Monday, November 1, 2010

What the Stewart Rally Meant to Me

It's taken me a couple of days to digest the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert Rally To Restore Sanity at the National Mall in Washington DC. I've had to mull it over to figure out what it means to me because I think that the message was a little different for everyone. Here's Stewart's speech at the end of the rally:

No, I don't completely buy into the "both sides are the same" meme only because one side deals with content and facts and one side deals with hyperbole and untruths. But that doesn't mean that Stewart isn't correct in saying the screechiness on both sides can be equal. And from what I can tell, most of the participants in the over the top rhetoric were the ones most offended.

While I still think it's incorrect in trying to force the notion that there's equivalency from both sides, because the right wing noise machine is much louder, much bigger and therefore more far reaching in it's message. But it doesn't help the liberal side to participate in the teabagger, wingnut, crazy name calling. I know it's hard, but we can rebut and debate without ad hominem attacks. It only weakens our message because people who need the message most get caught up in Keith Olbermann or Ed Schultz calling someone a "right wing nutjob" rather than the content of why they are categorizing that person as such. The content can be all the more effective without clouding it in name calling.

We all do it. I do it on my blog, the right does it, the left does it, hell Stewart even included clips of himself in the video montage the preceded his speech. That doesn't mean that he thinks he's full of shit. He deals in truths and common sense through satire and comedy, but even he will admit that having a Gospel choir sing "Go Fuck Yourself" is exactly the type of "both sides" meme he's talking about.

But he's not completely wrong about new organizations or opinion shows posing as news organizations (I'm looking at Fox New Channel in particular) going too far. We love the red meat. But if you follow politics when there are no upcoming elections, if you read the political blogs daily or watch the political cable shows daily, you are a political junky. You know what's going on. Unfortunately, most people don't. Most people in America can't name the Speaker of the House. And due to the name calling, those are the people who are quicker to dismiss the content of the message because they've already tuned out - the hyperbole turned them off before you had a chance to grab their attention.

So while I didn't completely agree with Stewart, I felt I got what he was trying to say. And I think that the ultimate message Stewart was trying to put across was not that both sides are equal in content, but that they can both be over the top in negative rhetoric. That's what I got out of it anyway.

The mere fact that liberals like TomTomorrow would tweet, "Like Digby says, right wing isn't going to listen to any of this. So basically DFH's just got told to STFU" just gives more credence to what Stewart was saying in the first place. No, he wasn't calling you a dirty fucking hippie and wasn't telling liberals to shut the fuck up, but because everyone is so on edge, TomTomorrow and Digby and Keith Olbermann didn't get the message I got.

It's like when you were in school and the teacher berated the entire class for totally bombing on a midterm exam. Then you get your test back and you got a B+ or an A and you have to step back and think, "Oh, he wasn't talking to me. I get it." You have to separate yourself in an objective manner and not take things so personally. Those that were offended by Stewart didn't seem to be able to do that.

Yes, I'll still watch Olbermann because he still gives me pertinent information even though it may be in a bombastic way. And that's why I watch him and Rachel Maddow, because I can rely on their information. It's based it fact, not fantasy or fear. And since I'm not a vegetarian, the red meat makes me feel like I'm not crazy.

I'll still read Digby's blog and TomTomorrow's tweets because they still have interesting things to say. Just because I don't agree with what people say 100% of the time doesn't mean I'll write them off. It's the same with Glenn Greenwald, for example. In my eyes, sometimes he's just an Obama contrarian but that doesn't mean I disagree with everything he has to say. It's called "opinion." I just have to separate that out.

By the way, I watched MSNBC on and off for a few hours today and didn't hear one mention of the rally. An estimated 215,000 showed up for the rally, outdrawing Beck's rally of 87,000. But we'll cover the Beck rally for a week.  Stewart's? No so much.  So much for equivalence, huh?

1 comment:

jhw22 said...


"not that both sides are equal in content, but that they can both be over the top in negative rhetoric. That's what I got out of it anyway." EXACTLY!

Your analogy to the class being chewed out by the teacher, only to be one of the few who got a good grade is EXACTLY the right analogy.

Your closing line cements it.

I am so glad you said it.

(p.s. my verification word is "buthic" as in butt hick.)