Let’s Talk, You Evil Bigot

Not everything can be resolved through discussion. As my husband says, if the Pope and Planned Parenthood sat down over coffee, they will never agree about abortion.  Yet, our society seems to be moving towards the ridiculous extreme that nothing can be solved by discussion. It seems that ad hominem attacks, ascribing the worst possible motives and being unable to conceive that anyone with whom you disagree is acting in good faith are all now normal.

This idea struck me forcefully this week after seeing reactions to the half-time show at the Super Bowl. I did not see the show myself (or the game), but there wasn’t any factual disagreement about the provocative nature of Jennifer Lopez’s performance. In a column I read on a site aimed at mothers, one woman wrote that the show was soft porn and unsuitable for a sports event targeted towards families. She did not call JLo horrible names, she did not say that anyone who enjoyed the show was a pervert, she simply said that this was inappropriate for any society encouraging more respect for women.

The comment section exploded. “You sound like the epitamy [sic] of helicopter mom [sic],” “It was the best halftime show of my life,” “Stop with the closed mind…” came from one side. Naturally, a few people took the opportunity to bash President Trump and anyone who voted for him, though he was never mentioned in the article. On the other side, many thanked the author for her words and shared her views.

A conversation it was not.

I have been reading a book, Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. I haven’t read enough yet to recommend the book, but in the early chapters, the authors expand on a principle of ancient Jewish wisdom that my husband and I often discuss: our feelings follow our actions far more than our actions follow our feelings. In other words, people who give up smoking often feel more ardently anti-tobacco than they ever were before they abandoned the habit.  As the authors show, the more extreme our behavior, the harder it is for us to admit we are wrong. If, like so many Leftists today, someone supports movements claiming that President Trump is a dangerous man who must be stopped by any means before he destroys the planet, then it follows that the individual must drop friends and shun relatives who support the president. Only bad people would vote for someone who is so menacing. If these friends or relatives try to engage him in a fact-based conversation, he will not respond to the facts but will hunker down in his convictions. Thinking of himself as a good person is dependent on believing his thesis. Otherwise, he is a bad person for having destroyed relationships, insulting and offending people who meant a great deal to him.

Just like a serious illness causes one to forget minor health issues, the irrational hysteria about  President Trump is masking the lack of calm conversation on all issues. If mothers, whom one can assume all want a safe world for their daughters, cannot discuss a halftime show without fury, how do we begin to restore civil conversation to society?

Could it be that the women who saw a 50-year-old star “strutting her stuff” as a form of female empowerment, know deep down that asking a 16-year-old boy watching the show not to have sexual thoughts about the girls in his class the next day is akin to asking a giraffe to burst into song? Anger has always masked insecurity. Conversing with someone caught in the throes of passion has never been possible. If actions beget fury, then, indeed, about half of us are forming a culture where discussion is impossible.

23 thoughts on “Let’s Talk, You Evil Bigot”

  1. The half-time display showed far too much ‘skin’ in my opinion. I indulged in reading material I had brought in just such an event; so, I missed the tongue-wagging and pole-dancing, which I also feel was very inappropriate for a nation (maybe world)-wide broadcast. Our country (akin to the rest of the world) has set aside G-dly imperatives and adopted a host of immoral sexual practices. Courtship and dating with the intent to better ‘know’ another (whether male or female) have been forsaken. These days the conversation goes (a bit of an exaggeration) “Hi, I’m John. Oh, you’re Mary. Want to go to bed?” What I’m saying is that sexual intimacy is established far too quickly without any true base for a partnership. Society (a generalization) appears to place the emphasis on personal PLEASURE as against a true, trusting, loving relationship. There are multiple sexual partners and babies being brought into the world whose parents have no sense of real LOVE for each other (or sense of responsibility). So, have intercourse, get pregnant, and proceed to paternity court or, all too often, have an abortion. Yes, this is the state of our nation and peoples across the globe. It indicates a severe parting from the path of the Divinity (HaShem). The possible consequences: immorality, chaos, confusion, shame(perhaps, today the shameless are proliferating), loss of trust, and destruction of the sanctity of marriage. This is what I saw being depicted by the half-time show, despite the seemingly good intentions of those who produced this show of entertainment. G-d have mercy on our society. May the Holy One, Blessed be He, guide us to His Holiness.

