Current Events

The Conservative Critique of the Media

 Lewis Powell, a corporate lawyer and president of the American Bar Association, write a memo to the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in 1971, urging him to protect the interests of business against the growing number of protesters calling for legal accountability and stricter regulations.

Lewis Powell, a corporate lawyer and president of the American Bar Association, write a memo to the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in 1971, urging him to protect the interests of business against the growing number of protesters calling for legal accountability and stricter regulations.

I can hardly think of a better example of what happens when the body's different intelligence centres get disconnected from each other than the United States' fierce rivalry between the Republicans and the Democrats.  If we think of the country as one body with three brains: a head, a heart, and a gut/body, we can see how the blue states largely honor one brain at the expense of another, while the red states do the opposite. 

Long hailed as intellectual snobs who control the media, Hollywood, and higher education, the Democrats seem to honor the cultivation of the mind while ignoring or at least diminishing the importance of the lower brain in the gut from whence healthy boundaries and the ability to protect oneself are exercised.  On the other hand are the Republicans who are crying out for more protection-- both of their personal rights and of the borders of their country-- but who largely neglect to nurture the head centre from which logical thinking arises. 

Where the heart-brain in all this kerfuffle is the subject of an entirely different blog post.

While modern psychology doesn't necessarily speak of the human psyche in the terms I'm using, it would help if we thought of the chakra system here.  Imagine all seven of them laid on top of one another along the body.  The lower chakras are the first to develop in a child and have to do with how we identify the borders of one's own body (ie. where I end and mommy begins), what is mine, how I take up my space in the world and defend my boundaries.  Later on as the child develops, they develop the higher chakras of the mind where knowledge ultimately becomes wisdom.

As a mirror reflects the body, so the media reflects the political landscape of the country.  Although just like imperfect mirrors that make us look skinnier, fatter, shorter or taller than we really are, the media has long been criticized for being either too right-wing or too left-wing. 

Today I'd like to focus on the critique coming from the Conservatives, which necessitates a look at the evolution of their party over their 160 year life span. 

While the Republican political position on fiscal conservation, limited government, and freedom to conduct private enterprise has more or less remained consistent, its stance on some social issues has shifted drastically; the first Republican president was Abraham Lincoln, and as we know, he was an opponent to slavery.  The GOP held their first convention in 1854, a time when journalism was still coming to its own as a profession.  Newspaper publishers and pampleteers abounded, and it was normal at the time for newspaper publishers to state their opinion as clearly and loudly as they could.  It was not until the Progressive Era that journalists started seeing themselves as real professionals with standards and ethics to abide by, namely objectivity in reportage.

Through the 1930's, Franklin D. Roosevelt was spending large amounts of federal money on programs and make-work projects to help the poor get back on their feet and get the economy running at full speed again.  Not all, but some conservatives opposed it, saying that it negatively affected the economy by expanding government unnecessarily and giving unions too much power; during this time, Social Security was put in place and a minimum wage was set. 

By the mid-1940's, conservatives were pushing back against a federal government that they felt was getting too big for its britches.  In a backlash against what they already felt was a liberal media, a conservative newspaper was born.

In reporting the news, Human Events is objective; it aims for accurate representation of the facts. But it is not impartial. It looks at events through eyes that are biased in favor of limited constitutional government, local self-government, private enterprise, and individual freedom.

But the New Deal programs were deeply embedded in the American consciousness and only became partially dismantled in the 1980's.  From 1953 to 1961, Republican president Dwight Eisenhower left the New Deal intact, then his successor, Democrat Lyndon B Johnson, built upon that platform and implemented the Great Society initiative that was to end poverty and eliminate racism.  Even after Johnson, Republican Richard Nixon maintained the programs.

However, it took the long and messy civil rights movement of the 1950's and 60's to push conservatives to a new strategy on the media.  It was no longer enough to just publish "the objective facts through a conservative lens."  It became necessary to discredit the liberal media, and they were going to do it by channeling class hostility toward the liberal journalist snobs who controlled how the news was being delivered.

