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June 12, 2009

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I am trying to figure out what would possess Erick Erickson

Since I don't believe in demons, the most likely remaining answer is hatred.

The undistilled rhetorical BS that flows from that guy is astounding.

In some strange way, Erick is just being logical about a number of conservative cliches. Isn't this the upshot of taking something like "liberals just want the military/war to fail" as a given? I suppose something like "liberals don't support the troops" is more ambiguous, but it still has the air of "liberals are anti-soldier."

There's a sort of game among a lot of people who comment on politics, where they don't really mean what they say. If they thought about the actual implications of the things that they said, they'd recognize the reductio (I hope). Erickson is just the guy who's thought about it, and not recognized the reductio.

I don't mean to make an equation between the two. Someone who says "liberals don't support the troops" but would realize that liberals don't want troops to die is a much better person than Erickson. What I mean is that given what political rhetoric looks like, we'll see a lot of Ericksons running around.

I wonder what C. S. Lewis would have said about the pleasure of discovering that your enemies are even worse than you thought.

What if, just when you've convinced yourself that the Limbaughs and the Ericksons can't get any more vicious, they come out and prove you wrong?

What is Mere Christianity's advice in that case?

--TP

I guess you haven't read Redstate lately, at least since the election, because they've doubled down on the crazy over there. They've been pushing hard behind the purity brigade that sees pols like Charlie Crist as being too "socialist" to be a Republican candidate. They see everyone who's not a conservative to be the enemy. They're in a mixture of shock, pain and anger and seem to be planning to stay in that state for a while.

I think it's fairly simple, really. Erickson has thrown his weight to the losing side. He's convinced his side has the right of every argument and he can't understand why the rest of the country doesn't see it his way. Ergo, "those people" are stupid and evil and their motives and actions are designed to frustrate and block his side. Thus, they're hateful.

Erickson went off the deep end a few months ago and this latest screed indicates he has no intention of returning to anything resembling decency or sanity. A couple of other examples: he implied that Levi Johnston and his sister were committing incest and more recently called David Souter "the only goat f*&king child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court".

What is Mere Christianity's advice in that case?

Pray for them, I would imagine.

That guy who shot up the Holocaust Museum was consumed by hatred.

So were the list of other guys on the current Orcinus post--one act of rightwing murderous rage a month since Obama got elected.


Erick isn't hating in a vaccumn. He's hating from a public platform to an audience.

Oh, and let's not forget this little gem in which Erickson accuses Obama of deliberately trying to incite a terror attack on our country:

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/04/27/erickson-obama/

This level of vileness indicates the man has serious issues. I'm starting to think that basic decency requires that sane, civilized folks ignore him like we do the crazy old guy that hangs around bus stops with a sandwich board luridly warning of the coming apocalypse.

Isn't this also Glen Beck's shtick? Maybe Erickson is shooting for a radio show.

The more interesting explanation is the one you try out above: some kind of loss of capacity to engage opponents as human beings, occasioned or hastened by the imperatives of the role he's chosen (somewhat like another recent visitor to the site). It is stressful to be on the verbal attack all the time, so it probably simplifies things to develop a leftists hate everything good heuristic / rhetorical template.

May I recommend a book on this very subject?

"On Bullshit" by Harry G. Frankfurt.

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/7929.html

I, too, have been flummoxed at the sheer absurity of the toxic torrent spewing from some quarters; this book explained it nicely. I quote a review:

In the essay, Frankfurt sketches a theory of bullshit, defining the concept and analyzing its applications. In particular, Frankfurt distinguishes bullshitting from lying; while the liar deliberately makes false claims, the bullshitter is simply uninterested in the truth. Bullshitters aim primarily to impress and persuade their audiences. While liars need to know the truth, the better to conceal it, the bullshitter, interested solely in advancing his own agenda, has no use for the truth. Following from this, Frankfurt claims that "bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are."

I believe your post is perceptive but there is no necessary inconsistency with 'Maybe, for him, writing blog posts has become a game: you score points when you can, and whether or not the things you write are actually true has ceased to be a concern.'

I'm sure that for many people, writing blogs has become a sort of computer game. It's the reason I've just about given up blogging.

Are you kidding? Leftists routinely resort to violence, murder, and theft against their ideological opponents. Not to mention shouting others down whenever they don't like their views. That's because the ends always justify the means for you people, and you can always reinterpret the law and the preexisting rules to that effect. Look to thyself.

Leftists routinely resort to violence, murder, and theft against their ideological opponents.

1: Leftists != Liberals
2: I'll be interested to see your sources for this happening in America. Who have Leftists shot down in a church like the martyr Dr Tiller? Who is the Leftist equivalent to Eric Robert Rudolph?

Can you justify your statement? Or is asking you to going to be considered shouting you down?

as i see it, Erickson is:
1) desperate to be seen one of the leading lights of the Movement.
2) a knee-jerk partisan.
3) not too bright.

so you get someone who is eager to say the outrageously inflammatory things because it attracts attention and provides him with foot-soldiers for the various "Operations" he launches. everything he says is meant to fluff the GOP Base; he wants to be the next Limbaugh.

he's a dumb but ambitious partisan hack.

If you give in to "the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible", it's easy to see how you could end up thinking things about them that it is implausible to think about any group of human beings

show us how it's done, That Donkey Benjamin!

Donkey Benjamin,

So, it's okay if the Weathermen did it? Well done.

"I am trying to figure out what would possess Erick Erickson to write something like this"

To drive traffic to his crappy website. He's managing editor now, it's his full time job.

Plus, Erickson has always been the "editor" there who would just say whatever crazy-@ss thing popped into his head, just to stir the pot. Kind of an in-house troll.

Just say "No" to RedState.

"Leftists routinely resort to violence, murder, and theft against their ideological opponents."

