Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The problem with hate -- how do you control it?

Lowell over at Raising Kaine, in a post called Kos Cracks Down, sings the praise of Markos from DailyKos for chiding his troops about their hate-speech toward other democrats:
Good for Markos of Daily Kos for writing this:
There has lately been an alarming rise in diaries and comments that seek to impugn (without evidence) the motives of those they disagree with on various issues.

Yes, there's the impeachment stuff, but this nasty rhetoric is also rampant in the primary war diaries.

This points to a serious breakdown not just on civility, but in the ability of people to properly debate various issues. As such, it presents a serious threat to the integrity of this site.
I hope that Kos doesn't have to follow up on his warning. At its best, Daily Kos has a great deal to offer. At its worst, I've seen it taken over by - as Markos describes them - people who are "just as 'out there' as the 'black helicopter' crowd." I've also seen "ridiculous conspiracy theor[ies]" (as Markos says) and general idiocy, like people claiming sunspots cause global warming.
The problem with hate speech is, how do you actually control it? How do you know when to stop hating, or who it is you are supposed to hate? How do you know when you are supposed to switch back to being civil?

The problem with unfounded hysterical accusations are, if there's no basis in facts to begin with, how do you know who it is you are supposed to hurl them at, where to draw the line when making up charges, and what bizarre conspiracy theories are "too out there" compared to all the others that are acceptable?

Kos gives a hint of what "black helicopter" theory WAS too far out there. Remembering that the DailyKos site has a good number of people who believe our government caused or allowed 9/11 to happen, Kos's example instead is this:
Update: And no, Bush won't cancel the next round of elections to remain in power. That's about the most ridiculous conspiracy theory I've seen in a long time. Some people on our side can be just as "out there" as the "black helicopter" crowd.
Actually, as conspiracies go, is that one so far out there? After all, Giuliani tried to add a few months to HIS term after 9/11. Certainly the "government blew up the levies in New Orleans", and the "Bush went to war to drive up oil costs so his buddies would make money" are more rediculous. But as I said, once you've decided that truth isn't important, just that you make people believe what you are saying, how do you decide that one tall tale is more or less "ridiculous" than another?

Lowell is happy to throw mud at his political enemies, as during the last election when he repeated without evidence a bizarre story about some guy hitting on Allen's ex-wife on an airplane. But he seems terribly upset when some of his own side attack democrats using the same illogic he uses to attack republicans.

He congratulates Markos for "cracking down" on those who attack the wrong people, when in fact Markos is just a hypocrite. If he really cared about civility, he'd chastise ALL the attackers, not just those attacking their own political party.

Lowell ends with:
Then there are the people who bash various Democratic Presidential candidates as if THEY were the enemy, not the torture-crazy, Constitution-shredding, "double Gitmo," global-warming-denying Republicans. For all those reasons, I've pretty much avoided Daily Kos since the Webb-Allen election. It's just no fun right now.
As I said, once you've abandoned the foundations of rationality, it is very hard to control the irrational results. So Cindy Sheehan, encouraged by elected Democratic leaders when she was making baseless attacks about Bush and the administration, now express outrage when Cindy turns her brand of "speaking truth to power" against their own party. So Lowell is upset that some of his party have grown tired of attacking the "torture-crazy" republicans and are attacking democrats who won't act and vote based on the absurd view of the world they have been selling as an alternative to reality.

Sorry, Lowell, I'm not buying, nor am I sympathizing. You encourage illogical extremism, it's going to come back and bite you.

Oh, and the Sunspots causing Global Warming? It's not the sunspots, it's just the Sun:

Global warming has finally been explained: the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research.

A study by Swiss and German scientists suggests that increasing radiation from the sun is responsible for recent global climate changes.

Dr Sami Solanki, the director of the renowned Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, who led the research, said: "The Sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures.

Of course, this isn't crazy republicans, or even DailyKos kooks -- just a normal news story about normal reputable scientists, who want to explain how come Mars is experiencing "global warming" when the evil republicans haven't even landed on it yet.

At least not that we know of -- I suppose someone at DailyKos has a theory that republicans have already taken over Mars, probably a contract awarded to Halliburton. It's probably Cheney's "undisclosed location". :-)

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