Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm a Gun-Toting Rapist Slavemaster!


In between a flurry of highly observant, "It's Monday and it's raining!" Facebook status updates, I noticed a fellow Hylton alum had posted his views on health care reform. It was thought-out and interesting, so I added a comment basically saying I hadn't totally made up my mind, but would be willing to pay higher taxes so more people can have access health care. I also expressed a wish that both sides of the debate would engage in more civility.

My viewpoint, according to the next commenter, makes me handmaid to the political traditions of basically everyone who has ever been evil.

Actually, it's even better than that. I'm a gun-toting slavemaster rapist who, in the words of the great political mind of our time:

"You fail to realize that in order to help person B you must rape person A."
I don't know about y'all, but every time I send a donation to UNICEF, I like to make a stop along the way to rape the mailman.
There was also a lot of language about holding a gun to his head to enslave him and his family via his financial dealings with his doctor. Plus, I'm stealing from him so I can feel self-righteous about other people getting health care. Because taxes are theft. Or something. I don't get it, either.
See, I don't speak "Willfully ignorant screaming crazy teabagger man." But I suppose next time I'm out raping and enslaving, I'll have to bring my gun along for emphasis.

Or, maybe, just maybe...we could all chill the hell out? I'll take back my accusations of "willful ignorance" and teabaggery if we can all agree that there are many ways of seeing the world...and not everyone who disagrees with you is a gun-toting rapist slavemaster.

I would have been happy to listen to a conservative viewpoint on health care reform, if it was presented calmly and fairly, with a minimum of insults. But calmness and fairness are all too rare these days.

Demonizing the opposition does not add to a discussion. It only stirs in more vitriol and negativity, which in turn makes more moderate (and less frothingly angry) people less and less engaged in the political process. I'm a former pollster, and every election I worked on that involved attack ads saw depressed turnout. Folks get skeeved out by the nastiness and stay home, tipping the scales to the incumbent - which is one of the reasons over 90% of Congressional incumbents win reelection. New blood and fresh perspectives become more and more scarce.

Eventually (and this is what I believe the current political scene has come to), it's just a room of people seeing who can scream the loudest. Nobody's listening any more, nobody wants to give an inch, and nothing gets done. All we're left with is shouted threats, fingers waving in faces, and Obama-as-Hitler posters.
People, we can do better.

74 comments:

Ibid said...

Hear, hear!
People of Earth, I'm all for differing opinions about various political subjects. Just make sure there's a real reason for your position instead of blind zealotry.

Dagny Taggart said...

I wonder sometimes if it's always been like this. If I was lucky enough to grow up in a bubble of intelligent discourse, and have noticed the shouting matches more as I got older.

I will say that it's frustrating and difficult to remain calm and rational when the only thing a huge segment of the population seems to understand or respect is bile and vitriol spewed forth at volume 11.

Shannon said...

Ibid - Way to be a civility zealot, there.

Dagny - Supposedly, in times of large social change, political discourse gets ugly. Think of all those photos from the civil rights era: faces twisted with anger and hate, blocking schoolhouse doors and turning firehoses on people.

The problem is that nowadays, with the Internet and a 24-hour news cycle, the best way to get heard is to scream and yell and stomp. Of course, since everyone's yelling, no one's listening.

Brando said...

As someone who didn't want the health bill to pass, I'll agree that civility is important on both sides. On one end you have nuts arguing that this is going to be the closest thing to Stalin's Five Year Plan, and on the other end you have people arguing that you must be racist because apparently only hatred of a black president could be what's behind opposing his agenda. (Or just as bad, you must be in favor of people losing their homes when unable to pay medical bills or being denied lifesaving treatments)

The fact is, that sort of shoutfest has prevented an intelligent and honest debate about how we can achieve meaningful reform in a way that's affordable. And I don't even blame the nutjobs. I blame the normals who don't call out the nutjobs on their own side. Where did we see this all happen last? During the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

Whether you favor or oppose the policy, it's up to you to keep your side from having a screw loose. Otherwise the two most influential political pundits in this country will be Sean Hannity and Keith Olbermann--two guys who are better suited to standing on a highway overpass with tin foil hats.

Ibid said...

MODERATION OR DEATH!

Shannon said...

Brando - I do, honestly, see an ugly racist undercurrent to the Tea Party protestors. Hell, some of them spat on and yelled the n-word at black Congressmen.

I agree with you that each side needs to do better in calling out their own wacky fringes. Minority Leader John Boehner is a key example: he pooh-poohed the spitting and use of the n-word as "isolated incidents" and went on to say that it happened because Americans are afraid of health care reform.

