Many Americans simply try to avoid discussing politics but, unfortunately, it has become more and more difficult for people to escape our rough and tumble politics in their daily lives. It shouldn't be that way. Politics in America can be vicious, ugly and filled with lies, unpleasantness, and crudity. That is why there are some places where politics just does not belong.
Church: Most people don't go to church to hear a minister or preacher's opinion on the political issues of the day. We have seen times recently when they have gotten so political from the pulpit that I'm surprised people have not been strongly tempted to boo (some of Rev. Wright's comments spring to mind). Some of those times I think maybe we should give in to temptation. It might help focus some of these guys on their Sunday morning job, which has nothing to do with pushing politics. Their flock didn't go to church to hear political rhetoric. If they did, they are confused and maybe they should stop putting politics in front of God. The same goes for politicians who all seem to mysteriously get the urge to head to church right around Election Day. If the congregation is nice enough to give them a moment to speak, they should talk about God and their faith, not their party and career. Part of political leadership is showing a little respect and part of being a good politician is pretending to have a touch of class.
Funerals: Speaking of respect, how did we get to the point where funerals have become about politics? Some of the demonstrations we have seen lately are so inappropriate it is simply outrageous. If someone goes to my funeral and starts talking about how God hates America or how we need to pass some law because "Gary would have wanted it," I am going to get up out of my coffin and beat them to death with my cold, dead hands, right there in front of the assembled crowd -- like a zombie from Night of the Living Dead. A funeral is for giving a person a decent send-off. It is not a place for petty politics.
Friends and family who may disagree: How many relationships with their family, friends, and significant others have been damaged over politics? It's one thing to talk about politics with people who agree with you, but why do people feel a need to hash out the Israeli/Palestinian situation with their uncle? Is winning a debate with a friend really important enough to risk destroying your relationship over? There's a reason why we are warned not to talk about race, religion, and politics with your family and friends. In the Navy we had a rule that these things were never discussed in the wardroom and that is generally good advice.
Graduation ceremonies: Hey, Sherlock Holmes, here's a clue: You may think you're a big deal because you've been invited to give a commencement speech? Well, nobody in that captive audience wants to hear your political views. If they want to hear you speak at all, as opposed to spending more time with their friends and family who're there to see them graduate, it is to get a little bit of life advice from a successful person before they go out into the real world. Discussing work ethics is always a good idea. Haranguing that captive audience with your political views is not. So, just shut up about politics, pretend that you actually have some idea of why you became a success when dozens of other people who were just as talented didn't rise as high as you did, and have the manners to give the crowd what they came to hear.
In the class room: Unless the class is political science, politics doesn't belong in the class room. In fact, it's absolutely appalling that so many teachers feel free to try to indoctrinate their kids. Telling the kids that some politician is a bad guy or showing the kids Al Gore's new movie is just plain wrong! Let’s educate the kids and leave the politics out of it. Parents should be raising hell if teachers step over the line.
On TV, at the movies, and in music: Don't get me wrong here: I'm not objecting to explicitly political flicks like Michael Moore's Sicko. Everybody knows exactly what they're getting when they go to see movies like that. But, why does almost every movie about the war in Iraq have to be so explicitly political? Why can't people even watch cartoons like The Simpsons or Family Guy without having to put up with a barrage of political jabs? If you let shows get away with showing such lack of respect for the large percentage of the audience that disagrees it will simply continue. Too many people seem willing to turn the other cheek after being gratuitously insulted. If you get your face slapped and you say, "Thank you sir, may I have another?" don't be surprised if you get more of the same. Another place is at awards ceremonies. If you are being honored for your talents don't say thank you by pushing your views on politics, it only serves to distract from your true accomplishments and irritates the part of your audience that disagrees.
Sporting events: Should Major League baseball yank the All-Star game from Arizona to send a message about their immigration law? Should the “Los Suns” deliberately flip off the fans who shell out 90 bucks a pop to watch them play? It's one thing for an athlete to get involved off the field, but do we really need to know the Washington Redskins' official position on abortion? Do the Boston Celtics need to take a stance on border security? Can't we make it through the day without knowing how the Atlanta Braves feel as a team about Cash for Clunkers? If the fans actually wanted a mixture of sports and politics, we’d already have something like “Glenn Beck’s Basketball Finals” or "Bill Reilly's No Spin Soccer" on Fox News.
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