And drive-by blog commenters routinely resort to flinging heaping shovelfuls of stupid poo against theirs.

Let's see if the good Donkey hangs out to defend his bold claims.

Just say "No" to RedState.

Done, a long time ago.

I suspect hilzoy has it right with wanting to believe the worst about your enemy. Not necessarily because it dehumanizes them, but because believing that they're evil makes you, by definition, better than them.

It's different in degree from the notion that conservatives are, as a body, racist, but not different in kind.

So will we see like indignation the next time a regular ObWi commenter says that all pro-lifers hate women and sexuality? If not, why not just accept that the internet is the place where people of all political persuasions call their opponents monsters and move on?

I don't think that you'll ever sway hilzoy into buying into the toleration idea, Andrew. That's just not who she is. It's like trying to convince a jaguar to become a snail.

"You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black,"

agreed. but i suspect lewis is wrong about this part:

"and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything—God and our friends and ourselves included—as bad"

i would have said that people who go down the hate road are generally just as invested in seeing some symbolic white thing as permanently and purely white, even while they make all the grey things black.

i mean--i don't know, maybe someone has gone down the hate road in the way that lewis describes, indiscriminately hating everything.

but the more typical case seems to be: cartoonish vilifications of everything to one side of me; but my heroes and values are unassailable, good, pure and perfect.

(and anyone who spots any grey in them? clearly the blackest demon in hell!)

this is all orthogonal to the "why can't erick think good?" parts of the thread, since it really would not redeem him in my eyes to find out that he is unswervingly loyal to his pet budgie, or his mum, or our lady of lourdes.

or maybe that is my point: if you accept lewis' analysis, then you might think, "ah, well, göring (e.g.) wasn't so far gone in hate: he was still very fond of his mum, after all". but if you accept my analysis, you will say: "göring (e.g.) was as deeply hate-filled as it is humanly possible to be, and his fondness for his mum in no way mitigates that."

"I don't think that you'll ever sway hilzoy into buying into the toleration idea, Andrew."

(Hopefully) clearer me: I don't think you're going to be able to convince hilzoy to accept that the internet is the place where people of all political persuasions call their opponents monsters and move on. That's not who she is.

No one -- not liberals, not conservatives -- should forget that their opponents are human beings.

My first reaction was to say, out loud, that conservative commentators are hardly human beings anymore.

I realize that sounds like snark, but I'm actually being quite serious. Most "conservatives" (whatever that means anymore), especially those I know from suburban New Jersey and the out boroughs of the NYC area, are very much human beings. But the representatives of the conservative movement nationwide haven't been human beings for years.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, and others who represent the commentator/politician crowd are completely irrational, unhinged loud mouths. They've found their enemy, and their position is literally "the opposite of what the liberals say." It doesn't matter how eminently reasonable the position is (e.g., tire gauges). You're right to suggest that moderate and liberal commentators shouldn't paint the entire right side of the political spectrum in broad strokes, but I'm not about to legitimize the views of a lunatic like Erickson by referring to him as a human being. That's an embarrassment to the human race.

And no one can afford to start down the road Lewis describes, in which you allow yourself to be disappointed when your opponents aren't as bad as you first thought, or want them to be as bad as possible.

I generally agree, although I believe that this point is debatable in context as well. Politics (and governing) is the art of the possible. In the vast majority of circumstances, you have to work with your ideological opponents in order to get a deal done that moves us all forward. This requires your opponent to be a rational and reasonable person.

But there is a tipping point, and it's possible to argue that we're about to reach it. The GOP has been a thoughtless, position-less party for at least the last 6 months, but truly since 2006. Since then, we've seen some combination of "cut taxes/deregulate/freedom."

There exists a point when a party is no longer constructive opposition and has given way to obstructionism for obstructionism's sake. We'll call this "Point A." If a party goes completely over the line, and surprises me by scaling back slightly (but still past Point A), isn't it still in my interest that the party becomes as extreme as possible so to marginalize themselves enough that my own policy goals become the only reasonable alternative?

Note: I don't think the institutional GOP is that far across the spectrum, although I think it is approaching. As has been expressed by numerous bloggers, commentators, and people on the street, the GOP has two options - (1) move themselves back to the center and appeal to the rank-and-file, self-styled "moderate conservatives," or (2) Whittle themselves down to the most extreme element. I'd prefer the former for a variety of reasons, but I fear it's going to be the latter. Once they go all in on option 2, it seems perfectly rational for liberals to want them to be as bad as possible.

So will we see like indignation the next time a regular ObWi commenter says that all pro-lifers hate women and sexuality?

instead of indignation, i employ automation to ease my frustration at those who have a reputation for such inflammation. FY information.

EE/Moe Lane are really no different than most RW blogs; go to Jeffy Goldstein's site or Malkin's--it's the same lunacy.

bretttmarston's comment was astute; in any sort of public relations venture such as blogging, you get noticed by either being really, really smart about some issue or by being hyper-outlandish. Do you think a Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck would be successful by calmly and thoughtfully discussing the issues? Nope. Viewers tune in for the circus-like spectacle.

There's an entire industry (mainly in and around DC) that exists to provoke outrage. Witness the various groups springing up to attack Sotomayor. They solicit money which is used, primarily, to pay the salaries of those whipping up outrage.

EE/Moe Lane want to cash in. Unfortunately for them, they're less than mediocre.

all pro-lifers hate women and sexuality?

Nobody'd be dumb enough to say that.

But one could (safely, I think) aver: "Pro-life" MALES hate women and strive to suppress womens' sexuality, because its mere possibility challenges their "patriarchal" privilege.

there's also this phenomenon, noted by bérubé here:
http://crookedtimber.org/2009/05/14/fraudulent-journalist-cest-moi/#more-11125

"As it is in blog comment sections, so it is in the world of serious scholarship: the person who comes very late to the pile-on has to take the invective to the next level."

and as it is in comment sections, so it is in the bloggy world at large.
whenever you have nothing new to say, you turn it up to 11.