HELL NO. Take a tiny little shred of responsibility for your party whipping up the angry peabrained racist fringe elements. A better response, "Many people are concerned about health care, but shouting racial epithets is never acceptable and will not be tolerated. If you're a racist, we don't want your support."

Ibid - PEACE NOW, OR MUTILATIONS ALL AROUND!

Shannon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jamie said...

Don't feed the trolls!

If one thing is constant in the Internet Age, it's that some dumb teabagger who has mastered the English language at roughly the fourth grade level will post something illogical and hateful in response to anything that does not exactly match their misinformed viewpoint.

Sadly, no amount of logic will influence them in any way. These are the same guys who think that Obama raised taxes (when actually they are at near-historic lows) and is going to outlaw recreational fishing.

You can't reason with a rock.

[F]oxymoron said...

Write on sista!

Shannon said...

Jamie - The worst part is that the guy who called me a rapist slavemaster apparently went to my high school, and graduated in my year. So I feel like the value of my education has been somewhat diminished.

Foxy - TESTIFY!

Matt said...

Well lets not pretend that both sides don't have extremists that act very inappropriately and that civility is a trait that's exhibited only by democrats. Whenever the government swings back to the conservative side, there will be an entirely different group on the capitol lawn.

I'm definitely embarrassed by many of the actions of the protesters. Many people have actual reasons for opposing the healthcare bill and it's very hard to find anyone in DC that's actually interested in hearing them. It seems that most people I've spoken to, conservative or "liberal", aren't interested in listening to anything that doesn't jive with their own points of view, which are often formed by emotions rather than facts. Nobody can doubt that people have very good intentions, but I think this has a lot of potential to do more harm than good in the long run. Nothing much to do but wait and see.

Jamie said...

@Matt, while I would never claim there's not plenty of bad behavior on both sides, there is a huge difference in degrees that is impossible to deny.

I can't remember anyone marching during George W. Bush's administration shouting racial epithets, spitting on congressmen, waving signs of the president to make him look like Hitler and with swastikas, or throwing bricks through the window of Congressional office buildings.

And that was just last weekend.

But correct me if I'm wrong.

Shannon said...

Matt - I've followed politics a long time, and lived in DC for a decade, and I have never, ever EVER seen anything as ugly as the tea party behavior from last weekend.

Not even in the run-up to the Iraq war were there protesters spitting on democratically elected leaders. I've seen ugliness and irrational behavior on both sides, but never the sort of willful ignorance, threats of violence, and name-dropping of Hitler that we've seen over the last year.

I for one would be happy to hear a conservative point of view on the healthcare debate. And I am fine with hearing something that doesn't jibe with my point of view - hell, my boyfriend is against HCR and I've yet to screech at him for it.

Unfortunately, the reasonable people are doing nothing to calm the neverending bellows from the extremists. The right wing has gone off the deep end.

It's high time conservative leaders took some responsibility, instead of egging on the Hitler-sign wingnuts from their perches on the Capitol balcony, and then shrugging about how racist epithets are mere "isolated incidents" or that bith sides "have extremists that act very inappropriately."

Jamie - BRICKS? I never heard about bricks, but if that's true, eeeeeesh.

For me, the ugliest part isn't the racial epithets, but those who refuse to condemn them. The usual statement is, "Why can't the Democrats produce video of the epithets and spitting on Congressmen? If there's no video then it's a lie and a conspiracy to win sympathy."

No. Considering the enormous power of the n-word (such that I cannot even type it), I cannot foresee a circumstance in which any person, let alone a civil rights hero, would lie about having heard it. It happened. In 2010. Unbelievable.

Brando said...

Jamie, during the run-up (and since) to the Iraq War I saw plenty of comparisons of Bush to Hitler. And there were plenty of accusations that anyone supporting the invasion was a tool of Israel, or in favor of Big Oil, or a "chickenhawk". Unfortunately that sort of thing adds a lot of ugliness to some genuine and thoughtful arguments against the invasion, which might have gone much further towards convincing the more moderate elements of society that the war would be a mistake.

Likewise, ugliness on the part of some Tea folks does tend to mar the entire group, which is unfortunate since there were (in my view) good reasons to gut this legislation and start fresh with different reforms. While passing through the Cap Hill area over the weekend, the only Tea folks I encountered were peaceful people holding signs and handing out pamphlets--unfortunately for them they're not the ones who will make news when a spitter or epithet screamer makes better copy.

Seriously, the best any movement can do is disassociate with their ruder elements. They're more damaging than the opposition ever could be.

Jamie said...

Shannon..

