Comments: Quote of the Day

My name has a funny story behind it.

I was reading Totten's comments section, and I reached some sort of critical mass, having read for the Nth time that liberals hate freedom and want to make out with terrorists!!!!!!!

So I started posting under the name "Proud Conservative" and copy/pasting some of the worst stuff. Then Mike Totten yelled at me for being a sarcastic jerk - even though, again, nothing I said was any different from the usual assinine stuff written in his comments section.

So, I said "fine" and started posting as "The Commenter Formerly Known as Proud Conservative". I just wasn't allowed to be as sarcastic =(.

Then everyone got lazy and started calling me "The Commenter". It stuck. I like it - it really epitomizes the nature of the whole bullshit discourse of blogging. And I do mean DISCOURSE!

Conservatives are just really good at dominating political discourse, much better than liberals. If liberals want to contribute to a discussion on an issue, like terrorism, that conservatives have appropriated as their own, then they first have to go through the whole process of rejecting their own party and confessing to Crimes Against Freedom and admitting their past mistakes as they cry and admit they love Big Brother.

So we're presented with such gems as "if you condemn any of Bush's policies, you clearly love terrorists". Right...

Posted by The Commenter at May 3, 2005 09:12 AM

Commenter - As I remember, Mike Totten criticized you for being a phony conservative, and for doing a lousy job of it. Satire, sarcasm and bullshitting are effective debating tools, but they require some skill.

Learning something about actual conservative attitudes rather that relying on AirAmerica-inspired hyperbolic cliches could also help your efforts.

Posted by mary at May 3, 2005 09:41 AM

Oh Mary, let's not do this here.

The point of my story was that I got my funny name for aping overheated conservative rhetoric. It was supposed to be over the top! When you read things like "why do you hate freedom??????" written in seriousness, how can you possibly be subtle about it?

Totten told me to honestly talk about my positions, not tone down the sarcasm and ratchet up the subtlety. I'm fairly confident that if I had just been a notch less crazy - say, on the level of people who accuse liberals of hating freedom and loving tyrants, without the making out part - then no one would have been able to tell the difference.

Posted by The Commenter at May 3, 2005 10:56 AM

Commenter, no point along the political spectrum has a monopoly in self-righteous assholes, or in engaging in stupid rhetorical tricks like guilt by association.

"Conservatives are just really good at dominating political discourse, much better than liberals."

No, that's just simply too sweeping a generalization. It really depends on the particular issue, and on the particular people discussing it.

"If liberals want to contribute to a discussion on an issue, like terrorism, that conservatives have appropriated as their own, then they first have to go through the whole process of rejecting their own party and confessing to Crimes Against Freedom and admitting their past mistakes..."

Anyone who ever wants to make a point that stands outside the conventional wisdom of their audience at the time has to do something like that. It's simply in the unfair nature of rhetoric, which in the real world is NEVER a level playing field. Getting it out of the way early and being the one do so rather than getting called on it minimizes the extent to which it can be used against you: it's what we lawyers call stealing your opponent's thunder.

Posted by Dave J at May 3, 2005 11:35 AM

"Oh Mary, let's not do this here."

A normal liberal response would be: why not? This is a liberal blog and I’m discussing issues with you as a liberal.

Some Liberals voted for Bush, some voted for Kerry. Until you can accept the fact that the groups that are labeled “conservatives” or “neo-cons” are in some part composed of former democrats, you will never understand the position of the other side.

"Oh Mary, let's not do this here"

A fake liberal response would be: You use that condescending tone with me because I’m a womyn! Expect an angry protest from Eve Ensler and her V-warriors, oppressor pig!

As you can see, a bad parody is just annoying. Even if I toned it down a notch, it wouldn’t work, because it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of moderate liberal values.

Posted by mary at May 3, 2005 01:26 PM

Ok, let's try this again, but only just this once.

Mary, I wasn't trying to imitate "conservative" discourse - I was imitating actual words that had actually been written. Person A says "liberals hate freedom and love tyranny". I say "liberals hate freedom and want to marry Osama bin Laden". I'm told to be quiet. If I had toned it down to Person A's level, I would have been fine, because any number of people were posting the equivalent of that.

Dave J, I did make a sweeping generalization, but it's one that, generally, seems to be true: I feel that conservatives have a much better grasp of political discourse than do liberals. We can get into that, but I'd prefer not to right now; it will take a while.

But your second point, that what I'm saying stands outside the conventional wisdom, illustrates the problem: when the "conventional wisdom" is that a blog commenter can peer into the minds of half of America and perceive a deep hatred for freedom and a love for dictatorships, it is so painfully condescending for anyone to suggest that we just get it out of the way first that I refuse to do it.

If you were, for example, told that in order to be taken seriously, first you must demonstrate that you are not a child rapist, you might be a little upset - some standards of common decency suggest that, in polite discourse, we give the speaker the benefit of the doubt when it comes to certain things. Personally, I doubt that the average American hates freedom or loves tyranny. In fact, I imagine that it is only a very, very small number that does so. If the presumption, if the "common wisdom" suggests otherwise, than to go out of one's way to prove love of freedom or hatred of tyranny is to accept the premise - that enough liberals hate freedom for this litmus to be necessary - and to debase oneself. Generally, I refuse to do that out of some sense of dignity.

Hence, the notion that conservatives dominate political discourse: if there is a litmus test for someone to be taken seriously that is based on a fantasy notion that half of America hates freedom, then someone's managed to convince a lot of people of a lot of bullshit.

