It started with one of my Facebook posts.
“Hmmmm, the Bristol Palin ‘memoir’ is now official: ‘Not Afraid of Life.’ And for some reason, the second half of Socrates’ famous quote comes to mind: the unlived life is not worth examining.”
Then there was a comment or two declaring the book not worth reading. Those posts understood the asshattery of having a girl barely twenty tell us about her years of wisdom, not to mention that there are brilliant writers having trouble getting books published while this is passed off as literature.
Then this: “Agree or disagree with her politics, she has given more ‘hope’ for families that have kids with Down syndrome than anyone in the past few decades.”
It came from a high school chum. While we passed a pleasant word or two in the hallways, we were never friends, never drank beer or got busted, never trolled for chicks.
I remember he was a monster athlete and a decent human being (not as in half-assed good, but in that he seemed to have a decent soul and tried to treat people decently).
I value ideas and debate and thrashing out what I believe and why I believe it. So I question everything and want to be questioned. I want to defend my ideas, to make them logical and sound.
The next post was his: “Sorry, wrong Palin. You’re right she hasn’t even lived a life yet.”
I did not see that post when I responded. Had I, I wouldn’t have taken him to task for confusing Sarah with Bristol, but I still would have asked the other questions.
My response: “ First of all, Bristol’s child doesn’t have Down Syndrome…unless you believe Sarah didn’t actually bear that child and Bristol did. Secondly, hope for what? How does simply having a child with Down’s Syndrome give anyone hope? Thirdly, Trig is nothing more than a prop the Mama Grizzly waves around at rallies and speeches.”
Understand that I have no experience with Down’s Syndrome. I’ve never known anyone who had it and if I’ve known family members of those with DS, it’s never been made clear to me.
I posted again immediately: “And I wonder if maybe the kid on the show ‘My So Called Life,’ which was about a kid with Down’s Syndrome, maybe gave more hope in the last few decades than any third rate talking head…seeing as how he actually had Down’ Syndrome and proved you could be a productive member of society rather than spending your time quitting jobs before blathering on and on at 100 grand per speech.”
Another high school chum posted this: “I would say the actress who plays the character, Becky, on Glee has given more hope to children with Down Syndrome than ANYTHING Mrs. Palin has done to date. As a matter of fact, when she defended Rush after he used the word, retarded, she pretty much took that train backwards a couple of decades!”
The response: “Well I guess since I have an older child with Down Syndrome I would have a different perspective. I’ve met Chris Burke and he is awesome, but only so many kids with DS are going to grow up to be actors. Me and my wife have been on our local board for DS for quite some time and been to National events as well. Palin has given the common family a voice that hadn’t been there since the Shriver family. The Liberal elite and wealthy just don’t have kids with Down Syndrome very often, because they usually get aborted, so there is not much support among this class. I’ve heard first hand how she has spent hours meeting and talking with families with kids. I know the liberal media never showed this side of her, but you can use the word ‘prop’ if you like, but that just shows where your mind is. There is more to people than just politics, but some people can’t get past that. I’m sorry some can’t get past that, but I guess it takes a little more than watching the news.”
Wow. A jolt of electricity, anyone?
So let’s take a look at his accusation. With the exception of me calling her a third-rate talking head, there was no name calling. What we posted was fact. Palin has, in fact, quit jobs. Palin does pull down, in fact, about $100,000 per speech. Palin did, in fact, defend Rush Limbaugh when he called a huge swath of America retarded. Those are facts, not hate.
(I will admit the bit about Trig being a prop is not a provable fact….)
So how did he respond to facts? With the notion of a liberal elite that aborts most of their babies because they might be stricken with DS. And then the idea that I am a lesser human than he and SP because I used the word ‘prop.’ “…just shows where your mind is.” Honestly, I don’t even know what that means.
He follows with this: “(name), thanks for sharing, I didn’t know there was an actress on Glee with Down Syndrome, I guess I should try and watch a show. I also enjoy how people that don’t have kids with Down Syndrome know what drives our train. I know other groups that don’t like outsiders telling how to live their lives. I wonder why people that preach tolerance are some of the most intolerant!”
Again, I have no clue what he’s talking about. When he writes that people without children with DS don’t know what drives his train, I haven’t any idea what that means. Obviously I can’t know his life, I never said I did. I never told him how to live his life or gave him direction on a course of action for his family. I would never do that because I’m not on his train.
What I did do was ask a question.
One of the things I hate most in debates are people who hide behind broad brush arguments, as he does here. “I wonder why people that preach tolerance….” Using the generic and collective ‘people’ rather than calling me out. If you’re talking to me, then talk to me. I’m a big boy, I can take it.
Plus, come on, no one has ever heard me preach this dog whistle concept of ‘tolerance.’ In fact, I’m not particularly tolerant. I think idiots ought to be called out for their idiocy, just as I would expect to be called out for mine.
But he’s not done. There is one more post: “Well I’m pretty sure I said that politics aside she has offered ‘hope’ to families with kids with DS. The (sic) I said sorry, wrong Palin, and then you spouted off quite a bit of hate. So I guess that’s how it got started.”
Then he and the other poster had a short, pleasant discussion of the DS characters on Glee and the politics and name-calling were left behind.
But his last post points up most of why I wanted to write.
First and foremost, as I said at the beginning, I’m all for debate. I am not for name-calling in the stead of debate. I hate avoiding questions or answers by dropping a bunch of nasty names and making broad brush statements.
Ultimately, I asked a question which he refused to answer.
Instead, he filled the air with obfuscations, hitting the money-word ‘aborts,’ and twice using the oh-so-scary ‘liberal,’ once as part of a supposed elite and once as part of the media. What was truly odd about that name calling was that he lumped the wealthy in with the liberal elite. Those are two very different bits of class warfare and I’ve never heard them put together before so kudos for the mash-up!
But here’s the thing: he never answered the question. He referenced the question in his later post, declaring again that she’s given hope to families with kids with DS, but never explained what that hope was. Has she pushed for more research funding? Has she pushed for greater understanding of DS? Has she pushed for greater public acceptance of people with DS?
If so, then she’s done it damned quietly. All I ever see her talking about is how Obama has fucked up everything and how FLOTUS should quit forcing us to eat healthy.
I want him to answer the question. I want to know what she’s done. I want to be proven wrong. I want to know, since I have little to no understanding of this condition, that there is someone pushing America on it. I want to know that she’s doing what Michael J. Fox has done for Parkinson’s, which is push and push and push for more research and better funding, and what Betty Ford has done for addiction since 1982, which is bring it front of mind for the average American.
Has she done all that? Has she done any of that? Tell me she has. I’m begging to know she has.
Fundamentally, I guess I’m disappointed the debate went south so quickly; that I was accused of spewing hateful rhetoric even as he told the world that am part of a liberal elite that routinely aborts its babies.
Silly me, wanting actual debate in my debates, wanting actual facts in my debates.
As useless as it may seem, I will never stop hoping to one day discover exactly that.