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March 4, 2005

Silence

In my 32 years of life I have learned a few things, and one of them is to keep quiet if you don't have anything to say. And I haven't had anything to say for a while. I mean, really. How many more times can I say the same thing over and over again? Don't get me wrong, I love writing about stadiums, but if their isn't any news I have trouble manufacturing posts out of thin air talking about the same old stuff over and over again. I really, really want the legislature to start looking at this issue, but so far they just haven't. So, I'm kind of stuck.

Sure, I could write about the upcoming Twins season, but you've already got the TwinsGeek, Aaron Gleeman, Twins Chatter, and SBG taking care of that. I could definitely write about the Vikings, but I am stunned with the quality of posts put out by Mr. Cheer or Die concerning the Purple. How can I compete with that (did you see the NY Post is reporting that Plaxico Burress will sign with the Vikes?)? I could write about the T-Wolves and the Gophers, but as of right now I just don't have anything to say.

So, that leaves me with a dilemma of sorts. What to write about? Truthfully, I would love to write about all sorts of things. You'll note the tag line of this blog is "Minnesota sports, politics, religion, and life." How often do I talk about politics? Or religion? Almost never. And you know what? It is starting to tick me off. And not because I don't have anything to say, but because I am afraid of offending you and all my readers and that you won't come back.

You might guffaw at this, but it is true. People in general are very thin skinned and right now rattling around in my brain is something that you might be offended with, or that you might think is strange. It is true of all of us. Where am I going with all of this? Well, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am practicing self-censorship so as not to offend people, and as a result I think I have become a little boring. I mean, I honestly don't think about sports as much as this blog would lead you to believe (stadiums? yes). I think about a whole lotta other stuff that never sees the light of day.

It reminds me of an exchange I recently read in the great book Omega by Jack McDevitt. The book tells the story of how we (humans) try to save an alien race from an omega cloud (if you are wondering you should read the book). We travel to their home planet and discover, of course, that this alien race is quite a bit different than us. For one thing, they are much more open with their opinions and feelings, and they are also not as easily offended. One part in the book in particular tells of a debate that some members of the alien civilization recently had and how two of the characters in the book are stunned with the level of freedom the aliens have to share their opinions. The two characters have this conversation as a result:


"How could they have more freedom than we do?" he demanded. "We don't have any thought police running around."

"Sure we do," he said.

"Whit," Digger raised his eyes to the overhead. "What kind of speech is prohibited? Other than yelling fire in a crowded place?" Digger smiled.

"Almost everything," he said.

He was baffled, "Whit, that's crazy. When's the last time anybody was jailed for speaking out on something?"

"You don't get jailed. But you have to be careful nonetheless not to offend people. We're programmed, all of us, to take offense. Who can go in front of a mixed audience and say what he truly believes without concern that he will offend someone's heritage, someone's religion, someone's politics. We are always on guard."

"Well," said Digger, "That's different."

"No it isn't" said Whit, "It is only different in degree. At my prep school, it was drilled into us that good manners required we avoid talking politics or religion. Since almost everything in the domain of human beahvior falls in the domain of one or the other of those two categories, we would seem to be left with the weather." He looked momentarily bleak. "We have too much respect for unsubstantiated opinion. We enshrine it, we tiptoe cautiously around it, and we avoid challenging it. To our shame."

"Somewhere we taught ourselves that our opinions are more significant than the facts. And somehow we get our egos and our opinions and Truth all mixed up in a single package, so that when something does challenge one of the notions to which we subscribe, we react as if it challenges us."

Do you get what Whit is saying? He is saying that we hold our own opinion is too high regard and that sometimes it prohibits us from seeing the truth and changing our opinion for the better. That is certainly true, but I was also struck with the truth of how much we guard our own speech and writing, again, so we don't offend anyone. It is so absolutely true. For example, I would love to talk more about religion, or healthcare, or conceal and carry, or a myriad of other topics, but I watch myself closely. I have almost sub-consciously decided not to write about these things.

In my defense, however, I do write about at least one controversial topic. Of course, that is stadiums. However, maybe I should write more about the others, too. I mean, do you as a reader really care? Yes and no. Would you stop reading this if I wrote something that offended you or that you didn't agree with? Maybe, maybe not. But I hope you as a reader would be able to look past some of these things and focus on the topics that you do agree with me on, or even take a close look at what I am saying and respect my opinion. Maybe we should all just lighten up. I don't know...

Where am I going with all of this? I have no idea. So, I'm just going to stop. It is definitely something that I've been thinking about though so I thought I would share. Talk to you later!

Posted by snackeru at March 4, 2005 10:49 PM | Life

Comments

Shane,
One outlet that you had for expressing your views was the Songs for a Desert Island. Bring back that and it will at least help your expressionistic desires.