Brick throwing incident

Guy who encouraged people to throw bricks

The thing is, in all my years watching politics in Washington, and the USA, there has always been a stark difference between the rhetoric and the actions of extremists, though it's definitely getting worse.

Sure there are liberal extremists. But when you think of a far-left protest, people get arrested for sitting in the middle of the road and blocking traffic, not for being violent.

While there are always exceptions, think about every violent incident in recent memory. The holocaust museum shooting, the pentagon shooting, the recent teabagger protests, abortion doctor killings. How many of these people were later found to be motivated by outrage over conservative policies?

While the minority of individuals do not speak for the entire conservative party, of course, it's very telling that almost without exception, incidents of violence are perpetrated by conservative extremists.

In eight years of Bush, how many liberal detractors committed a violent crime in protest for his policies? How many anti-war protests were defined by this kind of rhetoric and behavior?

I can't think of a single incident in which a liberal protest resulted in violence, yet it's commonplace for the conservative ones. And I can't think of a single person who lost their life because a liberal killed someone over politics.

There is really a stark difference.

The party is more and more defined by "role models" like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Bill O'Reilly whose rhetoric is hate-filled, racist, classist, and who also perpetrate absolute lies on a regular basis. But I hope that as these ugly incidents come to the public eye more often, rational-minded conservatives will distance themselves from the extremists.

I really hope that most people, right or left, honestly don't want to be a member of a party whose mouthpieces frequently espouse hate. I hope that these incidents will be a wake-up call to the party at a high level. It's time for the "role models" break from the extremists - or time for most conservatives to start rejecting them as role models.

Jamie said...

@brando, ok, I was able to find bush hitler protest signs in a google search. But that's the least of their offenses.

Agree or disagree about the legislation of the day, people had plenty to be upset about during Bush and it was never like this.

This is pretty telling. A guy walking through a tebagger protest holding a banner that says "Public Option Now" with a police escort is yelled at, threatened, and someone tries to rip his sign down.

Imagine if there was not a half-dozen cops escorting him.

Not exactly the nice crowd you described.

Brando said...

Jamie, I don't disagree that such ugliness took place among Tea folks--and it mars what should be a reasoned argument against the bill. Same with the Iraq War protests--I can't say I personally witnessed any violence in either case since I don't participate in protests, but I recall a number of newspaper accounts of physical confrontations and rather disturbingly unhinged chants and signs. In both cases I'd say a good cause and otherwise peaceful protesters were sullied by their nastier compatriots.

I'm no conservative, but I don't recall any of my conservative friends (yes, registered Republicans!) expressing anything but disgust towards terrorists like the Holocaust Museum shooter. I don't think killers like that count as "mainstream" conservative any more than the Weather Underground counted as "mainstream" liberal in the '60s. I agree that mainstreamers have to do a better job condemning extremists on their side of the aisle, though.

While some of these anti-Obama protesters are likely racists, I wouldn't characterize all of them with that broad brush. If Obama was the same man but a conservative Republican, you wouldn't hear a peep from these folks. Ask them who their favorite Supreme Court Justice is and it's a good chance it'd be Thomas. Most conservatives I know don't like Obama because they see him as a liberal. But yes, some uncalled for racist epithets can make the whole group look bad. All the more reason to call them out.

Jamie said...

"I don't think killers like that count as "mainstream" conservative"

No, I don't either, but at the same time one can't ignore that almost every single violent incident related to politics is perpetrated by a conservative extremist. I think it speaks to the mindset that the conservative ideals appeal to: one of intolerance and hate.

I mean, there are anti-abortion protesters outside clinics every single day. There's one at the clinic outside my office right now, with large posters of horrifying images for anyone who walks by (like children) to see.

How often do you hear of pro-choice people getting into it with these protesters? Almost never. How often do you hear about these people harassing and threatening people walking into an office building that happens to have a Planned Parenthood office? All the time. How do the clinics deal with it? Planned Parenthood has to get volunteers to escort people past the protesters to ensure their physical and psychological well being. That's kind of messed up.

I would hardly say that pro-life protesters are a rarity, and that these actions are unusual.

"I agree that mainstreamers have to do a better job condemning extremists"

Who exactly are these conservative mainstreamers, though?

It's no surprise that the likes of Beck, Limbaugh and O'Reilly are either silent, or subtly encouraging the mayhem.

That's really the crux of the matter. There are no reasonable-minded conservative icons, at least that I can think of. They're all vitriolic extremists.

How many of those teabaggers do you think have heard of any of the names on this list of conservative pundits?

On the other hand, how many of them do you think listen to Beck, Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, O'Reilly and the like, and take what they say as gospel?