  2. In my opinion, a major reason we can talk less and less in the US is that it is becoming more and more the case that we as a people do not share common values. I am in my 50s. Growing up, nearly everyone, regardless of ethnicity or cultural background, believed in basic American values (the principles of America’s founding like individual natural rights, family, the USA is a force for good in the world, God, personal responsibility, taking care of one’s family and oneself, etc.). Unfortunately, the American population as a whole no longer share what used to be considered basic American values. So what is there to unify us today? What do we Americans generally share today? Holding legal citizenship or generally living within the same national borders do not seem to be things that have a bonding effect.

  3. I have to say the half time show was good except for the pole thing and the tongue wagging. Explaining to my tween-age daughters who watched it with me in a family restaurant was an enlightening conversation about what was respectable and inappropriate. What were those performers thinking is beyond me. There is a line from “The 70’s Show” the dad uses and I like to use too… its ” Dumb____ses” My girls aren’t allow to watch that show either.

  4. Susan, not sure if I was the only guy to make a comment but I’m sorry to say I disagree.
    Two sides to everything as God has shown us many times.
    I do not like or approve of the pole dancing or acts they do that make it look like porn which it is soft porn.
    But on the other hand it is a norm these days. This is what Television has become even on all the internet. Our 16 year old have seen worse in schools are where ever they are at. This is not new.
    There minds are going to be formed on how you raise or have raised them. There is no HIDING this stuff, it is everywhere. Our children are more understanding than we were back in our time. But the learning process has not changed that we mush in sure our children get today.

    I stopped watching football when football became about destroying our nation by disrespecting our flag and national anthem. I will never watch it again. As so I have stopped watching almost all TV shows because Hollywood has made a commitment to insert Homosexual ism in every program played today.
    It is very sad and we must pray on it to get it turned around as Trump is trying to do for our Nation.

    I have no problem of 50+ year old women showing their beautiful body that God has given them.
    But when they take it to far as pole dancing and acts of sexual content is too much.
    On the other hand you women out there, I believe most men would like to see their wives be more sexual maybe a pole dance for there husbands from time to time.

  5. I have never made a comment before, although I have wanted to many times. I look forward to your musings, Susan and your husbands thought tools. I am a 68 year old Christian woman who is married 47 years to a wonderful Christian gentleman. We have raised 4 wonderful children into adulthood and now are blessed with 7 grandchildren, all serving God. I knew what to expect and so we turned off our TV for the half time. I deeply regret that our nation formed to worship freely our God has turned to a low and degrading form of celebrating a football game. Football, as well is an American sport and I remember the lovely sound of marching bands celebrating half time. I am happy to report that all of our children turned off the half
    time show disallowing our grandchildren from viewing it. Thank you Susan for your willingness to address this. Nancy

  6. Dear Susan,
    I am so thankful for your good sense on top of the wisdom.
    The passion of love is so distorted in our culture today.
    I am fearful for this generation! Will they ever experience true love?

  7. Barbara Pfeffer Billauer

    Susan, I think you’ve accomplished your mission. Here I read respectful and balanced views expressing both a pro and con perspective on an emotionally laden topic. Kudos to you and to your readership! Well done!

  8. I agree with several of the posters here – once the performers were announced, you could pretty well figure out what the entertainment was going to be. If you wanted to watch, you could. If you didn’t (or if you have kids for whom it wouldn’t be appropriate), you didn’t have to watch. My husband and I did watch it, neither of us was particularly impressed, but it’s ok with us if other people were – or if they weren’t. And I also totally agree with you – we seem to be losing the ability to talk to people calmly and rationally, and that’s a very sad loss.

    1. Normal consumption is not excess. Similarly in Song of Songs, which is quite direct, the norm is described. And yet, Proverbs speaks of cautions too. So, overt and/or subtle prompts like the serpent’s need our invitations sent, to get them their mineral supplement by bits of dust.
      A time and place for everything. Yet, Don’t potty train the puppy on the carpet. Nor, tape big bills on the broad-sign with gold arrows, captioned, Come and get it!”
      P.S. What might Rabbi say on this topic?