In 1964, Arizona Senator Goldwater was the Republican nominee for the election against Lyndon B. Johnson.  Although he lost miserably, the lesson learned from the aftermath was that the Republicans needed to make all future campaigns about social issues, and not just focus on the economy.  The economy was boring and complicated to the electorate, but got fired up about issues like abortion, gay rights, desegregatation, gun control, and family values.  Hollywood was being taken over by liberals, they felt, and they were influencing young people to disrespect their elders and throw Judeo-Christian values out the window. 

The 1960s were rife with conflict in the United States.  In 1966, Betty Friedan organized and became president of NOW- the National Organization for Women- and styled her protests after the civil rights movement.  There were protests on behalf of the environment, and Ralph Nader was raising red flags in the electorates' minds about big corporations, unfettered by policies and legislation that would consumers safe.

By 1968, conservative strategizers had formulated an idea to get themselves into office, and they called themselves the New Right.  Richard Nixon, who was not yet in office, and two young strategizers Patrick Buchanan and Kevin Phillips listened to the rhetoric in the deep South about the moral fabric of the country coming apart and the embarassment of Vietnam, and decided that they would present America as having two classes- "the quiet, ordinary, patriotic, religious, law-abiding Many, and the noisy, élitist, amoral, disorderly, condescending Few" [Source]. 

It worked.  By chanelling hostility toward the liberal elite which they felt overpopulated universities, the media, and bureaucracy, Republicans were able to distract voters from big business and direct their ire against what they called The New Class, thus, winning the White House.  Their strategy was to expose journalists, academics, and bureaucrats as a class of unelected "professionals and technocrats who espouse liberalism as a means to rationalize and expand their power, for example, by expanding the welfare system, which they administer" [Source- class notes].  It was during Nixon's campaign that Buchanan wrote speeches for Vice-President Spiro Agnew, getting him to call liberals, among other things, "nattering nabobs of negativism."

A few other massive influences came to bear between 1970 and 1980.  In the midst of the social movements stirring up public sentiment against big business, a corporate lawyer named Lewis Powell, just before being appointed to the Supreme Court by Nixon in 1971, wrote a confiential memo to his friend, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce, "[proposing] a road map to defend and advance the free enterprise system against perceived socialist, communist, and fascist cultural trends [Source].  Partly in reaction to Ralph Nader's activism, Powell's concern was that "the American economic system was under broad attack" and if social movements continued to gain momentum, corporations would no longer to be able to pursue their economic aims as freely as they wished.  He urged "corporate America to become more aggressive in molding society's thinking about business, government, politics and law in the US", calling for private funds to be directed toward foundations that would build campaigns that softened the image of corporations in the media and the general public.

Thus, in that decade, no fewer than 18 conservative think tanks, foundations, and institutes were founded to conduct research and provide what they felt was an objective and unbiased counterargument to the liberal point of view in the media.  Among them was AIM (Accuracy in Media), the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, Focus on the Family, the Moral Majority, and the Koch Charitable Foundation.

The second influence that played a very large role in increased polarization between the left and right was the fundamentalist Christian voice that urged Evangelicals to not sit idly by while their country, with its Christian roots, was heading off into amoral territory.  Before the 1950's, Christians were happy not to get involved in politics, but Francis Schaeffer, a popular fundamentalist theologian, drew a sharp line in the sand against what he called Secular Humanism in such books as A Christian Manifesto and Whatever Happened to the Human Race?   He took particular issue with abortion, but overall felt America was losing its moral bearings on several fronts.

In A Christian Manifesto, Schaeffer's argument is simple. The United States began as a nation rooted in Biblical principles. But as society became more pluralistic, with each new wave of immigrants, proponents of a new philosophy of secular humanism gradually came to dominate debate on policy issues. Since humanists place human progress, not God, at the center of their considerations, they pushed American culture in all manner of ungodly directions, the most visible results of which included legalized abortion and the secularization of the public schools. At the end of -- A Christian Manifesto, Schaeffer calls for Christians to use civil disobedience to restore Biblical morality... [Source]. 

