Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fear Itself

This morning, while reading The Washington Independent's Daphne Eviatar's excellent report on the death penalty for terrorists, two things occurred to me.

First, there's been much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the right about trying Khalid Sheik Mohamed in New York City because, apparently, KSM said he wanted to be tried in New York. As Rudy Giuliani said, "I didn't think we were in the business of granting the requests of terrorists."

Giuliani's point is of course silly -- as Dahlia Lithwick put it, "Funny, that. I didn't think we were in the business of caring one way or another what the terrorists want from us" -- but let's assume for the moment that Giuliani really wants to follow the principle he articulated. If we shouldn't grant terrorist requests, what would Giuliani have us do with terrorists who want to be put to death, who believe that being executed by infidels will make them martyrs? Would Giuliani argue that because a convicted terrorist asked for the death penalty, we shouldn't execute him? Hard to imagine. So what principle is really behind Giuliani's remarks? And if there is no principle, what's motivating him instead?

Second, a common complaint on the right is that we mustn't try terror suspects in America because doing so would make us unsafe (similarly, we can't imprison terrorists even in supermax prisons from which no one has ever escaped because... well, it's not clear why, exactly, but incarcerating terrorists in quality American prisons scares some people a lot). For example, John "Surrender is Not an Option" Bolton says he's practically ready to evacuate his family from New York if we try KSM there, because such a trial will render New York unsafe.

Let's do for Bolton what we've done for Giuliani -- extract the principle he's articulating, and see whether he's serious about applying it. The principle is: we should deviate from applying our rules of justice if we're afraid that following those rules could increase the danger of a terror attack. Well, what if it's possible executing terrorists would do just that? It's hard to imagine John Bolton or anyone like him arguing we shouldn't execute terrorists because doing so might lead to new terror attacks. But then what principle is really driving him? Or what's driving him in the absence of principle?

There was some spirited debate in the comments to my previous post over my use of the term "rightist." I'll have more to say on the topic of nomenclature in a future post, but for now: if you're talking about rhetoric and policy positions fueled by fear (or the cynical exploitation of fear), rhetoric and positions so unprincipled they crumble in the face of even the most cursory logical scrutiny (like that applied above) you're almost certainly talking about the right -- meaning the Republican party. I don't know why someone would dispute this. You can either embrace it ("Hell, yes, I'm afraid, and you should be too, and with good reason"); or you can disassociate yourself from it ("I'm not a Republican"). What you can't do is say, "Well, that's just George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Steele, Glenn Beck, Hannity, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Andy McCarthy, Rich Lowry, et al. They're not really representative of the GOP."

One of the things I always find telling is when a person or institution stands for something, but won't acknowledge standing for it. If you advocate torture, say so! Why go all mealy-mouthed and hide behind euphemisms like "alternate interrogation techniques?" Similarly, if you're afraid and think the country should be afraid, too, why not say so? The GOP, by its rhetoric and policy positions, is indisputably the party of fear. And what's wrong with that, if we really ought to be afraid? It's the "Be afraid" rhetoric and positions, coupled with the refusal to own up to it, that makes me suspicious.

More on nomenclature, right and left, next time. Happy Thanksgiving.


Daniel Dick said...

The business of fighting terrorism and prosecuting those that perpetrate it is never going to be a risk-free enterprise, and once you start leveraging the principles of justice which you've established without clearly stating that you are doing so for a specific and clear reason--owning your point of view as well defending it logically--you have lost the integrity of purpose that is the ground on which you have supposedly chosen to fight. Fear terrorism and terrorists? Of course. But to shrink from the responsability that you've taken on (finding and prosecuting those responsible despite the risks associated with it), is to suffer a kind of back-handed defeat that only gives ground to the enemy. Such action is anything but heroic (a subject the right loves to trumpet on about, but one they don't seem to have fully grasped).

-Daniel Dick

JCH said...

Your post really struck home, particularly the part about owning up to your beliefs. It's part of living with integrity, and I think that is the fundamental flaw in our political system in general- a lack of integrity, and (as another respondent mentioned in the comments to your last post) "a win at all costs" paradigm of political power.

