(Looking down at the magazine)
What is this? What are you, since
when do you read the “National Review”?
What are you turning in to?
(Turning to a nearby chair for
some gum in her pocketbook)
Well, I like to try to get all points
It’s wonderful. Then why don’tcha get
William F. Buckley to kill the spider?
Astronomers don’t check their horoscopes every morning to “get another point of view.” Kosher Jews don’t nosh pork rinds for “balance.” But a crazy notion’s taken hold among the conservative pundrity that we need to expose ourselves to “the other side” once in a while, to avoid the purported perils of “living in an echo chamber.”
Like “we shouldn’t say bad stuff about people just after they die” and other unexamined bits of received blogospheric wisdom, this notion isn’t one I subscribe to.
My Arts & Crafts “echo chamber” is tastefully yet eclectically furnished. I’m cozy & comfortable here and I leave at my peril — because that’s when others are imperiled. It may or may not be “good for me” to expose myself to “the other side”, but believe me, it’s better for them.
I live in Toronto. This means that when I surf away from Fox & Friends to CITY-TV to check the weather before I leave for work, the chances are good that I’ll have to endure b-roll of i) the most recent Local Festival of Public Nudity; ii) a candlelight vigil for the latest dead black child, shot by another black child, held by a bunch of black women who “can’t figure out why this keeps happening” and “want the government to do something”; iii) the Mayor threatening us with jail time unless we start recycling some previously land-fillable variety of trash.
Between the time I leave the house to catch the bus, and the moment I settle into my cubicle, I am obliged to witness/overhear the following:
* A fat ugly Kevin Smith clone reading Chomsky’s 9/11 book while picking absently at a scab on his forehead
* “I wish someone would just shoot that stupid idiot George Bush.”
* “As long as they’re not hurting anybody, who cares, right?”
* Teenaged girls in knock off Juicy Couture taking up half the bus with their giant prams
* Black kids in thugwear on their way to the courthouse, talking loudly about who they beat up last night
* “I’m on the bus. Hello? I said I’m on the bus? What?”
* “Michael Moore is a genius.”
So: on with the iPod. I start with Dennis Miller, then move on to (in no particular order), Rush, Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager (I save one segment of Prager for the car ride home, to spare Arnie and I the chest-crushing, ulcer-inducing awfulness that is “other sider” John “Gay as A Picnic Basket” Moore at CFRB.)
In order to extend my listening time to last the entire workday and thus prevent me from doing anyone bodily harm, I’ve been forced to subscribe to Glenn Beck, even though he’s a “North American Union” guy. (That said, he’s pretty funny when he wants to be.)
And the thing is, listening to these shows provides me with all the exposure I need to “the other side.” Miller has a regular 9/11 truther caller, who Miller’s been trying to cure with kindness. They all cover the latest asinine DailyKos contros, play clips of famous stupid liberals yacking, have on lefty guests, and allow crazed callers to call them names or just make fools of themselves (“I’m gonna vote for Osama know what I mean cuz we need a black president and he’s all about bringing people together know what I mean…”). And don’t kid yourself: conservative talkers don’t all agree amongst themselves on the big issues.
I’ve known most people were dumb since the first day of kindergarten. What I need is a daily aural IV of non-idiocy. Sure I have to guard against just sucking up the latest talking points or jumping to conclusions about breaking controversies. But those downsides are so minor compared to the alternative, which involves me and a high powered rifle.