Metapolitical

There are a couple of reasons why, as stated on my badly-needs-to-be-updated profile, “Although I have certain extreme political opinions, I won’t usually vent them here.”

One reason is that I object to the politicization of everything, which was one of the most pernicious consequences of the “culture wars” of recent decades. People who care about politics have the right, even the obligation, to passionately pursue political questions. But there are other things in life: astronomy and pizza and zeppelins and zither-music and cows and tea and verbs and sandwiches and so on. One should be able to discuss any of these topics, even argue about them, without it turning into a shouting match about who-you-voted-for-in-the-last-election-and-who-you’re-voting-for-in-the-next-and-why-that-makes-you-the-devil. The personal may be political, but that’s not all that it is, and the political is awfully damn impersonal. There is a merit in meeting (literally or virtually) with people as people, not the grinning caricatures one finds in a political cartoon.

Another reason, which may really be the same reason, is that partisan politics seems to give many people license to speak and act in stupid and dishonest ways. A classic is when Person A attributes a fallacious assertion to Person B. Then Person B has the triple task of refuting the fallacious assertion, disassociating it from himself and making whatever his real point was. It can’t usually be done.

This ploy may appear cunning, as opposed to stupid, but I think the two traits often overlap. Person A will usually lose more than he can gain in this type of exchange. At best, the mud thrown will splash back and no one will look very good.

In any case, this is not the sound of me taking the pledge to never touch a drop of that politics stuff again. (I certainly plan to keep tabs on Bob “Crazy Eyes” Fletcher, who seems intent on using police powers to enforce political orthodoxy in my hometown.) I just wanted to reassure my reader(s) that this blog is not going to become BowDownBeforeMyPoliticalOpinionsOrFleeMyDogmaticWrath.com. On the other hand, if people do want to argue politics with me, they shouldn’t be surprised that I’m willing to articulate and defend my own positions. To disagree, even strenuously, (over politics, or zither-music, or even more important matters) is not, in my view, an offense nor a justifiable pretext for being offensive.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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15 Responses to Metapolitical

  1. You can make and beat a straw man in any subject at all, but especially in politics where you rarely don’t see one. I can see why you’d avoid that subject.

    I think we can all agree with Obama on one thing though (if you read the Onion), and that is that the area loser should totally fuck off.

    • JE says:

      I did see a political non-strawman once, but I didn’t have my camera with me and now no one will believe me, even the people at Paranormal State.

      Agreed about the area loser. We have to draw the line somewhere. (As long as I’m on the right side of it, which might depend on the day.)

  2. onyxhawke says:

    Shucks!! I was so looking forward to introducing you to a couple of my friends from the other end of the spectrum and watching the show!

    I shall go pout now.

    btw, does anyone know i that domain is taken?

    • JE says:

      Oh, I don’t mind a good argument, enjoy them really. I shared an office in Fall 2000 with a staunch conservative and we had great arguments all through that election season. We even had a nickel bet on the outcome, making it a very serious matter indeed.

      Of course, we were in fundamental agreement about the really important things in life (ablative absolutes, Seneca’s tragedies, doughnuts, etc.).

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh, I don’t mind a good argument, enjoy them really.

        The political variety of those are really, really hard to find. I’ve actively looked. I stumbled across three Bigfoots, a pine-barrens devil, some kind dinosaurish lake-dwelling creature, and a tasty low-cal chocolate bar, but I’ve yet to find a good political argument with more than three people involved.

        –Jeff Stehman

        • JE says:

          I actually had a good political argument with a Bigfoot once. But when the Jackalope and the Alien Visitor showed up, it got a little unreasonable.

      • Okay I’ll be serious. Regarding topics I feel passionate about, pizza and doughnuts are second only to circumcision and cat declawing. Why do presidential candidates never talk about these things?!

        • Anonymous says:

          You can have my circumcision back when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

          Wait, that doesn’t sound right…

          –Jeff Stehman

        • JE says:

          I think the pizza question just may be too divisive. A modest reasonable discussion on pizza soon breaks down into a savage dispute over Anchovy Rights. At least, it soes if I have anything to say about it.

          But the candidates do talk about circumcision–in code. Whenever Barack Obama says “hope” he really means, “Check my position paper on ‘The Smegma Menace.'” And when John McCain says “my friends”, he’s signalling people to refer to his memoir, “Foreskins and Seven Years Ago”. I read this on the internet, so I know it’s true.

    • peadarog says:

      It *wasn’t* taken, but I rushed out and bought it. If anybody else wants it now, the price has just gone up.

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