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Sun Jul 12, 2015, 11:00 PM

Thursday Night at the Fights

ďSir, Iím not commenting on what you did. Itís immaterial to me. No, your line of reasoning, sir, doesnít fit me.Ē
-- Malcolm X; WINS radio debate; February 18, 1965.


Since my youngest graduated in June, Iíve been slowly re-entering the local social-political arena. A speech here, another there, and a local government board meeting. Because I like to think of these in a context similar to my competing in the sport of boxing as a young man., like an old fighter returning to the ring, Iíll engage in relatively easy events, to prepare for future competition.

On Thursday past, at an open meeting, a woman took the opportunity to verbally attack me, saying that I am ďunethical.Ē She was representing a group that have named themselves the ďland-ownersĒ and the ďtea party.Ē They dislike me, because in their minds, I am largely responsible for organizing the environmental community in opposition to hydrofracking.

She also called another woman there ďunethical,Ē among other things, for simply expressing support for my positions. This led to the attacked lady getting upset by the viciousness of the verbal assault that she began to cry. I assume the rabid lady mistook this for weakness, as she continued to harass the other woman in the parking lot, after the meeting had ended. The lady who supported me told the other that she was the lowest form of human life she had ever encountered.

I have no problem in saying that I like the woman who supported me, better than the other one. But it would be wrong if I only listened to people who like me, and support my beliefs, while ignoring critics. I have no difficulty in hearing out those who disagree with me. Iím not afraid to debate important issues. Still, I think the one person went a bit too far. No one else appeared to want to be associated with her, once she started talking.

I know that social-political activism isnít a pillow fight. I try to understand peopleís motivation. In this case, there is a group who -- upon the advice of the head of a regional energy corporation -- invested their life-savings in land Ö.land they bought, believing that theyíd soon be wealthy, as a result of drilling for gas. They dreamed of being the next Jed Clampett, but it didnít work out as they had hoped. Yet, while I do not feel responsible, Iím not taking any pleasure in their current difficulties.

However, they are running a tea party candidate against a local District Attorney, for that county office. I am assisting the DAís campaign for re-election. And the tea party associates me with several recent political contests, in which I assisted Democrats in defeating the tea party candidates. So Iím likely to encounter them again, between now and November.

While Iím proud of my role in local, regional, and even state politics, I am the first to recognize that I havenít accomplished what is being attributed to me. At best, Iíve been an active part of a larger effort. But, for a variety of reasons, Iíve come to symbolize something larger than myself in these peopleís minds. In that sense, I realize that they donít really ďhateĒ me -- for they donít know me; they hate the projected image they have created of me, which exists only inside their minds.

What is at times difficult for me -- and those ďtimesĒ can include in public situations, while Iím being attacked -- is trying to find the balance required to respond correctly. Again, I am okay with going after their ďpoliticsĒ in a firm manner; however, I do not want to attack them as individual human beings. Iím not suggesting that I want to be friends with them. Or that I like them. They arenít the type of folks that Iím going to invite over to my house, to socialize with.

I think it is good enough to not respond in kind, not to trade insults with, or attempt to out-do with half-witty debatersí points. I would prefer to treat them with respect as fellow human beings and community members, who have the right to express their opinions openly. That proved difficult Thursday, in part because I had not expected the outbursts in that setting. Twice, I had to struggle internally, to keep from delivering an insult myself.

Instead of fully engaging her in a debate -- I had no interest in attempting to change her mind -- I focused my responses on communicating with the others in the room. I believe that her aggressive and hostile presentation worked against her. The others appeared sympathetic towards me, and very willing to listen closely to what I was saying. On our ride home, the friend I attended the meeting with said he believed the hostile woman had behaved in such a manner that she isolated herself from the crowd.

I thought a lot about this today, as I sat out near my pond. I thought about the amount of hostility that poisons the atmosphere. I remembered my friend saying that he was surprised that I didnít (verbally) go after the lady aggressively. I donít think any good purpose would have been achieved in my doing so. Iím not sure what the ultimate answer is, obviously. But I think marginalizing her tactics is the best bet. What do you think?

Thanks,
H2O Man

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Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Thursday Night at the Fights (Original post)
H2O Man Jul 2015 OP
spanone Jul 2015 #1
H2O Man Jul 2015 #6
NBachers Jul 2015 #2
H2O Man Jul 2015 #7
mmonk Jul 2015 #3
H2O Man Jul 2015 #8
raouldukelives Jul 2015 #4
H2O Man Jul 2015 #9
Octafish Jul 2015 #5
H2O Man Jul 2015 #10
kydo Jul 2015 #11

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jul 13, 2015, 01:01 AM

1. i applaud your civility.

your tolerance and respect is admirable

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Response to spanone (Reply #1)

Mon Jul 13, 2015, 02:22 PM

6. People are strange,

as Jim Morrison noted.

There's far too high a level of toxicity in public debates. There would be no benefit in my adding to it. And I'm confident enough in my position on issues such as fracking, that I find the personal attacks to be unnecessary distractions.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jul 13, 2015, 01:02 AM

2. I think backing her into the ropes and pummeling her would've been very satisfactory.

But I get the impression she ended up swinging against the air while you were addressing the crowd. I doubt she's been disarmed, but it sounds like you let her paint herself into a corner.

There'll be times to go all Joe Louis on 'em. But no sense brawling and getting pulled into the pit when you can use your brains instead. You're appealing to the better instincts of the audience. That's good.

Just imagine how insufferable they would've been if they had become jillionaires.

