I’m sitting there, waiting for the Clay Aiken concert to get past its technical difficulties and start already, when an unfamiliar voice comes over the loudspeaker. Unfamiliar, apparently, to no one but me, because as soon as the voice is heard it is recognized as Clay's and greeted with a piercing swell of cheers and shrieks.
I have a very hard time dealing with the fact that there are people on earth who like Clay Aiken’s music (as do my testicles, who immediately turned in their resignation.) If I had had the "American Idol" phone number on me at the concert, I would’ve voted for a sniper to shoot him.
There aren’t a lot of instances in which I am so stunned by someone else’s opinion on something that I am rendered speechless. And this wasn’t one of them. I quickly took to taunting the two fourteen-year-old girls sitting in front of me, and then I spit in their faces. And goddamn it felt good.
Relax, I’m kidding.
It felt great.
I enjoy arguing. I enjoy defending my beliefs. I have both bantered playfully and spewed venomously on behalf of my own opinions and against those of others, regardless of the gravity or frivolity of the subject matter. I'll rant against stupid TD celebrations and I'll defend gay marriage. I'll vigorously explain why I think it's better to see the movie before you read the book, and I'll get in your face when I learn you voted for Bush.
Occasionally, I run up against someone whose ideas are so baffling, so opposed to truths I hold to be self-evident and beyond reproach, I have only two options. One is to grin and bear it until the bad man leaves and I can find a wall against which to repeatedly slam my skull. The other is to confront that person and fight back, forcing them to defend their beliefs.
I have a “friend” who flaunts his intolerance in the name of religion, even occasionally going so far as to shoot pro-choicers. The two of us are in direct opposition about many things. It would be a lot more pleasant for him, and for our mutual friends, if I would let our differences slide, bite my tongue, and not get into it.
Instead, I vocally hope that his newborn son turns out to be homosexual.
I tell him that I want God to confront him with his shortcomings. That he uses his beliefs as justification for hatred, as many people do, be they Catholics, Democrats, or Red Sox fans, and I want him to have to deal with the conflict of loving a son that embodies something he has so idiotically been programmed to condemn. I tell him that he deserves it, even if his gay son certainly doesn’t deserve a life of mistreatment at the hands of a bigoted father.
This stance sometimes causes tension at parties.
Clearly my vehemence is at odds with some of the fundamental lessons my parents taught me as a child, which include the truisms that no two people are the same and that variety is the spice of life and to turn the other cheek. Those lessons are a coded way to teach stupid children the magical concept of Tolerance. We are all beautiful, unique snowflakes. Yeah, that’s all well and good, but a line has to be drawn somewhere, doesn’t it? Somebody has to be right about something sometimes, right? Agreeing to disagree is a cheap way out. Evading the issue doesn’t solve anything. It’s just politicking and it feeds the problem.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume that there are plenty of things I’ve said that don’t sit well with a lot of people (like my aforementioned “friend.”) Hell, this column is probably full of them. But that’s the point. I’m sick of dancing around stuff. Why pull punches? If I’m wrong, tell me. Tell me WHY. I invite dissent, everyone should. It gives us an opportunity to make our arguments stronger, to really explore why we believe what we believe.
Break it down for me, fellas.
Take a second to run some of your opinions through the wringer. Trace them back to where they started and find out if their launching pads were valid. Maybe you’re still clinging to a belief you had when you were a kid. Maybe you can’t let go of the fact that someone you respect and admire taught you something and you took it on faith. Maybe you got really high and think the stars are God’s salt and He’s spicing us up for dinner.
Are you Catholic because you truly believe in it all or because your parents brought you up that way? Did you vote for a president because you consider yourself a member of his political party or because you really agree with his policies? Do you like The Beatles or Citizen Kane because critics tell you to? Do you hate them because you’re not supposed to? It’s just as easy to rebel against being a sheep for bullshit reasons as it is to fall in line and follow the herd.
Stop selling the party line and think for yourself. Put your opinions to the test and find out if they’re really yours. You might be surprised.
