How to tell if someone is full of sh*t

Up front:  My opinions and conclusions are my own. Just because we disagree about something, it doesn’t mean that I think you’re racist, stupid, hateful, hell-bound or full of it.  I’m tired of those cards being played.  The “disagree with me and I’ll slap a weaponized label on you”.

I can’t kick my podcast listening habit.  That is, listening to podcasts by people whom I don’t agree with and in some cases just don’t like.  I’m sure in person they would be wonderful human beings, but their rhetoric.  Oy.

(Sometimes I miss George Carlin.)

And sometimes when you’re listening to something and it hits you wrong, you can’t explain why.  Not at first, anyway.  I’ve settled on a personal theory, though, that simplifies things.  Ideologues are generally full of crap.  I use that word a lot — ideologue.

“An adherent of an ideology, esp. one who is uncompromising and dogmatic”

” an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology”

I talk about this often so you probably already know that I listen to a number of Christian conservative radio shows and I listen to a number of progressive, liberal radio shows.  Why and how?  Eh.  Here’s what I’ve learned:  People are scared and angry.

I’m tired of shows and so-called “news” programs — they’re more editorial — where they have the same guests who say the same things.  Some shows are definitely informative.  Some are just … righteously whiny.  The hosts ask loaded, baited questions that allow for a yes/no answer with clarification.  It’s the format of the show.

Host: Do you think George Bush’s/Barack Obama’s policies on international relations are simply a post-modern crusade leading us to ruin, damnation and a hell of global warming/fascist Muslim socialism?

Guest: Why, yes I do.  Because he’s unintelligent/egotistical.

Host:  Thank you for your time.  We’ll have our guest back again soon to say the same thing in a slightly different way to the same questions asked in a slightly different way.

That’s how they do.

RACHEL MADDOW

I used to love Rachel Maddow when she had her hour long radio show on Air America.  Pithy, to the point, everything was well researched and Kent Jones provided a great humorous counterpoint in his segments and interactions with Rachel.  Then they expanded her show to two hours, which you’d think would make it two times better.  Then they expanded it to three hours, if I remember correctly.   And you know what that means for radio.  A call-in show.  Plus guest hosts most of the time.  Someone who reads articles or relays happenings, insults a few public figures, riles up the audience and then opens the phone lines.

Then Rachel was going on TV shows and things were happening in the background, then they put her podcast behind the pay wall, and then there were guest hosts most of the time, and then simulcasts of her TV appearances.  And then Air America went belly up and Rachel Maddow made a transition to her own TV show.  Good for her.  I was sad about the radio show even though it swelled, bloated and then fell apart like the death cycle of a smallish sun and I was excited at the prospect of her reaching the masses.

ALERT!  I do not think that Rachel Maddow is full of it.  But I can’t watch her show anymore.  The format is full of sh*t.  TV land does that to good material.  Come listen to someone that will tell you what you want to hear.  It’s a safe haven where we can be angry at this or that conservative together in a way that will affirm your sense of moral superiority.  She is still awesome, but the show grates on my nerves.

RELIGIOUS STUFF

I heard a podcast the other day and the guests were a husband and wife who have, like, 12 kids.  I think that’s right.  It’s a well respected thing to do in that segment of the Christian conservative (I’ll call it CC here on out) world.  That’s 12 blessings.  Adopt Asian children, have a litter of children, and so on.  Personally, I don’t have a problem with people having that many kids.  I just wonder, “How the hell does anyone afford that??”  Especially when the husband is traveling around the country doing speaking engagements and radio shows.   Oh, and home schooling, of course.  That’s big in the CC world.  Seriously, though.  Twelve kids?  Groceries, clothing, bills, furnishing a house, school supplies, dental and medical bills, not to mention college on the horizon.

Anyway, this particular family is traveling around the country in an RV.  The host of the show asked the guests if environmentalists ever got on their case for having so many kids, driving around in an RV, etc.  And then the host went off on a brief tangent about how Obama was taking away our freedoms and if someone wants to buy an SUV whose business is it and the government rargh telling us what to do…

ALERT! ALERT!  What??  Where did that come from?  When did President Obama say that people can’t buy gas guzzling vehicles and have lots of kids?

Wait a minute.  Waaaait a minute.  This guy is full of it.  Because he sees the world through the lens of what he already believes, which entwines his politics and his religion.  Because he believes that he believes in the Truth, he wants to be aligned with that Truth, and therefore his beliefs are the Truth.  Facts and information can’t penetrate that barrier.

