I read a lot of fiction. I read a lot of non-fiction as well, actually. I just read a lot. I also write. Not as much as I read, it takes more time and effort to write a story, you see, so I tend to read more. But with both the reading and the writing I like a good story. I am really proud and pleased when someone reads what I've written and enjoys it. That's a great feeling. And as those of you who read my stuff know I often don't write happy endings. Or all that predictable of endings. Stories can sometimes be complicated. Or even left hanging. Because that's the way life works. Things aren't tidy and neat all of the time, in fact most of the time they aren't.
Which brings me to my problem today...it's actually been building for awhile now. Nuance. Subtly. Shades of gray.
Rarely are things black and white. Cut and dried. People don't generally fall in to the lines of good guys and bad guys. There are nuances. There are subtleties. But you don't see that a lot anymore. "News" has become more about pushing a side than just giving the facts. And when it does just give the facts people freak out. They want to be told what to think, it seems. How they should feel about the story. Give them good guys and bad guys. Don't make them question too deeply.
And if you are someone who sees a lot of sides to each story you end up feeling like you are bashing your head against a wall as you try to explain it to someone who only sees black and white and can only speak in soundbites while looking for a gotcha moment. Which you can't really blame them because that's how the news works. Everything is big and bombastic and epic. Nobody is ever thoughtfully debated they are "destroyed!" Nobody is even reasoned with they are "taken out" in 142 character quip.
Our government in the states is filled with people trying to make a point instead of do their jobs. People working together across the aisle used to be seen as a good thing, now it's a weakness in character. You can't have nuance, it all has to be ideologically pure.
Which should scare the shit out of anyone who thinks.
Not being allowed to entertain thoughts other than the accepted norm? How is that ever okay? But that's what we see. Sure, call it vetting a candidate but what it is is looking for times they might have actually had an original thought that didn't fall in line with the accepted lines.
Reading the "news" stories about the shootings of the police officers this past weekend and then the comments and there has been a rising swell of wanting to limit what is reported. Because by showing the protests, by talking about the issues, that caused this shooting. Now think about that for just a minute. What is being said is that the problem (or perceived problem is you like that better) of institutionalized racism that led to the protests is not the actual problem. That the protests themselves are not the problem. That this crazy guy is not the problem. But the reporting about them that is the problem.
And that should also scare the shit out of everyone.
I have a lot of grievances about our current news situation. Like I said, there is too much trying to frame a story, not enough just give me the facts. But that isn't all their fault. How many people out there are willing to do the leg work to actually understand what they are seeing? How many are more content to just be spoon-fed an opinion? Try and take an objective step back and listen to people around you argue and you will see that most of them are baby birds sitting with their beaks wide open waiting and then spitting back out what they are fed. It's not news anymore it's all op-ed pieces.
So my gripe is that there needs to be more journalism. Not less reporting.
I've talked before that you need to be aware not only of what you are seeing on the news but what you are being shown. So imagine now a world where you aren't shown anything that hasn't been deemed "okay" and "safe." You only get what "they" want you to see. Doesn't that bother you?
When crazy people do crazy things there are always people there to say what influenced them. When Reagan was shot Hinckley said he was trying to impress Jodie Foster. Did we say she should never make another movie? We didn't. Because he was crazy.
Two officers were gunned down in Las Vegas in June while they ate lunch. The people that did it had ties to the rancher Bundy and the anti-government rhetoric he was spewing. Now the Bundy camp said, "Whoah, we kicked these two out because they were too extreme for us!" But what you didn't see is a strong outpouring of people saying Bundy shouldn't have spoken out against what he saw as a corrupt government, or more to my point, that the media shouldn't have reported it, because that's what caused these deaths. Because we seemed to be able to understand no matter what else they said or fixated on it was these two people alone who caused these deaths.
Crazy people do crazy things. Including kill cops.
And here is the next part of where nuance seems to get lost.
I am pro-law enforcement. I think we have some incredible people that do the job. A job I would never want to do, by the way. But we also have some people doing the job that shouldn't be. Just flat out not suited for the work. And they need to go. And saying they need to go does not make you anti-cop. It makes you anti-bad cop. Which we all should be. And the ones that should be the most against bad cops?
Because the bad cops make their jobs harder. They break trust. They make it hard to do a job. They make it easy for people to be suspicious of your intentions. If you want to build a bridge to a community you can't do it on faulty foundations. So clean house. But what seems to happen instead is a closing of ranks. An "us against them" thing is spreading more and more. Which doesn't help at all.
When we try and make it simple we lose too much. And there is no more simple argument than "us against them." They are bad, we are good. You can believe all sorts of things about them that you would never believe about us. Which ever way your us and them lies. But they are us and we are them. That's the way it works. Human. That's us. All of us.
I've said it before and I will say it again. We have problems in this country that need fixed. And we cannot fix them if we are afraid to talk about them. And talking about them does not make the problem. It just makes us aware of it. Be dismissive if you choose, but understand that someone telling you that your basement is flooding didn't cause the flood, they are just making you aware of it. And, in fact, you should be more worried about the person trying to tell you it's not a flood at all, just a new swimming pool...
More news less op-ed pieces dressed up as reporting.
More journalism less bloviation
Less us and them more we.
Life is complicated.
People are complicated.
Simple stories are for children.