Is there any analogy on the liberal side to those people? The closest I can think of is Jon Stewart, which makes an even stronger case. He calls out BS on both sides of the aisle regularly, and his approach is decidedly not hateful.

Matt said...

I'm still unsure as to why people believe that the few thousand people that came to capitol hill over the weekend are mainstream conservatives. I'm from South Carolina and can assure everyone that many of my friends and family disagree with the healthcare bill, but would never consider spitting/shouting racial epithets/etc as acceptable behavior. I went jogging around the area during the protest and never heard or saw anything more than a bit of ideological shouting--something that was taking place between people on both sides. I'm not denying that some people got out of line, and think that that behavior is inexcusable, but it was not the norm.

As for the conservative icons, the only people that have been named are the most controversial and extreme because they are the people that make the news. I'm not surprised that everyone constantly harps on O'Reilly and company because that's what non-conservatives associate with conservatives. I assure that I don't actually listen to them and don't know many that do on a regular basis. I would like to cite Rachael Maddow and Michael Moore as being leftist analogs, though some people here may disagree. I personally wish the news would return to normalcy, lose the partisan spins, and allow people to actually think for themselves in order to interpret it in whichever way they want to.

@Jamie: I think you're focusing too narrowly on violent political extremists. Consider PETA, The Black Panthers, The WUO,the BLA, etc.... These things come in cycles; whenever conservatives come back to power, there will be a push back from the left with an equal chance for the uglier side of humanity to show it's face. We're all people, for better or for worse.

Jamie said...

Matt... they do represent a majority of conservatives.

Wikipedia says..

In a Feb 12-15 2010 poll: 35% of the sample either strongly or moderately supported the Tea Party.

4% described themselves as Democrat, compared to 32% of all respondents.

In a hypothetical three-party election, the "Tea Party" candidate got 23% compared to the Republican party's 18%.

That's hardly a fringe faction.

As far as the conservative figureheads:

Rush Limbaugh's daily listenership is estimated at a minimum of 13.5 million listeners. It is the most popular talk-show in the united states.

The O'Reilly Factor averages just over 3 million viewers, more than twice The Daily Show. It is the #1 cable "news" show for 106 consecutive months. Glenn Beck's show gets the #2 spot, barely behind O'Rielly, and killing anyone who's a quasi-legitimate reporter.

The #3-#6 spots are all Fox News. The first non-conservative? Keith Olbermann with 1 million viewers, as a point of comparison.

Do you still think that these people appeal to a small minority of conservatives?

"whenever conservatives come back to power..."

I guess you forgot -- they were just in power. For eight years, until 2009. It didn't happen.

As for the other organizations you mention, come on. PETA doesn't count. They are clearly a fringe organization, hated by almost everyone, right or left. There is no systemic alignment with the democratic party and PETA and I doubt even one in 50 people would say they approve of PETA, compared to more than 1 in 3 with the tea partiers.

The Black Panthers? Come on. This was in the 60's and they were a civil rights movement.

I've never heard of the rest. You can't seriously compare those groups to the tea partiers.

Matt said...

I'm not saying that the protesters don't support the Tea Part...I'm saying they do not comprise 100% of it. And I never claimed they are a fringe faction. I'm definitely in favor of adding political parties to our system, Tea Party, Coffee Party, anyone else. I think our current duopoly is ridiculous.

I never actually looked up the number of daily viewers for any talk show host because it never really mattered much to me. I would speculate that the reason they get more is because the number of conservative voices on tv/radio is much smaller than the number of liberal options. Fox News formed because conservatives felt they had no representation in modern mainstream media. I guess where else can one turn if you want to see a conservative broadcast?

Of course I didn't forget that conservatives were just in power, but I need to remind you that no bill was passed with as much controversy as this most recent one. Even the most controversial actions during the Bush years (Iraq war, tax cuts, etc) had a great deal more bipartisan support. As far as this bill goes, I've definitely heard a lot of democrats complaining about the lack of GOP support. But did several democrats not draft the bill behind closed doors, produce a 2000+ page bill with very few GOP ideas, and expect a vote a few days later. I really am not surprised that no republicans voted for it...I wouldn't have.

As far a the groups I named, you wanted examples of left-wing organizations that perpetrated violence. I don't consider going back 30-40 years as being out of line, and you're right I can't compare them to the tea partiers because the tea partiers have not blown up any buildings or physically hurt anyone to my knowledge. I know it's easy to group any right-wing extremist organization under the Tea Party label, but that's way too convenient and is simply a misrepresentation of facts. Every nut with a gun that commits a crime is not a Tea Party member. That's like saying that the democratic party condones violence because they support minorities and minorities perpetrate a larger percentage of crime in this country. It's too much of a stretch to be considered serious debate and does not belong in one.

