if he kept on working in his former job. And apparently he was so good at it that he formed his own consulting group and then offered his services to another city at an even higher rate.

In all, it is believed that he brought in over one million dollars in the past ten years between the two cities he was “contracted” with in addition to his full taxpayer-funded pension. And he would otherwise continue to bring in that money today if not for the fact that the City of Winder got a new mayor who started going through the books and wanted to know where Mr. Graham’s contracts were for the work that he claimed to perform.

Now you and I would say that this is a shining example of a “good ol’ boy system” running amok. A system that is burdened with corruption and nepotism and cronyism and needs to be “purged”… but only as long as it’s purged of members of “the other party”.

But to those inside government, Ernie Graham and those that helped him set this prosperous system up are far from villains in need of punishment. In fact, they would consider Graham to be something far more valuable.

They would call Graham a “job-creator”!

Think about it! Graham and his associates literally created an outsourced private-sector position out of nothing that made far more money than his “public sector” position. Not only that, but he created a brand new consulting business because of it. In the eyes of the conservatives and neo-conservatives, this is precisely what they claim needs to be done everywhere.

The cons and neo-cons have displayed a mad-on hatred of the public sector in recent years. Through their trained parrots in talk radio and cable news, they have equated public workers as being slugs, leaches, parasites, and good-for-nothing goldbrickers.

Of course, they’ve carefully cherry-picked which taxpayer-funded employees to hate, since police officers and firefighters and members of the armed forces are also public employees, and they don’t want to make it appear that they either don’t support the troops or that they advocate anarchy or that they would watch as our modern-day Rome burns to the ground. And it goes without saying that the category of “good-for-nothing goldbrickers” never manages to include either themselves or their own staff members or their friends, however they will eagerly suggest several members of “the other party” that “magically” fit the bill.

To indoctrinate their selective hatred of the public employees to the masses, the cons and neo-cons have come up with a mantra that they recite over and over again like a church hymnal. They want people to believe that “government doesn’t create jobs”.

They will repeat that mantra over and over and over again. “The government doesn’t create jobs.”

They will shove their faces in front of the FoxNews cameras and say over and over again “The government doesn’t create jobs.”

They will type up the talking points memos to give to the trained parrots in talk radio and cable news channels to reiterate that “The government doesn’t create jobs.”

They will cobble up newspaper columns and post online articles to recite the continual mantra that “The government doesn’t create jobs.”

And I’ll confess… I even bought into their mantra at one point.

There’s just one problem with their pronouncement, though: it is a bold-faced lie!

Not only is it a lie, but they know that they are lying about it!

Let’s get brutally honest here… governments at all levels create plenty of jobs. And the cons and neo-cons know that governments at all levels create jobs if those in charge feel inclined to.

The Cold War that was “waged” between the United States and the old Soviet Union is probably the best example of how the government can create jobs. Think of all of the companies that made their fortunes making warplanes and warships and tanks and firearms for a war that neither side ever wanted to have happen. Boy, those were the days, huh? And all they needed back then was an occasional “flare-up” to keep people on-edge and put some of those products to use. Korea? Vietnam? Grenada? Those were just field tests in the overall scheme of things. Just little “nudges” to remind the great unwashed that the “great war” was still going on.

Do names like Haliburton and Blackwater ring any bells? These are or were companies that prospered from our most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and anyplace else that the government decided needed “jobs”.

Oh, but I suppose those “don’t count”, because those are jobs “over there”, not jobs in America, where such work is needed for countless millions. It’s sort of like when companies claim to be “creating jobs” when in fact they’re outsourcing them overseas. It only counts “on paper”.

Let’s talk about so-called “Crime Bills”. Every call for a new social “war” is a call for more police officers and more government agencies to combat it. The so-called “Drug War” is one of the best examples of this. Bear in mind that police officers are still public employees.

President George W. Bush, the GOP’s lord and savior in the 2000’s, not only was a huge supporter of more money for education (including those “lazy public sector” folks), but also created a brand new government Cabinet-level department called “Homeland Security” that just begged for more public sector jobs.

“Government doesn’t create jobs”, you say? Tell that to the Transportation Security Administration! That’s a government agency that did not exist until 2001.

Or how about telling that to all of the tax preparation services that have been created over the generations due to the schizophrenic tax system we currently have? Or the auditing firms that got their jobs because of the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act?

