The Writing Life

Friday, May 26, 2006

Moral High Ground

One of the things I have difficulties with when reading various blogs is that it appears to be okay to make disparaging comments about those on "the other side" that would never be acceptable when describing one's own side.

Some of these insults are in the socially acceptable (read: the group that it disparages has no voice) put-downs, like weight. Calling someone 'fat' appears to be perfectly okay, despite the fact that the majority of the population is now overweight. And often, the person casting that stone could stand to lose a few pounds, but isn't quite as fat as the object of derision, therefore making it 'okay' to be mean-spirited, insulting, and hypocritical.

Both sides of the political spectrum do this, and I don't like it on either side. Each side is vying for the title of "moral high ground", and if that's your aim, perhaps you should start with your own words. The Right claims moral superiority through Biblical teachings, protecting cells (whether in a womb or 'stem'), and proselytizing about the sanctity of marriage (i.e., keeping it only for heterosexuals). The Left claims moral superiority through talk of tolerance (for approved groups, of course), saving the environment, and freedom of choice.

Both have their points, and those with deep hearts, regardless of political conviction, are coming from a place of belief and 'morality'. But there are many who are almost interchangeable with their opposition when it comes to hitting below the belt.

If a pundit is overweight, the insults are fast and voluminous, regardless of the political ideals. An alien, observing our culture, wouldn't be out of line thinking that being overweight was a crime of the highest order. Fat, instead of being equated with physical size, becomes synonymous with low IQ, bad personal hygiene, laziness – the list goes on. Calling someone fat becomes synonymous with so many negative adjectives that no one appears to notice that there are actual fat people who are none of these things. Weight has nothing to do with IQ. Nor does it mean one never bathes. Skinny doesn't mean one has no courage. Short doesn't mean one is forever childlike. And the list goes on.

Making fun of someone's physical appearance, their weight, their height, the shape of their face – anything – is universally accepted as fair game. The Left calls Bush "The Chimp in Chief" because of his physical resemblance to that primate. The Right makes fun of Michael Moore's weight and sometimes scruffy appearance as if these alone explain why one never has to believe anything he ever puts in his films.

Women are often the brunt of jokes, whether it's derisive language about women, or likening men to women (see my posts below about the Americablog fracas where John Aravosis called Sen. Pat Roberts a "Big Girl"). Apparently, the moral high-grounders feel it's okay to call Ann Coulter (on the Right) or Maureen Dowd (on the Left) slang words for female sex organs. Yeah, that's taking the high road, all right.

Seems to me, if you want to take the position of morality, or 'people who are correct in their thinking', then for crying out loud, show us in your language. Attack the ideas, not the person. Insult the policy, not an individual's looks, or gender, or sexual identity. Don't sink to your opponent's level!

Right now, I identify more strongly with the Left than the Right. I believe in things like helping fellow citizens with health care, strong education, environmental protection, the eradication of poverty, alternative fuels, and the equality of races, genders, and sexual identity. I don't believe in attacking countries for oil, tax cuts for the wealthy, denying gays their civil rights, or giving men control over a woman's body.

It's time we all (meaning on both sides of the political fence) stopped the petty, vicious, demeaning attacks on individuals. Disagree with their ideas, their policies, their written and spoken statements, but don't add the obligatory fat or horse-faced or troglodyte or pussy or munchkin or retard. These undermine everything you think you stand for if you are claiming even the tiniest piece of Moral High Ground.

1 Comments:

  • ohhhh hey! I posted there too a lot! See my posts? my pie remarks? and sand in the crotch? Gone, of course.

    And the funny thing is I didn't do a GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD post, but I really don't check in there any more. I let go of americablog because of that one post.

    The ability to be human enough (I did write man enough, but changed my mine) to say "I shouldn't have done that and I'm sorry if I offended anyone" turns out to be really really important to me.

    Maybe because the prezdent never manages to do anything like that?

    By Blogger Kate R, at 7:15 AM  

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