What’s the Deal with Public Discourse?

I’m not sure why the title of this post is noticeably Seinfeldesque. Perhaps, jerry-seinfeld-stand-up-stephen-colbert__oPtin the midst of polarized rhetoric and hyperpartisanship dominating the political sphere and our contemporary culture, the bland comedic styling of Jerry Seinfled magically come across as refreshingly comforting.

Political discussions have always been a chore…but for different reasons. Back then, the excruciating requirement of having a sound dialogue on a current event was actually knowing your facts. Which is difficult and time-consuming for most (this guy included!). I mean, we’re all been involved in conversation revolving around topics we know nothing about. And what do we do? The only natural thing….distinguish ourselves to be erudite and knowledgable by quoting key phrases like ‘well, statistics show…’ and nodding our heads in approval as often as possible.

Today, knowledge is at our fingertips thanks to our smartphones, brought to you by child labourers in Chinese factories!  However, immersing yourself in a political discussion is like voluntarily shipping yourself off to Iraq, or Afghanistan or whichever country the US military is bombing nowadays! It’s a brutal warzone, where you’re consistently hit with buzzwords like ‘bigot!’, ‘misogynist’, ‘moonbat’, ‘pinko commie’, ‘fascist’ etc. 

I had a recent conversation online concerning feminism. Even though I’m a passionately fierce supporter of women’s rights (especially in culture which severely lack such a concept), I don’t self-identify as a ‘feminist’***. Feminism is a all-encompassing umbrella ideology broad enough to patronize sets of viewpoints which are in direct opposition to each other. There are feminists who are pro-pornography/pro-prostitution. There are those who oppose such sexual permissiveness. There are feminists identify as ‘pro-choice’. Others use feminist ideals to support their ‘pro-life’ stance. The list goes on. In addition, I deplore the methods and trends initiated within third-wave feminism, which are nothing more than a messy conglomeration of troll-baiting, misandric rhetoric and ‘shocking’ publicity stunts.

Despite attempting to justify my non-identification with feminism (as if I really need to defend myself!), I was unable to inhibit the bombardment of name-calling and accusations of bigotry thrown towards me. What a productive discussion!

In the wake of recent acts of police brutality, Trevor Noah from the Daily Show articulated a brilliant point about being pro-black and pro-police. Does it really baffle anyone that one could acknowledge systematic racism in our legal system, while having admiration for the men and women who perform their duties diligently in uniform? Is it so bizarre for one to admire police officers while advocating for policy reforms to prevent future instances of police brutality?

Seriously, whatever happened to shades of gray?? Why are we forced to paint ourselves as either ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’? ‘Pro-choice’ or ‘Pro-life’. ‘Feminist’ or ‘Men’s Rights Activist’. ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’. ‘Aging Hippie Liberal Douche’ or ‘White Trash Redneck Conservative’.

Yes, it is possible to morally oppose abortion while being wary of overturning Roe V Wade. Yes, it is possible to be infuriated by the hyper-bureaucratic structure of the European Union while opposing Brexit! Yes, it is possible to be concerned about police brutality while opposing the BLM movement. Yes, it is possible to be against the candidatures of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

When did public discourse become an ‘us-vs-them’ crusade? Why can’t we have a civil discussion with those whom we disagree? Why can’t we acknowledge the numerous nuances in controversial topics, rather than submit ourselves to ideological camps like we’re about to embark in a holy jihad!?

We live in a free market of ideas. We should be able to discuss controversial topics openly. We are not our ideologies. We are not our religions. We are not our national identities.

We are not the product of our political/religious/racial labels. We are individuals who belong to no one.



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