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Friday, September 17, 2004

I need to crucify some things before any Republicans try to crucify me with them

Earlier this week I alluded that it has been growing in my mind to post to this blog my account of an incident regarding George W. Bush from four years ago. It's something that wouldn't reflect well on his character, from my perspective anyway. And it's the only firsthand knowledge I really have of the man and that's certainly added to some hesitations I've had about finally venting about some things. That and, as I've said before, it matters a lot to me that my heart is right on why I would do this: I do not want my motives to be borne out of anger or hatred or a lust for revenge. And as much as the angels of my lesser nature might want to entice me to do such a thing, I really don't know if I could be at peace with myself if I actively sought out a person - any person - with the intent of hurting him in even a way such as this. Ever.

I know that there are others that wouldn't hesitate to do the same to me, if I were to make any move in the slightest that they would construe as being a threat to their comfort zone.

I started posting on political forums about six years ago, when I signed up on Free Republic as "Darth Sidious". For almost four years I stayed very active in the discussion there: I wrote movie reviews from a conservative perspective, was led to pull off a one-man "freep" (protest by a "Freeper", there's a whole subculture over there with its own native dialect) and did any number of things on my own to not just be involved with the site but promote it as well. Heck, I even wound up on the "Free Republic Advisory Board" - whatever the heck that was supposed to have done, I had access to it anyway - and I suppose that might have lasted until the day I was banned from the site. The owner's given reason was "Democrat".

I never gave up on what I thought were conservative principles. The "crime" that led to my exile from Free Republic was openly stating that, as a North Carolina voter, I had to vote for Erskine Bowles over Elizabeth Dole for our U.S. Senate race out of principle. For one thing, of the two candidates running Bowles was the only one who was a real resident of North Carolina: Dole hadn't lived in this state for at least forty years. She only declared her residence here a few days after Jesse Helms announced his retirement so that she could begin filing the paperwork to run for Senate. Might have been the first time in southern history that the carpetbagger brought a Gucci with her. Whatever. The fact of the matter is, this state needed a real representative in the Senate: I disagree with Bowles on a number of things (I even politely told the nice young lady from his campaign as much a few nights ago when she called here) but he was the sole legitimate North Carolinian of the two who could sincerely represent us. Some of the other Freepers called me a "traitor to the cause" but if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't change a darned thing. I put doing what's right for my state above doing what's "good for the party". And the only reason Dole came here and got as far as she did anyway was because the Republicans' national leadership pretty much "tapped her" for the Senate seat. There were any number of real North Carolinians from the GOP here who could have run and won: they got snubbed as the party bigwigs poured all their money and resources into Dole, who couldn't even be bothered to debate her fellow Republicans on the issues. It mattered too much to the Republicans that they had a surefire winner, ya see... even though the lady they shoved down our throats was not only NOT a longtime North Carolina resident, but in many ways what could be considered a "big-government liberal". I didn't like it and it only served to compound my rationale toward voting for Bowles: the Republicans need to be taught not to micromanage local elections from Washington.

This state was getting the same shaft that New York got from the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. I called the Republicans out on it and for my stance got shut out of what claims to be the nation's premiere website promoting freedom and principles. For a few days after that I watched as the founder of Free Republic and his cronies posted all kinds of cheap insults my way: questioning my state of mind, saying that I was "anti-american", "socialist", "traitor", even siding with "the terrorists" and a lot of other things that I don't care to recap here. It wasn't long afterward that some friends pointed me toward Liberty Post and I signed up there - also as "Darth Sidious" - until I voluntarily left last month.

Admittedly, some good things came out of my time on the boards: I made a lot of new and lasting friendships through them, and a few factors from them resulted in my relocating for a time to try my hand at a few new things. Between some of the friends I made and those fresh experiences that I might not have known otherwise, my life grew and changed for the better. But those blessings only go so far: I came to a point where I had to examine myself on what good was I doing - for others and myself - by still participating in forums like this. And to be honest, I can't see where anything was coming of it except lowering the bar on my own expectations.

The last thing I told the founder of Free Republic before he banned me was that the site was becoming as extremist as Democratic Underground. I looked in on Free Republic recently and I almost feel led to apologize to Democratic Underground. "FR" is so far devolved now from it's '98-'99 heyday that what I remember of "DU" seems downright civilized: Kerry is routinely referred to as "John F'ing" Kerry". Posters cheered when news of Clinton's bypass surgery hit. A few practically thanked God that Hurricane Frances hit Florida so that President Bush could get a good photo-op. Other posters are instructed to toe the line by FR loyalists/keyboard Stasi lest they be banished. Practically no one wants to talk about ideas there anymore: it's about pushing through an ideology. And not even a real one at that.