Your post stuck with me a good part of the day, and I finally figured out why- it reminded me of one of my lines from the movie The American President:

"I've known Bob Rumson (i.e. Republican challenger in the film) for years, and I've been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn't get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is that he can't sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections."

Just for the record The American President was written by Aaron Sorkin- someone who I think works wonders with dialogue and would be an awesome person to discuss nomenclature and the power of language in discourse-- The West Wing is proof of that.

JCH said...

**The sentence was supposed to read- "one of my favorite lines from the movie The American President"**

Anonymous said...

I believe politicians are more afraid of what will happen when you get terrorists testifying in U.S. courts that they were tortured.

Even if they confessed, given how confessions were obtained, I imagine their lawyers are going to try to have most of the evidence against their clients thrown out.

It is going to be embarrassing for the government and anyone involved in torture if one or more of terrorists goes free because their rights were violated.

Charlieopera said...

Guiliani is a politician and one should always keep that in mind when he voices an opinion (is it genuine or political rhetoric for the sake of partisanship?). I can tell you this much, there are a lot of NY’ers (and those of us who traffic through downtown NY) fed up with this city having a target painted on its back. We’ve been hit twice (once under both major parties). Yes, some of us are genuinely afraid and don’t give a crap about what either major party stands to gain or lose if all goes well or something goes wrong. Some of us aren’t excited about provoking another attack (in whatever form). I say provoke not in the sense of Al Qaeda launching some massive new attack, but any fanatic with a terrorist and/or, if you prefer, criminal agenda (i.e., Nidal Malik Hasan in Fort Hood).

I’m more curious about some of the liberal bloodlust espoused in trying “alleged terrorists” and then hanging them. Are we suddenly so sure the Bush administration’s prosecution of the war and its pursuit of individual terrorists was something to go to court with? Seriously, do we suddenly trust anything and/or everything they did? Will the “alleged terrorists” really find an impartial jury in New York? Is that possible anywhere in the country? If it isn’t, what happens to the principals of justice we’re so anxious to show the rest of the world? Over time I came to feel BOTH wars were illegal and that would render anything done under the administration that launched them illegal (in my book). If the “alleged terrorists” aren’t part of an army and simply common thugs, why are we still at war over their actions?

It’s a tough business to decipher and while I’ll assume the “alleged terrorists” are in fact the bad guys we’re told they are (told because none of us knows for sure and the government sure has made mistakes in the past—to include executing the wrong people for crimes they were proved not to have committed), I wish the trial would take place in the national capital … or on Mars.

Unknown said...

This post was more or less ignorant, off base, and blind. You took two statements from two republicans (did not place those statements in context) and then tried to apply that statement blanketly to their beliefs and policies. You didn't happen to mention any democrats in this rant, who like republicans flip and flop to fit what is best for their campaign platforms.

One thing I found correct is you shouldn't run from your beliefs or hide them from others. But you happened to bastardize trying to suggest that only "rightests" are guilty of this.

I think, no I beieve, that people should research their opinions and the opinions of others before making decisions and I believe that in this case you have not completed the cycle.

Your definition of "rightest" happens to cover just about everyone - republicans and democrats and even independents use rhetoric and and policy positions fueled by fear, to reach their own agendas. It's the truth, recognize it and deal with it.

But hey, at least you got most of it right - now quit being a rightest and start giving the facts with a little less biased spin. I remember in highschool how we use to have to debate the opposite side of the argument that we were on... try that!

Barry Eisler said...

Kevin, leaving aside the substance of your remarks for a moment, may I ask: does anything about your own comment live up to any of your prescriptions? If so, what? If not, how could you help me do better -- by your own example?


Unknown said...

Barry, my entire comment was made to point out that the entire post was more than a little generalized against republicans - and by virtue of that generalization, flawed.

Of course there were good points to be made, most notably you pointed out that people shouldn't cover their true intentions and beliefs behind "cute" phrases.

I think that you would agree that true intentions and beliefs shouldn't be hidden by ignoring subject matter, misdirection, and garble.

