October 13, 2004
Incivility in Political Discourse
(The Coming Apogee of the Moonbat Hordes)
Posted by Bill
Go check out the Commissar's great series of posts that feature some of the pleasantries of partisan political expression during this election season.
One: "The Shrill Meter"
I measured the number of Google hits for "John Kerry" and "George Bush," and then searched for their names in combination with some shrill, uncivil, hot words.
Two: "The Brownshirt Meter"
All across the country, Revolutionary partizans are violently attacking Criminal Reactionary Repugnicans! To the barricades, comrades!!!
At any rate, all members of the VRWC should take great comfort from Okrent's last two paragraphs:
"But before I turn over the podium, I do want you to know just how debased the level of discourse has become. When a reporter receives an e-mail message that says, 'I hope your kid gets his head blown off in a Republican war,' a limit has been passed."
Four: Sorry That He Got Caught
Jarvis presented this whole issue in a context of reprehensible mud-slinging all around, how regrettable it all is, and how Okrent could have handled it better. Jarvis is way off the mark.
People forget that assault is assault, whether expressed in email or in the public square. Forget the anonymity of emails, which clouds the issue. Suppose all this had happened in the public square. How laughable would be Schwenk's defense. What right should of privacy should be accorded to someone who threatens another's children? None. Zero. Zip. Schwenk is the guilty party. 100%. Nagourney and Okrent are wholly blameless, and better not recant or back down one step.
Now I'll be honest - I get annoyed with some of the right's rhetoric that whips up a strict 'us vs. them' value judgment, decrying all "liberals" as some sort of alternate menacing species. Admittedly often employed in the name of efficiency, the humorless, ad hominem proclamations neatly divide the world into two distinct camps and shun a whole spectrum of grey in the political climate. For example, NYT "liberals" Nagourney and Okrent are the ones under moonbat attack in some of the above links. And while I don't agree with many of the conclusions of bloggers Kaus and Yglesias, their tone is typically worlds away from the shallow derangement displayed by bomb-throwers like Atrios and DKos. It's also worth mentioning that a strict interpretation of the word "liberal" connotes many very noble ideals.
I guess my point is, it's unfair to constantly use insufficiently distinctive language when you criticize those with different ideologies from yourself.*
However ... that being said ... anyone that doesn't come to the conclusion that overall, the left has been infected with a more acute strain of partisan madness these past few years is either willfully oblivious, cynically partisan or Chris Matthews (but I repeat myself). The Democratic leadership schmoozing with Michael Moore is a pretty damning piece of evidence. The roots of the madness? Much of it certainly has to do with the fact that the left is out of power and on the attack; some it's probably influenced by significant differences in modes of thought and expression between people that naturally gravitate towards certain ideologies. I'm not going to pin down the exact reasons in this post.
But whatever it is, it's getting old. And I'm starting to get the half-joking impression that if Bush wins another term, life outside Redstate America will start to resemble the movie 28 Days Later, except that the far leftist ANSWER zombies will shout "BushNaziHalliChimpaBurtonLied!" as they swarm and devour hapless humans. I can tell you from attending DC protest rallies and listening to conversations in coffee houses that certain segments of the population are reaching a pretty wacky boiling point. And even if Kerry wins, the "far leftists" will quickly distinguish themselves from the "leftists" by how quickly they turn and cannibalize the Kerry Administration.
At least it'll be interesting, I suppose.
* I've been hypocritical about this before and probably will be again. And the term 'moonbat' is a very distinctive term - I encourage its use.
UPDATE: A commenter wonders about the etymology of the term "moonbat." There are two schools of thought that are not mutually exclusive:
1. A clever take on the last name of the nutty British (Fifth) Columnist George Monbiot.
2. An intersection of the terms "moon" (historically associated with lunacy) and "bat" (nasty, winged rodents with fangs). These terms go together like peanut butter and chocolate.
The term is typically employed to describe nutty leftists that can vary from common and harmless types (Macroglossius lunarius commonus), to extremely dangerous species (Desmodus lunarius nihilista).
Its right-wing equivalent is the "wingnut."
Posted by Bill at October 13, 2004 08:02 AM | TrackBack (0)
I've been wondering since I've been following your blog... what does moonbat exactly mean and where did the term come from?
Posted by: Watcher at October 13, 2004 11:23 AM
Actually that's not "the" Watcher who asked that question... but I have wondered the same thing myself from time to time.
