The (temporary) home of practical progressives

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ending Nightmerica

Hello, hello... Kenneth, I could use a little more monitor.

(And if you got THAT joke and reference, we're going to get along fine.)

Hello, everyone, I'm Sundog. If you didn't meet me over at LieberDem, perhaps some exposition is in order. I'm a centrist-to-left Democrat who supports Ned Lamont among other Vile Secret Agendas. I got into the dogfight over at LieberDem because I was tired of lefty bloggers all being portrayed in a certain way and wanted to try to be a counterexample. In the process I made a lot of friends, which rather surprised me.

My agenda online, in general, is simple. We have to elevate the debate in this country. We have to undo the damage the Republican Borg have done, not just to our country, but to our very emotions and thought patterns. We have to counter the awesome Republican noise machine with sanity and reason. It really is simply the only winning strategy to undo what they've done to us over the last twenty years or so.

This decay of the art of public debate is probably the most damaging thing the Republicans have done to us. A country that once placed the best of the best in positions of power and attacked world problems with diplomacy, patience and wisdom, now bickers, struts and picks fights on the world stage like some redneck in a bar in Crawford, and supporters of this administration happily throw off the bounds of adult restraint and join in the fun.

The right-wing hatemongers have been at it on the radio and everywhere else now for many years, filling the very air with rage and hate, long enough so that there is probably a cottage industry by now of companies that clean spittle out of microphones.

It's enraging, and it's very easy to internalize their methods and lose your temper with these people. I've done it myself many times. But the simple truth is that it doesn't work. It isn't productive.

I've never seen one angry person convince another angry person of anything. Have you? Ever?

When we post online, we are constantly making a choice between saying something that feels so good but is anti-communicative in nature, or taking the time and the effort to say something that facilitates communication. This is a critical choice because, quite obviously, you can't reason with someone until you've established communication with them.

This is baby-talk if you know any communication theory. But it's something we all need to internalize. There's a lot we have to talk about in this country, and we can't do it until the lines of communication are open.

But first, examine your OWN reasons for posting. Be honest: Do you post to relieve your frustration with the Other Side? Do you enjoy getting a good jab in that you KNOW will make someone angry? Do you think it's fine to let your hatred show now and then when you post? In your mind, is it a war and you're a Keyboard Kommando?

There are places for that, mostly comment sections of the more excitable blogs, or alternately in the entire right half of the Blogosphere, and that's fine. But ultimately it's a very selfish act, having no possible positive consequences; it's emotional masturbation. What's needed in this country is for people of good will of whatever political stripe to put down the rhetorical guns and knives and get political debate out of the streets and back in the bars, over a beer or two, where it belongs.

Otherwise the job of ending Nightmerica is going to be very, very hard indeed.

6 Comments:

Blogger caffeine soldier said...

"I've never seen one angry person convince another angry person of anything. Have you? Ever?"

That's right. But somewhat beside the point. I've seen several instances where angry people, blessed with the power of rhethoric and driven by an unshattered faith in their righteousnes, managed to pull the undecideds to their side. If this angry person actually promotes an awful policy, this is a dangerous occurence.

So, if you want to make a positive contribution, you always have to engage wrong statements and misguided ideas. This is NOT about convincing the angry person, this is about showing the lurkers that there is a more reasonable view that opposes the spin. By staying out of the discussion, you simply surrender air superiority over comment space to angry demagogues. That's not the right way.

And trying to build bridges is totally wrong, too. The angry madman may befriend you for that, but he still won't change his wrong convictions. But for the lot of lurkers following the discussion, this simply looks a if you treat obvious nonsense as if it was a real argument. So, you're actually giving more legitimacy to that spin. This is spreading false equivalence, giving both truth and propaganda the same weight. That's the game the MSM is playing when they don't want to point out that a Bush statement is total nonsense, but instead play nice by stating 'some critics say..'. Again, this way of building bridges is wrong because it's distorting the discussion and misleading the public.

3:13 AM

 
Blogger caffeine soldier said...

"In your mind, is it a war and you're a Keyboard Kommando?"

If you read my previous comment ist should be ocvious that my answer is YES. This is the battle about public opinion, about the votes of the independents and undecideds. This is not about the useless quest for converting some angry wingnuts, this is about spreading the truth to the much bigger number of lurkers. Hopefully, when confronted with hateful spin from one side and resonable thoughts from the other, they will be more impressed by the truth.

3:23 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully, when confronted with hateful spin from one side and resonable thoughts from the other, they will be more impressed by the truth.

Dude, I think that was the whole point...

6:30 AM

 
Blogger Sundog said...

I'll expand on this another time, but I apologize for not making my point clearer.

Soldier, it is indeed vital to counter wrong opinions and untruths; to not do so is simple appeasement. What I advocate is not a backing off from discussion, but a full engagement using facts instead of emotion.

7:26 AM

 
Blogger babablacksheep said...

Why do I read blogs and occassionally contribute comments?

Mainly to be well-informed. Because the blogs are an important, content-rich, frequengly updated news source. Of course they are not my only source of info, but they bring it alive and provide perspective, and they steer me to material I wouldn't otherwise find in the corporate media, etc.

It's also a great form of entertainment.

I did post a bunch at the Lieberdem blog, mainly as a political act to counter the trash that Dan Gerstein was spewing on a supposedly "unofficial" basis.

I agree that angry rhetoric is not effective, and I hope my comments had a constructive, respectful tone, and were based on facts, cogent reasoning, and above all, good-natured satire and humor.

8:03 AM

 
Blogger caffeine soldier said...

"Soldier, it is indeed vital to counter wrong opinions and untruths; to not do so is simple appeasement. What I advocate is not a backing off from discussion, but a full engagement using facts instead of emotion."

Ah, I see. And I totally agree. K, I don't know what exactly you wrote in trying to 'build bridges', I guess I was mislead by your story about that (negative) experience. I thought you shouldn't complain about people who prefer an uncompromising approach towards appeaseniks like Lieberman. I might have been mistaken about your actual stance, sry. You're right, a discussion based on emotions instead of facts is dishonest and demagogic. However, this doesn't necessarily say that emotions can't be used. Imho this is ok as long as they are based on facts.

Btw, call me 'Gray', pls. 'Caffeine Soldier' is just the alias I'm using at my untented blog, maybe I should change that.

8:14 AM

 

Post a Comment

<< Home