I will preface this by saying that I thought long and hard over posting this. I finally decided that I feel just as strongly about this as the people who send stuff to me feel about their videos. And it's my blog, afterall...
Now that the election is over and all is said and done I didn't really expect to be writing a post dedicated to this particular topic. But here I am.
And, to be clear, this is NOT aimed at one person in particular. During the campaign season I was on the receiving end of loads of emails from different people. The senders were different - hey, one of them was my Mary Kay lady! - but the messages were all the same. Links to various youtube videos about how Obama loves to kill babies. I would watch politely for about a minute until it became clear that what I was viewing was propaganda. And I am just so sick to death of it.
The definition of propaganda, as defined by merriam-webster.com is: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.
Propaganda, whether disseminated with good or ill intent, is hurtful to the national political debate. It just is. It is one-sided, usually full of half-truths and spin and, worse, inflammatory as all get out. My reaction to receiving said videos is always to feel insulted. The sender is basically saying that either a.) I'm too stupid to have fully researched my candidate or b.) If I have done my research and STILL vote for Obama I must love killing babies, too. Neither is a compliment.
When engaging in a political discussion I like to hear both sides equally and then make an informed decision. If I want to know about Obama I'm NOT going to go to voteforbarack.com. If I want to know about McCain you won't find me checking out mccainisarockstar.org. I try to find neutral information in a large variety of sources. Liberal media, conservative media. I certainly look at voting records, but I don't go just by that either. To quote from a comment I made in response to my October 2 post, "Voting records get SO MUCH PRESS during election time, and rightly so. It's one of the most concrete ways for us to see someone's track record of actually supporting/being against any one particular policy. But the thing that [upsets me] is that people have a very fallacious thinking about what a vote MEANS. It is simply wrong and incorrect to infer that by voting AGAINST something that the person EMBRACES and UPHOLDS the opposite. When a bill comes to the floor it is so full of provisions and line-items. In order to pass it in good conscience the politician needs to agree with the ENTIRE bill and not just pieces of it. If there is anything in the bill that would be seen as a loophole or fatal flaw (overturn-able by the supreme court) the politician will often vote against that bill simply because it doesn't meet the standard it should. It's all about nuance and details. They could vote against a bill even though they agree with the concept overall." So I don't get myself too worked up over voting records.
So what's my big problem with propaganda? It's just people trying to do their best to support the cause they believe in, right?
Propaganda is SO STIFLING! It does absolutely nothing to encourage a free exchange of ideas and fills people with incorrect assumptions. And the use of inflammatory language and IMAGES is so abhorrent to myself - and I'm sure others - that I have to immediately walk away from it. Additionally, using terms like "KILLING BABIES" is so emotionally charged that you're practically setting everyone else up for failure if they don't rise to your standard. It's all black and white in the mind of a propagandist. You're either with us or against us.
And let's not forget that these videos often lack a thing called CONTEXT. Almost every one I've seen is just a collection of bits and pieces. A blurb here and a blurb there all with a backdrop of crying babies or, worse, aborted fetuses.
I, for one, will have NO PART IN IT. NONE. Just like I would never try to campaign for Obama by showing gruesome footage of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay detainees, I refuse to accept abortion propaganda as part of my personal political debate.
The last thing I want to say is this: when it comes down to it we probably all agree on abortion. I doubt that the majority of us wants it to be 100% eradicated, thus forcing people who truly deserve a safe procedure into the street and into the hands of whomever they can find to do it. Likewise, I'm sure that there are few, if any, who truly believe that abortion is great and killing babies is a good idea. I think the large majority of us are ON THE SAME SIDE of this issue. We think there should be solid legislation concerning when/where/how abortion can take place. There need to be limits on it, so that it doesn't become a casual form of birth control.
So, rather than playing into the hands of propagandists and becoming pawns in their game, I would challenge everyone who reads this blog to stay away from propaganda. And if you receive it, don't proliferate it's use! Don't put it in an email and mass mail everyone you know.
And, for the love of Pete, don't send it to me.