And then we have the jobs that are created by good-old-fashioned politics! Jobs like the “consulting” company that Mister Graham created for himself. Jobs that are created through political wrangling and manipulation of the “fine print”.

You know those “wasteful spending projects” that magically appear in spending bills? You know which ones I’m talking about! The cons and neo-cons seem to get a perverse sexual pleasure in showing them off to the trained parrots of talk radio and cable news. Every “pet project” that gets inserted is someone’s job being either created or supported.

Well how did those “wasteful spending projects” get there in the first place? They got there because a lobbyist called up someone with the power to slip something like that into the budget. And it doesn’t matter which political party is in charge; somehow they get slipped in and nobody bothers to ask how or why. They just complain about it after-the-fact. Ever wonder why they do that?

Well, did you ever wonder where many of those career politicians go when their time in office is done? They either work for “think tank” groups, or they end up as lobbyists, getting paid big money to twist the arms of their former fellow politicians. In other words, they roll over for the lobbyists and the lobbyists reserve a job opening for them afterward. Quid pro quo. Rather convenient, huh?

In other words, the politicians know that government creates plenty of jobs, because the most important job that gets created in their minds is waiting for them when they leave office.

And I haven’t even brought up the time when President Franklin Roosevelt created a federal jobs program that gave people that needed it work during the Great Depression. It was busy work, but it was still work and it was believed that this program did more for the morale of those that needed it than simply giving them money. It may have been digging a ditch to later fill in, but at least at the end of the day, that person could say that they were working and getting paid to work.

As you can see, the conservatives and neo-conservatives know full-well that government at all levels know how to create jobs, and they’re really very good at creating jobs when those in charge put their minds to it. The challenge for them is doing it. And that can only happen when the conservatives and neo-conservatives stop lying to themselves and stop lying to the American people about it. If they’re not willing to do that much then they need to be removed from the conversation and replaced with people who will be honest about the role and scope of government, especially given today’s current economic dilemma.

It would probably also help if we reminded the cons and neo-cons at every opportunity that the next war they want waged, the next “criminal epidemic” they want attacked, and the next wildfire that needs to be fought are all going to be handled by the very “public workers” that they otherwise call “slugs” and “goldbrickers”. And maybe the next time there’s a pothole in their neighborhood or a blown streetlight that they should spend some of their own money to get it fixed themselves. After all, they wouldn’t want those “good-for-nothing” public-sector employees to feel they have a reason to be working there, would they?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Week of 06/11/2012

DC Comics And The “Epic” Failure
– by David Matthews 2

As some of you may know, I am a longtime comic book fan. I used to read all about Superman and Batman and Green Lantern and the Justice League from the pages of DC Comics. I used to read some Marvel Comics too, but aside from Spider-Man, they never really interested me until I got older.

When I first started reading comics, I didn’t know that Superman and Spider-Man were published by two separate companies. So when “Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man” came out originally in the 1970’s, I didn’t realize just how epic that crossover meeting was for the two companies. It’s like the Warner Brothers Loony Toons characters working with their Walt Disney counterparts in the film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”; up until then, nobody ever thought about doing something like that.

DC and Marvel have had a rivalry that has spanned the decades. They competed over who had the better talent, they competed over who had the more popular characters, they competed over who made the most money, they competed over who has the better merchandising for their characters, and they competed over who can pull off the better media crossover.

Both can say they’ve had their share of good and bad animation shows. Both can say they’ve had their share of good and bad live-action shows. Both can say they’ve had their share of good and bad motion pictures.

But with the recent release of Marvel’s “The Avengers” to the big screen, and the billion-dollar box office returns that went with it, there are many that wonder if Marvel Comics has finally come out ahead of DC. And then the big challenge is to see what DC can do to match it… if they can.

In all fairness, “Avengers” is not the “first team movie” as many have proclaimed it to be. That actually goes to the un-released 1994 “Fantastic Four” movie, followed by the 2000 release of “X-Men”, but even those are Marvel Comics creations, so they still have the bragging rights.

So it appears that the gauntlet is thrown down in front of DC to either match or top it. Comic forums and Facebook groups are full of questions about how DC executives could come up with a “Justice League” movie and who they would cast and how they would handle an ensemble movie.

