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Life is like a box of chocolates, really stupid chocolates.

August 30, 2010

“Stupid is as stupid does, and types.”

A LOM opinion on opinions

I’ve read some really stupid (adj.[L. stupidus < stupere, to be stunned or amazed] 3. showing or resulting from a lack of normal intelligence; foolish; irrational [a stupid idea]) stuff on the internet. Well, welcome to the dope show Captain Obvious. Yeah, I know. This really shouldn’t be surprising and I guess it’s not. The internet is one huge overpass support wall and anyone with a can of spray paint can write whatever they want on it. There is no Ministry of the Public CyberForum monitoring the validity and substance of what gets painted, so stupid stuff is all over the place; it can’t be helped nor missed. 

Now I don’t profess to be an innocent in this regard, I can spray the stoopid around just as well as the rest of ’em. But I try not to. I try to comment on things I know a bit about, I often double check the definitions of words I use, I try not to post anything I wouldn’t want to or couldn’t logically defend. A blogger is not a journalist or reporter (though often those types do blog), so it seems unfair to hold all  bloggers in general to journalistic standards or ethics. Bloggers are mostly just everyday people working regular jobs; they have internet access, some spare time and something they want to say. Having an opinion is an uniquely human feature, and wanting to be heard is a perfectly normal desire. In the United States we’ve even ostensibly constructed a society around a few core principles, one of which is widely believed (even by a Supreme Court now and then) to be the freedom of speech. 

But being entitled to voice your opinion does not equate to being entitled to have your opinion unchallenged. Being entitled to speak does not mean being entitled to to your own set of facts. Not every opinion is entitled to equal merit. Some opinions are wrong-headed. Some opinions are just plain wrong. 

Opinions can be wrong for dozens of legitimate reasons. They may be illogically constructed. Or they can be flawless in their logic but based on suspect or incorrect premises. They may assume facts that are not proven, nor accepted or they may give undue weight to facts that are not germane to the main argument. They may involve ambiguous definitions. Many times, they’re just lazy, maybe chemically impaired, incoherent ranting. (this is my favorite personal default setting) I love a good rant. I remember when Dennis Miller was funny doing that sort of thing (or at least he seemed to be). 

Many forums that discuss pop culture media like film and television take a seemingly fair-minded approach to respecting every commenter’s opinion. It is just a form of pop art so Let the People Speak, so to speak. There’s often an unspoken code of tolerance that implies every opinion is an unique interpretation and every individual’s opinion has worth. I agree with this to a degree. But that tone of tolerance should not require a wrong opinion to be quietly tolerated; being silently tolerant of mistakes and illogic only encourages the production of more mistakes and greater illogic. When more and more inaccuracies are allowed accrue, irrational, incorrect memes are propagated and then disseminated into the community. If this misinformation flows unchecked, eventually a large number of our fellow humans are not-thinking and not-making sense much in the same way as the indominable Ms Sarah Palin and the freedom fightin’ Chuck Norris, to highlight just two. They’ve internalized so many half-truths, distorted perceptions, popular mythology and so much faulty logic that they begin to engage reality from a really weird place, well removed from the generally accepted experience. When the majority becomes that delusional, then existence is properly fucked. 

And that’s why I’m mad, because I’ve now wasted major space by not writing about Mad Men this weekend.  However, I kinda have been tangentially because this screed was born of my interactions with posters and commenters at a few Mad Men-centric websites this week. For the most part, I think I’ve flushed out my frustration without personally calling anyone publicly out here. However, I did criticize an article for being randomly vague and for generalizing. Am I therefore a hypocrite if I don’t dissect and address fully the deficiencies of that post? Am I a mean, stubborn pedant looking to shame an author if I do put his arguments on the rack and stretch them out? I’m too tired to keep asking questions. I’ll sleep on it and see what opinion I wake up with tomorrow. 

_____________________________________________ 

This I am certain of — Roger Sterling has acted with bigoted behavior toward the Japanese businessmen from Honda, therefore he is by definition a bigot, toward the Japanese. That bigotry is not necessarily racist. It appears to be founded primarily in tribalism and nationalism and tempered by desperate warfare. 

And this too — the internet doesn’t function without semantics.  words : the intertubes :: saltwater : the ocean. When the web is worldwide and when words are all we have to comprehend and evaluate each other, there are essentially no “tiny semantical differences”, they are all equally important in the cybersphere. And what the fuck difference does the time make?

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