Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

It turns ugly

Posted by Ron Coleman on November 3, 2008

Not them, us.  This is the issue I’m going to ponder, right up front, during the cold nights of exile.

The majority of the comment section to a piece I wrote, and which was linked to by Instapundit last week, was so outrageous, insulting and over the top — as well as mainly utterly non-responsive to what I wrote — that I did something I never did before and just shut down comments.  I don’t mean people disagreed with me.  I mean that most of them were nuts,  or at best seriously misconstrued what I said and savaged me for it.  Others invented quotes by me or by Obama, and one accused me of “pandering” — pandering?  What’s the idea, that I think of myself as in line for the ambassadorship to Williamsburg?

The know-nothing Right is out there, reading, and it’s fair to say that while it’s usually been easy to link to Daily Kos and find stuff for the Left to be very embarrassed about, we have more than our share of dingbats, loonies and the tinfoil-hatted too.  (In fact I think we are the better off, for we are in fact embarrassed about it.)

I wouldn’t have even bothered to mention it… save for the fact that Glenn couldn’t resist sharing one of his own specimens of a the exact same species just now, too.

Glenn Reynolds and I are seldom mentioned in the same breath, but one thing you can say is that we are not ideological twins.  But we’re both pond scum to a certain sort of blog reader, and for the same reason:  We try, as many do, to focus opposition on legitimate issues, not demonization.

For some people that is just not enough.  What is to be done?

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7 Responses to “It turns ugly”

  1. James H said

    I’d like to offer this quote from a recent E.J. Dionne Jr. column:

    For years, many of the elite conservatives were happy to harvest the votes of devout Christians and gun owners by waging a phony class war against “liberal elitists” and “leftist intellectuals.” Suddenly, the conservative writers are discovering that the very anti-intellectualism their side courted and encouraged has begun to consume their movement.

    The cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity — and Sarah Palin. Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans, learned manifestoes by direct-mail hit pieces.

    An October New York Times article echoes similar sentiments.

    I wonder: Has the American right lost its intellectual bearings?

  2. The cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity — and Sarah Palin. Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans, learned manifestoes by direct-mail hit pieces.

    Oh come on.

    As Rush Limbaugh will say and does say all day long, he is an entertainer. He never claimed to be an intellectual, or the founder of a movement, or a magazine editor. If you want to make an argument that for WFB we now have Jonah Goldberg, well, make it. Jonah is, I hear, a good guy. Neither he or Rush would have written the garbage that was in my comments section.

    Sorry, even regarding Sean Hannity, of whom I do not think nearly as much as I think of Rush Limbaugh, this is not the argument I was making. As for Sarah Palin, she really doesn’t deserve to be in this list; Dionne was just scoring a very cheap political point.

    That point and the rest of his argument could just as easily be made by saying that The cause of John Stuart Mill, John Maynard Keynes and Malcom X is now in the hands of Stephen Colbert, Al Franken — and Barney Frank. And that would be equally invalid.

    If the overall problem is a decline in the quality of the institution of the public intellectual, or for that matter of the academy, that’s a different problem. Apples and oranges; not the problem I’m describing.

    Look, there have always been know-nothings. But we do have a legitimate question to ask: How much voice do they get now that the marketplace of expression (forget ideas) no longer has a cost of entry? And who is to decide?

  3. James H said

    Actually, I’ve cruised through some of the writings of those who don’t call themselves entertainers. Goldberg. Coulter. Malkin. I find their rants, particularly their Coulter’s conspiracy theories about liberals, pure and unadulterated drek. Now, even if we concede the paragraph about Hannity and Limbaugh is a mere rhetorical flourish, we’re still left with this:

    For years, many of the elite conservatives were happy to harvest the votes of devout Christians and gun owners by waging a phony class war against “liberal elitists” and “leftist intellectuals.” Suddenly, the conservative writers are discovering that the very anti-intellectualism their side courted and encouraged has begun to consume their movement.

