Barney Frank, Massachusetts (D), has finally rejected his colleagues' 'tactic' of patient listening to wingnut neocon mouthpieces hijacking their earnest attempts to inform the public on a complex health care reform proposal. Instead, he lays the smack down in what Jon Stewart calls Healthcare Town Hall Snaps.
Frank: "When you ask me that question, I am going to revert to my ethnic heritage, and answer your question with a question: On what planet do you spend most of your time? Ma'am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."
Stewart: Aww, damn!...You better hope Blue Cross don't consider ugly a pre-existing condition!...Aww, damn!...Your mama's so dumb, she thinks the Public Option is a porta-potty!...Aww, damn!...Your mama's so old, we're gonna get together a panel and euthanize her.
Many liberals pride themselves on their sensitivity, openness, and receptiveness. A hallmark of this is an unconscionable patience for the disgusting vitriol some vent, or the despairingly profound ignorance some belie. It was the willingness of sensitive liberals to listen to Borat's sexism and racism, to patiently offer an alternative perspective rather than a stern reprimand or a punch in the face, that discomfited me the most when I watched Borat. I saw shades of me.
When Frank shut down his questioner, he restored the balance. A balanced conversation is not one in which opposing viewpoints have equal weight, but one in which rational viewpoints have equal opportunity. Creationism is not a valid alternative to natural selection to explain speciation. Ethnic cleansing is not a morally equivalent approach to multiethnicity versus a plural and liberal society.