My previous comment lived up to my principle of being unbiased, the only true prescription made, by not being biased. I fully recognize that republicans are guilty of party politics and only talking about certain things that shout "the democrats are the bad guys who want to destroy the constitution and kill your grandma" (or something like that) but I'm just as aware of the fact that everything democrats put out there is aimed to say "republicans are fear-mongering, old white racists, who want to stay in the 20th century."

I see that clearly and make my best effort to not take part in it. Yes, I'm guilty -to an extent- of having my own biases but when I speak or write I set those aside and work on looking at the highs and lows of both sides.

Realizing that the last sentence was to say that I really didn't set a very good example of what I told you to do, I can only say that I my previous comment was in keeping with my standards. I can also say that you are older and probably wiser than me and you can figure out how to improve yourself better than I can help - I just thought it might needed to be pointed out.

I'll be keeping you in my RSS feed because I believe that you are honest and you were pointing out things that you felt needed attention and I'm looking forward to your thoughts.


Barry Eisler said...

Thanks, Kevin. I might have misunderstood, but I thought you were asking for additional evidence of my argument that Republicans exploit fear far more than Democrats. Which is why I didn't understand why you didn't offer any evidence at all (you still haven't) of your counter argument -- which I think is that both parties exploit fear equally.

I mentioned a long list of examples of Republicans who exploit fear. If you're right that Democrats are no different, would it not be useful for you to offer examples of those Democrats and a demonstration of how their fear-based policies and rhetoric are equal to what one hears from Republicans?

Many people believe bias means concluding one side is worse than the other. I think a more accurate definition of the word is this: a tendency to hew to a conclusion that's unsupported, or even contradicted, by facts. Your conclusion is that Democrats and Republicans are the same. And yet you've offered no facts in support of that conclusion. My sense from this is that you're biased in favor of a belief that both sides are equal, and that you want to believe that people who disagree with your belief are motivated by partisanship and are therefore less objective and insightful than you.

But that's just a shallow impression based on internet exchanges, and I could be wrong.

Anyway, there's no logical, inherent reason to believe that two sides are equal, is there? Logically, it seems to me more likely that one side will be worse than the other. But regardless, avoiding bias means trying to follow -- not fit -- the facts to a conclusion. I've yet to see you do so.


Unknown said...

I appreciate your explanation of where the confusion was coming from, Barry. I also appreciate that you pointed out that I have not yet pointed out any examples of Democrats exploiting fear - I did for focus but will provide examples.

I believe your definition of bias fits very closely to mine I would define bias as a mindset or display of certain events based on one's cultural surroundings and experiences.

We are all biased to some extent, the real problem is that due to an explosion in information available and an increasing demand on our time bias dictates what information and facts we take in. For example: I don't buy into the hype of Global Warming (you may or may not - this is just an example), I'm a busy person, and I have hobbies and interests to spend my free time on; therefore, I have never watched Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth."

Bias becomes a bigger problem in media because it is mostly talking to people who have not researched what is being said and therefore rely on what is stated by the media (and I'm not just talking about CNN and Fox).

I'm not arguing that if you don't hold my beliefs that you are not objective and I'm definitely not saying you are less insightful because one can be objective and reach a different conclusion than myself based on values.

With that said I'm also not arguing that Republicans and Democrats are equal, once again one party will hold your values closer than the other and therefore you and I will hold one above the other.

Now to give my evidence of what I consider to be tactics similar to fear exploitation, used by Democrats. I will not be giving Republican examples here because you have represented that side well.

My first example will be something I saw when reading this very post.

Towards the end you give a definition of "righest" as meaning someone who holds holds a position that is so unprincipled that if faced with basic logical scrutiny it will crumble and then to further clarify the definition you propose that with very little exception this definition fits the Republican Party and people who call themselves Republicans.

You follow that with a statement that you don't understand why someone would disagree that their political positions are illogical and unprincipled. Which in itself doesn't make sense because any semi-intelligent being doesn't like being called or seen as illogical or unprincipled (it's a natural human reaction to defend one's belief).

Something is said about if you are scared you should say Hell yes I'm scared and you should be too (which continues to imply that fear is illogical and a "rightest" thing) and then you list several Republicans. Then you imply that all or most Republicans support torture.

