Sunday, December 2, 2012

In Defense of Rudeness

Back in the 1990's, I was one of the few people I knew, outside of work, that was on the internet. I had to carry a beeper and often got called in the middle of the night, to assist clients with software problems. Some of them were in Europe, some local, I had to spend hours resolving some of their issues. Sometimes I spent the entire night working and then had to go into the office the next day. I had a dumb terminal that I connected to the mainframe at work via a modem and from there jumped onto the client's systems. The first time I ever connected to a web page, it was all text which you had to tab from hypertext to hypertext to navigate around the page. It all seems so raw now and yet, sometimes it seems like the good old days when only the geeks were on-line.

Because I was somewhat of an early adopter, I figured out a lot of the social concepts and rules of the internet long before a lot of the less technical people I know did.  So when everyone else I know ended up getting on-line ... well, their initiation could get quite irritating at times. Sometimes I would get emails that are written entirely with THE CAPS LOCK KEY ON, which is not only difficult to read but on the net, it means that you are yelling. So you have to politely explain this to them. This usually works. One person I know, who got on-line for the first time in 2004 or so, took a very long time to figure out what Spam was. She would forward me her Spam telling me, I thought you would find this interesting. So not only did I have to deal with my junk mail, I had to deal with hers. What made it worse, she would sign me up for "deals" and give out my email to spammers. She also would send me jokes or warnings some of which have been out on the net so long that I am sure I saw them when I was new to the net.  I asked her in person and via email many times to stop. "If you want to send me an email to converse with me and see how I am doing, please do so but please stop sending me stuff that isn't written by you." But this did not work. After my polite requests were ignored many times, I decided to be rude. I sent her a scathing email in response to a fairly offensive joke she sent me about Southerners. Magic happened!  She stopped sending me crap.

I try not to be rude, at least not as a first response, if someone continually doesn't listen to your polite plea ... I let 'er rip. When someone ignores your politeness, it is okay to be rude back to them.people should listen to you when you are polite.  Fair warning, being rude or sending an angry email rarely ends well.

I am beginning to feel this way about politics, particularly when it comes to the environment and science in general.  Republican resistance to science has gotten so bad that I have told some local Republicans, people I like and respect, that I will not vote for them because they are a Republican even if they are not a nut. I used to vote for a person regardless of their party, no longer. I tell them that their party has to get a clue about science or they need to change parties, until then, I am going to vote for the opposition and possibly even donate. I have even gone so far as tell Republicans to get off my land, that politicians with an (R) at the end of their name are not welcome.

Democrats are not perfect on science either, but the difference is significant. In 2008, when asked during a Republican debate if any of them didn't believe in evolution, three of them raised their hand. This is just embarrassing as an American. If Republicans are going to be so stupid to put people like this as a candidate for the most powerful position on the planet, why should we be polite with them? It seems obvious to me politeness is not working. I normally choose to be civil, but when civilization itself is at stake, the stakes are too high. In the past two years, 80% of America's counties have requested aid for national disasters.  New York City is now looking at a Holland style seawall because their once-a-century flood has happened twice in the last three years. During this year's Republican Convention, head moron Romney laughed at President Obama for wanting to use government to heal the Earth (like most other civilized nations are doing now).  Romney received applause. This is what we are dealing with. People are so stuck in their own bubble that they disregard evidence and logic and applaud for (and unfortunately, vote for) someone who reinforces their ignorant beliefs. Democracy is scary sometimes. If it wasn't better than all the alternatives, I'd be joining the revolution. Until I see some significant change on this front, I am going to be as rude as my mood allows to any Republican I feel like. They pretend to be concerned about their children's future and they ignore global warming, for shame.

How did we get here?  The United States used to lead the world in our vigor for science.  We invented the internet, we landed on the moon, the telephone, the phonograph, mass production ... these amazing feats are American. Some say it began in 1918 with William Jennings Bryan's "The Prince of Peace" speech where he began to blame Darwinism for the moral decay of America. The speech had legs and ultimately lead to the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925. Some say it started much more recently, during the American involvement in the Vietnam War, President Nixon announced a supersonic transport program, when his science advisers came out against the program, he fired them all. This set a precedent in that if you don't like what science has to say, just ignore the science. A similar situation arose during the Reagan Administration over Strategic Defense Initiative. Wherever it some point, someone figured out that preying on people ignorance and/or fear of science can get you elected. As ignorance of science grows, the effectiveness of this type of politics does as well.  

I am pleased with the results of this year's election. It gives me some hope that the Republicans may get the message, but the margin of victory was too small.  How many more storms will it take before the tide turns more towards reason?  Perhaps, I don't have to be rude ... mother nature is being rude for me.

1 comment:

Olga said...

Well, I agree with you about politics. The Republicans have to rein in the crazies, but I have always believed it was more about overall philosophies and basic values espoused by the party. That's why I am never ashamed to say I vote for Democrats.

However...a tip: if you donate do it anonymously. Otherwise you will be hounded for money until you let rip with the rudeness in self defense.