Posted by The Commenter at May 3, 2005 02:36 PM

Well, for the record, I don't think most people on the left are evil, just mistaken. Perhaps it's my own misperception in having pretty much been surrounded by them for most of my life, but an attitude on their part of "being a conservative means you're a horrible unfeeling person" doesn't really seem all that terribly rare. No offense to all involved, Steve, but didn't one member of Friday night's august company state that she would die if we were all conservatives, or words to that effect? Now, maybe there's an equally common condescending and self-righteous pose adopted by just as many conservatives and I just can't see it because I'm one of them, but I don't.

Posted by Dave J at May 3, 2005 04:39 PM

The thread on Michael Totten's list is now up to 115 comments, maybe six of which have to do in some way with Vietnam and the rest seem to be some variation of "You're a Commie!" "You're a Fascist!"

This is the same argument I used to hear as a teenager in 1970, and folks, the music was a lot better then. (grin)

Steve, I'm looking forward to that long post about polarization, even if it's longer than the thread.

Dave J., good observation about "stealing your opponent's thunder." I can also relate to why The Commenter is angry. I get frustrated with having to prove to conservatives that I'm not some wacky peacenik, or with having to prove my liberal bona fides before slamming some paleolithic PC shibboleth. Sometimes I wanna just haul off and open my mouth, and let people read into it what they're going to read into it.

At times like those, I admire Colonel Potter from MASH: "When they put these colonel's bars on my shoulders, they removed the bone from my head that makes me have to explain myself to people."

Posted by Melinda at May 4, 2005 09:33 AM

The liberal complex of having to prove the "bona fides" before spouting off their opinion is your own defensiveness.

Let your ideas stand alone in the marketplace of ideas and may be best set of ideas win. When liberals go off on the "I support the troops . . . but" mantra, nothing could be clearer that they do not.

Liberals have been on the defensive so much recently because their ideas for a world heirarchy where the UN is king, and support for "insurgencies" doesn't wash anymore with the American public. No liberal saying that Ward Chrurchill should not have called the 9/11 victims little Eichmann's, but . . . America had it coming because we are not addressing Muslim grievances" is going to win you in the battle of ideas.

That ridiculous "patriotic" dog and pony show at the Democratic convention was a democratic creation to try to trick the middle of the road voters. John Kerry "reported" for duty, and the frequent refrain of a large swath of democrats of why they were voting for Kerry - "he is electable, because he is a war hero, so people will think we are patriotic" was transparent - when the hearts and minds of the grass-roots of the party were not with the conservative Joe Lieberman, but rather the demagouge ("I hate Republicans; "Republicans are brain dead" Democrats are good, Republicans are evil").

No it is time for the liberals to stop demonizing those of "challenging your patriotism" when it is you who are challenging your own patriotism. If you support a strong UN, or want the Arabs to anhiliate Israel because you think they will then leave us alone, you may not be unpatriotic, but I think your wrong. If you want America to stay at home and mind its own business (except writing checks to the third world to pay for aids and environmental cleanup), then you may "love" this country, but I think you are harming it and I will tell you so. Not because you are unpatriotic, but because you are wrong.

Posted by J. Lichty at May 4, 2005 11:36 AM

J. Lichty:

The "you" you're describing in your post is a "general" you, not specifically me, right?

It may have been unclear from the way that I'd phrased it, but the people I've (probably unnecessarily) felt I've had to prove my "liberal bona fides" to have been other liberals, or knee-jerk liberals, or groups of angry, frightened liberals. Sometimes I generalize about liberals as negatively as many conservatives do.

I would agree with most of the hypocracies that you've mentioned, except that some of them ("America had it coming" or the Arabs will leave us alone if we let them annihilate Israel) are positions I would associate with the knee-jerk Left, or with some airheaded Hollywood star who took one political science class.

Your mileage may vary.

I'm all in favor of the "marketplace of ideas" -- must be my libertarian streak. I sometimes fear that these days, nobody will hear you in the marketplace unless you're screaming something that will fit on a bumper sticker.

Posted by Melinda at May 4, 2005 12:43 PM

The problem isn't "oh us whiny liberals have to prove ourselves constantly", it's "we'd like you take our ideas seriously, in the hopes of changing your mind, but when the immediate response to something we say is 'oh you silly freedom-hating liberals!' there's no real chance of that, is there?"

If we could get past that then sure, let the market place of ideas decide. When one side decides that they care soooo much about freedom! and fighting tyranny! that they won't even listen to suggestions different from their own, the world is in a heap of trouble.

Posted by The Commenter at May 4, 2005 03:47 PM

I'd just like to comment on the "I support the troops, but..." mindset of many "liberals".

Inherently there is a difference between supporting a war, and wanting your countrymen killed in that war.

Being anti-war is not necessarily anti-soldier.

I for one was against this war for the reasons given by the White House initially. But I never for one minute wanted a single American soldier to die.

If the President had been intellectually honest with the American people from the start and said that we were going in there to free the Iraqi people and get rid of a dictator, then I would have been OK with the initiation of the war.

Now, all of the "conservatives" are claiming that the war was good for the very reasons I wanted the President to give initially. I believe that the result was OK, but the reasons given turned out to be false, yet I haven't heard a single "conservative" come out and say that the President was wrong for giving the initial reasons, but at least we accomplished something good. They keep praising the President blindly for the result while ignoring how we got there.
If any "liberal" says that the result of the invasion wasn't a positive, then they are being intellectually dishonest.

So, did being anti-war on the basis of WMD make me anti-troop? I don't think so.

Posted by Dan at May 4, 2005 04:24 PM
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