These are soft-fear (soft because you mostly imply) and disagreement-fear tactics because number one suddenly I shouldn't agree with any Republican view because then psychologically I'm aligning myself with illogical, unprincipled, torturers and then I really shouldn't openly disagree because then I automatically assumed to with these stigmas.

I highly doubt you meant to imply that all Republicans or people that lean to conservative side of things are illogical, unprincipled, torturers - nor do I think that you were trying to discourage open debate (as you have allowed me to debate with you). If I need to explain it some more, I can.

I'm going to stop here because I think that this is an innocent example that I see as pattern of most people working with almost any media format - and there most people are much more deliberate.

I can't list name after name of people and wouldn't. I'm not trying to debate policies, just increase awareness that both sides play dirty.

I agree with you that my perceptions of some if not most of your statements are shallow at best based on internet exchanges and in a lot of ways I feel I'm missing out from intelligent conversation.

Best Regards,

Charlieopera said...

Once again, it sure is nice to see polite (and intelligent) debate.

Barry Eisler said...

I think I'll do a separate post on the subject of bias, which comes up a lot. In the meantime, Kevin, if your point is just that "both sides play dirty," I wouldn't disagree -- but the point is so banal it's not really an argument. I wouldn't disagree that the sky is blue but that sometimes it rains, either.

Forgive me if that sounds harsh. But the urge to point out something so obvious and inarguable as "both sides play dirty" strikes me as further evidence of a need, independent of facts, to declare both sides equal.

At a sufficiently high level of generality, of course, everything is equal. We're all made of molecules, for example. But arguing at such high levels of generality is neither interesting nor illuminating.

My point is more specific: the GOP has become a fear-based movement. Yes, you can find Democratic examples, too (though you haven't offered any), but the overwhelming weight of evidence demonstrates that when it comes to running on and governing by appeals to fear, the GOP far outclasses the Democrats. If you disagree with that argument -- and it's fine if you do -- you have to either discount my examples of Republican fearmongering or find quantitatively and qualitatively similar examples among Democrats. Resorting to a banality like "both sides play dirty" really does nothing to advance the discussion.

I understand that people who consider themselves conservative or Republican or rightist may feel insulted by my description of what these categories have come to entail. I can't help that. Either you agree with what the GOP has come to stand for, in which case our disagreement is substantive, or you should be outraged about the GOP's perversion of what was once a sound brand standing for small government, fiscal and personal responsibility, and a sane foreign policy.


Anonymous said...

The Republicans do not have a monopoly on fear mongering.

Ted Kennedy said we would need body bags in the 10's of thousands for our soldiers coming back from Iraq. He also said that re-electing George Bush in 2004 would ensure a nuclear 9/11. Charlie Rangel said the Republicans were going to reinstitute the draft. John Kerry said the Republicans were going to privatize Social Security. Lets not forget the Democratic ad that showed Newt Gingrich pushing an old woman down a flight of steps. (I think it was steps I only vaguely recall seeing it replayed on a news program). Rahm Emanuel said 'Never let a crisis go to waste'. One Democrat claimed that children would starve when Ronald Reagan was re-elected.
Why on one of these posts or another that you did Barry you had me convinced George Bush was rolling into Iran. There was just no other explanation. He was going to do it and leave President Obama the mess.

So, as you said, own up to what you believe. I'm not condoning either side. Demonizing one side is a false premise. It is just Democratic rhetoric to demonize the Republicans as fear mongers and the Republican rhetoric is that all Democrats are pinko commies who want to give gay immigrants the vote and free education.

As a conservative I am interested in fiscal responsibility. Imagine my disappointment in both parties. I want a strong national defense. Imagine again how utterly disappointed I am that we are engaged in wars that are costing American lives and doing nothing to advance our national security. I don't care whether gay people get the right to get married. That isn't to say I don't think they deserve the right. I am just saying as a conservative that other than their right to do so it isn't any of my business. A true conservative doesn't care what other people do with their private lives. I don't want the government paying for abortions but that doesn't mean I think the right should be denied to someone who makes the choice to get one.