I’m going to out on a limb right now and tell DC Comics executives and Time Warner executives to do… absolutely nothing!

I’m serious! Don’t call up Tim Burton or Ilya Salkind or Bryan Singer or Christopher Nolan and shove a spreadsheet in their faces and say “How can we top this?” Send the Hollywood reporters to voice mail. Tell the fans “No comment” when asked about it at the conventions. Or better yet, just say “wait and see”, which is what you’d tell the comic fans anyway. Whatever you do, do not rush into this like a corporate tool would otherwise do!

Let’s start with the fact that DC and Warner Brothers did manage to come up with an ensemble superhero team movie that pre-dates “The Avengers”. That move was “Watchmen”, based off the mini-series by the same name by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. A little-known fact was that while Moore and Gibbons patterned their characters after established Charlton Comics characters, their original inspirations were DC’s Justice League. So it’s not that DC and Warner Brothers don’t know how to do an ensemble team movie. They’ve done it. Their problem is not making it epic.

But that’s not the only problem that DC Comics is suffering from right now.

Under the one-two sucker-punch leadership of Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, DC Comics is currently engaged in a systematic rewrite of everything it has ever owned since the 1930’s. Their main characters, the “World’s Greatest Super-Heroes”, are all being re-written, re-drawn, and re-made in the images of DiDio and Lee. Even the forthcoming “Man of Steel” movie will feature the “remade” version of their first signature character, Superman. It’s a little hard to sell the movie version of the heroes when DC is still trying to sell the “remade” version in the comics to the same people who have been reading those comics for generations.

Now think for a minute about what Marvel did with “The Avengers” that made it so epic. They didn’t just make a movie and expect people to see it. That’s the Big Corporate/Hollywood approach to that kind of a project, and it explains why that approach has failed in the past.

Marvel started with “Iron Man” and laid the groundwork to the “Avengers” project. They introduced SHIELD. They brought in Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury as a teaser to “Iron Man” and mentioned something called “The Avengers Initiative”. They continued the teasing with “The Incredible Hulk” by bringing in Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and linking in the two movies. They continued this teasing with SHIELD and Fury and introduced the Black Widow in “Iron Man 2”. They brought in Hawkeye as a member of SHIELD in “Thor”. Then they wrapped it up with the appearance of Tony Stark’s father, and having Nick Fury and SHIELD show up one more time for “Captain America: The First Avenger”. So by the time they got to “The Avengers”, people were pumped up for it.

Did you see what Marvel did? They had a plan, they laid down the foundation, and then they worked on through to completion, keeping the audience in the loop and ever-so-curious as to what would be next. “Thor” may have been weak as a movie, but they didn’t stop everything because of it. They moved on, they pressed forward, and they continued with the plan to completion. And not only did they keep the continuity intact, but they also used characters that people already recognize. The only exception to this was the re-casting of Bruce Banner, but otherwise everything else about the character and his story remained.

Nick Fury, for instance, was re-made in the “Ultimates” version of Marvel Comics in 2000. Ironically, he was patterned after the man who would later play him in the movies. But this wasn’t a completely “new” reboot for the viewers. This didn’t happen overnight. Eight years went by before he appeared in “Iron Man”. Eight years for readers to get to know this version and to like this version enough to prefer him to the grizzled World War II vet originally created by Stan Lee and the late Jack Kirby.

Now I’ll remind you all that DC just hit the reset button on all of their characters last year. They still can’t make up their minds whether or not Wonder Woman should be wearing pants or panties. They can’t even get their own history right, claiming that about thirty years of trials and tribulations all happened within the span of the past five years.

Does this sound like DC Comics has a plan right now?

Even their current animated series on Cartoon Network, “Young Justice”, is a hodgepodge of characters from various versions of DC Comics that existed before their “Grand Reboot” last year. All of these characters are no longer recognizable in the current “mainstream” universe of DC Comics.

So if I were to talk about Batman’s sidekick “Robin”, would that be Damian Wayne, the ten-year old son of Bruce Wayne and former trained assassin? Or would you think Dick Grayson, now known as “Nightwing”? Or would you think Tim Drake, the former Robin now known as “Red Robin”? Or would you think Jason Todd, the Robin that was once killed by the readers and then brought back and is now known as “Red Hood”? In DC’s “New Universe”, it could mean all four. But in “Young Justice,” it could only mean either Dick Grayson or Tim Drake. Confused? And we haven’t even gotten to the thought of coming up with a motion picture!

