Thursday, May 04, 2006


Patrick Porter says, enough of the namecalling.

There is a certain, tiresome double standard in public debate.

Various activists of the antiwar movement object to being labelled as unpatriotic or treacherous. Fair enough. It would be maddening to hear people glibly question your character.

They don't like it when people ascribe unspeakable motives to them. Again, fair enough.

But lets be consistent. If you object when people who disagree with you question your integrity, don't call people who were in favour of the war in Afghanistan or Iraq extremist, warmongering, unAmerican, Hitlerian, crazy Zionist, chickenhawks.

Fair enough. I tend to see this more as the left's problem, because the American left is perpetually out of power and bitter (even when Clinton was president, they didn't consider him one of theirs), and thus it has accepted permanent minoritarian status. Let's face it: Even the Democrats can't get someone elected who can please Cindy Sheehan. As such, they have no need to worry about consistency in ethics, or saying things that will bite them in the ass if they ever attain political power.

But the same tendency does exist on the right. And even "centrists" succumb to it at times, when looking to either fringe.

But, like the Online Integrity Pledge, there's a problem: Strong words sometimes have a necessary function. Some people do deserve to be compared to Hitler. We disagree on that list of people. That's why we debate. That's why we have free speech.

Better to let the words flow, and sort out the idiots based on what they say.

It's all but impossible to condemn name-callers. After all, "name-caller" is a called name. Here's Captain Ed, in eloquent mode, I think, responding to the sort of left-side sites that have Porter exercised:

[N]amecalling is all these sites have. Writers like Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Peter Beinart have actual argument on their side; they don't need to resort to name-calling to make themselves feel better. We may not agree with them, but we respect them and feel challenged by their arguments -- and they make us better at what we do with that challenge.

Others, however, simply make up slurs and silliness and pass it off as wit. One such example that I have seen recently is a perfect example of this. Some sites have now taken to referring to me as Special Ed. This supposedly sets them apart as intellectuals. I hate to burst their bubble, but anyone with the name Edward has heard this particular taunt about 1,000,000 times before he gets to middle school. (Guess what? I can also sing the entire theme song for "Mr. Ed", too. Just thought I'd save someone a little time.) Original, it's not ... and as an intellectual exercise, it puts you right up there with Nelson on "The Simpsons."

That's all they've got, these vapid and emotionally stunted people with computers and free time, on both sides of the political spectrum. They can't win with argument, so they use invective and silly schoolyard taunts instead. They fill their posts with obscenities and dance around with delight every time they come up with another taunt. It's the perfect example of why we formed the 101st Fighting Keyboardists and adopted the chicken hawk as our mascot. It reveals the intellectual bankruptcy of these very bloggers ... and provokes them into revealing it themselves.

That's about as generous as you're going to find, on the right. But, isn't it "namecalling" to call namecallers "vapid and emotionally stunted"?