Two Columbia men have launched a podcast to, as they put it, “discuss topical issues while challenging long-held ideas about American society, politics, and culture.” One is a white lawyer and former Marine officer. The other is a black project manager and former University of South Carolina wide receiver. They have different backgrounds and different viewpoints, and sometimes disagree vehemently, but that’s part of the point.
“We try to have an educated conversation, but at the same time a raw conversation. We don’t want to pull any punches,” said Mauricus (Moe) Brown, who co-hosts the Insanity podcast with Micah Caskey. “We attack the idea, not the person,” he added. “One of the big things we wanted to do was be able to have tough conversations without doing the jumping down your throat and getting emotional.”
The two do not shy away from sensitive topics. One of their first podcasts, “You’re a White Man and I’m a Black Man,” tackled a discussion of race. Caskey said one of their goals is to spark conversation among their listeners.
“If this ended today and we walked away, I feel like we won because somebody said to me, ‘I had a conversation because of what you guys were saying,’” Caskey said. “I think conversation matters, especially when you talk about generational issues that aren’t going to change overnight… That is an organic process that has to come from people engaging with one another.”
Caskey and Brown met about five years ago, both members of various local groups for young professionals. They became friends and would talk often about race and other topics, and as Brown explained, that led to the birth of Insanity. “We went on this tangent and Micah was like ‘Sometimes I feel like I should just say something, do something! Sometimes I think I should have my own podcast!’ and I looked at him and said ‘Let’s do it.'”
The podcast, produced by Tyler Matthews, is recorded approximately every two weeks, with the idea of encouraging conversations which include differing opinions and points of view. “If you are just focused on your ideals and not challenging them and not open to what other people say, you could find yourself in a very divisive environment,” Brown said.
Caskey agreed, using as an example the tendency of social media to steer people toward those who share their opinions. If you speak only to those who agree with you, “You then remove the quintessentially human experience of being challenged and having new ideas to grow,” he said. “I’m just seeing all of what I already think. I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Brown said his opinions do not necessarily change after a discussion, nor do Caskey’s, but “I can hear your viewpoint and I can express my viewpoint, and it’s with the understanding that we are trying to get to the same place, which is being more understanding of each other and our cultures.”
Brown said he encourages people who hear his opinions to “Pump the brakes. Don’t take everything so personally.” He used the example of a discussion with Caskey about the racial overtones of the word “thug” and Brown’s thoughts on bias in the legal system and in public perception of those accused of crimes. “Just because I’m telling you does not mean I’m blaming you,” Brown said.
Caskey, who is currently running for a seat in the South Carolina legislature, said he realizes that some of the frank opinions he expresses in the podcast could potentially be taken out of context and used against him by political opponents, but thinks the conversation is worth the risk. “My perspective on things is often nuanced,” he said. “There isn’t really a right or a wrong oftentimes.” He added that “being willing to open the door to consider things” is something he sees as valuable.
The Insanity podcast is available free for online streaming or download. More information and all past episodes can be found here.