Riding on his intellectual coattails was Jerry Falwell, a fundamentalist Southern Baptist pastor and activist who co-founded the Moral Majority in 1979.  Falwell powerfully and rather successfully lobbied government on behalf of Christian interests for at least three decades.  More and more, American Christians were being reminded that to be Christian was to be Republican, and there was no middle ground.

In 1996, Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch created Fox News, which had as its mission to provide unbiased news coverage with a conservative point of view.  It is well-known today as a major influencer in persuading the electorate to vote Republican, although it should be noted that it has also contributed its fair share to a journalistic ecosystem that is now known today as fake news.  Overall across the political spectrum, Americans are losing confidence in the profession of journalism, and as newspapers across the country bleed ad revenue and lose readership to sensationalist news, the future of objective reportage and investigative journalism as a profession is in question.

 

 

 

 

 

Fives: Missing the Olympics vs. Missing the Olympics

The best part of these Olympics is that I kind of kept up with them.  People who are Fives, or who have a Five wing tend to wait till something is over to get excited about it.  They get overwhelmed with hype so easily that they tend to be either futurists or historians- they want to be studying what everyone has left behind, or what no one else knows about yet, because being

So Much Anger Under the Surface

I was having a conversation tonight about all the anger that's surfacing around this US election.  It's been so divisive and the anger is so palpable.  People are just a little more on edge than they usually are.  We still have up until November to get through the rhetoric and the speeches, but the anger isn't going to stop at the election. 

One argument that surfaced tonight was that it's healthy for the country "let it all out" and they need to explore these feelings.  My response is, "Okay, but there's an emotionally intelligent, structured, safe way to do generate those discussions".  A guy who has to burp at the dinner table could either just belch everything out in his wife's face and make the kids giggle, and then say "Whaaaaat?  It's better than holding it in!", or he could burp quietly and discretely off to the side.  One is fun, easy and "natural", but disintegrates the relationship, the other takes a bit of body awareness and a bit of work, but maintains the relationship while upholding the dignity of his wife.  Now let's translate that to letting out angry feelings about Muslims and other minorities. 

When people create a false dichotomy between expressing something in all its vulgarily because it's "important to tell the truth", versus repressing it to be politically correct, I wonder if they really need for the obvious to be stated- that there's a third option.  They can still "let things out", but respectfully.  That's why the principles of non-violent communication exist.  

What do I mean by respectfully.  If people are going to give voice to their anger- the libidinal energy that comes from the gut, the Enneagram's third brain, you should only be given a public platform if you are accessing your heart brain and your head brain too.  I love Trump's gut energy.  It truly is refreshing.  But it's also sickening to look at because he can't coordinate his gut with his heart and his head and he's making himself look out of control.  It's embarassing.

I guess the question is, "Is there some kind of public platform for the American people that's safe and moderated in some way for them to talk openly about what's making them so angry?  You don't want to condemn anger itself- clearly it's just roiling under the surface-  and you do want to give voice to those blue collar workers who legitimately haven't been able to keep up with the changing economic landscape, but how can public discourse happen in a way that brings the three brains into the equation?  Who's leading that initiative?

Finding a Counter-Narrative to Terrorism in the Age of ISIS

  Fran Townsend .  Image from www.fletcher.tufts.edu

Fran Townsend.  Image from www.fletcher.tufts.edu

A couple days ago, I watched an interview with Fran Townsend, the former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor to President George W. Bush.  She's incredibly smart and has some good insights on the war on terror.  Well worth watching- it's an hour long. 

The one thing that struck me is that halfway through, she acknowledged that the US had a poor counternarrative to ISIS' recruitment tactics.  She says the first response that the US has to get right is to deny them the battlespace to do their recruiting- the internet, and the second response is to fill that space with the counternarrative.  But, she says,

It's a frustration.  No administration has been particularly good at the counternarrative.  ... I think as a government, we are never going to be good at this.  Not because we don't want to be, but we ought to have mechanisms by which we can fund it and not control the content, for those who will create the counternarrative.... But the state department has been not very effective and not very good.  And that's not a criticism of this administration- none of us are very good at it....

I thought that was a bold admission.  I do see the Enneagram as being a perfect counternarrative for those who seek truth in the weeds of egoic distortion, but it would be a weird, weird partner with the US government.  Does anyone have any idea how that would look? 

