AOG's Law of Conversational Loss
Posted by aogThursday, 06 July 2006 at 19:52 TrackBack Ping URL

A friend of mine rang me up to encourage me to read some book by former President Jimmy Carter, apparently not realizing that I consider Carter a bad president and bad ex-president of the highest order. I also find his personal qualities rather dubious given his personal embrace of some of the worst mass murdering thugs on the planet (e.g., Kim Jong Il, Yassir Arafat).

In any event, the conversation went down hill from there into a discussion on the imminent fascist dictatorship of President Bush. The argument ended with the contention that if I didn’t think Bush was crushing democracy in the USA, then I must think he should be canonized. Any middle ground was simply inconceivable.

I have encountered this reaction before, on various lefty weblogs suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome, but this was my first personal experience. Thinking back on it, I realize that the “monster or saint” technique is a clear indication that the person offering it is completely out of arguments and has no recourse except to go for broke. I think from now on, when I encounter this, I will explicitly make that claim and see if I can get any heads to explode. If nothing else, I will be able to define it as a moral victory for myself and if I feel that way, what other evidence would I need?

Comments — Formatting by Textile
cjm Friday, 07 July 2006 at 15:47

there must be some way to make money off this widespread irrationality.

with regards to understanding why so many people spout such nonsense, maybe the boomers are going through some aging related crisis en masse. you ask them for an example of liberty trampling and they can’t produce one, but insist vehemently that it is widespread. orson welles would be laughing his ass off (and he had a really big ass)

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 07 July 2006 at 16:15

Absolutely. Just look at Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Markos Zuniga, Cindy Sheehan, Ward Churchill, etc.

And I had the same “liberty is being trampled even though I have no actual evidence” line as well. The repeatability of it is fascinating to me.

But the problem is that it becomes impossible to discuss Bush’s actual failings, because in order to keep some semblance of reality, I have to defend Bush from the hysterical charges (like Attorney General Gonzalez is getting ready to send the NY Times staff to a gulag) and after demolishing those, it goes right to the “demonization or canonization” stage. You can see an example of it here, where Mark Buehner, who doesn’t like Bush at all, ends up defending him for this same reason. When have so many people engaged in so much hyperbole for so little reason? It staggers the imagination.

Jeff Guinn Thursday, 13 July 2006 at 15:16

AOG:

Here is a perfect example of what you are talking about.

Dr. PZ Myers, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin, was waxing indignant over the Bush administration’s refusal to take force off the table with respect to nuclear armed apocalyptic mullahs.

I simply asked: OK, what is your alternative?

Virtually every response was one variation or another of ad hominem attack.

Some even accused me of being a creationist.

What struck me the most, though, was the utter absence of analytical thought.

Ranting is no basis for foreign policy.

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