I can't buy the moral equivalence argument that you make between America and the rest of the world and then accept that Republicans are worse than Democrats. That is a real tough pill to swallow. You may not like the Republicans. You may not agree with Republicans. But that’s a disagreement it doesn't mean you are right. It means you came to a different conclusion and you have a different set of values. As I recall it being said: Reasonable can disagree. We founded a whole country and a two party system on that notion. There is no profit in trying to destroy the other side.

I'm sorry we can't all just see that the other side has a difference of opinion and accept it respectfully. I disagree with the other person who posted and said he was glad to see respectful debate. I felt a little offended by being labeled as some kind of sub human because I am a Republican and before I could defend the position I was labeled a supporter of torture. And Republicans are fear mongers?

I guess in this case we will have to agree to disagree. Or perhaps you will just assume I am some sort of knuckle dragging moron who breathes through his mouth and screams the sky is falling because I voted for my beliefs. And apparently because my beliefs are different from yours I am inferior to you and all Democrats. Perhaps so but I won't be convinced of the error of my ways by being called a mealy mouthed rightist who supports torture and fear mongering.

I think thats a straw dog. Rudy Giuliani said X. All Republicans believe X. Rush Limbaugh is popular with Republicans believe everything he says.

I like David Letterman; I don't with everything he says. I can't recall a politician who has said much of anything I can agree with lately. Except for the guy who said Tim Geithner shouldn't have been hired as Secretary of the Treasury. But what the hell. Why not. I'm sure we have had worse people in high positions. Oh wait I forgot, every Republican who ever served is worse.


Barry Eisler said...

Bobby, thanks for your thoughtful, engaging post. Kevin, do you see how Bobby provides evidence (Ted Kennedy, etc) for his argument (Republicans don't have a monopoly on fear-mongering)? A clear statement of an an opinion followed by supportive evidence is a productive way to argue and I'd love to see more of it here.

Bobby, as I said in an earlier comment, one can find instances of Democratic fear-mongering, so I didn't argue for an outright Republican monopoly on the tactic. It's a question of degree. In this regard, your evidence is telling (you didn't provide cites, but I'll assume your quotes are accurate).

Take Ted Kennedy's prediction that we would need body bags in the tens of thousands for Iraq. Well, at close to 5,000 dead and over 30,000 burned, blinded, maimed, and crippled -- so far -- I wouldn't describe his prediction as fear-mongering. Fear-mongering means whipping up exaggerated or irrational fears. Being afraid of something with reason is just sensible.

By contrast: death panels? Obama is a fascist/socialist/nazi/foreigner/Manchurian Candidate? We can't try terrorists in civilian courts or the terrorists will kill us? We can't put terrorists in domestic prisons or the terrorists will kill us? These are all claims without any basis in reality -- that is, they're fantasies. That's a key distinction.

Here, see for yourself.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say I'm making a "moral equivalence argument between America and the rest of the world."

"I'm sorry we can't all just see that the other side has a difference of opinion and accept it respectfully."

Do you believe all opinions deserve respect? That all opinions deserve equal respect?

As for the rest... come on, I haven't labled you a "some kind of subhuman." Nor have I claimed that every Republican supports torture, nor did I claim that you do. The subhuman, knuckledragging, moron, etc stuff is too much, especially in an otherwise thoughtful post. I'd be grateful if you'd stick to quoting my exact words and not attributing to me things I didn't say -- especially in a post where you condemn straw man tactics.

My point instead is this. At some point, a movement will be defined by an issue, either because the movement's leaders espouse that issue or a majority of the movement's adherents espouse that issue or both. By that definition, the GOP is the party of torture. Again, see George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Steele, Glenn Beck, Hannity, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Andy McCarthy, Rich Lowry, et al. See also this poll showing that 64% of Republicans support torture.

Certainly you can be a conservative and against torture, and apparently you are. But this means that on torture, you are now out of step with the leadership and majority of your party -- that is, with the party's mainstream. And it follows that people might reasonably wonder why you would want to be part of an organization that supports torture, even if you don't support it yourself.

Charlieopera said...

And it follows that people might reasonably wonder why you would want to be part of an organization that supports torture, even if you don't support it yourself.

