Monday, November 21, 2016

Internet Arguments: The Pence/Hamilton Thing

I have a bad habit of getting into arguments with people online. I would say I spend too much time on it... but I'm not sure that's true. The alternative is to avoid engaging with people, which seems like the sort of action that perpetuates this culture in which our views and the views of others are never challenged. We will likely never understand each other so long as we never make the effort to do so.

So, I get into Internet arguments. They're not always productive, and I don't think they result in changed minds per se. However, I don't mind making the effort to humanize my ideas and to at least attempt to understand where people are coming from.

However, if I'm going to spend a bunch of time writing like that, I should probably get some use out of it. Otherwise, all that work will simply fade away, banished to wherever it is that old Facebook posts go.

So, here's a discussion I had with some folks in response to a post my aunt made on Facebook. Unedited except for names, though I don't think the discussion is private, so theoretically anybody can find this discussion if they look for it.

Original Post (My Aunt): This was horrible. I think people should boycott this production.
(Link to this article regarding the exchange between VP-elect Mike Pence and the cast of Hamilton.)

Me: What did the production itself do that was horrible? They asked the audience to stop booing and ended the show with a heartfelt message to Pence, who respectfully heard them out.

There was nothing disrespectful about the exchange between the production and Pence. If Trump can't even take respectful, constructive criticism without crying foul, he's going to have a rough four years.

[Begin Reply thread]

Charlie the man paid money to be entertained. He wasn't there to be called out. There is a time and a place and that was not it. Like I said I would boycott it and maybe even cause a disturbance so that it would keep people from going into the theater like the protestors are doing in the horrible liberal areas. I wouldn't have any problems running over anyone in my way in the streets either.

[End Reply thread]

D. Dupre: Me also.

M. Verdin: I thought it was very rude of the cast to call out VP-Elect Pence while he was in the audience. Definitely not the time or place for it.

Me: They didn't call him out until the end of the show, and they didn't demand he stay to hear them out. They requested it, and he complied. And they didn't even say anything rude or untoward.

Has Mike Pence himself suggested that he was in any way offend
ed by the experience? Obviously Trump has his opinion, but he wasn't there, and I don't know why he or anyone else feels to need to get offended on Pence's behalf.

Seriously, lighten up, folks. This is politics, and not even the ugly part. This is positive, sincere discourse, and being open to that is an important part of healing this country's divide.

[Begin Reply thread]

A. Bates: They took advantage of the timing because honestly, no other opportunity would have allowed their voice to be heard. While the audience did behave disrespectfully, I'm surprised that Pence would not expect this behavior given the general feelings of half of the U.S. Voters. Nearly half of the country voted blue. This is a production where not only most of the cast is LGBT, but the lead is gay and HIV+. Their concerns are legit, and they took advantage of a time where maybe their voice would have actually been heard instead of cast aside as yet another protest letter. A desperate time called for a desperate measure, and these are very desperate times for the LGBT community. No offense intended to your beliefs, (my aunt). I respect and admire you, we just don't always agree!

Aunt: (To A. Bates) we will agree to disagree. Not the appropriate time. They did it with an audience of people. If I were Pence I would have been really upset. And he brought his wife thinking they were doing something together. It was wrong.  

Me: I'm sorry but, as VP-elect, and as such being an inherently political figure, everything you do in public is subject to this sort of thing. If you don't want to be a public figure, don't run for public office. It comes with the territory.

And, again,
to Pence's credit, he seems to understand this and does not seem to have taken offense. If I were him, I'd be wondering why all these people are getting offended on my behalf.

I think he's quite capable of deciding on his own what offends him. He doesn't need the public's help.

Aunt: if someone would have done that to Obama the media would have been in crisis.

Me: Not likely. Obama got called out all the time in many public events--even his own inaugural address, by members of Congress. The difference is that Obama has never demanded an apology from anybody for speaking their mind.

There was absolutely nothing
inappropriate done or said by either the cast of Hamilton nor Mike Pence here. They had a stage, and they had every right to use it. He could have left, and he had every right to do so. He stayed. They said their peace. This should not have even made the news.