I mean, the Enneagram provides a breathtakingly accurate map of the nine different personality types.  Each map provides a lateral topography for how each type looks when they ascend to enlightenment (non-reactivity), to being the most reactive and unhealthy at the bottom of the emotional intelligence scale, where they're a danger to themselves and others.  That's Don Riso's work with the Nine Levels of Health.  So important for understanding radicalization.  Those who have been radicalized have simply walked past the Red Flag fear of the bottom of the sixth level of health (we're descending down into very poor emotional health here) and are dwelling in upside-down land where they are healthy, but inhabiting the danger zone, looking at us as if we're unhealthy.  They're looking at all our warts in Levels 4-6 and saying "we need to fix this with the egoic truth of Levels 7-9".  Although that's the point; unfortunately our ego is this phantasmic mirage that doesn't get real no matter how close we get to it.  The metaphor I heard from Sandra Maitri is that it's just the projection of a movie onto a screen- if you put your hand up, you can see the movie being projected onto your hand, but it's not like it's a real thing that you're holding.  That's what we need to be made aware of at all levels.

But can you do "outreach" with the Enneagram?  Do you have to let the Enneagram find who it needs to find, or do we just live by example?  Do you promote it through google search somehow?  How do people think the Enneagram can play a role in those toying with the idea of descending into levels 7-9?

A talk every grad should watch- Attention is the new scarcity

At school, we've got our grade 8's "graduating" soon, and high school was let out last week.  University's been out for a while.  But even if you're not graduating, and you're already out in the big bad world, this talk is for you.  It's called the Video of the Week, but I think it's the Talk of the Century. 

I follow this investor named Fred Wilson,

Meaning-Based Economy

 Icebreaker, the maker of men's and women's fashion, makes renewable, recylcable, and biodegradable merino wool clothing that also connects you to the farmer who raised the sheep- the company provides long-term contracts to the farmers to give them economic stability while raising their sheep.

Icebreaker, the maker of men's and women's fashion, makes renewable, recylcable, and biodegradable merino wool clothing that also connects you to the farmer who raised the sheep- the company provides long-term contracts to the farmers to give them economic stability while raising their sheep.

I was looking through my e-mail and found an unread blog post of one of Boulder, Colorado's most interesting and prolific investors, Brad Feld, from 2013.  A quote in it struck a chord in me.  He had written about a company he invested in called Barnanas- a dehydrated banana snack covered in chocolate that managed to make its way into Whole Foods, kind of the holy grail of stores you want to get into.

Feld made this observation about the Barnana team.

Interestingly, a majority of the Barnana team is comprised of tech guys. It seems more and more people are entering the fast growing natural foods space from other high growth industries like tech. I asked Matt why he feels natural foods world is so appealing to techies.

We are transitioning from a price based economy to a meaning based economy. Not only meaning for your customers, but meaning soup to nuts throughout the entire organization. The notion of meaning is supported across multiple verticals, from the maker revolution to local and organic foods, to the various kickstarter campaigns. It’s simple – people want meaning. And bananas.”

A meaning based economy.  I love that phrase.  I mean, people still look at prices, but we also want our product to be sustainable, we want to feel like we're connecting with the people who actually made the product, we want to feel like we've been understood by the people who created the brand, and we want to feel like we're doing good in the world by purchasing the product. 

Last night a friend gave the example of Warby Parker donating a pair of glasses to someone who needs them when you buy a pair.  This morning I read about Evrnu, a cotton-recycling company that takes discarded cotton clothes and turns them into a new fabric for re-use.  Companies are tuning into this sentiment and finding ways to do good all over, even if it arouses all our cynicism- like Wal-Mart pledging to be the biggest supplier of organic food in the world. 

I personally thought the meaning economy phrase was more like "a brand gets me".  Like my favorite company, Club Monaco's branding gets the meaning I want to convey when I wear my clothes and do my hair so I'll buy their clothes because their visuals tell the right story.  That was my narcissistic interpretation of "a meaning-based economy", which I'm sure is still legitimate, but the guy who wrote the quote was probably meaning moreso the do-good-by-purchasing-our-product kind of idea.