Deprogramming yourself is a rigorous process but it pays dividends: I just realized that I actually don't hate asparagus. And that drugs really aren't bad.
All these years wasted urinating odorlessly and taking Nancy Reagan at her word. She believes in astrology, for pete's sake!
Let's see her defend that.
Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".
ABOUT MIKE JULIANELLE
more about mike julianelle
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
12.14.05 @ 10:23a
Asking people to THINK rather than simply REACT? What are you, some kind of Commie??
12.14.05 @ 10:31a
People don't often want to think. They surround themselves with all sorts of distractions in order not to think. But then, they can't really escape, no matter what.
12.14.05 @ 10:48a
And that, ladies, is why we need to CONFRONT them! The only way to wake sheep up is the shear them! Get someone's blood boiling and you have your best shot of hearing how they feel. And then you can try to change their minds.
People always seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop before they make a stand about something. I do the opposite. I make stands about EVERYTHING, no matter how trivial. Gotta stay in practice, keep my instincts honed for the real deal.
12.14.05 @ 10:49a
Ummm... "shoot pro-choicers"? Did no one else pick up on this line?
12.14.05 @ 10:51a
I once had a philosophy professor who tortured us for weeks by making us attempt to recurse any given belief to a sound metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology. Brutal.
You end up 'believing' nothing and hypothesizing about everything.
Politics, though, such a bitch. There should be a logical, reachable solution to it. It's very low-hanging fruit in the scheme of things. And yet people hardly agree on any of it.
12.14.05 @ 10:53a
Sorry for double-posting, but I can't resist. Let's admit this right here, right now:
Anybody who shoots pro-choicers must be consisered a legitimate insurgent who should be supported by Amnesty Int'l and the ACLU and we must take the greatest pains to see that the shooter's rights are not violated in any way. Agree?
12.14.05 @ 11:04a
Ummm... "shoot pro-choicers"? Did no one else pick up on this line?
I didn't think he meant it literally.
12.14.05 @ 11:10a
How can I possibly disagree with one who so brilliantly elucidates so many of my own beliefs? For those of us who "flaunt our intoleratnce in the name of religion," have I got a book for you to read! "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris. If you thought the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades was bad for business, wait 'til you've read the chapters on Islam!
12.14.05 @ 11:50a
Let me guess, there's no chapter on humanism or communism, right?
12.14.05 @ 1:23p
Well, where do I begin? Most of your rants have a point but this one really doesn't. You sound like me when I get drunk and talk racial with a bunch of Negroes in Harlem.
You talk about confronting but why? Is it this goal of enlightenment, a goal for higher belief that we all allegedly seek out? Personally when a spew this pseudo-intellectual garbage, I’m just doing it to shock and awe people. Quite selfish and shallow, really.
Are you really doing it to challenge others to reach that unattainable knowledge that Neo got? Are you 'THE ONE'?
Or is your goal to feel important and grandiose that your opinions or thoughts are right and theirs not? That they in fact are so far different from you that they deserve to have their face spit on?
Everyone is subjective. It's not a bad thing. We all have race, creed, color, life style, favorite ice cream, and favorite Buffy episode. To say we all should be the same or believe the same is not only wrong but also quite the opposite of why God made us different. We are to celebrate our differences not crush them. Seeing an over weight 12 yr old girl jump up and down for Clay Aiken brings joy to myself. I think its great someone finds the little faggot wonderful... What would the little queer bate do if he didn't have Peppermint Paddy as a fan? Turn into one of your 'friends'!
Oh, your point on astrology. Is it that since most women believe in that crap, or crap like it (De Vince Code for example) is why men are supperior and they should think more like us. Who's going to make us dinner!!!
12.14.05 @ 2:28p
There is too much nonsense in your comments to reply to it all, and most of it is not even intended to be taken seriously so why should I even bother? And please don't attempt to draw me into something by pretending I was serious about spitting in someone's face.
But I will ignore the idiotic misogyny and homophobia and Matrix references and try to deal with some of it.