    There is a certain truth to this. Even if Limbaugh, Goldberg, or any other conservative opinion-maker of your choice would not have written the junk that landed in your comments, conservative opinion leaders nonetheless exploit, and even promote that very ugliness. Consider, for example the Dole campaign’s “Godless” ads attacking Kay Hagen. Can you consider them anything other than an attempt to stoke religious bigotry? Stoke that bigotry, and it returns in force among the hoi-polloi. So, yeah, I am willing to lay the blame for a chunk of this ugliness at the feet of conservative intellectuals.

    As for the entry of know-nothings into the marketplace, the power remains, as always, with the gatekeepers. In the world of blogs, that power lies with the publishers of the blogs. It’s up to you whether you want to be a benevolent monarch or an ideological tyrant. You’re entirely within your rights to close off comments. Your blog, your rules, after all.

    Also, I would argue that your characterization of the low price of entering the market of expression is misplaced. Theoretically, any nut with a camera, basic typing skills, and a few bucks can create a Web site and spew garbage. But to put together a QUALITY offering takes substantially more.

    A non-amateur design takes money and/or effort. Quality pictures require either your own photographer’s eye or a willingness to pay for quality photography. Quality writing requires that you hire writers or spend hours of your own time crafting quality content. You’re an attorney, so you understand that time, quite literally, is money.

    Right here, I would ideally write a devastating concluding paragraph that forces you to concede the superiority of my intellect and my rhetorical skills, but, alas, I lack the time (time is money!) Moreover, I’ve gone off on two entirely separate tangents. Ron, I again await your response.

  4. m said

    A comments section is a good idea in theory, but James H is a good reason not to implement one. Citing E.J. Dionne for the proposition that on the Right, “[r]eason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans, learned manifestoes by direct-mail hit pieces”? And this in the comments section of a post by Ron about concentrating on “legitimate issues, not demonization.” Maybe the irony was intentional.

  5. James H said

    M:

    To what do you object? The quotation itself? Or that I cited E.J. Dionne? Your comment is unclear.

  6. Jack said

    This all reminds me of an old story…

    In the case of life we court a few
    Supporters we would not,
    Had we but a’thought of them
    As they first truly thought,
    But that is business and the price
    Of the clients that choose us,
    We may not always all agree
    But there is no law we must,
    Distasteful I have found some friends
    In matters politic,
    But then again I’ve never met
    Perfected rhetoric,
    And although I am not best inclined
    To every Common Point,
    I see no intellectuals
    So astounding I’d anoint –
    Them king of what all others think
    As if thinking makes you Right,
    For better in your heart is not
    The way to human height,
    The Common Man should open self
    To varied points of view (’tis true),
    But intellectuals are also blind
    To think thinking goes unskewed,
    In perfect worlds are perfect ways
    Where all know virtue’s choice,
    But we live in a world unstained
    By concordance in our voice,
    Unless a man does advocate
    That he alone knows right,
    And follows up his worst demands
    With tyranny and slight,
    Then all men must agree to yield
    That others are not them,
    You won’t consort with everyone
    But that does not condemn
    The people with whom you disagree
    To being less than you,
    In somethings they are different
    In somethings close construed,
    It is so like a Razor’s Edge
    To fight the fight that’s right
    Without the need to scorch the earth,
    Burn everything in sight,
    But men need not to win the day
    To look upon the rest
    Whether foe or ally wrong
    As merely dispossessed,
    To win the game you lose a few
    That’s business on this earth,
    For all the rest they’re best convinced
    By investing in their worth,
    So to this I might say to you
    Find right where right is due
    And when in others you find wrong
    Convince them what is true,
    But if you think your thoughts are pure
    And cannot be as those,
    Remind yourself all naked man
    Have once worn error’s clothes.

  7. BSG said

    http://patterico.com/2008/11/07/examples-of-obamas-decency/

    You were the forbearer …

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