Monday, March 28, 2016

Being Politically Correct is an Oximoron

 I typically try to stay away from political themes for my blog, but it's getting more and more difficult to speak about ANYTHING without  meandering into some sort of political spillover.

I can assure you that you won't find me proselytizing a particular candidate or ideology.  Frankly...I am pretty open to whatever or whoever you endorse, support, stand for, stand behind, believe in, dream of or get in bed with.
click here to link to video

The other morning, I was watching a news program (I am being generous by using the descriptor "news") and there was a discussion about how difficult it is to interact with people during an election year and articulate your opinions without offending or killing those around you.

 It was the segway, prior to the start of the discussion that really hooked me. The intro stated, that they would provide an expert that  could help us stay "politically correct" while discussing politics. Well...this intrigued me.  The idea that one can possibly discuss anything of a political nature while not saying something that would show political, social, or religious  biases, while simultaneously  NOT offending people with alternate opinions ....well that is a daunting task.

Given the current free-for-all, in-your-face, rhetoric during the process of narrowing down the single person that is to be in charge of our country,  I wasn't shocked that the panel said they had noticed an absence of not only "political correctness', but the total absence of civility. 

NOTE: Given, the word "Civil" was used to name one of the bloodiest, nastiest wars ever fought, maybe people are confused as to what "civil" behavior is supposed to look like. 
If you really want to "keep the peace" avoid these topics.
 Anyway....On the outside chance you missed this important and informative program, I am here to impart the vast knowledge I gleaned from it.    You might not think that  by watching a 10 minute segment of TV qualifies me to be an intermediary teacher but I assure you that I paid extra close attention.

 (NOTE: I put down my iPhone and actually looked at the TV screen...I can assure you I gave it my all.) 

Are we now ready to reap the benefits from all this wisdom that I have acquired?   The segment was called "How to Discuss Politics with Friends and Family without Getting Into a Fight,  featuring an etiquette expert, Thomas Farley. Mr. Farley goes by the pseudonym, Mr. Manners.

RULE #1....Stay Sober

Yeah,  Mr. Manners seems to think there is no room in the  mix for drinking and discussing politics. According to Thomas, he says to avoid alcohol because it reduces your inhibitions and turns a civil conversation into a slugfest (his words, not mine) .

NOTE: Well, isn't Thomas off to an auspicious start! I would guess he lost a lot of the viewers as they were busy grabbing the remote to change channels in response to the horror of the  "no alcohol" rule.  Still others might of been finishing up their second breakfast beer and were uncertain where the remote was. We can only assume that the small number remaining after that, were busy thanking their lucky stars that Thomas was limiting just alcohol and not drugs. 

 RULE #2 Try some background noise.

I have to admit that this one was lost on me.  He suggested if you are in a social situation, play classical music in the background as it provides a soothing effect and fills in awkward silences.  He suggested Beethoven.

NOTE: At this point I question the expertise of Thomas and we are only at #2. In my crowd there are no periods of silence...awkward or otherwise.  Talking over each other is an art-form. But, if one is inclined to follow that tip, go for Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.  If it's good enough for Kathy Bates to play in the background while she crushed  James Caan's ankles with a sledgehammer in the movie Misery, it is probably appropriate for use in a political discourse. 

RULE #3  Captivate, but don't capture, your audience

His premise is that if you are sparring with one individual over the pros and cons of your candidate, it  can become a ping pong match and those around you might not enjoy watching the game. You are theoretically holding the audience captive. According to Thomas, you should save an in-depth discussion with a particular individual for a time that isn't in a social setting.

NOTE: I guess the theory here is, if you are going to get into a discussion that is so hostile  that it may lead to a physical confrontation, make sure there aren't witnesses. You should remove yourself from the herd.  I might not of understood his point exactly as intended, I think my advice of eliminating witnesses remains as sound advice, though .

RULE #4  Be mindful of your tone

 Here the thought is if you are talking to someone and their voice gets louder or angrier you should use a measured even tone to keep the conversation from getting heated.

NOTE: So when you tell this person to "shut the F*** up", use a nice even intonation. Say it softer and more measured. That should  really do a lot to lessen the tension. 

RULE #5 Be a respectful listener

This one was tricky.  He said to not interrupt, don't roll your eyes, and be sure to make eye contact. Also, if the other person interrupts,  you should say "Please have the courtesy to hear me out."

NOTE: What??? NO EYE ROLLING???? That is one of my protected rights under the the 1st Amendment. Eye rolling is a freedom of expression wedged in there somewhere behind my freedom to speak and above my freedom to use my middle finger to express myself. 

RULE #6  Fact Check, but don't push.

 I actually am copy and pasting this one because it is just too precious to summarize.

If your opponent starts spewing facts that sound incorrect, ask for the source: "I haven't encountered that statistic before. Where did you discover it?" If she can't produce a citation, agree to move on and revisit that particular point later. "Maybe you could look into that further and email me your source so I can consider it more fully?"

NOTE: I think it is very telling that Mr. Manners is using the word "opponent".
I am, also,  thinking Thomas is losing any last remnant of his  credibility here.  I want to have a front row seat when he asks someone to "produce a citation" to prove they know what they are talking about. Mr. Manners may know his etiquette but he seems a little naive on his "street smarts". The phrase "Prove it!" never goes over well. 

7. Remember that there are no miracles

According to Thomas, no matter how eloquent you are, no matter how well researched you are, it isn't likely you are going to sway anyone into thinking your way. He went on to say, if you keep your cool, you have achieved true success. (barf)

NOTE:  That did it...By number 7, I have lost all faith in Thomas.  True success is when you get the other guy flustered, confused, or speechless. When you have come up with some verbal jab that leaves them unable to respond, you have succeeded. 

8. Keep the final sentiments positive
Thomas tells us under NO circumstances should we try to get the last words in.  He especially warns against saying "Let's agree to disagree." or "Let's change the subject" He does, however advise us, to thank the person for sharing their opinions with us.

NOTE: Since I already established that  Mr. Manners  and I don't see things eye to eye, (guess that would be rolling eye to rolling eye), I am sure you aren't shocked that I TOTALLY disagree.  OF COURSE, we want to get the last word in.  "Let's agree to disagree".... I can't understand how he doesn't see that as the very essence of tact. Really, it's one of the most polite ways of saying,   "I'm right and your an idiot"! maybe I don't have a 100 percent handle on this..which is even more reason for me never to get into a political debate.  

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