I talk about confronting people not so I can get them to agree with me but so they can be sure they agree with themselves. So many people subscribe to a belief-set that comes along with a label, be it Republican, Catholic, Klan Member, whatever, that they don't often consider exactly why they are agreeing with many of the things that go along with their "membership." They vote along party lines without examining the issues, they blindly agree with the Bible or the Pope without honestly wondering if they should, etc.
The point of the article is that dissension shouldn't be muffled in order to placate other people. If you have a strong opinion on something, voice it - nonviolently, of course, but loudly. Get a reaction. Maybe everyone will agree with you. Maybe they won't but an ensuing argument will convince them otherwise, and maybe they'll get you to change your mind.
You know as well as I do that I provoke people by being extreme. But this isn't about being extreme for the sake of it, it's about taking a stand about the things you believe, and putting them to the test. Strong beliefs can't exist in a vacuum.
It's about keeping an open mind, and testing the beliefs you have, rather than accepting them because your parents did, or your teachers did. It's about reading Howard Zinn, even if you disagree. It's about reading Mein Kampf so you can intelligently reject it. It's about trying to understand terrorism rather than just bombing it.
It's about free speech. It's not about homogenezation. It's not about suppression.
I don't begrudge anybody for thinking differently than I do, I'm all for it. But I do think we should all try a bit harder to explain ourselves, and to listen to other explanations, instead of reflexively opposing different ideas without giving them a shot. This column was a playful, aggressive way of declaring that too many of us take too much for granted and that we need to be shocked and cajoled into wondering why.
12.14.05 @ 4:31p
You know what IS annoying? "ROCK THE VOTE" and Leonardo De Capro telling me that we need to be heard. Why now? Because they are upset that their team lost. They are being disingenuous, at best, by saying get out and vote when they really are saying, "we can't lose to these bastards again!!!(IE Republicans)
A memorable comment by one from your camp, a liberal black female reporter that I was with at the site of the World Trade Center on 9/11: "Oh, great! Does this mean we have another four years of Bush?"
That's the crux of it. Your intention was to offend those that find your views silly (painting Nancy Reagan as some nut ball), and to rally other liberal diehards to try to take back America.
There was little or no attempt to have a meeting of the minds. Your article (as did mine as a ironical retort) was littered with name-calling, finger wagging, and snobbery.
12.14.05 @ 4:59p
Please note the use of derogatory words referring to race, creed, color, or life style choice was meant to make the point of political directness per the article's title. I was simply portraying the red neck white rich republican that Mike so very hates while making the point we all are different and it’s a GOOD THING.
I'm glad there are gays in the world. What would we do without fashion, cinema, and Britain!!!
12.14.05 @ 8:36p
Johnboy, while discussing my column, please don't project your problems with me into something that doesn't exist. Nowhere in this piece do I mention "red neck white rich republican[s]" and nowhere do I make a stand for some homogenization of people.
I admit that I don't agree with a lot of different points of view, as you clearly don't as well, and I call for everyone to reexamine their beliefs and stop voting down party lines, taking things for granted, and neglect to think for themselves.
You have a similar problem to a lot of people: you can't stop filtering every thing you see into some us vs. them political argument. My camp, your camp, that's the problem. You claim you love individuality and subjectivism and then you lump me and all other so-called "liberals" into the very kinds of groups you pretend to hate.
I blatantly state in the article that there are surely TONS of people who disagree with me on a lot of issues and I ask them to tell me why. You are one of those people who has a different perception than I, except instead of explaining why you think the way you do or defending the views you think I am attacking, you just attack me with the same kind of virulent name-calling and negativity with which the entire country is infected. No one looks at issues anymore, we all just point at each other.
In this column I am not extolling the virtues of any particular way of seeing things, regardless of what you believe to be my stance on issues OUTSIDE OF THIS PIECE. I am merely asking everyone to take a step back and use their faculties before blindly stepping in line behind ANY BELIEFS, no matter who espouses them, be they Republican, Democrat, Nazi, Communist, Catholic, Jewish, Athiest or minotaur.