I ran across the Catholic cable channel and watched a show about Family Planning.  That episode was titled “Embracing God’s Gift for your Marriage”.  It was kind of hard to understand what it was about, but I think it was about using the rhythm method as family planning.  The show before that was an anti-abortion show.  They answered a viewer question asking why a woman who has been raped is wrong to get an abortion.

Wow.  The host stated everything as a simple cut and dry fact.  Women who are raped and have abortions suffer the trauma of being raped and the trauma of having an abortion.  Women who are raped and have the baby are healed by the love for the babies they give birth to.

ALERT!  ALERT!  As I scratch my head.  Wha?  Really?  It’s like that?  That simple, huh.  Somebody’s full of it.

GAY MARRIAGE

And don’t even get me started on gay marriage.  Or the opposition to gay marriage, I mean.  One of the shows, the host read his newsletter proclaiming how it’s the end of marriage and society and America, more or less.  He acknowledged that some people might construe his apocalyptic warnings as hysteria.  Exactly.

I disagree with him, obviously.  You may agree with him.  That’s fine.   And let me make this crystal clear again.  My opinions and conclusions aren’t the apex of reasoning.  I know it.  If we disagree about something, it doesn’t mean that I think you’re unintelligent or hateful or automatically manure laden.

But hysterical arguments just … they don’t hold up in the long run.  Increasingly, society is becoming less afraid of gay people.  You can’t control what other people do.  Well, unless you’re willing to implement some kind of brutal, murderous regime.  Barring that, you just have to live your life and try to live up to your own ideals.

He said that kindergartners will be taught about homosexuality and can you imagine children that young being exposed to sexual perversion.

ALERT!  ALERT!  Hold on a minute.  So letting kids know that there are gay people and that you should treat them with respect and as equals … oh, I see.

You can teach really young kids about marriage and love without explaining sex and genitals and penetration and genital warts and money shots.  Obviously.  But in the minds of CCs you can’t teach kids about the existence of a gay couple without explaining anal and oral sex??  What about affection?  What about bonding?  What about love?

Some criticisms say more about the critic than the subject matter at hand.

Hm.  It also becomes clear that CCs paint themselves into a corner when they imply that the only real family is a dad, mom and kids.  What about single parent households?  Blended families?  Extended relatives raising kids?  Households based on friendship and financial necessity.

If families are the backbone of society, wouldn’t more cohesive family units make our society stronger?  If you’re against gay marriage then demonstrate how Brian and Steve getting married is going to destroy Laura and Jay’s marriage.  Show the world how Massachusetts and Hawaii have turned into post-apocalyptic nightmares.

Slippery slope arguments and apocalyptic doomsaying  are key indicators of fecal overflow.

BLACK STUFF

I’m running out steam here.  I’ll see if I can muddle through with the rest of this.

Angry Black Man Radio.  That’s what I call it.  Progressive radio is a pretty old audience on average.  That explains why just about every black show is about racism or The System.  Specifically, it’s about 1950’s and 1960’s style racism.  If you’re lucky.  You will get some guests who posit that America now is no different than it was in the 1850’s and 1860’s.

It’s about the White Man.

Take the riots in Britain as an example.  Lower class ethnic people rioting in outrage after a young black man was shot to death by police, which soon turned into semi-organized looting sprees.  The British authorities were slow to react, apparently not wanting to just march in and beating people down.  They’ve been deliberating for days on whether or not to use water cannons to control crowds.  Very curious, from our perspective.

The outrage of the impoverished, idle and hopeless.  It finds ways to boil over.  Increasingly so around the world.

ALERT!  I heard one commentator say that the young black men were rioting out of the rage of oppression — a necessary revolutionary uprising — and there were some white guys who just came out to loot.  Black good, White bad.  As if there aren’t poor, disenfranchised white people, too.

There’s more to the world than black and white.  But a lot of black progressives just can’t get past it.  They’re stuck and are bordering on obsolete, in my opinion.

I heard someone else say that — let me paraphrase:   Racism, racists, the UK is jealous of America’s racist authoritarian violence, Imperialists, black people, white racists.  That was the gist of it.  The same person once uttered a sentence that made me do that quizzical, head-at-an-angle confused puppy thing:

“White mainstream media and the kinds of black people that work for them…”

ALERT!  The kinds of black people that work for them?  I had a thought recently.  Maybe that’s why I listen to things I find inflammatory.  I realize things that I wouldn’t otherwise.  Here’s what I realized.

Black people are the only ones still classifying black people as house and field negroes.  We’re the ones who are perpetuating a slave mentality.  We’re the ones stuck in a loop.  Everybody else is moving on.  I’m telling you (again), the statistics speak for themselves.  There’s no need for any kind of white conspiracy against black people because we seem to be on auto-pilot going in circles and facing backwards.