@ Corvus at 3:42

A comment, briefly, on Frankfurt. Intrigued by the book - is it fair to say that he characterizes bullshitters essentially as a bunch of sophists who attempt to persuade with a fury of rhetoric signifying virtually nothing, while liars show intent?

... it seems perfectly rational for liberals to want them to be as bad as possible.

I have two worries about that attitude. First, in our system the Republicans are the only alternative to the Democrats, so if for some reason the public becomes dissatisfied with Obama and the Democrats, they're going to vote in Republicans, no matter how crazy and dangerous the party has become.

Second, as Republicans become increasingly marginalized and powerless, many of them become more and more frustrated and angry (not that they've ever needed much reason to be angry, since they managed it while they had control of everything). I fear that that will lead to more of the sort of violence we've seen.

"My first reaction was to say, out loud, that conservative commentators are hardly human beings anymore."

With respect, I could not disagree more.

"Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, and others who represent the commentator/politician crowd are completely irrational, unhinged loud mouths."

That is in no way inconsistent with their being human beings, more's the pity.

Look: if you stop seeing them as human, then you really are heading down Lewis' road. Also, if you thereby stop asking yourself 'what kind of human are they?', and trying to come up with actual answers, you're heading down Erick's.

As I said: I don't think it's any better when our side does it.

And I don't think it's ever right to want them to be as bad as possible.

So will we see like indignation the next time a regular ObWi commenter says that all pro-lifers hate women and sexuality?

'I could while away the hours/conversing with the flowers...'

That's a somewhat life-like strawman you've constructed there Andrew. But, for one thing, I wouldn't equate the editor of a major right wing website with a regular commenter on ObWi. Anybody can comment. For another, even the most vociferous anti-anti-'pro-life' commenter would be unlikely to say that *every* abortion opponent 'hates women and sexuality'. And third, there is at least some truth in the idea (albeit minus the 'every'): there really is a mainstream history of subjugation of both women and sexuality in the Christian church. There is absolutely no history of *liberals* celebrating the deaths of our soldiers.

I wish you had a leg on which to stand if only to make your whining more tolerable. Just about nobody likes abortion, but thankfully, most people aren't obsessed by it.

Erick is a polemicist, and he isn't very good at it. That is why he has to resort to this kind of language.

A good polemicist would have left himself a little wiggle room by using a more amorphous claim. Erick went all in by being specific about how "Leftists" celebrate soldiers' deaths. He should have said Leftists celebrate bad news from Iraq, and then intimated that Leftists were celebrating soldiers' deaths. That would have given him some plausible deniability while also giving the wingnuts the hate speech they crave.

If I thought I could make some money at it I would teach a polemics class to wingnut bloggers. Most of the suck at it.

re: Pro-lifers and women's sexuality

1. What Woody and jonnybutter said about "all." What makes the statement "all anti-choicers hate women's sexuality" ridiculous is the universality of the claim. And note that we're talking about an actual Erick Erickson vs. a straw commentator.

2. When people accuse particular anti-choicers of hating women's sexuality, it's usually for concrete reasons. For example, their opposition to contraception and/or real sex education. Or their often baroque refusals to take women's moral choices seriously (women are just victims; doctors are monsters; regulation is necessary to save women from themselves). Erickson is just making shit up. I don't know a single leftist/liberal (one never knows who they're really talking about) who cheers the death of US soldiers overseas. This is just a recycled Vietnam-era cliché.

I am trying to figure out what would possess Erick Erickson to write something like this

I'm guessing it's the fact that he's a demented troll. Does his crazed gibbering really warrant this level of analysis?

I mean, it's always useful to have someone keeping track of RedState's latest idiocy, but asking why Erick Erickson posts hateful nonsense is a bit like asking why he posted in English. It's his native tongue; he can't write anything else.

Okay, so what if I said that a couple of regular commenters here routinely say that pro-lifers hate women and sexuality? Take away the "all" label (which was not in Erickson's rant either), and there is very little difference between saying "anti-choicers hate women's sexuality" and "leftists lust after the death of American soldiers." The fact that one rhetorical move gets...

[thinks]

Oh, f*** it. Enjoy your collective self-righteous indignation.

Oh, about this: "So will we see like indignation the next time a regular ObWi commenter says that all pro-lifers hate women and sexuality?"

The regular commenter most likely to say this has said it already, and I believe I have objected to it pretty clearly. If I don't object every time any more, it's mostly because I can't see the point of saying the same thing over and over and over again.

My first reaction was to say, out loud, that conservative commentators are hardly human beings anymore.

I'd go further than Hilzoy and say that this is not only immoral, but - worse - wrong in a tactical way. Despite the contradiction in terms, it is quintessentially human to (among other things) be inhumane to other humans. Failure to grapple with this fact is a great weakness of liberalism (in the modern sense of that word), or maybe it's better to say 'humanism'. Recognizing it doesn't make you cynical, nor does it give you an excuse to be inhumane yourself; not recognizing it surely *will* make you cynical and callous in the long run. No human construction - ideology, religion - is immune to being used in the service of inhumanity. Better to just accept that and guard against it within yourself.

What makes the statement "all anti-choicers hate women's sexuality" ridiculous is the universality of the claim.

"all" is probably hyperbole - though not by much. but there certainly are people who are ridiculously quick to throw the "woman-hating" label on anyone who doesn't subscribe to their opinions on abortion - you don't even have to be strongly pro-life, even a hint of nuance is enough to trigger the accusation.

this should be common knowledge to anyone who has read ObWi for more than a few weeks.

