Over the past few weeks I have been conducting an experiment. I had noticed a trend. Whenever myself or someone else of Liberal persuasion commented on an article with a strong conservative viewpoint, we were lambasted. When we wrote an article with a Liberal stance, the response was the same. Name calling and hateful rhetoric in place of meaningful discussion. In fact, I found the most common responses to the hard-core right when they are challenged on fundamental principles is to respond with name calling and hate. Of course, there are exceptions. There are those on the right who are more than willing to engage in meaningful and heartfelt debate. And there are those on the left who also resort only to name calling and hatred. What I did learn from my little research project was that the numbers were very much in support of my contention that the far right is far more vehement as a whole. My experiment was not scientific-meaning it has not been independently verified-but I feel it is generally accurate.
What I did was to go to several articles and posts (not just here on Associated Content, other places on the web too) and leave comments designed to generate debate. Sometimes I have left them in my name, sometimes not. I didn’t want to exclusively use my name so that I would be able to look at more results. I also monitored the work submitted by others, as well as comments left on those articles. What I found was a fairly damning indictment of the way the far right responds to any disagreement. And I have also noticed that the tactics of some from the right are not consistent with what would be considered fair debate. There is a common approach to many attacks on writers that they don’t agree with. All at once, an article that was rated in the high 3’s or low 4’s is rated a 2, and there is a negative comment left with oh, 50 to 70 plus marks next to it. It seems like there must be a hit-list that goes out from someone to the group, because it happens very quickly. Now, that in itself is fair enough, if they all disagree. What I find objectionable is because they don’t like that article, they will rate down other pieces not even related to the question at hand. An underhanded tactic, to say the least. In one of the worst examples, a fellow writer with a mostly liberal stance wrote an article about the Valerie Plame outing. Because the “literary death squad” didn’t like it, they attacked her very good article about child daycare, leaving hurtful remarks. Another favorite tactic is to lambast the writer of the article for their ability. They are told that their writing sucks and should not be permitted, that they need to get a “real job” and similar comments. In place of real debate, they attack personally and frequently until the point of the article is obscured. Rather than intelligently craft a response, they would rather call names. Personally, I have been called contemptible, immoral, an idiot (that one seems to be a favorite) a terrorist, a jackass, a murderer, Osama Bin-Musall, a shitty writer, a sad, sad person, the list goes on. And other writers have been subjected to the same kind of trash.
They always try to take the argument to a few basic tenets they hold. The war in Iraq is going just fine, and is necessary. That anyone who even considers a pro-choice stance is a murderer. Even when talking about stem cell research.
In his very well written book Conservatives Without Conscience Former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean speaks to several key points. He talks about speaking with Barry Goldwater, who tells Dean that he was mystified at the new Republican Party. “John, I don’t understand this incivility. I don’t understand why the religious right is dominating the Republican Party.” Dean quotes Goldwater as saying. Dean goes on to speak about a study that asserts some interesting points about the authoritarian personality. He asserts, with data to back it up, that about 23% of the American public will follow a strong authoritarian right wing leader no matter what. He points out that this group will follow their leader over the proverbial cliff like lemmings. That once a person goes that hardcore, there is little that can be done to change their position. I would include the people of my study in that group. I don’t think that Mr. Bush would be held accountable by them for anything. Well, perhaps if he decided to take a pro-choice stance. And another interesting observation is that to comment about one point is taken as an attack on all their points. And again, that happens on all sides. I myself have been guilty of ‘lumping in” or assuming because a person has one position, they automatically have other positions that conform to that ideology.
In closing, I would ask for a more informed and civil debate from all concerned. The realist in me knows I will most likely not get it.