Liberty Post is becoming the same way, but not because of its management as much as it is for being overwhelmed by the empty, meaningless drivel of adolescent shills who quite possibly believe that they really figure into the Democrat and Republican hierarchies from the tactical advantage of their parents' basements. I did have a few disagreements with that site's management on some things (including having one temporary suspension) but I feel a lot more willing to forgive them because at least there they seem interested in a real conversation despite the constant torrent of nothing but "Bush is toast" and "Democrat-rat bastards" around them.

But this isn't so much about their weaknesses, as it is about mine.

If I do post this account, I'm going to get attacked for it. My entire posting history for the past six years will be scrutinized and I'm suddenly going to find things I wrote but have since long forgotten being brought out of the abyss and shoved in my face. Whatever it was that I went through when I stated that I was going to vote for a Democrat in our local election then, I know that I'm looking at a lot worse - maybe far more so than what I'm trying to be prepared for - happening as a result of me telling the world about my experience at the hands of the Bush campaign four years ago... and what I've learned about the incident in the time since.

It's not even that big a thing compared to other stories that have gotten out, but it makes little difference: if I go through with this there are going to be people - I've already noted who they would be - who will try their damndest to destroy me. They will attack my character, my career, maybe even my family and other relationships. And among the first nails they'll be looking to crucify me with are going to be my own thoughts and words from over the years. And it won't enter their minds at all what they are doing: to them, they would be reciprocating against someone who is attacking their idol: the thing they have come to put more faith in than even God.

How is it that people who want to be thought of as so Christian and loving not only use but defend un-Christian tactics like dirty political tricks and baseless character assassination? Is winning an elected office worth sacrificing one's spirituality over? How is this being a witness of Christ's love and humility? I've been wondering lately why is it that George W. Bush - a professed born-again Christian - is relying on Karl Rove to win re-election. Rove, the guy who once barraged a Democrat candidate's office one day with homeless people who had been promised free booze. The guy who initiated the vicious (and untrue) rumor about Ann Richards being a lesbian that may have cost her an election. The guy who once complained that Christians didn't do enough to help Bush get elected in 2000... as if they were merely numerical assets to be manipulated. Where's the honor in any of that? Is that kind of strategy what a Christian who only wants to serve others is supposed to adopt in America today?

And why did Rove ever start doing things like that anyway? Do a few fleeting years of power and glory on this earth supersede the value of one's eternal integrity? Or might he someday find that years from now, as disease and corruption lay waste to his body, when he can do nothing else then... that his life would have been far more richer had he traded his moments of wrath for kindness?

I feel pity toward those such as this, but people like that are not what I should worry about: he doesn't even know who I am. I'd be taking it from some people who do know me - by the handle of "Darth Sidious" anyway - and would be intimately more familiar with my weaknesses than anyone inside the real Bush campaign could be. They would and could find quite a few things to use to disparage me with, in the name of protecting something that they've attached their own sense of identity to.

But again, it's not about their weaknesses. It's about my own. And I know and can accept that more often than not, that they would be right about those weaknesses.

I know one thing to expect from the get-go: when Free Republic's founder Jim Robinson appeared on the rival Liberty Post this past March. For a lot of people it was a chance to take a shot at the guy who “dissed” them... and on a level playing field no less. For once he couldn't ban people just because he didn't like their opinion. He lasted a few hours before retreating, never really answering a charge or challenge with anything substantive and I didn't really expect him to either, but that didn't stop me from lobbing my own volley at him...

I told him that so great was the anger about how he had slandered me, that part of me relished the thought of throwing him out of his wheelchair and kicking him as he lay helpless on the ground.

There, I said it. And I'm glad that I did say it. At least I was man enough to confess aloud what was darkening my own heart. At least I did desire being rid of it, having nothing more to do with it. If I had the choice between being tempted with that thought and admitting it before others and being tempted but wanting to keep it hidden within, I would have to admit to it every time.

I only did what a lot of other people - whether on a forum like Robinson's or off of it - are afraid to do. And the biggest difference between us is that they're the ones who have not only been just as tempted as I to consciously hurt someone, but they've actively leaped at the impulse and desire to heap scorn and misery on another. It doesn't matter if that's John Kerry that they're trying to ruin: they would have attacked anyone with a "D" next to their name for no other reason than because they have an "R" stamped beside their own. They don't really want to be free of that hate: they let it live on within, so that it gnaws away at their hearts and souls until there becomes a blackness that can readily justify anything for sake of that for which it lusts.

I don't want to be like that. I don't want to be like Karl Rove. I don't want to be like Jim Robinson. I never had the real desire of my mind to hurt him either, or anyone else... but I did have to confess what the anger that he aroused was putting on my heart. And from where I'm seeing things, it's that which does separate me from people like the partisan extremists who don't give a damn how much grief they bring to others. And I don't really see that as much of a weakness at all: I can care, even if they won't.

