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  1. To me, our culture has been incontrovertibly and dramatically changed. I don’t know how it quite happened. But, somehow — over the last 30 years is the number I’ve heard used the most — our culture changed. It became one where everything has a price tag. Where torture became acceptable. Where compromise is either mocked or given only lip service to. Where there is a growing tension. Where ‘Othering’ is routine.

    One of the theories I’ve had is that the attempts at arbitration between the diverse aspects of Western culture over the past half-century, if not more, have only served to stave off, and in fact have intensified, feelings of irritation, anger, frustration, and anger between these ‘sides.’ Because of the lack of any satisfactory arbitration and resolution, the conflict between these differing views have made these groups isolationist. But now they can’t be isolationist because so many things are coming up that are forcing them to confront their beliefs. Some are accepting, but many are not.

    That is why I feel that in the next few years, there will be some sort of mass disturbance which will spiral into mass violence. The isolated incidents — the LA riots, the Brooklyn Heights riots, etc. — will get more and more frequent and more and more violent. They will culminate in some sort of race/class warfare, and will very likely include an assassination attempt on President Obama, who is one of the polarizing figures in the current clash of beliefs. It will also likely involve assassination attempts on one or some of the most vocal right-wing pundits.

    I don’t like the idea of violence, but Mike Malloy, a very, very left-wing pundit who is even more acerbic than Maher (I don’t agree with some of what he says, or the way he says some of it), but he does feel that this escalating violence will, ultimately, have a cleansing or cathartic effect. It’s not something to look forward to… but at least if we cannot prevent it, which I have doubts that we can, then something good will at least come of it. Just that after such a mass of violence, there’s a sense of catharsis. Like the quiet in the streets after a riot. It might be less ‘cleansing’ and just ‘resetting’ things, giving the survivors a chance to look at what happened and realize what went wrong. Not sure how much of that is actually the case. But I am pretty certain that the rhetoric will escalate into violence.

  2. You know me, Greg: I’ll always suggest education and to attempt understanding and communication, before conflict. In the long run I do not doubt rationality and democracy and peace will continue to gain ground. I have to ask, too, why you’re letting their dogma determine whether or not you feel powerful. Isn’t that your own personal decision? ;)

  3. The concept of mockery is one of the hallmarks of faux political/news shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert report…there is, of course, mixed feelings there as well. Because even though I find Jon Stewart very charismatic, and even quite intelligent when he’s making actual commentary and not just mocking, I do realize that the focus of his show is comedy, and not intelligent discourse. There has been conflict, as a matter of fact, in that he straddles that line between comedy and commentary, between humor and actual conversation.

    The reason I bring up Jon Stewart, is that Maher does the exact same thing, in his show ‘Real Time.’ The irony there, though, is where Jon Stewart’s show is primarily humor mixed with commentary, ‘Real Time’ is supposedly commentary with some mockery thrown in. And yet, how is it that I find I take Jon more seriously? Is it purely Maher’s attitude?

    Real Time brings on people of diverse views, invites them to talk, with Maher as moderator. Sometimes people more or less agree, and sometimes there is wild dissent. Sometimes Maher himself even makes good points. But even while he’s doing that, he still comes off as an asshole. The only reason one doesn’t notice it more often is that even as he’s doing this, people are *cheering* in the audience. People *like* this behavior from Maher. And that, I think, is one of the biggest problems. If there was no market, Maher would be doing something else.

    So, while I agree with you in general in regards to Religulous serving no real purpose save for mockery, the bigger problem is that the supposed liberal, atheist population, that this is what many of them (and us) have come to. We feel powerless against people that cleave to stubborn dogma that makes no logical sense, so the only way we can fight it, or at least feel powerful again, is to ridicule it. The question we must ask ourselves now is: how do we get away from that?

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