The 1 in 3 support for the Tea Party is with its ideals, and the poll was from February--long before the recent actions associated with it. You're associating agreement with the Tea Party with supporting violence. While this will be a convenient tactic that many democrats will most likely try to use, it simply isn't true. The purpose of the Tea Party is fiscal conservatism. It's unfortunate that people that just want attention, like Sara Palin, are associating with it. Regardless of what the people that were out of line at the protest believe they are, they do not embody the more libertarian ideals of the Tea Party.

Jamie said...

At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter if the nutjobs are many or few among the tea party supporters.

The reality is that any group will be defined by its most visible actions. And these events are far from isolated. While they may not reflect the ideals upon which the tea party was founded, they certainly reflect a common enough attitude of its members.

When a few people in your club are giving it a bad name, it doesn't help to say "but that's just a few people!" Either get them in line, or quit the club, if you don't want to be associated with the bad eggs. Because they represent your club.

Seriously. This is true for anything. Would you let your son be an altar boy at a catholic church? HELL NO.

Matt said...

Well I have to disagree. You may judge the conservative ideology as only appealing to intolerance and hate, but that is simply not true. That's exactly like saying that all Muslims are radicals that are only interested in violence. I'm sorry you let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch, and sincerely hope your point of view is not wide spread, as it does no justice to the millions of people who are not interested in violence and wish for a much smaller government.

I really think it's a very smart tactic for the democrats to condemn all conservatives because a few people came to a protest that was open to anyone and did some horrible things. In my view that's a reflection upon society and man in general, not upon a point of view that wants to minimize government intrusion in their lives. It's impossible to prevent all hatred and crime, so some people might as well try to use it to their advantage.

And if I had a son that was Catholic and wanted to be an altar boy, I would let him. I try not to succumb to irrational fear and actually realize that there's more of a chance that he get harmed on the drive to church than in church itself. I would also make it clear to him that he can and should defend himself in any situation and that he should tell me if anybody, priest or not, tries to make him perform sexual acts. The answer to the despicable aspects of mankind is not to prevent your children from living, wrap them in bubble wrap before they go outside, or go on some kind of violent rampage. It's simply to educate your children so that they are best equipped to deal with the real world. So that they can make decisions for themselves, not judge a book by its cover, or a group by a few bad people that others are cleverly associating with it.

I suggest you do a poll of tea partiers and see how many of them support the white supremacist that perpetrated the holocaust shooting, the racists that shouted the n word and spit on a black congressman, and the people that threw bricks. My guess would be it would not be very many, so you should reconsider your view of the movement as a whole and stop generalizing. On the other hand, when people blanket-judge millions in such a manner, it reveals quite a bit.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground." -TJ 1788

How would he react to our current welfare-warfare state?

Matt said...

I also just realized how ironic your point of view is. You seem to be exhibiting the same intolerance that you say is fostered by the conservative point of view. If a few people at a protest mainly made-up of tea partiers did some bad things, they all must be bad. Is that not the same as saying, "if a few people of ethnicity X committed a crime, then they must all be criminals?" The prejudices that are present in our society, on all sides, really need to be stopped. It's getting a bit ridiculous.

Jamie said...

I said over and over again that I don't judge all conservatives by the radicals, but rather, that "mainstream" conservatives need to distance themselves from the radicals.

Speaking of irony, front page of Washington Post today

Lawmakers concerned as health-care overhaul foes resort to violence

"...at least 10 House Democrats reporting death threats or incidents of harassment or vandalism at their district offices over the past week."

How many incidents like this will it take for you to realize that these aren't isolated events?

What if it was a hundred? A thousand? Still, only a tiny percentage of those identifying themselves as conservative or republican.

You really need to read what I'm saying. I never said that most tea-partiers would actually support those horrific incidents - I said the opposite, that they were all perpetrated by extreme conservatives, and that this speaks to the fact that violent, intolerant people tend to align themselves with the conservative party.

What you think I said does not logically follow what I actually said. If A then B does not mean If B then A.

My point was not that all or even many conservatives espouse these values, but that people who already have these bad values align with the conservative party. And as such, the conservative party would do very well to distance themselves from these people. So far, it's not trying very hard to do that --- and that will be their undoing.

Jamie said...

Oh - and seriously, saying this is the same thing as racism? I'm sprry but I really hope you don't believe that. It's almost offensive.

You can't choose your race. But you can certainly choose the people you choose to associate with.

Brando said...

Jamie and Matt--watching you two argue is like watching two guys each playing tennis against a brick wall and hoping to win.