12.15.05 @ 12:01a
Mike, your point makes an amazing amount of sense, and therefore is the reason the majority of the human race will never react in this manner. The lack of common sense is the cohesive binding the human race together. It's a sad commentary, but I feel true.
12.15.05 @ 9:02a
Alright, let's put this to the test. Mike, you seem consistently more worried about religion than other groups and whereas I am more concerned with socialists and communists. My concern is based on the 100 Million people mercilessly slaughtered in Russia, China, Nazi Germany, by Stalin, Mao, the Nazi's, and the Japanese empire. All were secular, non-religious, national socialist or communist regimes, all suffer dogmatic, neo-platonic hypocrisy to roughly the same degree. What is your deal?
12.15.05 @ 9:07a
I don't even know what you're asking.
12.15.05 @ 9:38a
Oh, sorry. You seem particularly concerned with 'organized' relgion, and point to its failures and hypocrisies often such that I gather it is a very negative force in the world. So I'm just being direct to see what I'm missing. I've submitted that secular crimes against humanity dwarf by several orders of magnitude religious crimes against humanity if one calculates based on the median numbers offered by multiple historical sources. So witchhunts, crusades, religious terrorism amounts to millions. But for secular regimes, the totals are in Tens of Millions. One order of magnitude greater. Shouldn't we be more concerned about socialists and communists (in other words, HUMANISTS) than all of the traditional religions combined?
12.15.05 @ 9:56a
You've spent a lot more time thinking about things on that level than I have. And yes, I do get frustrated with the hypocrisy I see that seems on large part to be generated by religion, hypocrisy that is in my face sometimes on an individual basis is a recognizable way, while I don't know anyone who calls themself a socialist or a communist and then acts destructively either in line with or against that philosophy.
But my point is that for all the labels we throw around to categorize people and lump them into like-minded groups, I find it VERY hard to believe that they all share IDENTICAL thoughts or IDENTICAL reasons for the thoughts they have, and that most of us are too easily caught up in subscribing to a belief-set without actually double-checking what we think we're agreeing with. We go for the quick fix. Rather than saying I believe in pro-choice and stem cell research but am also for the war yet I don't like Bush's energy policies even though I from Texas, people latch onto labels, whether they use them for themselves or for other people.
Remember Nazi Germany? Allow me to simplify a bit, but after WWI and all their hard times, the people of Germany were so eager to have some pride in themselves and to have an identity to hold on to, they hardly took a second to examine the fine print behind that identity.
I am not trying to draw a line and say that religion is the #1 most destructive force and secular problems are nothing, I am trying to illustrate a connection between all that stuff as sometimes being the result of people not worrying enough about what they really think before getting on bandwagons.
12.15.05 @ 10:58a
I'm with you, on all of that man! (The Nazi's were the National Socialists I was talking about, ironcally. 0
And you bring up a great point, it depends on what's in your face. I started detesting the hypocrisy of socialism back when I was studying education, I saw widespread deterioration due entirely to powerful groups and unions with an outspokenly socialist agendas. And it was in my face. And I saw the victims of it, and they looked EXACTLY like the permanent underclass of New Orleans that could not get out of the way of the storm. And, like you, I blame and ridicule the people who claim to represent a worldview that is designed to empower such people, but who willingly act against it, right in front of our faces, on a daily basis.
12.15.05 @ 11:14a
I love you.
12.15.05 @ 1:14p
Really? I don't know what to say.
But if you really mean it, I know you won't mind explaining to me why the ACLU recently said, in reference to a nativity scene, that "Christ does not need governmental assistance", even though they support the fact that the NEA requires Holocaust and Kwanzaa studies in public schools. Because I'm confused about that.
That and the fact that the 9th circuit out on the Left Coast just rejected a lawsuit against a teacher who made her students dress up as Muslims and role-play Islamic rituals in a public-school, including the prayer-mats.
I'm struggling here, brother...