Andrew is right in the sense that there are a couple (fortunately only a couple) who do comment the way he indicates. They have been doing it for years and, although in the past they were confronted on it, they continue to do so. They are a minority.

I disagree with the statement that there is very little difference. There is a big difference between saying someone hates women and someone celebrates the death of every soldier, and if Andrew can't see that, there is no amount of explaining that will clarify that.

As to why EE and others are talking/writing this way, and in fact that this vilification of the left has actually intensified since Obama's election (though prior to that it would have seemed impossible to intensify) I think it is basically the cornered rat syndrome.

Okay, I lied about being done on this thread. Thanks, hilzoy, for the correction--I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to making a diverse community of posters and commenters into a hive mind. I'd plead insufficiently metabolized morning coffee, but that would be an unconvincing excuse. How about I just apologize instead?

(I still think that expecting people on the internet not to tar opponents with a broad brush is a quixotic and fundamentally doomed task, but I'm glad that there are people like hilzoy who do).

Three thoughts:

- Every blogger should read this before they write their next post.
- The internet needs more ethicists, plz.
- Demonization is a hell of a drug.

@Ben Alpers:

"When people accuse particular anti-choicers of hating women's sexuality, it's usually for concrete reasons. For example, their opposition to contraception and/or real sex education."

Someone's opposition to contraception is not a concrete reason to impute hatred of women's sexuality to him/her.

Many of them would say that contraception itself looks an awful lot like hatred of women's sexuality.

Contraception is not the issue one way or the other. The point is demonizing those whom we disagree with.

Of course, demented hatred does exist. Shooting at a Holocaust museum is an act of demented hatred. But being a leftist on war is not, nor is being anti-contraception.

Kudos to hilzoy for challenging people on both sides of the aisle to try to tell the difference.

Andrew R: thanks. About this: "I still think that expecting people on the internet not to tar opponents with a broad brush is a quixotic and fundamentally doomed task, but I'm glad that there are people like hilzoy who do"

-- I don't have any illusions about ending this once and for all. I do think it matters if even one person stops doing it, and that doesn't seem to me too much to hope for.

There's a lot of 100 proof crazy in that thread. On the brighter side, however, the thread's only garnered a few dozen responses, mostly by the diehards who comment in every thread, and even a few rebukes.

If someone said what Erickson wrote to my face, there would be trouble. But watching Erickson write the same thing on his blog to imaginary "leftists" makes me pity him more than anything else. He sounds like a kid scolding his toys, or a shouter on a street corner. Crazy people on the internet are a dime a dozen. I'm looking for the guy who's supplying the dimes.

I'm guessing it's the fact that he's a demented troll.

In short, yes.

Andrew: Okay, so what if I said that a couple of regular commenters here routinely say that pro-lifers hate women and sexuality?

I know a lot more than a "couple" of pro-lifers who routinely argue that women who are pregnant and don't want to be shouldn't be allowed to terminate, because once a woman consents to sex, she's consented to pregnancy and childbirth. No pro-life organization in the US supports free provision of contraception; nor the right to paid maternity leave or free healthcare as of right to all pregnant woman, new mothers, and small children.

And we have just seen an acute and ugly example of how pro-lifers overwhelmingly regard a doctor who performs abortions late in pregnancy on fetuses that either will not live to be delivered or will die shortly afterward, where the continued pregnancy is a threat to the health of the woman: they call him a "baby killer" and they condemn what he does as "evil". Even after he's been murdered.

Yes, somehow: I do see pro-lifers as, overwhelmingly, hating women and hating female sexuality.

And yes, somehow: I do have a real nasty reaction to people who want to associate themselves with this ugly, women-hating, terrorist movement that works and campaigns - and murders - to deny women life-saving health-care.

Somehow.

he's a dumb but ambitious partisan hack.

I think there's a lot to this. It seems to me that there's a good living to be made as an extreme, stupidly provocative, right-wing writer/radio host, etc. There are enough examples, after all. So Erickson is giving it a run.

SDG: Many of them would say that contraception itself looks an awful lot like hatred of women's sexuality.

And just when I wondered if my response looked over-the-top (re-reading the thread: noting Andrew R's civilized response at 10:14 AM: good for you, Andrew, have a virtual latte on me) along comes SDG to confirm my point.

(I still think that expecting people on the internet not to tar opponents with a broad brush is a quixotic and fundamentally doomed task, but I'm glad that there are people like hilzoy who do).

More than once I have admired hilzoy's endurance in answering what I thought was a demented rant. Of course, maybe this is a circle of hell and we're all her punishment.

I wish you had a leg on which to stand if only to make your whining more tolerable.

Ahem, I've been called a misogynist and a homophobe on this blog simply for being less than a 100% in agreement with certain commenters. Not that I'm loosing sleep over such completely ridiculous claims, but Andrew does have a point here.

"It seems to me that there's a good living to be made as an extreme, stupidly provocative, right-wing writer/radio host, etc."

Back in the day I spent a lot of time on RedState. I wanted to understand what conservatives were about. Back then, it was www.redstate.org (or .net, I forget).

In '06 they got bought by Eagle Publishing, and now it's www.redstate.com. Erickson is now the full time managing editor, Krempasky, fresh from his gig as blog-world ambassador for WalMart, is on the board, blah blah blah.

There's gold in them there blog posts, or at least they're hoping so.

Jesurgislac:

"along comes SDG to confirm my point."

I humbly suggest that you may be a little too easily satisfied with the confirmability of your own points.

I humbly suggest that you may be a little too easily satisfied with the confirmability of your own points.

I could have added so many links to confirm my points in my comment at 10:39 AM that Typepad wouldn't have let me post it even if I'd split it up across five separate comments.

