Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Seven Billion Shades of Grey

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Seven Billion Shades of Grey

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Seven billion shades of grey

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An editorial from the Prince George Citizen, published March 13:

Both PBS and now Macleans magazine have gravely informed their respective audiences that the United States are actually the "divided states" of America.

Scott Gilmore's piece in Macleans, published online last Friday, argues that "Red and Blue Americans have grown so dangerously far apart, they should be considered different ethnic groups."

They don't live in the same cities or even the same states. They watch different TV shows and follow different news outlets.

They share different cultural, social and religious beliefs.

Gilmore cites electoral data that shows that just 303 out of 3,113 counties saw the losing Democrat or Republican finish less than 10 per cent behind the winner. Back in 1992, there were more than 900 counties where the vote was that close.

In other words, today's candidates almost always win in a blowout.

On the surface, those divisions seem everywhere and the revolution is at hand.

Social media, they say, isn't bringing people together, it's actually making everyone anti-social, giving people the means to lash out in public to anyone with the gall to disagree with their worldview. Never mind American politics when it's right here on full display in Prince George.

Take last week's events around Scott McWalter and Hell Yeah Prince George! as an example.

For the casual observer following the Facebook comments, it seems there are only two viewpoints. Either people love McWalter and HYPG or they can't stand the guy and his Facebook page. Readers were either applauding Friday's editorial on the subject or were condemning it as unfair and a personal attack.

The noise of the applause and the condemnation drowns out the more complicated picture. Many people rose to McWalter's defence but criticized the recent tone HYPG had taken while others said they loved HYPG but either didn't like or didn't even know McWalter. Others stated McWalter is a good guy who did a dumb thing.

In other words, individual views were complicated and nuanced, just like the individuals holding those views.

It's the exact same when one looks more closely at the viewpoints about what's happening in the U.S. or Donald Trump or refugees or protests about Islamophobia or any other issue of the day.

People see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear is hardly a revelation.

Individuals do that not just with their views but throughout their daily lives. How else are people able to tune out the background in a crowded, noisy room to focus on the person speaking to them?

How else are people able to drive home safely without reading every distracting billboard they see along the way?

For journalists wanting to tell the story about the "divided states" of America, they're looking for evidence to prove their thesis, rather than as scientists open to the possibility of an unexpected result. …

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