Jamie, you're not going to convince Matt that violence and political ugliness are unique to the Right. You won't convince me of that either, as I think such things have more to do with irrational passion for a cause than a rightist/leftist divide.

Matt, you're not going to convince Jamie that conservative or small government advocates shouldn't be lumped in with their fringe elements. I'd have to argue though that to a certain extent the reasonable folks in either group have to take ownership of their "whackjob" elements and put them in line or cast them out.

But the positive thing in your argument is that unlike the perpetrators described in the original post, you're both being civil in your disagreement.

Wimps! Ha ha ha!

Jamie said...

"conservative or small government advocates shouldn't be lumped in with their fringe elements."

Sigh. For the nth time: this is not at all what I am saying. I am saying that the conservative party appeals overwhelmingly to violent fringe elements, and as such, they need to deal with that.

Let me make an analogy. If there's a nightclub that frequently has violent fights or incidents outside, do you think it is reasonable to hold the nightclub accountable for failing to keep their patrons under control?

If the Hell's Angels go out riding a lot, and often a couple Hell's Angels members get in fights or whatever, do you think that it's reasonable for people to have a negative opinion of the Hells' Angels as a group?

I certainly don't hold every Hell's Angels member accountable for the actions of a few, but clearly, Hell's Angels attracts people prone to this, or creates a culture that encourages this.

Likewise, while a club owner is not personally responsible for the actions of a patron, if the club creates an environment that permits these activities, then it's pretty reasonable to have a negative opinion of that club. And, actually, the law does hold club owners accountable at least in DC, as there have been many clubs shut down in exactly these circumstances.

The thing is, if the tea parties created a culture of peaceful civil protest, then how come the 99.9% of the ones who were not spitting on congressmen or making violent threats didn't do anything to stop the others? Quite the opposite, it seems like many are easily swayed by the violent mob mentality.

How come the most prominent conservative icons have done nothing to speak out against this culture?

If you're in a motorcycle gang that gets into fights all the time, even if you never throw a punch, your membership in that club is passive acceptance of those activities.

As I said before: get your lunatics under control or distance yourself from them. The tea partiers and conservative icons have not neither.

From reading the web sites of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, you wouldn't know anything happened. Only Bill O'Reilly even hints at this, with his quote of the day which says "there is no need for hysteria on the right..." I applaud him for at least acknowledging what's going on, but it's a far cry from condemnation.

Tiff + Albert said...

I have a hard time aligning myself with a political party because then I feel like anytime another person who happens to also have the same political beliefs behaves badly, I must apologize for his/her behavior. I don't like having to feel guilty for someone else's actions.

Can't we all denounce illegal and immoral behavior no matter if they are for or against our cause?

P.S. I don't see how Nazism "National Socialism" has anything to do with conservatism. According to Wikipedia, "in practice, Nazism is a far right form of politics...fascism is also historically anti-communist, anti-conservative and anti-parliamentary."

Mr. J said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one that wants to start a Civility Party, bent on being open-minded instead of open-mouthed. "You lie" and "baby killer"? Great behavior from the elected representatives in Congress!

Shannon said...

Wow! Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments. I can't remember the last time I got essays on a blog post. However, since I usually blog about things like booze or trying to eat my own foot, it's hardly surprising.

I'm afraid I won't be able to answer comments individually like I usually do, but a few broad points:

Comparison of tea partiers vs. Iraq antiwar folks: Last I checked, groups like Code Pink never brought weapons to town hall meetings, cut gas lines, or threw bricks through windows. Moreover, when they were disruptive, they weren't CHEERED ON by our elected representatives. We've undergone a dramatic shift in which disruptive behavior is condoned by our leaders, and that's a sad moment for all of us.

Matt/Jamie: Just kiss already. :)

Tiff + Albert: Welcome! And I agree...wanna join the Civility Party? Tea and crackers, smart debate, and everyone checks their guns at the door.

Mr. J - I'm in. Though, in the interest of fairness, we gotta condemn Grayson for saying Republicans want people to die.

Jamie said...

@Tiff + Albert. Fair enough. However,I don't want to be a member of a party whose de-facto leadership won't speak out against those bad eggs.

60% of Republicans have a favorable view of Rush Limbaugh, and only 23% had an unfavorable one. The 23% is down 6% from 2003. Limbaugh is, more than anyone else, in a position to denounce these actions and make an impact. Don't you think he would have done so, if he actually felt that way?

The thing is, the party can't distance itself from the wingnuts like Limbaugh because a majority of its members approve of those wingnuts.

The RNC chairman tried it once, and ended up apologizing to Limbaugh.

There's no surer sign that you have no spine and no values, when you're an apologist for the wingnuts.