Then there’s the matter of DC characters in recent live-action TV shows. There was the half-season series “Birds of Prey”, the recently-completed ten seasons of “Smallville”, the never-released “Wonder Woman” pilot, and this fall there will be a new “Arrow” series. Would any of these be tied into a possible movie? Would they be connected in any way to the current Batman movie series that is wrapping up this summer with “The Dark Knight Rises”?

Let’s get brutally honest here… DC Comics is simply not ready to do an “Avengers”-style motion picture!

Yes, Warner Brothers has the production means to come up with such a movie. And unlike Marvel, they don’t have to worry about licensing rights to the characters because they’re all in-house. Where their problem lies is with the source material for the movie to work from.

We’ve seen what happens when directors and producers stray from the source material. You get colossal flops like “Superman III”, “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”, “Supergirl”, and “Batman and Robin”. If you need further proof, then all you have to do is Google-search the names “Cathy Lee Crosby” and “Wonder Woman” and you’ll find a made-for-television abomination of “Wonder Woman” that existed in name only. That should be more than enough of a reason why it’s important to stick with the source material.

In order for a comic book movie to be truly epic, you need more than just money and casting. You need characters that the audience can relate to. “The Avengers” succeeded because Marvel re-introduced the audience to those characters before bringing them together as a team. In order for Warner Brothers to do the same, they need to make sure that DC Publishers DiDio and Lee get their act together first. Only then will they be able to come up with a movie that would be truly worthy of “The World’s Greatest Superhero Team”.

(Editor’s note: David 2 is not only a longtime comic book reader, but he is also a member of the City of Comic Creators, an organization dedicated to helping fan-made comic creators hone and perfect their skills. He is also the writer/editor/creator of “The Guardian Powers” and “Tales from Paragon City”.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Week of 06/04/2012

Try Practicing Some Standards First!
– by David Matthews 2

If the newspapers are to be trusted (and there are some people that do defer to their bumper-sticker mindset against the media), then most Americans pretty much have had it with the political system and its continued dysfunction.

Congress doesn’t work; that much we all seem to agree to. Both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate would much rather haggle over the “national mammal” than to do anything substantive. The Obama White House is in full spin-mode, which means it is concerned more with winning their re-election than in governing the nation. Meanwhile the GOP is hell-bent on making sure that President Barack Obama is a one-term president, even if it means destroying the country to do it.

The trained parrots of talk radio and cable news are busy regurgitating talking point memos about how “their side” is always right and the “other side” is always wrong. The evangelicals are whipping their mindless masses into an uproar over fictional “evils” that are supposedly just “right around the bend”, and then take the credit with those “evils” never materialize. Fear, hysteria, panic, rage, and self-serving self-righteousness all seem to be the only things we hear about.

The economy is broken; that much we all seem to agree on. Yet every solution proposed that would bring about real change is fought tooth-and-nail as being either ineffective, unfair, or else branded as being “Marxist”, even if those critics have no idea what Marxism is. There is a problem that needs to be addressed, we all know that it is a problem that needs to be addressed, but we supposedly can’t do anything about it. We are supposed to just let it fester and get worse and hopefully it will just correct itself on its own. Right; and if you buy that then you’ll love this great deal that I came across for a bridge in Brooklyn.

The two dominant political parties are supposedly “equally guilty” of screwing up America. That statement only works, though, if you define “equal” as one side engaging in bureaucratic sabotage and the other side simply doing nothing because it would supposedly “look better for them” in the elections. And the only way either side will accept blame is to say that both sides are supposedly “equally guilty”, but each refuse to be held to account for any of it.

But here’s the punchline, guys… in the long run, it’s our fault. All of it! We choose to listen to the trained parrots of talk radio and cable news. We choose to vote against our conscience and against our own beliefs. We are the ones that buy into the lies and buy into the false promises of the elected officials from Barack Obama on down to Joe the Town Manager.

We did that! We did! The spin doctors didn’t show up at the polling places and vote those politicians in for us. The trained parrots don’t control our radio dial or cable TV selections. The politicians didn’t turn us into idiots. The simple-minded bumper-sticker statements didn’t dumb us down, nor did they just magically appear on our cars. We did all of those things ourselves.

