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August 08, 2006

Qualitative Equivalence

Shakes here...

I had exactly the same reaction to this idiotic piece about “Liberal McCarthyism” (which misuses the term McCarthyism, but I digress) as The Rude Pundit:

Why is it that whenever right-wingers wanna criticize the "viciousness" of the left, more often than not, they use e-mails and blog comments instead of, say, the words of writers (bloggy and non-bloggy) and leaders? …Davis writes, "The far right does not have a monopoly on bigotry and hatred and sanctimony. Here are just a few examples (there are many, many more anyone with a search engine can find) of the type of thing the liberal blog sites have been posting about Joe Lieberman" and then quotes the mean meanies of the left, like at Daily Kos. But not, you know, Kos, or Hunter, or McJoan, or DarkSyde, or any of the other posters. Nope, it's commenter "tomjones."

…When the Rude Pundit wants to go trawling for right-wing hate, he doesn't need to look to his hate e-mails, with their occasional threats of violence. He doesn't need to point to the comments on right-wing blogs. He can just point to the blogs themselves, or turn on the goddamn radio or the fuckin' Fox "News," or open the newspaper to read the vomitous rantings of every other conservative columnist talking about liberals despising and destroying America. They can only pick nits; we have to swat hissing cockroaches.

Exactly. As I’ve said before, trying to discern which "side" is "worse" on the basis of content provided by largely anonymous commenters in the blogosphere is futile, and so is any attempt to establish some sort of qualitative equivalence between the content of each side. The quality of discourse is not determined by what anonymous commenters and emailers, but what emanates from the most influential voices.

I’m not suggesting that the comments gathered by Davis aren’t nasty; they are. But if one can’t find a single comparable example in the writing of any major Lefty bloggers, no less a pattern of examples across a selection of blogs, it’s utter horseshit to claim to have evidence that the Left is as vicious as the Right—and it’s mendacious to identify comments as “the type of thing liberal blog sites have been posting.” Does Davis really not know how blogs work, or is it just more useful to make it sound as though comments (and, apparently, emails) are the same thing as posts? I guess “the type of thing people who visit liberal blogs leave in comments” doesn’t have quite the same zip to it, nor the disingenuousness of making commenters and bloggers indistinguishable to a passing reader.

August 8, 2006 | Permalink

Comments

Frankly, the comments of "the most influential" ought to have very little bearing, as well. A position is not made reasonable or irrational by its defenders, but by its own merits.

I know, it'll never happen.

Posted by: Nick Simmonds | Aug 8, 2006 1:54:56 PM

Well, it's not that the comments and mini-diaries mean nothing, just that they should be balanced against similar level dialogue.

Left wing comments/email compared to Right wing comments/email
Left wing bloggers compared to Right wing bloggers (Kos to Instapundit)
Left wing news programs compared to Right wing news programs (Fox to NPR)
Left wing pop book authors to Right wing pop book authors (Al Franken to Ann Coulter)
Left wing academics to Right wing academics
Left wing elected politicians to Right wing elect politicians (Murtha to Brownback)

In every single comparison, the liberals shine through as the less violent, more open-minded, more thoughtful alternative.

Posted by: Tony v | Aug 8, 2006 2:18:43 PM

Amen, sister. :)

Posted by: weboy | Aug 8, 2006 2:21:29 PM

There's an ugly underbelly to every segment of the political spectrum.

The thing is that the right wing underbelly consists of prominent pundits. Look at this list of the favorite right-wingers (as selected by right wing bloggers) -- people like Ann Coulter.

The left's underbelly consists of people I've never heard of (i.e., anonymous commentors).

Posted by: K Ashford | Aug 8, 2006 2:28:20 PM

Anything written about liberals by conservatives lately has been utterly astonishing mishmash. Kristol says that democrats who vote for Lamont are un-American; Cokie Roberts says that democrats playing to their base will be the death of the democratic party (unlike when the republicans pander to theirs, in which case it's brilliant strategy); now liberals are mean and ugly and here are some trolls to prove it.

The disconnect, projection, denial, hysteria going on is horrifying to watch.

Posted by: merciless | Aug 8, 2006 3:03:05 PM

Let's remember that the far left are on the blogs and this article is now showing all the world what they are like. Day in and day out, the wacko left wing blogs use blogger quotes to demonize their perceived enemies. Now, when this same tactic is used against them, it's somehow not the same.

This article is more and exposure than a discovery.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 8, 2006 3:14:00 PM

Fred, I object to your characterization.

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft | Aug 8, 2006 3:25:54 PM

Fred's exactly right. In fact, I think it's plain that Ezra is a rabid homophobe based on Fred's rabidly homo-hating comments.

Ezra, I look forward to the admission that you really hate gay people as much as Fred does.

And now I'm off to Kevin Drum to force him to admit that he really agrees with Al and Norman and American Hawk. And then to Glenn Greenwald's shop to force him to admit that he really agrees with shooter242 and Bart.

Or, wait, maybe Fred's right, and the fact that Fred post comments here means that he really agrees with Ezra on everything...

Posted by: paperwight | Aug 8, 2006 3:31:42 PM

I guess someone should now tell pandagon, the eptiome of the wacko left, that using their freeper quotes is no longer legitimate!!

