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It Was Just Like Junior High School

Thursday, February 11, 2010, 12:29 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Flashback: 1976, but without the bad disco music and the really ugly clothes.

Last night, I got “un-friended” on Facebook. Oh, the indignity! Truth be told, I’ve probably been un-friended before, but with about 350-400 friends, it’s hard to keep track. The crux of this particular friend’s issue was that she didn’t want people who disagreed with her political opinions posting their disagreements on her page. That is her right; she can control what comments she allows to remain on her page. The First Amendment, after all, only prohibits the government censorship. Private parties, whether individuals or groups, can censor all they want. Over at my war memorial web site, I moderate all comments and censor those I deem antithetical to the purpose of the site—mostly spam, but I have also rejected a few comments I felt were objectionable. And if someone posted a really over-the-top comment here, I wouldn’t hesitate to delete it.

That said, the reason for The Great Schism is somewhat emblematic of political discourse in the era of Barack Obama, where dissent is no longer the highest form of patriotism. The administration paints any opposition to its policy goals as “obstruction” or “playing politics.” The mentality seems to be, How dare you question Us? Likewise, any disagreement with a supporter of the administration is a personal attack, with the attacker being not just wrong, but evil. I wish I could reproduce the exact comments exchanged in Facebookgate, but alas, when someone un-friends you, you can no longer see his or her page, including things you yourself posted there.

The gist of it was that she expressed some very negative opinions about conservatives, making broad generalizations in the progress. I objected to particular sexual characterization of those who have participated in what have come to be dubbed “Tea Parties.” Having attended one such protest last April and knowing she had some significant misunderstanding of what it was all about, I offered some facts of which she might not have been aware and suggested that before she made judgments, she should get some information from a source other than the histrionic Keith Olbermann. My post was met with the sound of crickets chirping.

Then I noticed she had posted a status message about several far-right TV and radio hosts she thought were “hate-mongers” and calling Sarah Palin a “dolt” who was forced upon her (I’m still not sure what that was supposed to mean). In the ensuing comments, she then complained about people who post insults on Facebook. I noted, with no small degree of snark, that she was entitled to insult anyone she wanted on her Facebook page. It would appear she didn’t appreciate the irony of my remark.

This woman has been a close friend for several years, but that really didn’t make the whole exchange any less ridiculous. Remarks by her and another commenter about “fucktards” and “I’m rubber, you’re glue” (yes, these are adults) prompted me to write something along the lines of, “This is just like 6th grade!” I can’t remember the exact words of any of this because by the time I decided to copy all the relevant posts and comments, presto! I was banned. Shut off. Or as she put it, Done.

If there is anything that irks me more than wilful ignorance, it’s deliberate immaturity. Which brings me back to my main point in this post. It’s easy to call names, not so easy to say something of substance that provides a rational justification for the name-calling. And if you can’t (or won’t) defend your opinions, any attack on them feels like a personal attack. Neo-neocon attributes it, in President Obama’s case, to narcissism. That is probably accurate where Obama is concerned, but for his fans, I suspect it’s simply a matter of personalizing the political. A great many Obama voters related to him on an emotional level. Now, with even some of his erstwhile staunchest defenders realizing it may have been too good to be true, the cult of personality is fading. That can’t be comfortable for those who are still true believers.

I don’t know if that’s my former friend’s reason, or if it was something entirely different. At the moment, I don’t really care. Maybe next week or next month I’ll feel sad about the whole thing. For now, I’m just relieved to be free of the schoolyard antics. I proceeded to have a more rational political discussion with another friend on my own page, and it was a breath of fresh air.

Categories: life, politics
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