Sunday, November 2, 2008


This election has been characterized by much villainizing of the other side. People on both sides are genuinely scared of what will happen to the country if the other side wins. As a liberal, I think this has been encouraged more on the right than on the left, and I think this has been true since Reagan started villifying liberals. Since then, the right has framed liberal values and gay rights, in particular, as moral issues, and demonized people on the left for supporting those values.

I wonder how much of this is facilitated by our predilection to view stories in terms of good guys and bad guys, protagonists and antagonists, good and evil. As kids, we heard or read about evil witches, evil stepmothers, and so forth. As adults, our books, movies, and TV shows are filled with conflicts between good and evil, between heroes and villains. Villains are motivated by inexplicable evil tendencies, or by greed, fanaticism, and other traits that make them easy to hate. How much does this framework bias us toward seeing the world in the same way? And how much of our recent history has been shaped by an overly simplistic worldview, encouraged by this perspective?