Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Must not fall for propaganda!

Back in 1989, my hometown of Concord, CA passed an anti-gay initiative known as Measure M. It "sought to prevent the local government from passing any law involving sexual orientation. Measure M also sought to repeal an existing law prohibiting discrimination against gay people and people with AIDS." (Here's my source link - my memory didn't recall the details that specifically.) Thankfully, it was overturned as being unconstitutional. (Which shouldn't surprise anybody here in 2014.)

It's a good thing that I wasn't old enough to vote then because I'd have to admit on my blog that I voted for it. Why? Because I was an advocate for it. I argued with people who were opposed to it. I repeated bullcrap about how gay people were looking for "special rights".

Even worse, there was a videotape that was distributed to residents of the city. It was produced by a conservative Christian organization, if I remember correctly. On the video were scenes from San Francisco's Gay Pride parade, and the gist of the video was: "Do you want to see this kind of perversion in OUR city?" This prompted banners around town in favor of the measure that read "This is not San Francisco!" From what I remember, the video focused on the parade participants who were cross-dressing, near-naked, and other stuff that you don't wear to church.

Basically, my opinion was based in fear, not facts. I even used to tell people that I wasn't anti-gay, even though now that I look at it all rationally, I was clearly in favor of something that was anti-gay. Ugh. The mind reels.

Thankfully, I'm all better now and totally incapable of making mistakes. I never fall for any propaganda, and my mind is a fact-only zone. I can completely separate my emotions from all issues as I analyze everything with total objectivity.

Umm...yeah, okay, maybe not.

However, this experience of me falling for a total lump of bullcrap propaganda provides a good motivation for me to avoid propaganda in the future. Right now, I've been digging into the whole issue of GMOs and the related issue of "Is Monsanto evil?" I still don't have a definite position on all of this, but I feel like I'm getting closer to the point where I can at least justify an opinion. But my point is that I'm on the lookout for propaganda - both on the anti and pro side, and I've found a bit to go around. However, so far I'm definitely seeing arguments that are more hysterical and devoid of facts coming from the anti-side. For instance, another story that the anti-Monsanto crowd likes to repeat is the one about how they sue farmers if traces of Monsanto's GMOs enter their fields through wind-blown pollen. Yeah, well, turns out that's bullcrap. (Scroll down to myth #2.)

Now before you accuse me of being a Monsanto-lover, I checked out their own site where they attempt to debunk some oft-repeated myths. From the bit of research I've done, they correctly (or correctly to a degree) address these issues. Do you know what they don't address though? Oh, how about stuff like waste dumping? Here's a site, which gives a pretty balanced viewpoint that certainly doesn't leave Monsanto in the clear.

One good step to avoid being fooled by propaganda is to attempt as best as you can to set aside any tribalism. This is why I don't like to identify as a liberal. It makes it sound like I've already got my mind made up and I've chosen my side on each issue without examining them. Sure, most conservatives call me a liberal, but if the liberals are wrong about something, I don't want to be wrong too simply because I don't properly question my "side". I'll question anything and everybody, including my own mother. (Much to the chagrin of my mother, no doubt.)

I wish that I could live in a world free from propaganda, but I don't. I also wish that I was totally immune to it, but I'm not. Chances are good that I'm probably wrong about something and part of the reason why I'm wrong is because of propaganda. Hopefully though, by at least being aware of it, I can avoid being a sucker as much as possible.

1 comment:

Ingrid Johnson said...

Actually I have no problem with you questioning me. In fact I think I told you a long time ago that I expect you to question me because I am not infallible, and you are supposed to think for yourself. I am old and wise enough to handle it.