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(Limited) open-mindedness

BY NATE WHITNEY | APRIL 02, 2009 7:30 AM

Andrew Klavan likes to goad people into trying new things. Whether via sarcasm or serious argument (you be the judge), he just wants you to try to be objective. Even if he sometimes isn’t (really, who is all the time?).

You know, do as I say — not as I do?

Go read “Take the Limbaugh Challenge” on LATimes.com. I’ll wait.

OK, you back? Why are you laughing?

Klavan, after rabidly insulting and talking down to everyone who doesn’t have posters of Limbaugh above their bed to stare into and dream about at night, begs them for a favor. Please, he weeps, listen to Limbaugh’s show “an hour a day for several days.” He believes that — if you’re not a dittohead — you’re a “lowdown, yellow-bellied, lily-livered intellectual coward.”

In other words, you suck, but please do this one thing for me?

Klavan wants Limbaugh haters to think outside the box, expand their horizons, y’know, be accepting and tolerant of different viewpoints, like him.

Klavan, to anti-Rush-ites; “You’re not tolerant of a wide range of views; you are tolerant of a narrow spectrum of variations on your views. And, whatever you claim, you still haven’t listened to Rush Limbaugh.”

Klavan is making a perfectly reasonable point, even if the way he’s doing it isn’t reasonable. “You’re not a moderate, or you wouldn’t be reading this newspaper.”

Sigh.

Klavan has it figured out. All of it. At least, he’d have us believe that. He is the all-knowing expert of all media, and his viewpoint is totally balanced, and not in the Bill O’Reilly kind of way. Klavan has been saved by the holy spirit of hot air, the righteousness of the right, the cool-headed reason of the über-God of the airwaves: Rush Limbaugh. “The mainstream media (a.k.a. the Matrix) don’t want you to listen to Limbaugh because they’re afraid he’ll wake you up and set you free …”

Bigger sigh.

Despite Klavan’s ridiculously vacuous obsession with the concept that Rush is (almost always) right, his point is meritorious, which unfortunately — because of his ridiculous assumptions — was lost on me initially after reading such swill.

Discourse is the fuel for democracy. It’s the basis for intelligent reasoning. Routinely questioning your own viewpoints by observing those of others who disagree with you is the best way to affirm your position, and if it doesn’t end that way, at least you can say you used to disagree but have — as Klavan would likely put it — found the light (right?) of salvation.

Maybe this would be a good time to mention that Andrew Klavan is wrong.

I used to be a dittohead. When I turned 18 and registered to vote, I registered as a Republican. A conservative Christian. A devout listener of his holiness the windbag and purchaser of two of his books. I read The Way Things Ought To Be three times from cover to cover. I was purified by his spirit, and saved by the grace of the Excellence in Broadcasting Network.

Then I did what Klavan wants everyone to do, sort of. I started listening objectively to the counterarguments for my beliefs. I tried to defend my conservative positions and found that (to me) many (but not all) of them seemed fallible and not in line with my core principles. You know, the important things in life, like telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her body, sneering wildly at any and every person outside our borders, disliking people and their lifestyles because they were different than mine, and that Ronald Reagan does not sit at the left hand of God.

And a funny thing happened on the way to common sense; I formed a series of opinions on some issues that I didn’t think was ever possible. It was different from everything I had ever believed before, but it seemed so much more logical. Still does.

So while Klavan drones on about exorcising the demons of liberalism and believes that — somehow — the LA Times has restricted access to their content by moderates (see above), his point is a great one. It should be taken to heart, by all, if you can wipe the proverbial shit from the page first. Open your mind, explore the opposite of whatever you believe, even if briefly. It’s healthy, and it can lead to all sorts of things.

Just don’t do it if you like Limbaugh. That would be silly.


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