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The difference between incorrect and evil

Jeffrey Bergeron
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Frank is a New York Yankee’s fan; he is also a moron.

In addition to being a moron he is a liar, and a jerk.

Anyone (who isn’t an idiot) can see that Frank is one.



Those three sentences (if you exclude many of my earlier columns and all my high school poetry) could be the dumbest words I’ve ever written.

Of course Frank is none of those things. Simply put Frank, for various reasons, loves the New York Yankees.



In fact, if I were to condemn him for real, as I did for effect, I would be guilty of all the invectives I heaped on my buddy.

Yet if you were to substitute “Yankee fan” for either “Liberal” or “Conservative,” those insults, or others like them, are often leveled between combatants during political discourse.

We have seemingly reached a point in political-public-debate where it is acceptable to insult those with whom you disagree. It has gotten to the point where we don’t debate the issues but, rather, attack the debater.



Perhaps it started with Archie Bunker calling his son-in-law “Meathead” and has evolved to Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity shouting down invited guests. (There are liberal hosts who do the same thing, but with much less success.)

Though talk radio and cable news might be a hotbed of discourtesy, insults and name calling are found in letters to the editor, online forums and TV news shows ” talk-shows have turned into shout-shows. The attacks tend to be much more aggressive when the forum allows for anonymous input.

Politicians have come to realize that the public pays more attention to emotional stereotyping than they do to the validity of the contrasting positions.

All this would be little more than bad behavior if it weren’t for the fact that, by casting issues as simply black or white, it disregards the subtleties. In truth, for all political and social issues there are usually compelling arguments on both sides; and with every alternative comes specific repercussions. No matter what your position, is you must be aware of the ramifications brought to bear by that position.

By not debating both the political choices and consequences rationally, we have reduced the dialogue to emotional misinformation. Thus is it more effective for conservatives to contend that liberals, who want the troops brought home, are aiding and abetting the terrorists. Liberals then have the nerve to suggest that those who favor a protracted occupation are insensitive to daily deaths of soldiers and civilians. This is little more than small-minded media and public servants posturing to placate the angry electorate. I truly believe that many rank and file Americans, on both sides, have deluded themselves to believe that the other side not just wrong but also evil.

I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to anyone who regularly reads my writings that I don’t care much for Bush or Cheney – and to put all my reasons on paper would require the slaughter of many trees.

But as far as Dick and W. go I don’t believe that they feel any less grief over the death of soldiers and civilians than does Ted Kennedy. At the same time, any conservative who holds the Democrats don’t have the best interests of our troops and the security of our country as a priority is not only wrong, but guilty of mischaracterization.

I think history will bear witness that Bush has been not been a good leader, but I accept as true that he has been more inept than evil. I also can’t help but believe that the vast majority of his administration, with whom I’ve so profoundly disagreed over the years, felt they were acting in our nation’s best interests. (I’ve also been told W. is a fun guy to mountain bike ride with.)

Political opinions are like X-rated videos that we keep hidden in our closest; we all have them. (Or is that just a liberal thing?) I personally hold many strong opinions which I maintain as valid. But I’d be both arrogant and ignorant if I suggested anyone who did not share those opinions was any less thoughtful or patriotic; even New York Yankee fans.

Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at biffbreck@yahoo.com.

Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.


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