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Response to NBachers (Reply #2)

Mon Jul 13, 2015, 02:27 PM

7. Very good.

Your last point, in particular, had me laughing -- for it is as funny as it is accurate!

What is sad is that for a lot of the population, the idea that such hostility serves as a more important option than discussing facts. I'm sure that, at some level, she felt that she had done good ....the old, "Boy, I really told him off" bit.

Luckily, plenty of others find that type of behavior unattractive.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jul 13, 2015, 01:36 AM

3. Yes, I do too.

But I struggle quite a bit with internal anger. Sometimes I just get plain tired. And the more tired I am, the quicker I am to follow the other route. I suppose that is the struggle inherent in any resolve to try and improve things. Balance in temperament requires patience and later looking at where you are at the end of the day before making assessments not emotion driven.

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Response to mmonk (Reply #3)

Mon Jul 13, 2015, 02:35 PM

8. It can be

a struggle to hold back sometimes. My mind often works in a way that has me thinking of pointed barbs that might be fun to hurl back at those who make themselves easy targets. And, in cases such as last Thursday evening, that person could be said to have deserved a harsh response.

Yet, I know that the tactics of King are superior. And important, even (maybe especially so) when it is difficult.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jul 13, 2015, 09:06 AM

4. I think you are on the right track.

People tend to instinctively react aggressively to facts that threaten ones worldview and most especially, ones wealth.

Nobody wants to be wrong, and the last thing someone who is wants to hear is snark. I try to bear in mind that for some people, the information I am relaying, will be the first time they have ever heard it.

Like band that has been together for decades still having to play that same old classic song, but with the same energy they had when they created it, in order for the "kids" who have never heard it to "get it". I would imagine it can be trying at best and nigh impossible at worst, to recreate that enthusiasm. To remember that for some, this is possibly the beginning of a long relationship with reality for the first time.

I always liken the battle for a liveable planet to the battle against slavery. They both threaten the future of everyone, they ensure many will automatically be born into misery, and the main reason people are against addressing it is because they personally profit from it.

I even fear, just as then, some would resort to war to ensure they have never have to do any work themselves. Willing to trade the lives of untold millions for personal comforts today.

I'm not a fighter, but if I were, I'd work on the body before I started tossing jabs at the head.

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Response to raouldukelives (Reply #4)

Mon Jul 13, 2015, 03:56 PM

9. Good points. Thanks.

One of the names this group calls me is a "collectivist." I understand that they consider it an insult, but that isn't the reason why I prefer "communalist." And I do recognize the irony in that, as I tend to be a recluse/ hermit by nature. Yet, I do believe in community rights and responsibilities.

I'm also big on individual rights and responsibilities, as well. I have no general interest in what other people do on their own property. But since fracking can and does poison the common water supply, it is fair to request that individuals refrain from such a risky practice.

Those in the "land-owners" pro-fracking movement are, of course, hoping to score big, and become wealthy. And I do understand that ....we all have bills to pay. I don't attempt to reduce their humanity, or identify them as "the enemy." (I am comfortable in identifying, say, Dick Cheney and his ilk as the enemy.)

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jul 13, 2015, 10:52 AM

5. Bridges and walls can be built or broken.

Keeping it simple for Fox viewers:

The key to rhetoric is helping the other side see your point. First you communicate to establish who-know-what-terms. Then the rhetorician builds a bridge to extend understanding between the two points, eventually leading the other party across to his or her side.

The pro-fracking mean lady made the typical right-wing nutjob mistake of thinking hers is the only POV or the only POV that matters. Doing so, she built a wall rather than a bridge to anyone trying to understand her position.

Gen. George S. Patton was wont to tell his staff: ''When everybody is thinking alike, nobody is doing any thinking.'' The idea was that the conference table -- not the battlefield -- is where the flaws in the battleplan should be discussed. Same goes for the big shots of industry or the local little league dugout, you don't learn anything by talking but by listening.

I'm tempted to suggest that you don't tell her any of this. Not that it would sink in, but she seems to deserve her lot, ignorance.

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Response to Octafish (Reply #5)

Mon Jul 13, 2015, 04:00 PM

10. Right.

Several times, over the years, I've noted that Malcolm X used to say that if you placed a clean glass of water side-by-side with a glass of sludge, you can trust a thirsty person to make the right choice. Even in this instance, I believe the lady would opt for the clean water -- at least for herself and her family. But it's that willingness to limit the choice of others to that sludge that is a bit troublesome.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jul 13, 2015, 04:28 PM

11. Thank You H2OMan

You did what I strive to do. Treat every person with dignity.

I deal with many people on a daily basis who are republicans of the tea bag persuasion. Mention global warming and they tell you they hate Al Gore and his hoax and how he is rich because of this lie. But it is fine for other rich white people to buy presidential candidates because it's their money and they can do what they want. Oh it gets better, most of these are devout Catholics, so they are totally confused by Pope Francis. Not happy about his economic and environment stances would be an understatement.

I don't back down on my political views, they know I am a liberal. But I don't try to change their minds. Only they can change their minds. I let them talk their crap. It really is like you say how these bagger types really hate this projected image of what they think a liberal democrat is. But what generally sets them off on a terror is that we are nothing like that image they hate but they are so ingrained with hate to certain buzz words they go berserko with rage. Oddly when one removes those buzz words I have found many republican types tend to agree with what I said.

Kind of like Harvey Milk and his thing about encouraging Gay people to come out. It's easy to hate someone or something you don't know but much harder to hate someone or something you do know.

Thanks again H2oMan! You rock dude!

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