Friday, March 13, 2015

An American Flag in a Canadian Gunfight

Yesterday, I went from a state of "hey-that's-pretty-coolness" into a state of complete bewilderment in about a minute and a half.

I commented on something on Twitter -- something that related to Wednesday's post, in terms of the idea of "bullying" and none other than Margaret Atwood was in the conversation. It started very civilly and I was giggling like a doofus to have been actually interacting with one of my favorite novelists. I even had a chance to tell her how much I am enjoying The Blind Assassin, at the moment. I thanked her for having written it and she thanked me for liking it...

...then, the fecal matter hit the rotational cooling device.

So, there I was having a perfectly good conversation with my close friend Maggie Atwood and, within fifteen minutes, we had been pushed completely aside and people were attacking her for complaining about the Canadian government "whose taxes go to her grants..."

It was insane. All she had done was question the Prime Minister's desire to ban Muslim head-coverings during citizenship ceremonies and, all of a sudden, the torrent of a raging conservative river was let loose. She bowed out and so did I, feeling like, as I even "tweeted," I had brought an American flag to a Canadian gunfight.

The attacks, of course, were full of either-or thinking and straw men and [insert your logical flaw here]. Rational discussion was limited to the four or five tweets between Atwood, myself and one other. Then things went all Limbaugh. (I am not criticizing conservatives, just his kind of conservatives: loud, cold and pushy. I have what would be seen as some conservative views, myself.) With in minutes, Atwood was being told she had no right to live in Canada.

Two things occurred to me:

1) Though I knew this, it "hit home" how weird it must be to be such a high profile writer as Atwood. It must require a real toughness to be a prominent thinker and a writer in the social media world.

2) Twitter is no place for an argument. Never engage in an argument on Twitter -- it is the digital meat-grinder of sound reasoning. In goes good, pure beef and out come nothing but ketchup-slathered hot dogs. 140 characters is better for slurs and invective than they are for discussion.

"What did you call me?"
Well, if Ms. Atwood happened to click on a link to this blog and does me the honor of reading, I hope she knows how much I respect her writing, as well as her right to say what she thinks, even if it is not popular. I also respect her right to be a Canadian who complains about Canada. "Love it or leave it" is the philosophy of asses. It's also the philosophy of tyrants and dictators and, of course, we have moved way beyond that...

...or, at least, we have managed to pluralize our tyrants and dictators. Now, we are tyrannized by the loudest and biggest crowd. It's like the concept of democracy has, like the hat-makers of old, been slowly poisoned by mercury into a madness that grew so slowly that no one noticed it happening...and, now, this. Patriotism is now very confused. And it yells a lot.

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