Either way I'm fascinated.  How do you interpret "meaning-based economy"?  What have you bought recently simply because it had meaning to you?

Open letter to the National Science Foundation

I was watching some Bill Nye videos online today, and there was a dismissive comment made about astrology being a pseudo-science.  I guess I'm really late to the astrology table and I haven't learnt to cower in fear before the scientific community, I suppose, so I was really surprised.  Everyone I've introduced astrology to has had their jaws drop to the floor with how accurate it is.  So I decided to google, "Astrology pseudo-science", and it turns out I'm on the wrong side of current thinking on astrology among scientists.  Well, I aim to change that. 

Tonight I wrote a letter to the National Science Foundation, who, every second year, survey Americans on, among other things their views and opinions on scientific matters.  One question asks respondents, "Do you think astrology is scientific?"  And to the horror of the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye, in 2014, 45% of Americans thought astrology was somewhat or very scientific. I admire these guys a lot, but I disagree with them on 1) the validity of the question's wording, and 2) their interpretation of the statistic.

What does it really mean to "believe in" astrology, and how can the NSF encourage a little more sanity and groundedness around Americans' spirituality?

Hi there, my name is Erin Mulligan and I'm the owner of Rhode and Company in Canada where we (I for the moment) advocate for better spiritual literacy.  We also advocate for scientific literacy, just so you know; we just believe one is no greater than the other. 

I have a suggestion for changes to the wording in your question on your Science and Engineering Indicators poll about opinions on astrology.
 

You ask if Americans think astrology is scientific, but my guess is you're actually trying to gauge if people think it's accurate, or useful, or if they make decisions based on what they learn from their chart.  Am I right?  Of course it's not scientific.  You'd have to change the definition of science in order for a wisdom tradition to squeeze into the Aristotilean delineation around logic and reasoning.  Asking if astrology is scientific is like asking if women are men.  Clearly they fall into very distinct categories; one is for knowing the outer world, and the other is for knowing the inner world and they use different skill sets entirely.  You certainly wouldn't use science to measure someone's emotional intelligence, so why is astrology- a beautiful, robust, and incredibly useful system being measured against its "male" counterpart? 

Carl Jung would have called these two categories I'm referring to as the masculine and feminine principle, or the animus and the anima; Asians would call it the yin and the yang.  My guess is it's probably a little out of science's grasp to try and measure a mystic tradition, so why go there?  As far as I know, astrology isn't trying to impress science, just like women aren't asking men, "Am I a legitimate human being?" and Italians aren't asking the French, "Are we French enough for you?"  Astrology is a language unto itself that takes many years to learn, and decades to master.

By selecting, "yes, I believe it's scientific" pollsters are opened up to guffaws by actual scientists like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, who know that you need to meet a certain set of standards to say something is scientifically valid- a legitimate pursuit, but not astrology's aim.  Asking people to judge if astrology is a science necessarily makes them look foolish because astrology is in an entirely different epistemology, just like the Buddhist practice of mindfulness is a third and equally powerful epistemology.

Self-knowledge correlates with higher emotional intelligence, which in turn correlates with better leadership skills and reported life happiness-- all skills neceessary for getting the world's population out of some of the toughest dillemmas it's ever faced.  And yet the inner world is a very vague and mysterious place sometimes.  Ask any wife if their husband can clearly articulate why they always [fill in the blank with something that annoys the hell out of them], or ask any man if their wife can do the same.  Just like women's medicine has always baffled male doctors, so we don't expect male scientists to automatically "get" a feminine spirituality*.  It takes a motivation to start with usually, like a divorce or a death in the family, or a serious illness, and then a journey begins.

Not only do we call on society to honor the male and female principle, but as Jung also said, we have both the feminine and masculine within each of us, meaning all of us have the impulse to explore and learn about our outer worlds, as much as to explore and learn about our interior world.  In men, the latter impulse is discouraged, as you are probably well aware, and as the numbers of STEM graduates reflect.  Making "believing in astrology" a lightning rod for scientists by getting pollsters to conflate it with science does nothing to encourage the self-knowledge journey (which, by the way, happens in men later in their careers, often as they're retiring and can't have the same impact as if their aha! moment happened in their 30's).

