954. I hesitate to be encouraged by recent events; government by character asassination in America has a proven history of success, and people en masse seem to have an entirely too apt ability to buy what they've been sold around here lately.
But it's hard not to be cheered just a little noting that two recently-attempted public displays of such have fallen flat as the absolutely tone-deaf attempts that they were. There is a possiblilty that we, as a group, are getting less credulous–a possiblilty–and that is reason for optimism. They remain notable for who was willing to advance the slur.
The first one happened with the "Merkley Voted for the War" meme, which Steve Novick regrettably signed on to. The overarching truth of the situation is that the political culture of this day (remember, the country is being run by bullies) means that one is pretty much forced to adopt some stance on the Iraq conflict in order to survive as a politician. In the specific Merkley's vote in support of HR 2 was apparently inspired by a sincere desire to show support for the troops, rather than approval of the Iraq war. It seems beyond unfair to hold someone accountable for a Hobsonian choice that they were required to make. That's the political culture today; the Colbert joke question "George W. Bush–great President, or greatest President" is rooted in a sad reality we all had better start to recognize. Regardless of Novick's personal feelings on our current foreign policy, he should have known better than that, because to this unenlightened prole, it sure looked like he was willing to hitch his star to a dishonorable talking point.
Sad, because Novick is admirable in so very many ways.
Similarly, if we give Bob Ball the benefit of the doubt (and I suspect that some may indeed not) that he was airing a concern that he was sincerely worried about in matters of propriety between Sam Adams and Beau Breedlove, we find ourselves wondering why he would carry forward such a rumor. Rumors like that are pointy and poisonous things, as Ball himself has discovered; that blowback has turned out to be a bee-yotch. You'd best check them out thoroughly if you can, and if you can't, it'd be better left alone.
The hoped-for Goldschmidt effect didn't happen, because the facts showed that it was an adult just helping some young person come to terms in a positive way with who he was (and this blog and this author are not scared of gays, if one hasn't figured out by now). Moreover, we are significantly cheered that the public discussion on this has centered on the creditiblity of the people and issues involved rather than the inherent gayness of the situation. It doesn't matter that Sam is gay (and indeed hasn't for quite a long time now); it matters even less that Ball is gay. What matters is that Ball seems, to this unenlightened prole, to have gone after Sam Adams on a seek and destroy mission that backfired–as it should have.
When I was but a neat thing, one of life's lessons Mama impressed upon me was how evil forwarding rumors is. Even if you're right, spreading rumors marks the spreader as much as the spreaded; people will always suspect you afterwards.
Bombs always throw shrapnel. Best that you not drop them.