I don't want to be a member of a party whose members overwhelmingly approve of the rhetoric of hate-mongering extremists.

Matt said...

Just want to say that this blog post was, imo, pretty good. I wanted to try and bring a bit of civility from the fiscally conservative side that most people believe to be lacking atm. I'd like to make a few more points:

@ Jamie: I think discrimination is discrimination is discrimination. I think that it's just as bad to dislike/fear a group of people because they are fiscally conservative, and some criminals are as well. There's criminals in every group. A part of the problem is that several of the GOP congressmen are encouraging the type of mob mentality that leads to problems. I think they see the root causes of the Tea Party and are just as scared for their jobs as any democrat. I for one, was just as upset with the direction under the republicans as I am with it under the democrats. Many are. The GOP congressmen are just that--congressmen, politicians, etc. They are just as big a part of the problem as many that are farther left on the political spectrum.

@ Tiff + Albert: I think the national socialist comparisons stem from the amount of nationalization that Obama would like/has done. Consider the economic state of Germany post WWI. It was horrible. People were literally burning money because it was more valuable as a source of heat than as a bartering tool. Hitler came in and nationalized many institutions, promoted public works programs (ie the autobahns), and basically provided many people with work. In fact, in some of the early Nazi rallies the "soldiers" are actually carrying shovels instead of guns. Fascism is anti-communism simply because they were enemies, but they still promoted the same ideals. Under communism everything is done for the society. Under fascism everything is done for something else (the state, the race, etc). Under capitalism everything is done to produce more capital in order for individual companies/people/stockholders to benefit.

@ Mr. J: Great point. I would be in favor of having a Civility whose sole purpose would be to clean up Washington. Promote open-mindedness, eliminate pork, etc. Basically, disrupt business as usual. There are contemptible practices on both sides of the aisle.

And to clear things up, not all anti war protests have always been so peaceful. Here's the first such account that I see quickly scanning through wikipedia:

"In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 150 people threw stones at the United States consulate. The stones were supposed to break the windows, but consulate windows are bullet-proof. The protesters attacked a McDonald's and threw stones and fired upon a Brazilian bank agency controlled by the Brazilian government and stoned a Spanish bank. Five were arrested."

Again, not defending the actions of those idiots over the weekend, but pointing out the obvious truth. People will exhibit mob mentality regardless of what cause they are amassing for.

Shannon said...

Matt - Conservative viewpoints, or really any viewpoint that is presented courteously, are always welcome here!

I don't agree with your point on discrimination. I think there's a key difference between discriminating against someone for who they are (black, gay, whatever), vs. for voluntary behaviors (teabaggery, etc). Though I suppose by my own logic religious discrimination would be a mushy middle ground and possibly OK. Hrm. So let me ponder that one a little further and get back to you.

And we're discussing American politics, so an incident in Rio just doesn't belong on the table here. Hell, in South Korea they have fistfights in Parliament. Does that mean it's weird that we're not throwing punches in the well?

Again, the issue isn't that people are exhibiting mob mentality. People have been, and always will be, kind of excitable and dumb.

The difference is that our elected representatives are active participants in this nonsense, which gives tacit approval for actions I would describe as terrorism, such as cutting the gas line at Rep. Perriello's brother's home. (Using intimidation or violence to achieve political goals is terrorism, whether it's done by Al Qaeda or American citizens.)

Re: The Civility Party. As much as we'd have to worry about bad PR/being petty scolds, I am so down for this. Do we get cool uniforms?

Shannon said...

Also, does anyone else find it odd and slightly funny that protesters overseas just LOVE to trash a McDonald's?

Matt said...

Jamie, I wonder if the poll showing that more Republicans favor Rush now than several years ago is a result of the shift in the number of people that identify themselves as being republican or democrat. It's my understanding that now ~60% of Americans do not identify themselves as being in either party. I would hazard a guess that in 2003 that number would have been lower. Maybe the number of people that favor Rush hasn't changed, simply the number of Republicans is dwindling, thus increasing the percentage that view him favorably. As much fun as it is to parade numbers around that support your cause, it's usually best to ask why instead of blindly accepting them. Statistics are very easy to manipulate in favor of one side or another. And come on, the LA Times? Of course they're going to publish anything that makes Republicans look bad. I could pull some factoid from Bill O'Reilly's website that makes Democrats look bad too, but it wouldn't help anything.

Matt said...