On the other hand!  We agree that making decisions based on horoscopes in the newspaper or online is quite a bad idea.  General horoscopes like that are written in very, very broad brushstrokes based on the 12 ancient archetypes.  Not always, but sometimes they can be quite accurate-- I got into astrology because I read a horoscope that said I was going to double-book myself that week, and that Wednesday, I actually triple-booked myself.  It made me do a double-take.  However, I have also then gone on to make the mistake of basing decisions on what I read on a horoscope from the internet, and now that I've learned my lesson, I just get readings done by a  professional astrologer which are more accurate because they have my specific birth data.  So I no more advocate for sloppy spiritual practices than you do for sloppy scientific ones.  My astrologer, by the way, studied with Carl Jung's daughter and is one of the most highly sought-after astrologers in the United States.  She was recommended to me by a male 50-something American angel investor, a former Fortune 50 executive who has his own spiritual practice now.


The mission of my company is to raise the profile of ancient self-knowledge traditions that grew out of Socrates' admonition to know yourself before pursuing any other kind of knowledge.  Science, math, and engineering are wonderful and meaningful pursuits, but in order for their practitioners to be fully "in touch" with reality, they need to be counterbalanced by the feminine principle of the dark, mysterious, inner, and the spiritual.  These characterisitics are notions that balance out the brazen, often unfounded over-the-top self-confidence and old-boys' club mentality that has gotten our environment into some pretty deep trouble.

In order to encourage thoughtfulness, groundedness, and sanity around spirituality, I ask you to please re-think how your astrology question is worded.  I believe you can make a difference in western mentality by changing it so people aren't forced to choose between astrology and science. 
 

All my best,

Erin Mulligan

Rhode and Company

 

*By calling astrology feminine, I don't mean to exclude men from the practice or benefits of astrology.  I just mean it calls for a kind of intuition that Jung associated with the anima.  Any man can develop it, just as any woman can develop characteristics associated with the animus.

Next step: Now that gay marriage is legal, let's go all the way with gender issues

I wrote this manifesto last night.  It started off that I was just going to write "I fucking love immigrants" somewhere on my site- I couldn't figure out where, so I was like, "I'm just going to write a manifesto, and I'll include that in there. (I don't know why but I just love immigrants sooo much.  They've added so much to Regina over the last 30 years.)  So but the rest is good too- that's my call-to-action for the Western world.

  Carl Jung recognized that we all have the male and female principle within us.  Maybe not like this.  Maybe in a more ethereal way.   Image unattributable because it's from one of those leech sites with all those ads.

Carl Jung recognized that we all have the male and female principle within us.  Maybe not like this.  Maybe in a more ethereal way.  Image unattributable because it's from one of those leech sites with all those ads.

1.  We call for equal status for science, math, logic, and capitalism on the one hand; and mysticism, the void, spirituality and myth on the other.  In Jungianism, these two elements are the animus and the anima; the male and female principles; in the Asian tradition, the yin and yang.  They both originate in similar times and cultural contexts, and they should be rejoined together after millenia of separation.  Neither is superior to the other, nor can they operate fully without the other.  Both are needed for balance in all areas of life. 

  Copernicus was a physician who studied astrology.  The two fields have a surprising amount of overlap.   Image from Wikipedia.

Copernicus was a physician who studied astrology.  The two fields have a surprising amount of overlap.  Image from Wikipedia.

2.  We champion A) self-knowledge (inner) education for the corporate and scientific (yang) communities; and B) business and tech (outer) training for communities of a yin inclination.  Both sides need the other to be fully in touch with reality, because in both camps, our egos viciously lead us away in search of false realities, cementing our antimony.  The future of the planet depends on learning about the interior world as much as the exterior world, and vice versa.

3.  We believe that when more people practice mindfulness, and learn to apply the Enneagram, and other self-observation and self-knowledge tools, the world will be a better, healthier, and safer place.  Self-knowledge engenders leadership; emotional intelligence brings about more "presence", as opposed to reactivity and craving, which the Buddha warned against.