But I didn't need to: along you came...

novakant: Ahem, I've been called a misogynist and a homophobe on this blog simply for being less than a 100% in agreement with certain commenters.

But I did not, as far as I recall, accuse you of celebrating Doctor Tiller's death.

The worst I think I could say about most of the pro-lifers who used hate speech about Doctor Tiller is that they refuse to accept their moral responsibility for the people who took their "baby killer" rhetoric seriously.

SDG: Jesurgislac: I did NOT write that post! Don't blame me for it. That troll is back spoofing people.

YOWCH.

I'm so sorry! I was trying not to get suckered. *facepalm*

"But I didn't need to: along you came..."

Yes. And what I said was that opposition to contraception was not a reason to say that someone hates female sexuality; and that many opponents of sexuality might say that contraception itself looks an awful lot like hatred of women's sexuality.

This is not the same as saying that advocates or practitioners of contraception hate women's sexuality, and certainly does not offer any support to the thesis that opponents of contraception hate women's sexuality.

P.S. Cute troll you have here. Fortunately, I have a rather distinctive voice and my general worldview is not hard to discern from a perusal of my website.

SDG: It's possible that I'm just still groggy this morning, but I'm curious: How can it be claimed that contraception looks like hatred of women's sexuality? I've never heard that argument before.

Usually I can at least understand the logic or emotion behind an argument, even if I disagree, but this one just isn't falling into place for me.

This sort of "liberals are purely evil, even unto rejoicing at the suffering of good people like you and me" sells, and is reinforced by the entire RedState/NRO/Free Republic/Limbaugh/Hannity/Savage/O'Reilly etc. axis. Spew it, and you earn praise from your peers. Question it as a Frum or a Friesendorf (or in the real world, a Colin Powell) does and you get called a traitor and a RINO for your trouble. It's no surprise that a stance which gets instantly rewarded is more prominent than one that requires courage.

How can it be claimed that contraception looks like hatred of women's sexuality?

Reproduction is the purpose, the telos, the raison d'etre of women's sexuality.

Contraception prevents women's sexuality from reaching its truest and deepest fulfillment.

QED.

P.P.S. Oops, looks like you got suckered. :-)

Just to be totally clear: I'm an orthodox Catholic. I'm a student of John Paul II's theology of the body, which means I regard both male and female sexuality as profoundly good and even sacred. I regard all human life as sacred; I consider abortion and contraception to be contrary to human dignity, but I absolutely do not think that because you disagree with me you must hate babies or otherwise be in bad faith.

Reciprocal recognition of my potential non-hatred of women is appreciated, but if it's too much to manage, I can muddle along without it.

He's a hateful hack and a lazy one at that.

Consider what Orwell once said:

The atmosphere of hatred in which [political] controversy is conducted blinds people to considerations of this kind. To admit that an opponent might be both honest and intelligent is felt to be intolerable. It is more immediately satisfying to shout that he is a fool or a scoundrel.

That fits Erickson to a tee.

SDG: I do think that some misogynistic men view women solely as objects for casual sex. Contraception enables that

Oh dear, is the silly troll back again? Okay, I won't be suckered this time.

To the fake SDG -

What if we were to recognize that you don't hate women, you just don't view us as human beings capable of deciding what is 'contrary' to our own dignity? Satisfied?

Regarding: "Duels have been fought for less."

I'm not comfortable with the idea of healthy adults dueling people who are clearly not in touch with reality.

I've been called a misogynist and a homophobe on this blog simply for being less than a 100% in agreement with certain commenters.....Andrew does have a point here.

So what?!

Andrew didn't make the point you want him to have made and you aren't making it either. If the point is that both sides in an argument can but oughtn't demonize their opponents, particularly in comment threads, that's not much of a point, since it's not debatable - it was one of the main points of Hilzoy's post!

The problem with the endless abortion 'debate' is that it almost immediately goes into an abstract, almost fatuous space. It's like arguing about lying. 'Lying is wrong!!' 'Do you want to make lying illegal in all cases?' 'Well....not really, but it's wrong!! WRONG!! And people sometimes call me names because I SPEAK OUT on it so much!'.

I, for one, am really sick of it.

Not a perfect analogy, I know, but approximately as maddening.

"Okay, so what if I said that a couple of regular commenters here routinely say that pro-lifers hate women and sexuality? Take away the "all" label (which was not in Erickson's rant either), and there is very little difference between saying "anti-choicers hate women's sexuality" and "leftists lust after the death of American soldiers." The fact that one rhetorical move gets...

[thinks]

Oh, f*** it. Enjoy your collective self-righteous indignation."

You are leaving out context. Pro-choicers aren't responisble for setting up a Noise Machine with a huge audience, have not systematically over several decades used that media empire to spread hate and lies, and have not provided either cover or justification or inspiration for a series of murders.

It would be bad manners for a hypothetical commenter to say the sort of thing you invented for that hypothetical commenter to say. That's all, because the hypothetical comment is not connected to anything more nefarious.

Erickson's statement is more than bad manners because it is part of a movement, a movement that promotes violence through the use of eliminationist rhetoric while taking no responsibility for the actions of a person who takes the rhetoric seriously.

If you want to find a liberal equivalent to Erick's offense you would be better off going back to the VietNam era. The overheated rhetoric about President Johnson (Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?) did contribute to a sense of moral superiority which did seem to go to the heads of some individuals who then felt that, in their superiority, they could kill people.

The parallel isn't exact, however. For one thing the Democrats did not have a Noise Machine like the Repbulicans now have. There was no equivalent of the Faux-talking heads-Republican party leadership axis which supports rightwing hate mongering these days and engages in an only slightly less toxic discourse that what comes straight from Rush or Malkin.

