Why I’m Quitting Fear
For years, host Jon Stewart said, America’s “24-hour politico-pundit-perpetual-panic-conflictinator” has been peddling a product for which reasonableness is irrelevant. People just can’t stop themselves from buying it. It’s a product that never goes away and generally has the effect of making people do or say crazy things. But there is power in it. A lot of power. In fact, entire businesses depend on it.
As you can tell, things got really serious after Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow performed, as they were clearly the reason most people were in attendance and the Rally was dying down after they left.
Crowded on all sides by thousands of strangers and their kooky signs, I realized that even for a foreigner (from a country where tea parties still involve elevated pinkies) there was still something to be learned from the experience.
Looking back at some of the outrage after the recent Bedford decision (concerning Ontario’s prostitution law), for example, it seems we’ve ourselves seen rhetoric take over what could otherwise have been predominantly rational discussion. Some of the public’s most vocal (read: loud) members’ reactions to Omar Khadr’s sentencing seem to have similarly had a drowning-out effect.
At some point or another, we’ve all seen truthiness win out over truth and fear defeat rational thinking. It’s easy to stand behind loud people, if only because their voices don’t carry as much back there. I know I’ve done it in the past; hopefully this isn’t me doing it again.
When Stewart explained the rally’s goal, to restore sanity, I realized, though – this is why thousands came here today, because what he’s arguing is (or at least should be) as inoffensive as it is logical. You have to be crazy to want to preserve insanity, after all.
So I guess what I’m saying is that we should all take Stewart’s invitation to start a love train, to join hands with people from all over the world. I know it’s going to be hard, especially when their opinions differ quite frighteningly from our own, but that’s part of the process of living together and cooperating.
Some say Stewart was too hard on hyper-partisan talking heads (on all parts of the political spectrum) who exaggerate and oversimplify issues and fears at the expense of rational thought. Maybe that’s true, but if you just take another talking head or writer’s word for it, then you’re doin’ it wrong.
If you’re still interested in fear amplification though, here’s a list of people that still do it well: ABC, CBS, AP, the New York Times, National Public Radio, and Anderson Cooper’s tight, black T-shirt. They’ve all won Stephen Colbert’s Fear Award (a naked man running with scissors) for refusing to allow their employees to even attend the Rally or for otherwise disseminating fear effectively, and so they come highly recommended.
As for me, I’ll do my best to welcome all rational arguments with an open mind because I’m certain that some of the best ideas out there aren’t my own.
Ricardo F. Golec