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 8, 2006 3:44:19 PM

As I said at my place to your identical comment there, Fred, "All Pam does with 'Freeper quotes' is compile what's being said at Free Republic. She's never suggested the sentiments are representative of the entire conservative blogosphere."

Posted by: Shakespeare's Sister | Aug 8, 2006 3:53:47 PM

SS, there's not really much point in arguing with Fred -- he's not interested in learning anything. Actually, I'm not sure he's even capable of learning anything at this point in his life.

Posted by: paperwight | Aug 8, 2006 3:56:24 PM

"All Pam does with 'Freeper quotes' is compile what's being said at Free Republic. She's never suggested the sentiments are representative of the entire conservative blogosphere."

Oh, paleeeeeeze......that's really a laughable defense of her numbnuts posts.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 8, 2006 4:25:58 PM

Ezra, I look forward to the admission that you really hate gay people as much as Fred does.

Please, paperweight. That's incredibly unfair to Fred Jones. He also hates women.

Posted by: Christmas | Aug 8, 2006 6:21:56 PM

Oh, paleeeeeeze......that's really a laughable defense of her numbnuts posts.

Well yours is at least as laughable an attack, though one more "e" would surely carry the rhetorical day.

Posted by: Pooh | Aug 8, 2006 6:27:44 PM

Hey, it's the ridiculous attacks on anyone who doesn't agree that really make lefty blogs true entertainment.

Now, if only you could win elections.......

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 8, 2006 6:37:43 PM

Hey, it's the ridiculous attacks on anyone who doesn't agree that really make lefty blogs true entertainment.

As opposed to, say, Redstate.

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft | Aug 8, 2006 7:12:33 PM

@ Christmas: those two classes of hatred are two great tastes that go great together. I have yet to meet a male gay-basher that doesn't also have a heaping helping of misogyny alongside.

Fred is hardly a surprise in that regard.

Posted by: paperwight | Aug 8, 2006 7:23:10 PM

Now, if only you could win elections.......

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 8, 2006 7:41:09 PM

One can always tell when Fred has no argument of any kind: he falls back on "elections have consequences" and "if only you could win an election".

It's sad, really, that Fred runs out of serious argument so very quickly, and is reduced to the equivalent of "nyah, nyah!" It's as if he *knows* that he's on the side of nasty bigotry, and he's just happy that enough other people share his bigotry that he can claim "winning" status. (Though of course, as we learned with racism, it's not really a "win" even when the majority of people are just as racist as you are.)

Posted by: paperwight | Aug 8, 2006 7:46:02 PM

One can always tell when paperweight has no argument of any kind: he falls back on "bigotry" and "racism".

heheheheh....you are, if nothing else, a lot of fun!

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 8, 2006 7:49:44 PM

Ah, Fred, denying his very essence. He's been quite upfront that he thinks gay people don't deserve the same rights he does, and has never had a reason for that (except that he just doesn't think they should). And I think the thread that Christmas pointed out makes it clear that he doesn't like women either. Neither of these statements on my part lack factual basis or moral reasoning, so to claim that they're a fallback, and not argument is really kind of pathetic on Fred's part.

What Fred fails to realize is that when his bigotry is pointed out, and he fails to defend it except by "nyah, nyah!", he's admitting that he is in fact a bigot, and that he's a proud bigot. If he could defend his positions by appeal to anything else, he would. But he can't, and he's relying on everyone else not to remember anything he's ever said before to pretend that his bigotry is something other people make up.

Classic Republican, that -- hoping for the memory hole.

Posted by: paperwight | Aug 8, 2006 7:56:42 PM

paperwight, that just shows your liberal hypocrisy! You liberals are always preaching tolerance, but when it comes to racist homophobe misogynists like Fred, your true intolerant colors show!

Or something.

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft | Aug 8, 2006 8:58:18 PM

Heh.

I think the "If you could only win elections..." statement is paramount for one *really* good reason.

Your ideas are so wacked that few buy into them. One would think that if they were so starkly truthful and self-evident, as you promote them to be, that others would see and follow.
Nope. Instead, you blame the whole world for their "narrow views", "bigotry" and "meaness" and, standing in the corner, proclaim yourself righteous.

How is that corner, anyway?

That must be terribly frustrating to know that down deep, only you know best and the whole world, the Muslims, Christians and just about every religious person (about 95% of all humans) think you're a fuckin' idiot.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 8, 2006 10:48:06 PM

He's been quite upfront that he thinks gay people don't deserve the same rights he does......

Speaking in the third person, Fred also doesn't think that child molesters, lovers of sheep and severe schizophrenia sufferers also don't have the same rights as normal people.

One must remember that this society has outlawed queer "marriage" in 44 states....19 by state constitutional amendments......and of those 19, 13 were in the last few years. 88% is more than just "bigotry"....it's collective WISDOM.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 8, 2006 11:31:34 PM

Speaking in the third person, Fred also doesn't think that child molesters, lovers of sheep and severe schizophrenia sufferers also don't have the same rights as normal people.

A big round of applause for Senator Santorum, ladies and gents. Tell us, how do you feel about box turtles?

Posted by: Pooh | Aug 9, 2006 7:38:28 PM

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