Also the Democratic leadership was divided with the anti-war movement part in the minority. That isn't the case with the current Repubicans. They are pandering to their base quite openly and there has been plenty of eliminationist bullying right in Congress. AS a matter of fact the lates attack on Obama is that he is soft on the Gitmo terrorist because he wants them tohave their Miranda rights read to them. The difference in bullshit between someone like Erick and some one like Boehner isn't big enough to be worth discussing.

Rightwing hate has been going on now, fanned by hatetalk radio, hate TV and more recently by hate websites, for decades and is used by Republican politicians to get out the vote, to provide money for the party and to swell the audiences at Sarah Palin rallies or TeaBag parties. Back in Lee Atwater's day the Republicans decided to increase their base by inviting in disafffected, marginal people who previously hadn't voted. Those folks, with their odd, angry preceptions are now the base and Republican politicians pander to them.

So Erick isn't being hateful all by himself and he isn't just sounding off to a few commenters on a thread.

the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils

Erickson seems well advanced down that path.

I regard all human life as sacred; I consider abortion and contraception to be contrary to human dignity

So you consider mass death to be supportive of human dignity? Isn't it a little bit odd to regard human life as sacred and to believe that it's undignified to prevent millions of human lives each year from being created only to die within days?

I'm a student of John Paul II's theology of the body, which means I regard both male and female sexuality as profoundly good and even sacred.

That's odd: the John Paul II I used to hear from had a theology of the body that normal human sexuality was inherently evil, but that if a priest went after little kids, it was a bishop's job to make sure he got transferred without too much fuss to another parish. Which one were you thinking about?

Thank you, Hilzoy, for a secular sermon we all need to take to heart. It is too easy these days to assume the worst of people we disagree with. Granted, it's not easy when someone accuses you of cheering the deaths of American soldiers...

Obviously the right is just coming to the realization that 1) they may have been horribly wrong on many issues, 2) the American people who once embraced them are distancing themselves from them, with some even expressing revulsion, and 3) they are beginning to see the red meat of hate that they routinely threw out to their ardent supporters has turned some into dangerous beasts who now believe intimidation and violence are legitimate tools, even necessary tools, to achieve victory over their enemies.

These rightists, having seen themselves in a new light, are still in denial. They are desperately trying to convince themselves that while they might be ugly, the left is even uglier ("yeah we've engaged in some race baiting, but it's the left who are the real racisits, witness racist liberals like Judge Sotomayor"; "Yeah, we might have supported the torture of detainees, but the left positively hates our soldiers and they even cheer each one's death").

They are facing an internal crisis. Some will emerge humbled and smarter, but more will self-destruct into hateful ranters, increasingly marginalized by society I hope). Some of them will be consumed by hate and possibly become dangerous.

My biggest concern is that the right is also enraptured by guns and the philosophy that gun ownership is supposedly a protected right to allow citizens to fight an onerous government.

The SDG I responded to at 11:42 AM, and the SDG posting at 12:11 PM claiming the one at 11:42 is a troll, are both using the URL d/e/c/e/n/t/f/i/l/m/s.c/o/m, which according to its google summary is "Film appreciation, information and criticism informed by Christian faith."

At this point *rueful grin* I think I just have to quit responding here until this particular plague of trolls has been weeded out by someone who can see who's using which IP address.

Second "SDG" banned and eliminated. I think the results may be interesting.

Moral: when someone comes in as a new poster, and is immediately sockpuppeted, maybe someone is playing a little game.

Thanks, Slartibartfast (nice handle!).

FWIW, I am the first SDG who posted to this thread (i.e., SDG 10:29 AM | 11:13 AM | 11:25 AM), and the author of Decent Films.

Your resident troll, SDG 11:15 AM | 11:40 AM | 12:11 PM, posted after me and has posted little of substance except to try to confuse others which is which.

Hope that clears things up for now.

Tracy, you wrote:

"SDG: It's possible that I'm just still groggy this morning, but I'm curious: How can it be claimed that contraception looks like hatred of women's sexuality? I've never heard that argument before."

Thanks for the question.

I admit that's a provocative way of putting it, but I was responding to a fairly provocative assault on those who oppose contraception.

Here's how I see it. Fertility, and virility in the corresponding sense, are a normal part of healthy sexuality. Sexuality does not require fertility or virility -- a barren woman is as much a woman, and a sterile man as much a man, as anyone else -- but it includes it.

The use of pharmaceuticals to make, as it were, chemical war on normal, healthy fertility or virility seems to me not to reflect the healthiest possible attitude toward our sexuality in its fullness.

Likewise, to interpose a barrier in the nuptial act, at a moment that is meant to be total gift, total union of male and female in all their respective goodness, holding nothing back, seems to make it an act in which something is held back, in which the other is not fully embraced. Where the two become one, there is no barrier.

I don't mean to say that the subjective attitudes of those practicing contraception actually have negative attitudes toward sexuality or reproduction. But I think that the act is contrary to the best and most healthy attitude of embracing sexuality in its fullness.

That's how I see it. I recognize that how I see it is bound up in a whole worldview that is in many respects fundamentally different from other peoples' worldviews. In recognizing this, I don't say that I don't believe that I'm right -- I do -- but I don't gratuitously attribute malicious or odious attitudes and motivations toward those who disagree with me.

The ways that people come to their beliefs are complicated, and hasty judgments along the lines of "You believe that because you hate _____" are facile and self-comforting, and I believe too strongly in self-criticism to be comfortably dismissive of everyone who disagrees with me.

Not to deny that odious and hateful attitudes do exist. There is a line between people who shoot at Holocaust museums and people who are worth having a respectful conversation with. I try to assume that most people I meet are on the right side of that line. I appreciate similar treatment, and I try to earn it.

The DHS (you know, the Bush agency with the nativist "homeland" in its title) report on possible violence by radical fringe elements introduced the notion that veterans returning from war would be recruited by extremist groups.