4.  We call for political leaders with a mindfulness and self-awareness practice instead of those who are identified with a particular party.  When self-awareness practices become mainstream, bi-partisanship can be achieved, opening us up to more creative solutions to the world's problems. 

5.  We fucking love democracy.  In the end, though, the capacity for self-awareness is going to be more radical and effective than democracy is currently. 

  New immigrants to Regina, 2013 .  Image from cbc.ca. 

New immigrants to Regina, 2013.  Image from cbc.ca. 

6.  We also fucking love: immigrants, female orgasm, the internet, entrepreneurship and venture capital, High Maintenance (although sobriety's great), Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrology, New York, LGBT, history, pictures from your vacation, sarcasm, and this.

CatholicVote made a huge mistep last week

I lost my mind on social media today.  It's been a long time since I've been this angry.  I got involved in the social media conversation about a 2:30 video that incensed me like few things do.  I've never once in my life been called a troll (not that the word troll has been around that long), but today a Disqus commenter named MaryMagdalene told me to

"Blow it out your ear.... If you don't like it, don't read it. At least I am good at reading comprehension, Einstein."  (if you click on my disqus profile below, you'll see more of her comments).

 It appears Catholic Vote put out a video to reassure Catholics that they weren't alone in the stance against equal rights. 

It appears Catholic Vote put out a video to reassure Catholics that they weren't alone in the stance against equal rights. 

So to set the scene, the reason I finally rolled up my sleeves to figure out how to tweet this morning was because of this insanely self-pitying video that got posted on youtube by an organization named  CatholicVote a week ago.  The premise is that real life Catholics are "coming out" on screen-- in the style of a coming out video-- that they are against gay marriage.    

There are a few reasons why this got me trolling- one of them being that they tactlessly used their own victim's meme to make themselves appear like the victim of their former victims.  In other words, a mere two weeks ago, a minority group directly and indirectly oppressed by the Catholic church has gained a freedom that in the space of a week, has led the Catholic church to feel victimized enough to take their former victim's place in front of the camera and tell the story of themselves, the oppressors who now feel victimized. 

The galling act of hypocrisy and insensitivity made many viewers shake their head and wonder if they were watching a SNL parody; it will probably go down in history as one of the internet's worst PR disasters. (I'm not actually versed in relative magnitudes of internet PR disasters, but within the first seven days online, the video has received 547,514 views, with 1,600 upvotes and almost 15,000 downvotes.  You can also see the smoke from the comments section from here.)

You can actually still lose your job in the US for being LGBT in 29 US states; last week's Supreme Court decision hasn't affected that fact at this point, and as one commentor wrote, these Catholics are afraid of people moving away from them at a cocktail party, not of being beat up while walking to their car in broad daylight.  Furthermore, the LGBT community can still legally be denied work and housing because of their sexual orientation. 

Moreover, the fact that the tag line was "we have something to say and we're no longer afraid to say it" blew my mind, because if we all think about it really hard here, the Catholic church has been saying gays should not be allowed to marry for... a really ....really... REALLY long time.  Like an eternal time. They were ... actually... NEVER... afraid to say it.  The tagline should have been, "We have something to say... and we're still saying it."

The thing is, a lot of us were probably bigots in the 80's and 90's, just because we didn't know much about homosexuality, I know I didn't.  I was still going to church and my youth pastor would tell us all the "disgusting" things gays did to each other, and we would watch his hand movements with big, wide eyes, because I mean, probably most of us didn't even have any sexual experience at that time, so we would've bought anything at that point.  But things have just changed, and when new information comes to light (being gay is biologically determined, actually quite normal and gay people have sex because they love each other), you shed old beliefs like old clothing that's worn out or doesn't fit anymore.  It's ok to do that.  It's ok to get on the party wagon.  It's ok to update your beliefs based on new realities. 

As commentors said over and over again today, pay attention, do your research and educate yourselves, because you don't want to end up on the wrong side of history. 

P.S. The parody version has already been made and it's funny.