That's why I left being active on political forums: I didn't want to offer that part of my nature that I still contend with any more chances for me to yield to it like that. I used to believe that Internet forums like those would be the seed of an American renaissance of freedom and responsibility: I was wrong. It's not worth my heart coming to mirror the rancor defining those places just to stick around longer and hope for better. Nor did I really want to make any more mistakes like I had on Free Republic and Liberty Post that might someday come back to haunt me.

But, I did make mistakes before, and nothing I can do on this end of things can make them disappear down the memory hole. I'm human. I'm not perfect. I'm a Christian who fails the test constantly. I'm not particularly proud of some things but I can at least have faith that God hasn't given up on me yet. And if I do this thing and knowing what I should expect on some level, I'm going to face up to it… because I hold the concepts of truth and sincerity to be sacred.

It's because President Bush has not been sincere - and very possibly not truthful at all on some things either - that is leading my heart to post my account and what I've learned since then. Hypocrisy is something that I can't tolerate anywhere, whether it's from someone toward me or in my own character. I demand that my own life be honest and straightforward and I expect nothing less from others, whether they're my intimates or if they're asking me to trust them with a lot of power and responsibility. If they aren't sincere about it and wanting me to believe that they're something that they ain't... well, I get miffed at things like that.

I'm not trying to hurt anyone. I just want to serve the truth, as best as I understand it. And I'm not afraid to be confronted with my own mistakes from the past if anyone wants to throw them up against me. Heck, I just included a link with a wide-open invitation to see something that would no doubt come up during scrutiny. If anyone cares for the context of what I had to say, it's right there for them to check out on their own: I don't need to add anything more to it, but I'll always admit to it.

One last thing, another "weakness" to admit aloud, as it were: if I do this and someone comes after me, I'm fine with that. I can take the heat. But if this in any way becomes something aimed at my loved ones...

My family isn't just blood: there are people that I care for because we've been through a lot together. One of the greatest blessings of my life has been the very close group of people from all over the world that have become so dear to my heart that "friends" can't begin to describe it. I have a wife, and many more brothers and sisters than my one natural sibling. They would do anything for me. And they would be the first to tell you that of all the qualities describing my feelings toward them, the greatest is my loyalty. I would gladly die for the sake of those that I love, if it meant that they would live.

I can take just about anything. But there are some things in my life that no one should bother with hurting without also expecting to go away with a broken spine.

My family is one of them.

And I'll lay that down as fair warning to anyone who may find this: the GOP-locksteppers from Free Republic, anyone with Rove's gang, whatever. Come at me all you want. But don't you dare do anything against the people I love.

'Cuz if nothing else, I've a pretty good track record at digging up dirt on other people myself. It's just that so far I've only had to use that on REAL crooks (ain't that right, Sam and "Leonard"?).

Sometime next week, if after thinking and praying about it I’m still feeling led to do it, I'll probably post my story then about what happened involving George W. Bush four years ago. In the meantime, I'm going to step away from this computer and enjoy the weekend :-)


JR said...

I read your comment about Dallas on my friend Rhea's blog...I am tres dissapointed that there is anything less than perfection on this show...But I still cannot wait to watch the show.

Also, I wanted to comment about this current blog entry. It was very refreshing to read someone with "common sense" Christian beliefs as opposed to the usual extremist dribble they try and pass off as the truth. I wish you the best of luck with your decision to post the next one.

Chris Knight said...

People who've grown up watching television today have no idea what real "must-see t.v." is at all. I watched three episodes of "Friends" in my entire life (including the finale in a hotel room while out of town) and as much as I heard that they were, shows like "Friends", "Frasier", even something I like catching every now and then like "Everybody Loves Raymond"... those aren't and never will be "television institutions".

Now, "Dallas" was a television institution! If you didn't watch it Friday night, you were completely out of the loop come Monday morning. It was the same way with the older "Saturday Nite Live" and "The Cosby Show". And here in the South the culture demanded that we tune in every Friday night to watch "The Dukes of Hazzard"... the show that almost singlehandedly destroyed high school football in America. I'm pretty envious of you guys for watching "Dallas" so fresh: you're seeing something that defined who we were back then, without the mindset that we had to watch it through. Just bear in mind when this was airing and, I think you might wind up getting more out of it than anyone back then did :-)

As for the other thing... I'm praying about it, but also wrestling with how exactly to put it. Some people know already what I would be recounting but there's some new information that I've never shared with anyone. Part of the reason I've been writing things out like this is to lay down a firm foundation of "PLEASE understand my motives here and know that I'm not trying to destroy someone," and to make it understood that I do realize what might happen as a result of it, if I did it (more and more I'm feeling like I should). I guess I've also been more than a little curious as to whether anyone would really take any notice, if I posted it all here.

Thanks for the encouragement :-) And God bless.