From the Left-The Daily Commercial: Bumper sticker politics

Mary Sharpe Guest Columnist

Last Tuesday I pulled to a stoplight in North Lake, and a young man pulled beside me and began yelling for me to roll my window down. Because I had just left the store and loaded things into my trunk, I thought something was amiss.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. He started screaming and cursing at me about a long-forgotten bumper sticker on my car. It’s political, but it doesn’t advocate any particular candidate. Apparently the 1-inch-by-5-inch strip of white paper attached to my back window reading “Turn Florida Blue in 22” had triggered such a fit of rage in this guy that he was willing to cuss out a great-grandmother whom he had never laid eyes on before. I laughed at him when I realized what it was that he was enraged about, but I certainly had to wonder just what had brought this on.

What could possibly be the point? Did he somehow believe that because I was a Democrat I automatically deserved such rage? Did he seriously believe that screaming curse words at me would suddenly change me into a Republican voter? Or was he just some out-of-control nutcase? He looked pretty normal, except for what was spewing from his mouth. Where did he and others like him get the idea that he could speak to other people like that over a little piece of paper?

Did Gov. DeSantis, with his obvious anti-free-speech obsession, call yet another costly special session and ram through a new law banning bumper stickers in this “free” state? Or is that just Democratic bumper stickers?

DeSantis went to war with a giant mouse that disagreed with him on an issue. Walt Disney World, being the massive mouse that consumes most of Central Florida and the lucrative political district known as “the I-4 Corridor,” had been handed the right to voice its weighty opinion by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2010. Known as Citizens United, that decision declared that “corporations are people too” and as such have First Amendment rights to free speech, just like you and I. Or at least we used to.

So, what is the reason for this over-the-top outburst? Rightly or not, I lay a lot of the blame on cable news channels that give such a tainted version of current events that it sends people into a tailspin when they see anything remotely representing the opposite opinion.

Perhaps we should return to the FCC’s 1949 Fairness Doctrine that required broadcasters to present contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues. That policy was rescinded in 1987, opening the door to an eventual flood of opinion channels disguised as news reporting and making you upset about what they tell you to be upset about. When Australian Rupert Murdoch and CEO Roger Ailes launched Fox News in 1996, they found there were few rules to bind their opinions, and it became a virtual free for all of lopsided content, cracking open the door to foreign interference in our politics. Viewers are served up a clouded view of current events and told that hatred is patriotic.

Family members no longer speak, friends are former friends and their toxic viewers freely roam our streets cursing out grandmothers. Unfortunately, these purveyors have indoctrinated a whole generation to mistrust everything that this country stands for. Freedom of speech, free and fair elections, the peaceful transfer of power, integrity, truth and even good manners seem to have been completely lost to this cable TV generation.

Everything has become political now, even a trip to the grocery store. My question: Is this reversible, or is the well so tainted with misinformation that we may no longer recognize the truth?

As a campaign worker over many years, I am that annoying phone bank person interrupting your supper to ask for your vote. It’s called persuasion calls. Perhaps I am a little behind the times. Does that dude hanging out of a car window screaming at little old ladies represent some new version of political persuasion, or did it just make me so mad that I may put a few more stickers on my car?



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