Friday, January 14, 2005

Tyranny of the Right

No, I don't mean that right. I mean absolute certainty. The unbearable rightness of being. What the conservatives call the liberal media or elitism. What progressives call bigotry or self-righteousness... no, don't get me started, because I'm trying to swear off labeling. (No, you can't try to swear, say the other voices. You are either with us or against us.)

The other night I was poking around various blogs that opened, Jumanji-like, into parallel universes For Those Who Seek To Find A Way To Leave Their World Behind, as the movie tagline promised. Estimated Prophet: "Progressive, Truth Seeking, Autodidactic Anti-Fascism". Libertarian with a Patrick Buchanan Twist. Blogs for Bush, presumably working for less than the $240,000 offered syndicated columnists.

Pick your preferred echo chamber from those pages. You can ping pong your way forever in the world of your choosing, where no other voices intrude, except to be subjected to ridicule or invective or refutation. This kind of stuff can be fun for about five minutes talking to your friends, but I get a headache imagining all the screaming voices behind those links... Right Wing and Right-Minded. Skippy the Bush. The Left Coaster. And on. And on.

Talking to people about what I'm trying to do here, I don't hear those voices. I hear my dentist, a guy who loves to hunt, goes to Rotary on Wednesday, and tells corny jokes. I hear the colleague who owns a successful business, has adopted kids from Russia and belongs to a peace and justice Catholic Parish. I hear the insurance company executive, the IT manager, the lawyer, professor — all expressing their appetite for a different way of talking about what's important.

A guy yesterday on NPR claimed that protesters at the inaugural were on the side of Sadaam and the terrorists. I doubt he sees it as rhetoric. He has to be convinced he's right, and he will selectively view the facts to support his view. Those on the opposite side will do the same. One may claim divine guidance, while the other appeals to reason and objectivity, and neither will listen to the other except to select people and words for target practice.

Once the shooting starts, it's impossible to have a conversation. But it's hard not to shoot when you're certain you're right.


Blogger Charlie Quimby said...

Of course, I forgot to mention what happens if you try to seek a position in the middle. That, too, is going to be hammered by some, like this talk radio fan of the Mormon prophet Ezra Taft Benson:

A personal hero of mine, American patriot, church president, and former Secretary of Agriculture under Ike, Ezra Taft Benson – who was not a man to mince words – had this to say about this wishy-washy crowd, forty years ago:

“They dare not make a decision on these vital issues. They let other people think for them. They stumble around in the middle of the road to avoid being ‘controversial’ and get hit by the traffic both ways.”

Just Say 'No!' to the Middle

12:21 PM  
Blogger Charlie Quimby said...

And just for fun, can you fill in the blanks below?

With each new effort by [...] to sidestep legitimate debate of the issues at hand and supplant them with one fabricated controversy after another, the pattern becomes increasingly obvious.

The enemies of [........] exist not only on [.....],but within [....] institutions whose members invariably believe themselves to hold the moral “high ground."

It is high time that mainstream America recognizes the true motivation for such behavior.
Now, go back and fill in opposite terms.

If you care about reading the original rant, here it is.

12:32 PM  

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