Aunt: And the liberal media brought it out.

Me: No, Donald Trump brought this out because he bristles at imagined offenses. The story is "Donald Trump gets offended, asks for an apology." The story is that our president-elect needs to grow up and learn to take criticism.

Unlike the event between the cast of Hamilton and Mike Pence, the fact that our president-elect can't handle criticism is a newsworthy story. At least, it seems that way to me.

Aunt: No people need to learn there is a time and a place for everything. Most people have never been thought proper manners.      

A. Bates:
Obama dealt with burning effigies, his face being put in monkey bodies, being called the n word, having his wife called a slut for wearing sleeveless dresses, etc but did not call for apologies like trump is. His race and his wife, not just his policies were ridiculed and demonized constantly.

Then he should have told people to learn manners. I don't remember people Cornering him at any theater with his girls and given a speech on anything. This was a personal attack. They know his stances on and still he went to bring his daughter and her friends.

A. Bates: Perhaps. But the incident I'm thinking of happened a few years back when his wife and daughters were attending a function. Protestors lined up outside and called them
Monkeys and apes and go back to Africa. I can't even think that what the members of t
hat cast did would even come close in comparison to have your wife and children insulted and called apes. And when trump himself called the president derogatory names throughout his campaign during his rallies and public speaking engagements, he was never called upon to apologize. And he did. I watched several of his public speaking engagements where he called Obama a moron. Respect of the office was not in effect at that time. Mr pence was not called names nor were racial slurs spoken. The asked him to please take their community in to consideration because they were very fearful for their future.

But I'm not family like Charlie is and I do not want to argue with a friend. I know we are not arguing, but it can lead to one, and I cherish our friendship, so I will stop. Thanks for the discussion.

[End Reply thread]

P. Belanger: Whatever happened to Obama, happened to Obama. Nobody said it was okay or right. What happened to Pence is also not okay. Not the time. Not the place. Period. He was a member of the audience. They used their platform to bully and embarrass him. Shameful. The respect for this office is long gone.

Me: I would agree with you if there was in fact any bullying going on, but I just don't see how this was in any way bullying. They did not mock Pence, and in fact they asked people to stop booing him. Then they offered a heartfelt plea.

The intention was
clearly not to offend or embarrass, but only to communicate respectfully. If you consider that bullying, then you'll find it very difficult to escape the echo chamber we've all locked ourselves in.

There are many people out there spouting hateful, divisive nonsense on both sides right now. As far as I can tell, the only way to end the divisiveness is to be open to listening when people attempt to communicate respectfully and sincerely. To hear each other out. We don't have to agree, and we don't even have to like each other. But by listening to each other, by reminding ourselves that these other people are humans with real, valid perspectives and concerns, we slowly dismantle the walls that divide us.

The people on that stage had concerns and both the courage and the platform to express them. And I'm charmed that Pence had the good grace to hear them out.

To me, these are the exchanges we should be encouraging as an alternative to the uglier exchanges we've been seeing otherwise. This is a good thing. This is respectful discourse. And that's why I'm saddened to see this exchange being demonized.

P. Belanger: It wasn't a discourse. It was one sided. He was a guest. A paying guest.

Me: As vice President, he will have plenty of opportunity to speak to the country. However, this is probably the only time that cast will have the opportunity to speak to him. That's just how it is being a public figure, and likewise that's just how it is when you attend live theater. As a member of the audience, you become a part of the experience.

P. Belanger: Lol. Okay. Next time I pay for an experience, I will be sure to ask them to tell me what they think they know about myself.

Me: I'm sorry we interpret this event so differently. I see something promising, which gives me hope for both sides. You see something offensive. I suppose we'll have to leave it at that.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to explain my perspective on the matter, and I appreciate that you took the time to read what I had to say. I hope in the future we'll come to understand each other better.

P. Belanger: I totally understand what you are saying, and I agree that their words in themselves were not rude. And I see nothing wrong with their concerns. But you are right. We see it completely different. I believe the setting, the approach, and the fact that they left the VP-elect defenseless as tactless and disrespectful.

[End thread]

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