Guess what that means? Yes, as much as each of you will hate to admit to it, it is up to all of us to make the changes that we need.

Now I could go on about getting people who threaten to vote third-party to actually follow through with it, a practice that I’ve personally been doing since 1992. However, I think that even that is too much for the average jaded citizen to contemplate right now. Many of you are simply not ready to accept it. We need to start small and then work our way up to voting according to your conscience instead of what the overpaid political consultants tell you to do.

Let’s start by owning up to the faults of our respective groups.

For the longest time, the conservatives and neo-conservatives have played this mind-game on people to deflect any kind of accountability for their actions. They claim that their actions have been justified because of some perceived “false equivalence” that may or may not have happened. No matter what they say or do, no matter how bad the statement, action, stance, or policy is, they always find something said or done in the past that supposedly “justifies” it.

Rush Limbaugh, for instance, lies through his teeth about Sandra Fluke and brands her a “slut” and a “whore”. He gives a half-hearted apology, claims he’s being “persecuted”, then proceeds to attack her yet again. His cohorts then “double-down” on the rhetoric, repeating the same slanderous lie, and claim that they’re being “persecuted” when anyone questions them. Then their cohorts turn to Bill Maher and claim that he’s said “worse” about Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol and demand immediate retribution for something they refuse to accept themselves.

Now does any of that justify Limbaugh engaging in slander? No, it does not. Does that justify Limbaugh’s cohorts repeating the same slander? No, it does not. This is especially damning when you recall that it was Limbaugh that said over and over in his broadcast career that “words mean things”. Well, to borrow from “Animal Farm”, apparently some people’s words “mean more” than others.

But there are plenty that bought into it. They bought into the hypocrisy, and then they regurgitated that hypocrisy in forum posts and emails.

This is how damaging the tactic of using a false equivalence has been to our discourse. It has justified and institutionalized dangerously narcissistic behavior and called it “normal”.

The folks at Reason Magazine continually pull up some of the nastiest comments made in previous elections to justify the current discourse. Never mind that many of those comments of the past were made anonymously. Never mind if some of those past incendiary speakers had to deal with the consequences of their statements. No, according to the “Reason experts”, people said nasty things in the past, therefore other people should say things just as bad if not worse today.

In each instance, they fail to answer a simple question: does it make it right? The answer is a profound “No!”

In the 17th Century, American Colonists falsely charged people with witchcraft and had them put to death. Does that, then, justify Kansas preacher Curtis Knapp’s assertion that the government should execute all same-sex people?

We illegally detained thousands of Japanese-Americans, Italian-Americans, and German-Americans in the 1940’s. Does that, then, justify North Carolina minister Charles Worley’s assertion that the government needs to do the same to all same-sex people?

Go ahead and say it. You know you want to. The answer to both questions is “No!”

Let’s get brutally honest here… if we really want to fix the system, we need to start by dismantling the psychopathic justifications used to validate the extremist rhetoric, beginning with the “false equivalent”. We need to reject the asinine assertion that there is some point in history that justifies and validates every action and statement of ours, no matter how wrong it is.

I know this isn’t easy. I have a hard time with it myself. We hate to admit being wrong about anything. We hate having to defend the indefensible. But how can you expect better quality representation if you can’t first practice what you preach about that quality?

“This is how it is” is not a justification. It’s no different than saying “everyone does it”. It is an excuse for an anything-goes mindset. You’re not going to get anything better from it. The system will not fix itself if people continue to wallow in their hypocrisy.

You each have a choice to make. You can either continue to play the game that has been going on, or you can own up to your supposed “values” and practice what you preach. You cannot claim to want the latter and complain about the former. The politicians will not clean up their act on their own. The trained parrots in talk radio and cable news will not stop justifying hypocrisy as long as you’re still listening to them. The hellfire-and-brimstone ministers will not stop as long as the money keeps flowing into their coffers. If you want better quality representation, then you have to be a better quality person first. Then we can talk about voting for real alternatives instead picking between two dominant and equally failed political parties. But you have to first stop lying to yourself about it.

You have to choose. You have to choose to either do right or to find ways to excuse the wrong, but you can’t have them both. Choose.