I ask similar questions of liberal democrats all the time. Why support a government (and President) who precludes equal rights for all (i.e., gay marriage)? Why support a President about to escalate a war few want to deal with anymore? Why support a President who called Iraq "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" yet we remain there until the year before the next Presidential election (are we really that inept at getting out)? Why support a President who hasn’t managed to orchestrate a single piece of financial oversight legislation when all his party did was cry (rightfully so) about a lack of oversight before the Wall Street shakedown? Why support a President who supported Bush’s bailouts while a Senator and then expanded them as President (are we to believe Bush was some financial genius)? Why support a party that claims it is for the common man yet aids and abets scaling back 70 years of labor gains while providing 800 billion in corporate welfare? Why support a party that has a veto proof majority and can’t get out of its own way? Why support a President who increased Blackwater’s budget after all the media hype about how much damage Blackwater was doing for our national prestige (along with hurting our war effort)? The list goes on.

I was recently called the new voice of right wing America for harping on the above issues over and over (rather than throwing verbal punches at Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, et al, extremists I believe do more damage to the GOP than good—rather than pointing out Obama’s virtual extension of the Bush administration). Now, it could be because I had veered away from the Dems in 2000 and voted for Bush (twice) that some liberal dems see me as a GOP shill or that my not supporting Gore or Kerry disqualifies me from being “liberal” (they should relax, I voted while living in NY and NJ—blue states in both elections), but I had always stated I was a social liberal (a bleeding heart liberal until Clinton). The funny thing is I don’t believe capitalism works anymore and am more in line with some form of a socialist economy (why I’m sometimes torched on conservative blogs); except I’m no longer a bleeding heart about anything and especially not a blind faith believer that just because he’s a Democrat (and the dreaded Republican might be so much worse—talk about fear ruling a thought process), Obama should not be held to account by the left (no matter how bad Bush was).

Intellect aside, I don’t see a great difference (if any difference) between the two (Bush-Obama). Obama is about to make what I see as an unbelievable blunder in Afghanistan (no different than what Bush did in Iraq). The nation state of Afghanistan didn’t attack us on 9-11. Eight years down the road, enough is enough.

If nothing better comes along in 2012, I’ll probably vote Nader again. I voted for the socialist candidate for governor in Jersey. What I won’t do is play to fear of the other guy and vote the lesser of two evils; not so long as the Dems take their sweet time catching up to the rest of the world (national health insurance, gay rights, etc.). They have the power (clear majorities) now and aren’t using it (or aren’t getting it done). Either Obama isn’t playing hardball or they don’t respect him enough to care. Either way, nothing important to me is getting done and I already lost one of my two jobs last April (so not all socialists are looking for handouts—I worked 6&7 days a week for 3 years).

Bobby, I’m the guy who said it’s nice to see polite debate. At least in my experience, this and one very conservative blog I go to (where, as a socialist, I’m clearly the enemy) are as good as it gets.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. You didn't say it. Most of that was intended to be tongue in cheek. I know it doesn't always translate in a post, especially since none of you know me personally you wouldn't know when I am being a wiseguy.

However, as for citations, I didn't know I was being graded using the MLA format. Just kidding. I was writing in a hurry and I didn't take time to put the links in my post and I was limited in my post size to 4096 characters so I left them out. They were so well reported I thought they would be remembered. In the future I won't ramble on so much and put in some links instead.

I see now that you are asking why am I would remain part of an organization with those kind of leaders. Same reason I'm still an American with leaders (from both sides) I don't agree with. The leadership doesn't make up the party or the country. The people do. We need to clean house in our leadership and get principled leaders all around. I feel I, and others, can make more of a difference from the ground up than the other way around.

I'm not going to abandon the party because there are boobs in the party or boobs leading the party. Where am I going to go that won't have them? Nowhere.

"Bobby, I’m the guy who said it’s nice to see polite debate. At least in my experience, this and one very conservative blog I go to (where, as a socialist, I’m clearly the enemy) are as good as it gets."

I don't think of you as the enemy. I think we have a differnce of opinion on how to get and keep the things we both care about. You have written some of the best replies on this site and I always enjoy reading what you have to say in reply to one of Barry's blog posts. I even enjoy some of Barry's blog posts -sometimes :) just kidding.

