Sunday, April 17, 2005

COLUMN: Air America

Writing about politics can get a little hairy. The only opinions that I'm usually comfortable with offering in this column are such controversial statements as "I think onions taste icky" or "I think Katie Holmes is super hot." You know, real weighty stuff.

That said, I guess I've never really made a secret of my liberal tendencies when it comes to politics. In fact, When I was first offered the chance to write a weekly column, I even got a friendly reminder from one of the editors not to use this column as a left-wing political soapbox.
I told him the same thing I'll tell you guys now: Even if I wanted to, I wouldn't know how. I stink at arguing about politics; I'll save that for the brainy types over on the Opinion page. Besides, I respect everyone's political point of view.

I'm a firm believer in the two party (if not more!) system of government -- it provides the necessary yin/yang needed to make the best political decisions. I might be a yin and you might be a yang, but that's cool by me. Without a varying opinion to keep our heads in check, our government could spiral out of control -- and the next thing we know, someone will be screaming, "Soylent Green is made of people!" Now while I don't think politics will ever devolve into the realm of bad 70's sci-fi flicks, you've got to admit that the contents of Spam DO raise an eyebrow or two (mostly because when one eats anything called a "processed meat product," odds are good that you're EATING an eyebrow or two.)

So as the self-confessed liberal that I am, my arch-nemesis is, naturally, Rush Limbaugh. Or maybe it's Sean Hannity. They're both evil and need to be destroyed at all costs. The easiest answer to all of this would be, of course, to choose NOT to listen to their radio shows; sadly, I'm a glutton for punishment. I get in the car for lunch, the radio turns to talk, and swiftly my blood boils.

That's why I was beyond excited that last week, local 1270 AM in town became a member of the Air America radio network. Finally, the left-wing cavalry has come to save me from the abyss of the unfair and unbalanced right. Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, Marc Maron (a comic genius!) -- they may not have radio experience, but they've got the ideals that I share. I was on Cloud 9. Then I actually listened to it.

No longer did I have to suffer through the pig-headed, closed-minded, confrontational voices of conservative talk radio. Now I could listen to the pig-headed, closed-minded, confrontational liberals instead. And you know what? They're BOTH annoying.

The biggest lesson I've learned from political radio is that if you don't tow your chosen party line in all of your beliefs, you're treated like an idiot. For instance, all this week, the shows of Air America have been still going on about the Terry Schiavo thing. The preferred left wing stance is to side with her husband and right to die.

Well, I'm afraid I'm not in that camp. Take away my liberal decoder ring if you must, but I'm enough of a skeptic to value any kind of life more than the uncertainty of death. Simply put, if I were in the same tragic situation, I'd want to be kept alive. Just wheel a TV into my room, flip it to MTV, and I'm set. There are times that passersbys could mistake me for being in a persistent vegetative state already; I call those times "Sundays."

But as I listened to Air America go on and on about the case, I realized that my views were completely unacceptable to them. These guys are supposed to be on MY side, but within minutes of tuning in, I was already feeling like an outcast, as if Al Franken were about to pop out the speaker, slap my nose with a newspaper and scold, "Bad liberal! Baaaad liberal!"

Diversity makes politics work; pure bias just makes for shocking sound bites. I don't need Rush or Al or Sean or Janeane to tell me how I feel. I've got a brain, and that brain is telling me to turn the radio off.

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