Frankly, I say go ahead and make your views known on something. This is your place to vent, analyze and hear opinions from other people that you never would have met before. This is your website dammit, don't let the fear of alienating someone deter you from enjoying something that is rightfully yours.

I direct you to your posts about free speech and how important it is. It's easier to defend a principle if you live it.

Oh, and let me know when you get Bedazzled. Elizabeth Hurley, that's all I gotta say.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at March 4, 2005 11:16 AM

I say go for it too. Reasonable people can disagree about controversial issues, and unreasonable people, well, who cares what they think? I think there is a lot more to gain by eliciting interesting discussions than you stand to lose by alienating a few hyper-sensitive people.

Posted by: Tim at March 4, 2005 11:51 AM

Shane -
I'm just glad that you are alive. No stadium rants for two days had me wondering if you had met your demise investigating another "Ice Bottle" on the roof and that squirrels and Canadian geese were pecking away at your body unbeknownst to your loyal blog readers. I was this close to enlisting Cheesehead Craig's help to check in on you.
Be well and uninhibited and be sure to guard the Stadium-Half of your brain from Geese, Squirrels, and all other scurrying things. For your followers intend to bury it in the outfield (in the distant future) of the Ntl League, Minnesota Loons, who will play in an outdoor stadium many years from now once the Twins are in Vegas and I make my first billion to build the new stadium or Looney Shane Park as it will be named.

Posted by: Vince at March 4, 2005 12:39 PM

In my very humble opinion, the only people you (or any other blogger) should worry about offending are family members and work supervisors. Also, remember that a lot has been going on in relation to stadiums and the state's professional sports teams. Hence you have been writing about these subjects a lot. I guess what I am saying is to go ahead and write about what you want to. After all, it is your blog, and not ours. Besides, I think that your post on gay marriage is one of the best you have written; this subject is pretty far removed from stadiums issues! Take care

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at March 4, 2005 12:43 PM

Craig, thanks for the kind words. I should bring back the "Songs" posts. It really was where most of my religion based musings lived. And I will let you know when Bedazzled is here. I love that movie.

And Tim, thank you also. Although I think you in particular would not like my religious based posts. Although, I am of the opinion that we agree more than we disagree. Not necessarily on issues of religious doctrine, mind you, but ... well, I could go on and on.

And Vince, holy cow that made me laugh. Looney Shane Stadium. I really like the sound of that. Once you make your first billion I am going to hold you to that name! And the name of the new baseball team: The Minnesota Loons. That is perfect. The writing is on the wall, isn't it?

And Curt, you hit the nail of the head. Family members and work supervisors. I am definitely afraid of offending my mom, and my boss has already suggested I take something down. And I would put friends in there too. I certainly don't want to offend you, and thankfully I think that would be hard to do. But it could be done. And thanks for the kind words regarding my "Love your neighbor" post. That and my review of the Luther biography I am particularily happy with.

You know, I didn't really write this post in the hopes that all of you would convince me to express myself more freely. I really just wanted to muse on the topic of self-censorship. But I will certainly use these comments as a catalyst to write more about what I want to, not necessarily what I think people will want to read. Hopefully they will be one in the same more often than not.

Posted by: Shane at March 4, 2005 3:10 PM

Please -- by all means -- blog about whatever you wish. If we find it controversial, we'll just have a nice spirited conversation about the issue.

Meanwhile, that was a very long post for having said nothing.

Posted by: Dianna at March 4, 2005 3:21 PM

I hope I can put this down so it makes sense. Joe Soucheray on his Garage Logic show was touching on this topic of offending people the other day. I think the subject was that some gung-ho liberal prof was cramming anti-conservative stuff down some students throats and some conservative students revolted and one thing lead to another and here come some law-suits. Joe's point was this. He didn't care if the prof was spewing pro-Dem or pro-Repub rantings, he had a right to say it. The people listening can either "deal with it" or leave.

Same with obscenity on TV or shock-jocks on radio. You DON'T have to listen to it or watch it. That's what the on-off button is for. Take the responsibility upon yourself to act upon it if you don't like it. Funny how people in America think they are entitled to free prescription drugs (being the licensed drug dealer that I am) but then turn around and think you are NOT entitled to voice your opinion because it "offends" them.

Hell (oops, I mean heck), look how often I offend Packer fans every day!!!!

Be yourself. Be true to yourself. Answer to yourself (and loved ones). That's the bottom line.

This has been a non-sponsored rant by Mr. Cheer Or Die. Over and out. As you were. Class dismissed.

Posted by: Brian Maas at March 4, 2005 3:46 PM

It's true, Brian is offensive. ;)

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at March 4, 2005 3:51 PM

I think you columns are always well written, funny and never offensive. But, Lucy thinks you need more cat pictures!

SBG

Posted by: Stick and Ball Guy at March 4, 2005 9:07 PM

Where are the cats? :)

Posted by: Lucy at March 5, 2005 10:36 AM

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