Posted by: Watcher at October 13, 2004 11:48 AM
Watcher--for the quintessential moonbat which makes the derangement, loss of perspective and incipient violence immediatly clear--look in these eyes- http://inhonor.net/pictures/Rachel%20Corrie%20burning%20us%20flag.htm
Bill, wearying, yes, but after a Bush win, I can't see the hard Left's vitriol lessening. The DNC is now clearly split among centrists and the Angries and no amount of stitching is going to make these two whole cloth. With no obvious candidate with enough charisma to unite them, the fissure will continue. The larger question is, as the Boomers influence declines, the Left sundereds, much of their platform outdated--will they continue to be a political force as we know it? Can they wait for the dream of Hillary 2008? They have some serious pondering to do- a return to the DLC centrist strategy is necessary. The only thing is, this may no longer be viable even for a candidate like Hillary if the hard left wallows in the same early 70's antics (SLA, Panthers, etc.) that seem to be taking shape.
Posted by: TMarcell at October 13, 2004 11:51 AM
"The term is typically employed to describe nutty leftists that can vary from common and harmless (Macroglossius lunarius commonus), to extremely dangerous (Desmodus lunarius nihilista)."
Heh, that's good.
And I agree with TMarcell. If the Democrats continue to divide themselves between the centrists and the hardcore leftists, then they cannot hold any real political power. The Democrats will either a) overcome their anger and return to more sensible positions (doesn't matter if I agree with those positions or not), or b) they will continue to be violently angry and self-destruct, at which point another party will take over (probably the Reform party). Likely option A will happen.
Posted by: Cool Tester at October 13, 2004 12:22 PM
By the way, the woman in that picture with the sign - is she saying she wants to fuck Bush? She must like him a lot.
Posted by: Cool Tester at October 13, 2004 12:26 PM
Civility in Public Discourse is a 20th century phenomenon. It's certainly not ingrained into the American psyche. In fact, I'd say we're simply seeing a return to the passionate politics that came with the birth of this country.
The Corrupt Bargain?
Lincoln disparagingly being called "The Negro President?"
And I know you guys have read about "Ma, ma, where's my pa?"
Heck, just look at how the American Revolution started. What the Sons of Liberty did to Thomas Hutchinson makes all of this look like hugs and kisses.
Posted by: Textbook Stupidity at October 13, 2004 01:06 PM
Thanks, Bill. You definitely excerpted the key points.
Posted by: The Commissar at October 13, 2004 01:07 PM
And for all the hate, sometimes it morphs into laughable silliness... especially when it comes from a politician. Tex. Congressman Frost is charging his Republican opponent Pete Sessions with "exposing himself to children"......
when Trenchcoat Pete was 18 y/o and was one of 300 college students streaking in 1974!
You just can't make up stuff like this!
Posted by: Darleen at October 13, 2004 01:39 PM
Darleen -- how long until Sessions is accused of matriculating while he was in college?
Posted by: Robert Crawford at October 13, 2004 01:40 PM
Well, I know I can't run for office. It would come out that I was a practicing thespian in college.
Posted by: Darleen at October 13, 2004 02:04 PM
That girl's cute.
Is there a scientific name for the variety of moonbat whose females attract otherwise-disinterested males to moonbat gatherings?
Posted by: Steve at October 13, 2004 02:16 PM
I recall reading an exchange between a woman women calling herself 'Pie' on Atrios and somone she determined was a troll on the subject of Kerry's activities post-vietnam. As far as I could gather from what I read, the troll came off as a reasonable moderate or even slightly left democrat. He/she wasn't far enough to the left for 'Pie'.
If memory serves, Pie repeatedly denigrated the other person as a 'small man'. She boasted that her spelling was better since she taught English for a number of years and this was somehow supposed to confer more legitimacy to a position that she could not even be bothered to articulate to a troll. She took great umbrage to the suggestion that she was mistaken that the mood of the country in 1971 was wholly in line with Kerry's philosophy in 1971. Her vehement response to the suggestion was to declare that she had marched in many demonstrations and knew what she was talking about.
The point is that 'Pie' is a typical representative of the folks commenting at Atrios and Kos and by extension the 'moonbat' angry left online. She is educated, reasonably articulate as a writer, and utterly numb to the disconnect between her memories of relevancy in 1970, at least as she fondly remembers it, and the world today. There was no hint of substance or analysis in 'Pie's' dialogue. Just the conviction that anyone supporting Bush is stupid and that anyone seeing things her way is not.
She represents the boomers that never moved beyond the euphoria of winning the culture war and can not see the attendant downsides that went hand in hand with that victory. Folks like that are not going to change at this point in their lives. Joe McCarthy violating the very ideals he was claiming to protect images this lady nicely.
If Bush wins the election, the moonbat left is going to become more vitrolic and elitest and the thought that perhaps new ideas for the democrats appropriate to the 21st century are called for will never occur or be accepted by them.
The constant emphasis on her debater being a 'little' and 'small' nan was telling also. But that's another analysis for another day.
Posted by: Just Passing Through at October 13, 2004 02:22 PM
Speaking of moonbats, didja see their latest conspiracy theory? Bush had some kind of hidden cheating device at the first debate! Yup, and they've got a photo to prove it.
Posted by: Sean at October 13, 2004 06:05 PM