This is precisely what Erick Erickson is doing with his demagogic statements. He even quotes himself ("As I've said before") and stresses his appeal with "each and every" .. twice.

He's recruiting folks who know how to use weapons into what is left of the Republican Party, the treasonous, bitter rump of the Gingrich/Limbaugh/NRA axis spawned deliberately to destroy government in the United States.

That they are identifiably human is what makes them dangerous. Were they less than human we could declare a rabies epidemic, put them to sleep, and call it a day.

It is too bad duelling went the way of the dodo, except that Erickson wouldn't show up at the appointed time (neither would his Redstate seconds) even to have his face slapped with a pair of gloves, out of pure cowardice, Limbaugh would hide in his studio, and Gingrich would take up residence in the FOX studios until old age obviated the need to shoot him through the heart at ten paces.

See, duelling was the private sector alternative, but since these ilk can't handle it (shrinking inside their already too-small codpieces), we require Homeland Security to surveil their movements and their rhetoric and the people to whom they appeal.

In the case of Glenn Beck, their is probably a clown retirement home somewhere with a lock-down ward.

This also has the virtue of further radicalizing this bunch and flushing them from their lairs so that maybe, finally, after all of the trash talk of the past 30 years, they'll actually put their cheap talk into action so that they can be arrested, tried, and executed under the rule of law.

Until then, Erick, shut the f--- up.

by erickson's lights, i would undoubtedly qualify as a "leftist." funny thing though. i served (in vietnam, not iraq or afghanistan) and had friends who died there. i can't remember ever celebrating a soldier's death, then or since. for you see, i am not of the privileged or the cowardly set (so many of whom seem to populate the g.o.p.'s leadership). any death i celebrated would likely be one of my own. ergo, erickson is a damned liar, a damned fool, or both.

Slarti: Moral: when someone comes in as a new poster, and is immediately sockpuppeted, maybe someone is playing a little game.

Yep. Especially when there's no way to tell which is which except by IP address, which is (a) possible, if tricky, to spoof; and (b) we know our current troll can spoof an IP address, because otherwise, it would long since have been permanently banned.

Anyway. What John Thullen said.

My first reaction was to say, out loud, that conservative commentators are hardly human beings anymore.

I'd go further than Hilzoy and say that this is not only immoral, but - worse - wrong in a tactical way. Despite the contradiction in terms, it is quintessentially human to (among other things) be inhumane to other humans.

Also, dehumanizing people is wrong. It's doing precisely what's the people one is offended by are doing.

What if we were to recognize that you don't hate women, you just don't view us as human beings capable of deciding what is 'contrary' to our own dignity? Satisfied?

This begs the question, doesn't it? I.e., What of the unborn child's dignity?

(The abortion debate is profoundly uninteresting to me because each side routinely argues past the other's points. It's also off-point.)

Rhetorical extremistism anywhere does not justistify rhetorical extremistism everywhere. The fact that there are stupid things said by leftists and liberals cannot be an excuse for this stupid thing said by Mr. Erickson.

is it fair to say that [Frankfurt in On Bullshit characterizes bullshitters essentially as a bunch of sophists ... while liars show intent?


Frankfurt makes the distinction thus : a liar seeks to convince the audience that his claims are true. When neither the speaker nor the audience have any expectation that the claims made will be taken seriously (e.g., most advertising, many blog comments) the utterances are bullshit.

It's bullshit when the audience already knows they're being lied to, and the speaker knows they know, but makes the claims anyway for the sake of appearance, or because he's being paid to make the claims, etc.

Seems like one could counter Erickson's claims by noting that there are neocons out there pulling for Ahmadinejad in Iran's elections. Sure, it goes against our interests to have him re-elected, but Cheney and the like need a bogeyman to rally around.
Not saying I'd make that argument, for reasons already lined out here: it's not only unfair to paint your opponents with such a broad brush, it's dumb. There are far more conservatives pulling for Mousavi than for Ahmadinejad, for obvious reasons.

von: This begs the question, doesn't it? I.e., What of the unborn child's dignity?

The argument that contraception affronts the dignity of the unborn child is curiously circular...

The abortion debate is profoundly uninteresting to me because each side routinely argues past the other's points.

Well, it's nice to see you acknowledge that's what you do, but...

It's also off-point

...true.

Cleek's pretty much got it - though I don't know about the "dumb" thing. Personally, he wants to be influential. Practically, he wants to drive web traffic. Ideologically, he justifies hyperbole, offensiveness, etc. as a "radical" activist would: some dressed-up version of ends justifying means.

I'm not just guessing these things. I know them to be true from my brother's correspondence.

I wouldn't say he's dumb, because he keeps getting bloggers like hilzoy to write about him. Notice that pissing liberals off falls under "practical". There is not much emotion involved, outside of schadenfreude when it works.

My advice to you, hilzoy, is never to write about Erickson. There is no use arguing with someone who is arguing in bad faith, and so all you are really accomplishing is helping him to accumulate page hits.

It's difficult to ignore people like Erickson - I know that from personal experience. But what happens to RedState will parallel what's happening to a smaller extent in the GOP in general - the thoughtful, intelligent people will abandon it. Pejman already left because of the "direction of the site". If they're ignored, the trend will continue.


My first thought about Erickson's little rant was that it was obvious madness and not worth responding to.

The problem is, I have thought that about various memes over the last 20 years that have become conservative mainstream. Hilzoy mentioned Limbaugh's joke about Chelsea Clinton, which I thought at the time would disenchant at least some dittoheads, but no, Limbaugh's influence keeps growing. Coulter is a best-seller, RedState has high volume, frankly stupid and ignorant people like Sarah Palin get fawned over...that whole half of the country keeps getting crazier. And by crazy, I mean that they say and act upon notions that have zero empirical basis, refuse to use logic, and become enraged by extremely small and distant problems or risks.