I heard an older gentleman on the radio, a native of DC, talking about all of the white people moving into the neighborhood where he’s lived for decades.  He said there are more pets, more dogs, on his block now than there are black people.  He said that you can see the arrogance of the white gentrifiers when they walk down the street and how they push for things like dog parks and bike lanes.  Whoa.

Imagine if a white commentator said something about the arrogance of black people moving into his neighborhood.

A QUICK TANGENT

A Facebook friend posted that he was in a barber shop/salon and overheard a conversation between two black women.  One of them said, “I need to get into shape.  I should join a gym.”

The other woman said, “A gym?  Why would you do that?  That’s something white people do.”

On auto-pilot.  Going in circles and facing backwards.

HOW TO TELL

I just had a notion that the quickest and most apt response to this blog entry is to say that I, the guy writing this, am full of sh*t.  That’s too easy, though.

So here’s the deal.  People who are full of it usually aren’t unintelligent.  They aren’t liars, necessarily.  But they have an angle.  They have a filter.   They perceive the world through that filter and what they already know is pretty much the only thing that makes it through.  To switch metaphors, they will hammer the hell out of any screw.  Hammer it flat or at least down.

The title is tongue in cheek, yes.  But it comes from a realization that with all the various shows and news broadcasts I hear and see, I’m not being informed.  I get information, sure, but then I get the spin.  There are times when I’m pretty sure that what I just heard isn’t entirely true.  And many times where I know that motives are being projected on to certain people and entities.

There are some people who get paid to be purveyors of bovine excrement.  Those are easy to spot, though.  I guess we’re left with the task of sifting through the opinions, the spin, the editorializing, the complicity with corporate owners and government departments.  You can’t just be a passive consumer of information.  Well, you can be.  But I don’t wanna.

It amazes me that we have access to an astronomical amount of information and I would bet that the vast majority of it is tightly controlled.  Then reactionary responses.  And what’s left?

I’d like to know where you get your news/information.  Do you have a source that you trust?

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9 comments

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  1. Sarah Benelli

    Not quite finished reading, but your fb friend’s barber shop story reminded me:

    A Mexican-American friend of mine posted that she felt so “white” because she had printed out math practice worksheets for her daughter to work on while she was with her in the office last week. I was very puzzled. Not in that disingenuous ‘i’m-white-and-i’m-oblivious-to-racial-stereotypes-because-i’m-so-pure-of-heart’ type of way. I mean I genuinely didn’t understand the comment. When she explained to me that it was “white” of her give her kid math practice during summer, I was inexplicably irritated with her. But after reading up to this point in your blog entry, I can now explain why: she was full of sh*t.

    Now, to finish reading.

    -Sarah B

  2. garyarthuryoung

    Ha! If you tell her that, let me know what she says.

    Well, at least she was doing the right thing. Despite the bullcrap notion in some of our cultures that discipline, foresight and valuing education are “white” attributes. So frustrating.

    Oh. And… Sarah!!

  3. bbebop

    first of all, i’m full of shit. not in an ideological kind of way, although i do hang to the left (actually, i’m a carey democrat which puts me close to what used to be the middle, but i digress). no, i’m FOS in the way that once got me labeled a “long-winded arrogant buffoon.” mostly, i think, because i like to engage in discussions about policy and politics, and my posts were on the long end. (see, i’m doing it again…).

    i’m also old enough to have experienced the kind of racism you describe as 50s and 60s, and pretty sure racism, though evolved, still exists today. but the evolution mostly means it’s become institutionalized and much more subtle, nuanced even. and get this, most of the time people think they’re experiencing racism, there are several other, equally, perhaps more, plausible explanations. and if it could be something else, how can you say that it is, you know, racism?

    which is why, back in my LWAB daze, i used to advocate complete abandonment of the word. if anything and everything can qualify, the word has lost all meaning and power.

    i get my info from a lot of places, mainstream and not. i can’t do what you do and listen to rw talk radio because they’re full of shit. and while i agree rachel maddow, lawrence odonnell and some of the others aren’t so actually FOS (or just plain wrong), i also (interestingly despite being an LWAB) just can’t stand blowhards. which is what i think of much of msnbc’s lineup, including ed what’s-his-last-name. and especially including rev. what’s-his-name. i mean, seriously, that’s who you’re going to put on teevee??

    i do have a corallary to your theory though. FOS isn’t the thing for me. what i’ve discovered over the years is that the things i noticein other people, the things i complain about most, are often the very things i’m guilty of. it’s like i recognize that someone else is, for example, a control freak because I AM a control freak. i don’t like being controlled means i actually want to do the controlling.

    probably not the first or last to espouse this idea, and don’t know of any scientific (pseudo or otherwise) evidence one way or the other. but it sure seems true, and not just for me. the more i witness people complaining about this or that behavior, the more i find evidence that the complainer is guilty of the very. same. thing.

    perhaps this is a different kind of filter? it takes one to know one?

    anyway, again, keep thinking and writing. i do enjoy reading and thinking about what you say here!

    bbebop (LWAB extraordinary!)

