Chris Johnson: Always consider who is calling you stupid

March 17, 2013 

Months after the presidential election, I thought I would be able to log on to my Facebook and not find folks going off on daily political rants with such thoughtful words as "libtards" and over-simplified analysis of issues such as the economy, immigration and whether President Obama was born in Hawaii, Kenya or Pluto.

I say it's about time folks went back to posting images of the pork chop sandwich they had for lunch, talking about how beautiful Cousin Ethel's new baby is and sharing everything George Takei posts -- understandably, of course.

Yet, on an almost daily basis, dozens of my right-wing friends still accuse the poor of being lazy moochers, and a few of my left-wing friends accuse corporations and rich folks of being greedy and selfish. Both, of course, are total generalizations and way too simple conclusions regurgitated from the road way too traveled. For instance, I know darn well some corporations are lazy moochers, and there are plenty greedy, selfish poor people. Just yesterday I asked Crazy Jimmy for a sip of his gin, and he just shook his head and rudely crawled back into his cardboard box.

Yes, it is lonely being one of the three centrists remaining in this ludicrously polarized nation of ours. If I say anything that edges to the right, I'm a inbred redneck hillbilly, and if I say anything that doesn't agree with the extreme right, I'm a libtard. And if I say anything that's good, old-fashioned common sense -- such as balancing the budget will take spending cuts AND tax restoration -- they all look at me like I just asked for a sip of their gin.

With half of my Facebook friends on the left and half on the right, I'm in no-man's land. But being able to see two sides of a story gives you perspective. And during a particularly harsh day of Obama bashing and a few racist comments on Facebook, I got to wondering. "How would these folks have reacted if 9/11 and the Iraq war based on false information had happened on Obama's watch?" I'm pretty much convinced that if 9/11 happened under Obama, he'd have been run out of office by pitchfork-wielding right-wingers screaming "libtard!" on 9/12.

The problem is not that I got to wondering. The problem is I got to wondering in a Facebook status update.

Oopsies!

My point was that I thought there might be a double-standard. But my friends from the left and right went straight to stone-throwing. A left-winger's facts were blasted as not facts, but instead White House and "lamestream media" talking points. The right-winger's facts were blasted as Fox News talking points. And, inevitably, the words "libtard" and "Kool Aid" came out. I did everything I could to quell the debate, mainly in the form of smileys.

I think Facebook could be a great back-and-forth forum for people to discuss different views, but instead it always seems to devolve into "Everybody who doesn't agree with my 'facts' is stupid."

However, I think Facebook could solve this problem by requiring anyone who calls anyone else stupid must follow that post with their official, independently tested IQ as a reference point. Of course, it might verify my suspicion that folks with higher IQs are less likely to resort to name-calling in lieu of a reasonable argument. And, let's face it, we've all got a lot of Facebook friends who can't even spell IQ.

Oh well, until Facebook comes up with such controls, I'll go back to my resolution to stay out of polarized politics. Besides, that'll free up more space for my double-chili-cheeseburger photos.

-- Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent. Connect with him at Facebook.com/KudzuKidWriting.

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