What I can't understand and accept are lies and intimidation. Those are anti-democratic. And those are now the preferred tactics of the right on the healthcare debate. Andrew posted a great link that gave a taste of the lies being spread by the anti-healthcare reform activists, and how easy they are to debunk. Some of the more prominent lies are that there will be a bureaucratic death panel which, I guess, decides who gets treatment and who dies, government-sponsored euthanasia, and bureaucratic boards which decide which kind of healthcare you will receive. These are all lies, and they are firing up the conservative base.
The lies alone are bad enough, but now conservatives are showing up at townhall meetings and being disruptive and intimidating. They are shouting down anyone that disagrees with them. Here are some examples:
There is also the great picture on the front page of the New York Times of the heckler right in Arlen Spector's face.
This is as distasteful as it is anti-democratic, and I think it is a product of two problems that we face that are interrelated. First, this is the inevitable byproduct of the Information Age: 24-hour news channels, internet, Twitter, etc. In the mad dash to compete in this new market, news outlets must fill hours and hours, and pages and pages, of open space with something, anything, that viewers and readers might find interesting. So what we get is hours and hours and pages and pages of excruciating minutia and over-analysis.
And because the news outlets simply can't fill up all that open space with actual news, in all its boring and staid glory, the line between news and entertainment is so blurred it doesn't even exist anymore. The Information Age is now the Entertainment Age. We have to be constantly entertained, outraged, moved to fear or tears, in order to be satisfied.
Which leads to the second big problem: a lack of critical thinking. We rarely have time to sit and reflect anymore, to think through issues on our own, to remove ourselves from the ever-present hum of infortainment and take an objective look. We are spoon-fed (actually shovel-fed) everything we need and we no longer take the time to prepare our own meals.
We are urged as a church to be self-sufficient in our temporal concerns. We should have food storage, money in savings, little or no debt, grow a garden. But are we also self-sufficient in our ability to analyze the world and inform our opinions? Would we really have the same opinions and passions if CNN, MSNBC, and Fox, all stopped broadcasting? Has the Infortainment Age created a world of extremism? I'm not smart enough to answer these questions.
King Mosiah in the Book of Mormon taught us:
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.The Lord in Doctrine and Covenants taught us: "yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith."
I think we would all do better to apply these scriptures to the Infortainment Age. To slow down the amount of input in our lives, but diligently seek truth through reading, study, and faith, as opposed to TV, internet, and radio. Maybe if we did we would find that we treasure our commonalities and kinship more than our differences. We would also likely all be liberals.
The healthcare debate is just one symptom of this problem. We are being fed gross lies and stirred up to anger and outrage by the infortainers who want nothing more than ratings and power. We certainly have disagreements, but these could be dealt with with respect and tact if we only took time to be a little more discerning in our personal filters.
The Mormon Left is as guilty as anyone, but this whole healthcare debate, with its screaming and lies and intimidation and overreactions, has opened my eyes a little bit. This is not healthy discussion and this is not democracy in action. This is kind of scary.