So at this point, I assume that Erickson's meme is going to start turning up as an echo-chamber talking point within two years, and little kids will grow up in nice Bible Belt homes honestly believing it. And as KCinDC said, the GOP is the ONLY opposition party.

This is how republics decay into tyranny. I recognize the pattern, I just hate seeing it here.

How, exactly, does this Erickson person honor the men and women who continue to die weekly, even daily in Iraq and Afghanistan? Does he pause to reflect upon and mourn each? How about the wounded? What, exactly, does he do to help them and their families?

What was his position on the Bush administration's failures WRT strategy and tactics? How about the VA debacle? Did he yell for a fix from the interweb mountaintops, or did he keep his yap shut?

I've never in my life encountered someone who literally wished ill on our troops, but I've met PLENTY who're eager to put them in harm's way.

I have a hunch this person is not only amoral, he's a misanthrope. No fixing that.

"What of the unborn child's dignity?"

The term "unborn child" is itself begging the question.

that whole half of the country keeps getting crazier. And by crazy, I mean that they say and act upon notions that have zero empirical basis, refuse to use logic, and become enraged by extremely small and distant problems or risks.

Are people actually getting crazier or is just getting easier to see what they're thinking? One "benefit" of the old school media landscape where people could only watch three boring national television channels and read local dailies was that it fostered a synthetic consensus. Regional groups of people had their beliefs and were lulled into thinking that all Americans shared those beliefs. That's why video of MLK marchers facing down firehoses was so politically powerful. It forced people to realize that lots of other people didn't actually share their beliefs as they had always assumed. Maybe as our communications technology transitions away from broadcast to narrowcast, we're seeing what's always been there.

I guess I find this statement odd because it sounds very universal: most humans say and act upon notions with no empirical basis. Most people refuse to use logic for most of their decisions, including (especially?) political ones. And all large groups of people love their little 2-minute hate fests focused on small/insignificant/low-probability problems. This behavior seems way too universal to ascribe to the 25% of the country that loved Bush till the very end.

This is how republics decay into tyranny.

It is? Having people act like all people everywhere at all times in history have acted presages a decay into tyranny? I guess that might be true, but that seems a bit tautological.

"Coulter is a best-seller...."

Sales of her books are reportedly down.

[...] Coulter's latest book, Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America, is something of a misfire by Coulterian standards. Of course, what constitutes a disappointment for Coulter would be a mega-hit for most authors; in its two months on sale, Guilty has sold 100,500 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan (a number that only reflects around 70 percent of actual sales).

But with it moving steadily down the best-seller list, it looks certain that Guilty will fall far short of matching her earlier results. Her 2006 polemic, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, sold 279,100 copies in hardcover, according to BookScan; Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terror, published in 2003, sold 396,600 hardcover copies, and 2002's Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right, sold 333,100 copies, plus another 108,300 in paperback.

I suspect Erick Erickson was a very dignified fetus inside his mother's womb. He probably didn't speak until spoken to and displayed great table manners.

What of Erick Erickson, the adult fetus' dignity?

now that doesn't sound much like trilobite i've ever heard...

I think Erick Erickson's children should be recruited into the Democratic Party and be re-trained as community activists.

As for apes, the fact that Erick and I are related by that bloodline is a coincidence which must drive him ........ ape.

cleek: it wasn't, nor were wholly uncharacteristic posts by bedtime, Jes, and I forget who else. Now they're gone, and the IP address is blocked. Sigh.

"If a fetus is aborted it has no dignity. You just throw it away."

IMPOSTER ALERT: That 2:17 p.m. comment is not mine.

Now I know how others have felt during my two-week absence.

This is worse than trolling, of course, whoever is playing these silly reindeer games. You're sad.

Get a life.


---the real btfb

(P.S. Wonkie: I responded to your sad and lovely Mr. Jack story this morning in Von's open thread.)


The Rev Jeremiah Wright should shut the eff up too,the dumb anti-Semite.


P.S. That's really me.

So when did Rush say this about Chelsea Clinton? Seriously, I've sen this bit of folklore several times and I have yet to see any documentation of it.
And is that the best you can do? A fragment of one sentence from a decade ago? Very very weak, especially if you cannot cite when (or even IF) RL ever said this.

Apologies for double posting from over at WaPo, but I think there is another angle that many here haven't considered (as do we all, of course, which makes my apology less than convincing I am sure).

I suspect that the very simple reason Erickson feels this way is that every death of every soldier makes him sad/upset because he feels that he may have been wrong. Therefore, of course his opponents must feel happy because they feel vindicated. His day consists of overcoming his emotional response and staying the course even though the world keeps punching him in the gut. Therefore his opponent's day must consist of celebrating the evidence that comes their way making it easy to believe that they are correct. I suspect that hatred does cause the thought to be formed, it flows from the thought afterward. Yeah for false dichotomies ruining the world.

Just to be clear, the 2:52 post was NOT the real John Thullen. I'm going to send an email to the abuse line if this doesn't stop.

"And is that the best you can do?"

About Rush Limbaugh? Not really.

In any case, we were discussing Erick Erickson. Do you feel documentation is lacking for his assertion that "leftists celebrate each and every death of each and every American solider"?

I'm fairly sure that "Francis Joseph Donovan" on the Barbarians thread is another example of the troll, btw. Having argued the issue with a whole bunch of sincere religious nutcases, there's something just a bit off about this one.

...of course, I could be paranoid, having got spoofed by the troll earlier. *gibbers, nibbles fingers*

OK, gang, I get the hint. I'll work on the new site over the weekend. david, I'll email you.

Looks like the only thing Erik hates more than lefties is spellcheck.

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