Check out this post on Bob Berwyn’s blog.
1. If you had read Doug Bevington’s book (recommended reading), you wouldn’t see the polarization between parties as “astounding.” According to that book, it was the conscious choice of national and other green groups to ally themselves with one party.
2. Believing that people are in one or another group versus a combination of thoughts and values on different topics is rather dehumanizing. That makes it easy to think of them as “other” and to study them rather than listen to them as human beings. This often happens to rural folks. Who controls the agenda of “science”? Generally a set of folks. Who gets treated as objects to be studies rather than listened to? Generally another set of folks.
3. Like many scientific studies, this one has many implicit values. Because I was a federal employee and had to work for people of both political parties, I don’t remember any R’s being “for” deforestation or toxic waste. Just sayin’. I think the world is a little more complex than being portrayed.
4. Finally, framing things as moral issues can be tricky. In my experience, it tends to be the last resort of someone who wants to tell you what to do or think, when you don’t agree and don’t find that person’s arguments to be convincing. There are general moral principles that most all folks agree on but often environmental questions are what Rushworth Kidder would call “right vs. right” in his book How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living (recommended reading). Also, framing things as moral issues tends to needlessly get people riled. That can lead to bad things like the Inquisition or .. well you can name your own .. current or historic.
You all across the country probably didn’t see this but in Boulder there was the following behavior you can read about in a story here Boulder County condemns ‘mob harassment, cursing and intimidation’ at fracking hearing:Commissioners announce security plan for future meetings:
Upon returning, Domenico, chairwoman of the board, asked the crowd to “behave in a manner that is respectful” so the board would have a chance to hear everyone who wanted to speak.
“In my mind, the fundamental problem with the hearing we had last night was the behavior of a certain subset of the folks who were there that were really determined to intimidate anyone who had a different perspective,” Toor said Wednesday. “In order to have a democratic process, you have to have an environment where everyone is able to safely express their opinions.”
Other “troubling” behavior cited by the board in its statement included jeering of Wendy Wiedenbeck, a Denver-based community relations adviser for Encana Oil and Gas USA, during her presentation at the meeting and the “mob harassment, cursing and intimidation” some protesters engaged in as they followed Wiedenbeck to her car later.
“Suppressing alternative comments and shutting out voices through intimidation and fear is not part of the democratic process we hold dear,” the commissioners’ statement read. “Last night’s effort by a small segment of attendees to threaten and intimidate a speaker walking to her car was nothing short of shameful. Public hearings should create a space for everyone to feel comfortable to participate.”
Wiedenbeck, and Encana employee since 2004, said in an email that she has attended hundreds of public hearings on behalf of the company and has never encountered as much harassment as she did Tuesday. Even after trying to leave the area, she said, protesters followed her, blocked the path of her car and pounded on her windows.
Once you have determined that the “other” is not like you, and is “immoral” to boot, then it becomes OK to engage in behavior that is disrespectful or hurtful.
5. It creeps me out when people subvert a noble goal, “departisanization” which I fully support, by not listening to both sides and finding a center of shared values, but by attempting to convert the people who disagree in a vaguely underhanded (er… immoral?) way. Ick!