Of bullies and ballots

Bullying is in the news a lot these days. It’s the subject of national news exposés, of town hall meetings, of school board initiatives and considerable public debate as it should be. We live in a culture that is increasingly crass, crude and overtly aggressive and many good people wonder how we got to this point.

Everyone wants to know why bullying is so pervasive in schools. Some blame the Internet, with the extensive use of social network sites like Facebook and MySpace, among others. These sites are certainly one vehicle for e-bullying, providing kids and adults alike with a platform to instantly spread gossip, rumors and outright falsehoods or digitally blast anyone who annoys them in any way.

We’re able to see bullying and amazingly obnoxious behavior almost every hour by simply turning on the TV. Parents, have you watched Jersey Shore or almost anything on MTV? Do your kids?

Verbal bullies abound on TV, including such supposedly enlightened and tolerant celebs such as Bill Maher, Whoopi Goldberg or Joy Behar who can’t seem to talk about any person with views to the right of theirs without using bullying names like – well, I can’t use them in print. It’s a shame these elites feel more than entitled to use such language freely and often on air.

Having just suffered through interminable months of the most juvenile and downright disgusting political advertising ever flushed (sewage connotation intended) upon the electorate, I can confidently point to another source of increased bullying — politicians. In addition to the entertainment media, there has been a noticeable coarsening of language, attitudes and rhetoric from prominent political figures.

How could anyone watch the recent infantile stream of TV ads and still wonder why we live in a culture with such verbal abuse? I don’t care if you voted for Meg or Jerry, Barbara or Carly, Kamala, Steve, Abel or Caine for crying out loud. Not one of these “leaders” seemed to have a policy or plan of their own to run on. They could only launch attack after attack on their opponents.

(By the way, why aren’t the “progressives” all upset over the truly obscene amounts of money the TV stations raked in this political season? The latest numbers show a record $3 billion flooded into the networks from political ads alone. Where’s the hue and cry over those “big corporation” profits? The pollution they spew is more harmful than any offshore drilling rig, after all.)

Recent commercials were filled with vicious, libelous smears and accusations that would have seen you or me dragged into a slander lawsuit faster than you can say “Judge Judy.” I’ve seen cleaner fights on school playgrounds than the lame, childish attacks used by many of the candidates. I mean, drawing a Pinocchio nose on your opponent. Really?

I wonder what someone from another planet would think if they saw our political campaigns? Probably that we only elect thieves, felons, hate mongers, pillagers, plunderers, kidnappers and liars. Then again, that might not be so far from the truth.

By the way, how do all these Democrats get away with blatant campaigning in black churches all across the country? At every house of worship I’ve ever attended, church leadership won’t even allow voter guides to be made available for fear of being seen as mixing politics and religion.

At least locally we weren’t subjected to the low level of public discourse that our neighbors in Nevada endured. Over the weekend, my wife and I were in the Sierras where one of the TV network feeds comes from Reno. The disgusting, degrading, sophomoric level of sniping between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle had me changing channels often. I wanted to wash my hands after using the remote.

I’m just glad it’s over — for now at least. If the dirty campaigning had gone on much longer, I was about to start drinking a whole lot stronger stuff than tea.

I’ll see you ‘round town.