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How it really is

Here in this bastion of blue-state Bush-bashers, I frequently have bruised shins. They're the result of my wife kicking me under the dinner table as I cast a huge pall over everyone's festive, Bush-bashing atmosphere by expressing my own opinions. But, as I explain to my wife, I never start these political conversations at social gatherings. Ever. I think it would be bad manners to do so. But when others start them (as they inevitably do) I will nonetheless finish them. It's odd how people feel free to make assumptions about others around them, and launch into a completely unsolicited political diatribe, yet then react in shock in horror when you respond in kind. Here's a great post from someone who knows exactly what it's like.

They always start political conversations. None of us do. We have learned that no one wants to argue issues on their merits, that the room gets very quiet and unfriendly, that people start screaming at you, or rant the most loopy beliefs and conspiracy theories. We just assume that is not a topic anyone can treat in a dispassionate manner.

But they always provoke political conversations. Well, not conversations, which would be enjoyable and enlightening. They make pronouncements. And look around the room to see if anyone not only doesn't agree, but doesn't agree enthusiastically. As a friend deep in the closet in the theater world put it, you can't just sit quietly and wait for the topic to change. No, you are suspect if you do not vocally endorse the official opinion of the group. You thought you were in a project meeting or a coffee klatch or a dinner party, and all of a sudden it has turned into the Communist Youth League Self-Criticism Session.

And then, after they have assumed, because no one in the room has fangs or horns, that a political support group is what everyone wants (and they do, except for you) - if you express your difference of opinion, they are offended that you spoiled the intimate feeling in the room by being other than they assumed, based on their superficial reading of you. In other words, they brought up politics, but they are the only ones who get to play. If you join in, you are the one who soured the conversation by bringing up politics. Because they weren't trying to start a political discussion, they just wanted to commiserate with friends. You party pooper.

Amen, sister. I can totally relate. Liberals are all for diversity and everything, but clearly there are certain kinds of diversity that they cannot abide -- diversity of opinion being foremost among them.

(Another way to look at this disparity: The left wing of the Democratic Party is trying to purge one of its most venerable leaders, Joe Lieberman, by painting him as a Republican in donkey's skin. The right wing of the Republican Party keeps Rudy Giuliani one of the top five contenders in straw polls for 08. They don't say that Giuliani or McCain and Schwarzenegger aren't Republicans. Nobody is trying to purge them and a surprising number of social conservatives would vote for Guiliani. Thus the Republican Party is a bigger tent than the Democratic Party.) (Dems hate it when you tell them that, but they can't refute it.)

Good point.


Um, if liberals are the "they", then no, "they" don't "always" start the political conversations. In my case, it is the right-wingers in my crowd who start them and I am the one with the bruised shins.

Look, I hate to get all moderate and thoughtful on you, but the truth is that the ones who start the conversations are the ones who think they will find people nodding in agreement at social gatherings, as a general rule. If you lived in Texas, then the odds are pretty good that "they" would mean Republicans. If you live in New Jersey then you probably get more liberal or Democratic or moderate "theys" than Republican "theys" (though my preferred phrases are "thems" vs "us'ns").

So that's me getting all moderate on your ass. I didn't want to do it, but you made me. Because, you know, the path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

A fair point, DBK. And that's why I began the post the way I did. I'm sure when my wife and I visit the South, the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. The only difference is I don't kick her shins. It amuses me when she gets into political arguments with social conservatives. ;-)

DBK: did you know that 'Bible' passage is just a figment of Tarantino's imagination; he wrote it for Pulp Fiction. Great passage, though

I kind of figured you were taking that line, but I made it more explicit.

Because that's how I roll.

I take the opposing side no matter where I find myself. How hard is it to bash loopy libs? How hard is it to bash hypocritical neocons? Neither groups is reasonable or moderate by definition. They are ideologues, with shit pumped into their brains by their masters, incapable of actual thought.

I love seeing the look of shame and the daggers of hatred in my direction when I ask a group of Limbaugh devotees if they think he should be prosecuted for the felonies he committed while abusing drugs.

Liberals are far more fun, however. For instance, the Dove Hunting is on the ballot here in Michigan. For some reason, many people assume I am against it, and proclaim that shooting doves is stupid, indefensible, and cruel.

Then I bring up my personal record of 312 doves shot in a single day down in Texas. My uncle, the Sheriff, had my aunt take them away so we never had more than 20 in possession (the legal limit) at any time. Then I go into shooting dragon flies with my shotgun too, and how funny they look sitting on a barbed wire fence with no wings, crawling around.


Trolls are a bore, Bailey. They amuse themselves but bore the crap out of me. I've been looking at trolls for twenty years now, since the days of USENET.

The grown-ups are talking. You run outside and play now and let the grown-ups talk.

Yes, Fred, I new that about that quote. I go here:

for anything to do with biblical quotations or when I need a handy, authentic, religious quotation.

> ...for twenty years now, since the days of USENET.

God bless you for even remembering USENET. :-)

I was pretty active in a newsgroup or two, but the flamers and trolls destroyed the political newsgroups. Moderated groups were the only safe places. Blogs are an improved form of newsgroup in that they are all moderated and you have so much choice now.

Try to stay on topic DBK. Your childish ad-hominem attacks have nothing to do with the topic, which is "discussing politics in varied environments".

Nothing in my post was a troll ... this time.

well i live in Atlanta and i have never heard a single right-winger start that shit in a social enviro, but hey this is Atlanta, not Dawsonville. I'm sure the situation is different in the sticks.

I think it's usually just unreasonable/wacko commies who do it. I have a ton of left-leaning friends and family and they don't usually do it either.

...they may dabble a bit in it, mind you.

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