Monday, September 08, 2008 • 12:00 AM Comments ()

My (or your!) manly truck

posted by James Heflin

I come back from a week of vacation, and find that it's the little things that offer the biggest humorous rewards. Witness this comment from my Palin post about her giant lapel pin, in which "Eric" responds to my saying Palin is less qualified than Obama:


Wow. Whatever you do, don't let reality burst through that bubble you've made for yourself. Great stuff.

Posted by Eric on 9.3.08 at 8.51

To which I'd like to say:

Eric,
Wow. Whatever you do, don't let reality burst through that bubble you've made for yourself. Great stuff.

One could go on this way for eons, it seems. It matters not even what one is arguing about in this fashion. These statements are basically some sort of self-satisfaction exercise rather than an actual counter-argument. I blame the tattered state of "debate" we've been lowered to in the US of A. I'm not perfect, but I hope that when it comes to debating someone, I can manage to actually debate them.



There's no longer, it seems, much left of argument in the classical sense, no making of points and employing the pillars of rhetoric (that would be the old ethos, pathos and logos). There's simply no way to engage in debate anymore, because things devolve pretty much instantly (in most cases, certainly not all) to trading this sort of substance-free insult. And recently we saw "Joe" give us another grand example, the more sophisticated straw man method, in which you appear to argue with someone, but in fact exaggerate, distort or even make up the other person's point, then argue with that, because it's easier and keeps an argument alive, as the other person has to remake their initial point over and over. Eventually this gets so tiresome the argument ends, progress-free!

What I find most disturbing about all of this is how it engages liberals and conservatives (in the old sense) in heated exchanges while the neoconservatives are sneaking out the back door with a lighter held to the Constitution.

Unless people like Joe and Eric are opposed to the tenets of the Constitution, we bloody well ought to be on the same side. I disagree with many of their viewpoints, and they with mine. But it's very clear that a larger problem is occurring that all of us who stand for democracy, whether conservative or progressive, had better deal with pronto. I'd love to get back to the point that working out the details of how to govern between liberal and conservative is a safe pastime. But it ain't.

I point out nonsense wherever I can, and yes, I oppose Republicans across the board. But it's not because I disagree with all of conservative thinking. It's because the hoodwinked Republican base is supporting things they know not of, from domestic spying to bullheaded aggression and vote suppression. George Bush has ruined a once-proud party and a once-proud nation. We have to put that stuff to a stop before there's any real point to policy debates. George Bush is not a conservative in the sense we've known it. Neither is Dick Cheney. And our friend John McCain seems to drink more of their Kool-Aid every day.

Just ask Bob Barr or Ron Paul, men whose policies I oppose on many levels. Yet I am part of a coalition that includes both of them, Strange Bedfellows, which opposes constitutional abuses. I'm proud to stand with them on that. Once we win that battle, we can afford to go back to the old debates.

In the meantime, perhaps we can purge all of this back-and-forth nattering that doesn't address the deeply dangerous problems we face. Even if it's sometimes fun and I post rabble-rousing posts, too.

Commenters who wish to sling an insult are hereby invited to choose from the following list of insult topics if they're having trouble coming up with a quick insult. I will try to employ it also to respond. Everyone is, of course, welcome to come up with original material in the usual fashion, but perhaps this can expedite the process so we can move past the substance-free debate to engage things like constitutional issues.

Don't like it? You can say something about how I'm (no, you are!):

1) sheltered or delusional
2) ugly or fat
3) nothing but a typical [liberal or conservative]
4) unaware of how right I am [you are] and how wrong you are [I am]
5) stupid
6) going to get run over by [my or your] manly truck

Maybe once we all get sick of that, we can talk about the fading democracy of the United States before it's exited the building.

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