  9. Without abiding in the trurhs of the Bible, the masses sadly encircle all kinds of things for one or another worldly reason.

  10. I was baffled as to why anyone was surprised by the half-time show. After the announcement of who would be performing, all the headlines focused on how sexy a woman could be at 50. I saw the direction the branding was going, knew what to expect, and chose not to watch. Why did anyone expect a family friendly show from a performer whose press was bragging about her sex appeal and great body, at every opportunity, even more than her music? I was frustrated by my outraged friends who posted pictures of what I had endeavored to avoid seeing. I know pole dancers who were outraged that people didn’t appreciate the athletic skill displayed. For them, it became a personal attack. I hope mothers and fathers are taking the opportunity to talk to their children about respect and that if a woman or man is offering themselves up to everyone in the room you don’t take advantage not because of them but because that isn’t who you are, because you value the sanctity of marriage, because you know the body is sacred. Give the children a chance to talk about how such a show made them feel. Did they feel closer to God or further away? Why? What did they like? The glitter? The music? What didn’t they like? Why? If we won’t talk within our own families (thinking of the lack of respect I grew up in), how are we ever going to have a conversation with strangers?

    Thanks, Susan.

  11. I personally liked the half time show, but I am a fan of both artists and I knew what to expect from their performance. I also completely understand the other side of the coin. I absolute agree that the show was not appropriate for younger, or other certain audience. I understand the parental outrage, however the television station could have been changed during the halftime show. Anyone not living under a rock should of had some expectation about what kind of show would be performed. If not because of who the artist was but because the half time shows have been progressively becoming more provocative. I don’t think attacking the performers for doing what they were hired to do is productive, nor will it change what is now considered normal entertainment. Nor is it a good idea to expect the entertainment business to hold the moral standards of our households. That is not their jobs it is ours. – just my 2 cents.

  12. Great observations!, my Bible tells me.” Let not a d
    Double minded man, (or woman) expect any-
    Thing from God. The people who won’t consider
    God. Are doublemindedly expecting they can
    Continue in the same behaviors and get a diff-
    Event result. Demanding that you love them the way they want you to. All truth and understanding
    Being thrown out the window to be trampled
    In underfoot. Where’s reality today?

  13. This remind me of an article. Israel did a study that had angry people yell the same stuff that they would yell at other people in a mirror. I guess it works. People calmed down a bit.

  14. I wish there was a Like button in this format, because I don’t have much to say. I LIKE everything you said though.

  15. I saw the first 2 Super Bowls (well, and a few others). It has never gotten better. There is too much “color commentary” for me. I can see what is happening (imagine that!). Half times have always annoyed me! There was the Janet Jackson affair and now this.

    I like the idea of singing Giraffes at half time. I would watch that!

    Take care, Gordy.

  16. Thank you for the wise, pertinent thoughts. I am reminded that “…a soft word turns away wrath.” But it is just as important to realize that “…a harsh word stirs up anger.” Unfortunately, I see the behavior coming from all sides.

  17. It’s hard not to conclude after many attempts to find nonexistent “common ground” that arguing with said entrenched individuals is like spitting in the wind. Agree!!

  18. Yes! this was the point I was trying to make about the show. It was great that a 50 year old gal can get up and pole dance for the women of America, but the men don’t see an empowered woman. They see an object to be lusted after, just like that 16 year old boy. I am glad my grandson isn’t old enough to have seen this. My other issue is that as long as women are willing to flaunt their great bodies, men will be there to enjoy it and then those same women can not turn around and ask for those same men to respect them only for their minds and their thoughts. 🙄

    1. In addition to your thoughts I have to ask, isn’t the whole point of pole dancing to be sexual and provocative? I mean, there are many forms of dance that would be equally impressive in terms of allowing a 50 year old woman to display her physical prowess that aren’t overtly sexual – ballet and modern dance are two. Pole dancing and twerking are not. It’s really the difference between expressing one’s self with four-letter words or speaking your mind with poetry.

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