Shannon, it was my understanding that anti-war protesters were anti-war protesters, regardless of where they were held. As to the discrimination comment, I'm not talking about disliking criminals or anything like that. It no longer becomes discrimination when your condemning someone that commits a crime, but it's not ok to dislike somebody because they are conservative/liberal/etc. I did choose to be fiscally conservative, but would I be much different if I approved of deficit spending? Would it be ok to not dislike me if I supported 100% of the democratic agenda? I understand not liking a person because he/she is hostile, but pre-judging an entire group of people is a different animal altogether. Like you said, people choose a religion, but that doesn't mean it's ok to be prejudiced against Muslims because a few are fundamental extremists.

And sure you could have whatever cool uniform you wanted. I wouldn't expect everyone to want to wear one, but you go right ahead and wear whatever you want.

Brando said...

Shannon, would hatred of black people be any less objectionable if it were possible for blacks to turn white? I think it's the stereotyping and hatred that matters here more than whether or not the target chooses to be what one is stereotyping or hating them for.

And if they started throwing punches in Congress that would be completely awesome. But no guns, that's way too 1850s for me.

Jamie said...

Matt: regarding your most recent comment about parading numbers around, of course I am aware that there could be biases.

However, it is not up to me to prove absolutely that these are 100% accurate, because that would be impossible. No more than I can absolutely prove that the theory of evolution is correct.

If you dispute these studies then you better be able to present legitimate evidence to the contrary. Because a "possibly biased study" as far more compelling evidence than "no study." To just dismiss them without any rebuttal is arguing like a creationist. You're just saying "everything you found or ever can find is faked, so there."

The statistics in question are pretty basic polls that use well-established research methodologies. There is no compelling reason to presume them wrong. If you don't believe them then find a compelling argument to the contrary. You can't just refuse to believe anything that doesn't support your position if you want to be taken seriously.

As for "Discrimination is discrimination..." I think Shannon said it much more concisely than I could.

At the end of the day there is no moral imperative to like an organization, or to not judge someone for their membership in it.
Most people will do it -- just as they do even when their is a moral imperative, such as noticing when an Arab walks on their plane.

Matt said...

I never disputed the methodology behind a Gallup poll, nor did I simply refuse to accept it. I'm sure that it's true 60% of Republicans have a favorable view of Rush. That's fine. I offered as a counterpoint another percentage that I heard on NPR last month: 60% of Americans do not consider themselves Republican or Democrat. Particularly, the percentage of Americans that self-identify as Republicans is shrinking (google it). The people that are staying with the GOP are in favor of Rush. Thus a higher percentage of Republicans favor Rush than before. Rule number one when looking at statistics: Correlation does not imply causation. Because the percentage of Republicans that favor Rush is growing, does not necessarily mean that more Americans favor Rush. I'm not simply dismissing the Gallup poll because it doesn't support my view, I'm actually digging down into the next level and addressing WHY the numbers look like they do. I really wish more people would do this when looking at numbers.

As for your lack of a moral imperative to not pre-judge people that's more a reflection upon yourself. This is an area where we obviously fundamentally disagree. You think you're right and I don't. If we all agreed the world would be a pretty boring place. I just hope you never have to decide to leave a plane because someone you pre-judge as a terrorist is sitting near you.

Jamie said...

"Shannon, would hatred of black people be any less objectionable if it were possible for blacks to turn white?"

Assuming you mean that anyone could turn whatever color they wanted at will, then... yes. Of course it would be less objectionable. Color would now be a choice.

That is why we don't have laws protecting people, for example, on the basis of hair color or attire.

If I don't want to let you into my store because you are wearing a huge trenchcoat and a stocking over your face, is that discrimination?
Umm..

@Matt:

I find that 60% unafilliated number you cite very surprising. I assume you can provide a reference?

"I just hope you never have to decide to leave a plane because someone you pre-judge as a terrorist is sitting near you. "

Don't be ridiculous. We can't control our thoughts. They are defined by our past. But we can choose how we act on them.

I am being honest. I suppose you would have me believe that you've never made a connection like that in your mind?

What about a guy in baggy jeans and a hoodie pulled over his face, with his hands in his pockets, walking towards you late at night. Would it be discrimination to approach him with more caution than someone dressed in shorts and a tee-shirt whose face you could see?

Ancient chinese proverb: Don't tie your shoes in a watermelon patch. It means, if you don't want to be treated like a thief, don't act like one. The extension is, if you don't want to be treated like a nutjob, don't associate yourself with organizations that are known for nutjobs.

It's not discrimination. It's life.

Matt said...

The source was an NPR Talk of the Nation podcast. I regret not being able to find it right now, but I assure I'm not making it up. And I'm glad you're at least shifting your defense of discrimination away from political ideology and on to choice of clothing.

Since you like Chinese proverbs that can be interpreted any way you want here's another one:

"A fool judges judges people by the presents they give him."

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