My parents taught me the old truth of public behavior: “If you can’t say anything nice about somebody, don’t say anything.”
In the “anything-goes-world”, the public discourse has changed to be as vicious as possible when talking about someone with whom you disagree.
I often mention the attitude made popular in the entertainment world of wrestling, known as “wrestle mania,” where the goal is to beat the opponent into a bloody pile of flesh left on the floor, with no possible way of recovering. The sad part about this attitude that has made its way into almost every segment of culture is that in the world of wrestling entertainment, the opponents know how the match is going to end. There are many people unable to separate entertainment from real life. The sudden arrival of the so-called “reality shows,” that supposedly turn on a camera and follow people around in their everyday activities has caused too many people to think that is real life.
Many of us can remember as children watching our favorite cartoon characters, and then acting out the actions we had witnessed on the television. With the spoiled rich kids in Hollywood and other entertainment mediums, once they star in a certain role, they seek to take on the character they have portrayed in the movies, music video or other fantasy venues. The continual unfortunate issue is that millions of people have great difficulty seeing the difference in “make believe” and “real life”.
Bringing that attitude into the political world, it has become almost expected that it is necessary to be negative and to point out the shortcomings and failing of one candidate in order to promote another candidate. Instead of making the decision to present a platform and position papers informing the voters as to the positions one holds as they offer to run for public office, most of the campaigning is taken up talking bad about the other candidates. It has also become part of some elements in the public policy area to believe they cannot just present their viewpoint and allow the people to make up their mind as to following or rejecting their worldview.
I admire men and women who can listen to opposing viewpoints without believing they have got to threaten someone who holds a different opinion. Being an opinion writer, I have often received comments from readers who delight in attacking me but never offer a rebuttal for their viewpoint. It seems our favorite new sport in America is to attack and name call, slurring any person who has a different viewpoint on any subject from sports, religion, politics, entertainment or any number of other positions.
I recently talked with a person who sees the world in a different way than I do. We had a long, civil conversation without anger or name calling. From where I stand, I wish we could all learn to interact with each other that way.
Follow Ray Newman on Twitter — @RayNewmanSr.
Where have you seen negative political ads? How do you respond to the negativity? Tell us in comments.