Many people are intelligent enough to recognise and admit to this. They then engage in a healthy exchange.
Others are not so fortunate. These are the people who believe they have a personal or group monopoly on the truth, while the opposing view is always a lie. As you read this last sentence, some of you might be grinning, "amen", as the monikers of forum posters are popping into your head.
No need to thank me, I get paid for what I do.
At times I get some ranting emails from a red or yellow champion (by their own admittance), demanding that I write the truth. To which I’m often confused and confounded, countering with the perplexing question: "You mean you want me to write your colour-coded version of the truth, right?"
In return, I receive even angrier emails, complimented by hurt feelings and insults. To which, my replies are always the same, "Thank you for your loyal readership every week, unfortunately this isn’t McDonald’s where the customer is always right."
This is not to say I myself am not tainted by personal politics. My shirts are also colour-coded. In my closet are white, black, blue, grey and one pink (don’t ask, it’s an ex-girlfriend thing). Therefore, I will always be biased when discussions come to Thai Buddhist nuns, the Catholic clergy, the air force and the Confederate States Army under General Robert E Lee.
When it comes to matters of politics, emotions trump over rationalism too often. Emotions get you to stand up and march, get you to clap your hands and stomp your feet, get you to yell, scream and throw fists.
Rationalism makes you think, and that might cause a headache or two. Worse yet, rationalism might cause you to question yourself, and that is both a metaphysical and existential dilemma very few people would like to face.
If people come to the realisation that their personal or group version of the truth is tainted by the colour red or yellow that they wear or lean on; if this realisation leads to the recognition that their version of the truth is – because of the colour-coding – inherently neither objective nor impartial, nor is it the actual truth, then there might be a rash of suicides.
But individuals are free to pursue their own personal or group version of the truth, even if that path may swerve into the "stupid" lane, this is their democratic right. What is worrying is when news media organisations are plagued with partiality, or do not even care about the truth at all.
When Anek Permvongseni, the new head of Mcot Public Company Limited, said, "The people don't have to always know the truth. Divisions and conflicts do not have to be news" – he spoke volumes about the state of the news media, not just in Thailand, but in the world in general.
When he said, "We want to bring news that is constructive and helps with reconciliation", he pretty much cited a political mandate given to a bureaucrat who obtained, by his own admittance, his latest position through a political appointment.
Hence, the people should not hold their breath for a government media enterprise to not be, on some level or another, pro-government.
But then, even the supposedly independent news media have one slant or another. Fox news is accused of conservative bias. Vice versa, CBS news is accused of liberal bias. In Thailand, news media organisations are also accused of either being the tool of one side of the political divide or another, or at the very least, lean in favour of one side over another.
This is because, in general, holding to a higher priority than the impartiality of journalism is the moral sanctity of each individual’s political agenda.
One side may sing, "How can we be impartial when the corrupt red regime is ruining Thailand!" Meanwhile the other may counter, "How can we be impartial when the corrupt yellow elite is ruining Thailand!"
Both sides fail to realise it is the corruption, regardless of the colour, that is ruining Thailand.
Perhaps news media organisations should go back to the basics of Journalism 101 where personal morality, instead of leading to one political affiliation or another, requires adherence to the role of check and balance in society.
Meaning that, on behalf of the people, the news media should scrutinise and criticise every government and every opposition, big business and civil/political movements and expose not just corruption but also exploitation and manipulation – and all three vices are colour-blind.
To take one side over the other is to encourage bias. To play "see no evil, hear no evil" and bathe only in happy news is to encourage ignorance.
When individuals encourage bias and ignorance, it’s simply the downside of democracy and free speech. When the news media encourage bias and ignorance, it is in effect undermining democracy and free speech.
The end result is then not just the reds or yellows ruining Thailand, but the news media itself playing a heavy hand in ruining Thailand.