"Do you believe all opinions deserve respect? That all opinions deserve equal respect?"

Opinions yes. An opinion is just a point of view and everyone has a right to their opinion. No matter if it is ignorant or well-informed. Because opinions are not just a matter of logic. A persons background, beliefs, and perception of the world will inform his opinions.

Now is that to say that I think someone should be allowed to act on those opinions? Not at all. Because the law determines and limits what we may do. But not what we may think or hold an opinion on.

An opinion someone may have doesn't interefere with my own personal liberty. And what that person thinks or has an opinion about is none of my business unless he or she decides to share it with me.

If they do I can decide for myself what I think of their opinion. I may disagree. I may disagree a lot. No matter. I just have a different opinion.

Now if that same person or group of persons tries to impose their opinion on me then we have a problem. Argument on the subject, provided it is fair and substantive is one thing. Forcing me to 'think' like some else or everyone else is not just wrong it is dangerous. In my opinion.


Anonymous said...

Ted Kennedys article on a nuclear 9/11:

I should have clarified. The body bags was in reference to Desert Storm not the current Guld War.

Charley Rangel didn't make the charge about the draft Terry McAuliffe made it about George Bush in the 04 election. Charley Rangel then sponsored a bill to reinstitute the draft (must be why his name stuck with me and why I need to include citatiins!):

Kerry says Bush will privatize Social Security:

"Fear-mongering means whipping up exaggerated or irrational fears. Being afraid of something with reason is just sensible."

I can't say that someone who was as close to 9/11 as Rudy G was or who lives in New York has an irrational fear of terrorism. The horror those people witnessed first hand gives them something to fear. Something they will live with the rest of their lives. I only watched it on TV and I am still haunted by the pictures of people throwing themselves out of the burning buildings.


Charlieopera said...

"as good as it gets"

I don't want that to read the wrong way. I mean it in a very positive way.

I have my own blog (temporary knucksline) where I won't allow comments (except from my right wing buddy who constantly harrangues me and Obama--but that is actually part of the post--he sends me something after reading what I wrote). I take shots at both parties (calling them as I see them).

Frankly, it takes too much time and effort ... and it is just too easy to get nasty once the name calling begins. Some bloggers claim they don't mind contrary opinions, but as soon as you post one you're labelled stupid or dishonest or wingnut or moonbat or tree hugger, etc. It's safer just to comment and if it starts to get ugly (my new policy) either duck out or use Chinese finger locks and try not to respond.

Barry Eisler said...

Bobby, thanks for the cites. I don't think we agree about the weight of our respective examples, but again, I'm grateful for the evidence-backed argument.

Charlie, for me, being a part of an organization ("I'm a Republican, I'm a Democrat") is different from supporting a candidate. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but to me, the first feels much more internalized and all-encompassing. Whereas saying "I support Obama because the alternative was McCain/Palin" has much less to do with my own identity and more to do with pragmatic, lesser of evil choices.

But that's just my gut take, and I could be wrong.

I love the Chinese finger lock reference... something I struggle with every day.


Charlieopera said...

I hear you, Barry.

It's the way many feel, I suppose.

I just can't reward them (EITHER PARTY) anymore ... and we'll never have a third option so long as we fear the other side winning. What I refuse to do is let whichever is in power off the hook. Obama needs a spanking right now (to get his ass in gear and get some stuff done).

And me, I'm usually wrong ... (see my "locks/rocks/anchors of the week").

I linked to you today over at my place.

All best.

Unknown said...

Hear, hear!

To both of you. It's good to have a free and open discussion with people who are smarter than me so I can up my game.

Charlie I checked out your blog and it is fantastic. Of course I love Doc but your stuff is first rate.

Barry, I wasn't trying to compete with your examples I was just throwing out things I remembered but hey maybe thats all there was to find. I am not much for the rhetoric on either side so I usually just take note of it and move on without assigning weight to it. Because it is rhetoric it just seems like background noise to me and has nothing to do with the issues. If I was more of a cynic I would almost suspect they do it to distract us from the insanity they are really up to.

I really enjoyed todays blog too. As always you are well reasoned and insightful which is why I read your stuff anyway. And you probably thought it was for the love scenes in your books :)