    • garyarthuryoung

      I don’t think I’ve ever been called a name. I have been called out, though. Well, I was deemed ignorant and judgmental.

      Oh. I have been called pretentious, self-righteous and holier than thou.

      Abandonment of “racism”. Now that’s progressive thinking.

      You should go on one of these shows and be interviewed about that. Deep.

  4. bbebop

    oh, one more thing. there’s another kind of FOS-ism that’s currently driving me crazy. it’s the stay safely in the middle and blame left and right equally on everything meme. cnn is the main cable practitioner of this art, but so do virtually all mainstream media types who are not actual practicing opinion columnists (and many of the op-eders play the same game).

    lot’s of reasons why this behavior is happening and i think it’s pretty destructive. and so, it makes short work of much of the dialogue found on teevee these days. thank god for the 30-second-jump-ahead button on my tivo remote!

    a few of my favorite sources these days: ezra klein, jim fallows, chuck todd (when he’s talking about campaigns and elections), rachel (when she is interviewing actual guests if my watching can survive the interminably long set-up soliloquies), the newshour when the discussants are not delivering FOS talking points (alas, david brooks — you’re guilty as charged).

    ok, that’s enough blah. blah. blah. sorry…

    • garyarthuryoung

      Ha. FOS. That’s excellent.

      Blowhards. That’s an excellent word. The Attack Jerks of whichever side.

      I also have a pet peeve about certain news organizations doing the false equivalency thing. NPR and CNN seem to take that tack. “Here’s what John Johns said. Here’s what Joan Jones said. Everyone has strong opinions. And that’s the news.”

      Bill, you’re definitely not full of sh*t, in my opinion. You’re rational and not dogmatic. If you’re going to be long-winded, please feel free to do so in your comments. Or in your blog so I can read your thoughts there, too.

  5. tslajs

    The thing that I’ve come to not like about Rachel is her claiming that she’s “just trying to get more information out there”. That she’s not biased. That she doesn’t have an agenda. Um… gonna have to call bullshit. (Bear in mind that I’m a flaming liberal myself.) I mean, I’m on her side, agenda-wise, but let’s be honest.

    What I like, though, is that she and her team do more and better investigative reporting than just about any other show. They cover (important!) things that no one else even talks about. Makes me wish that current events wouldn’t make me so angry that I can’t watch it.

    As for who to trust… Trust no one. Question everything you hear, even from people you agree with. When you find an interesting/important story, check multiple sources and analyze the facts yourself. I’ve been finding a surprising amount of bias even in the raw AP feeds lately.

    The thing that bugs me is otherwise intelligent, rational commentators falling for the dogmatism of their own side. I guess that’s the danger. It’s easy to see your opponents’ dogma. Harder to see the lies if they fit your own world view.

    • garyarthuryoung

      Really? She said that? She is an excellent journalist, I think. She has a serious sense of integrity. If she gets a fact wrong she’ll step up and admit it and try to find the facts. But there’s definitely an agenda.

      That’d be like me hanging out at a bar/club near a college campus and claiming that I didn’t have an agenda for being there.

      You went all X-Files on me. “Trust no one.”

      I definitely couldn’t keep up with Keith Olbermann after a while. He seemed to go off the rails a bit. I listened to one of his recent special comments and I was thinking the whole time, “Alright, calm down, buddy. It’ll be okay. Relax. Breathe.”

      Everyone seems to be going off the deep end and feeling justified to do so. That does not bode well.

      • tslajs

        Here’s her promo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30FvcOGNb7o

        I heard her say that on the show last week (I think) too.

        You’re right about her being an excellent journalist with a good deal of integrity. But she’s about as unbiased as I am.

        I’m still a Keith fan. I need his anger to balance out all the anger coming from the other side. But mainly I agree with his world view (at least his APPARENT world view) and I love the comedy he injects into his show. The man has a great sense of comedic timing.

        But I still don’t take anything he says at face value. Anything I haven’t heard from another source I check out. And I don’t always agree with his conclusions. But more often than not I do. 🙂

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