Would America be different if people bothered to read? Not just scan items that superficially buttress their preconceived ideas, but spend a few minutes evaluating the validity of those items?

Possibly, but I wouldn’t recommend any breath-holding. In case a checklist is necessary to figure out how effective a tool propaganda is in capturing the votes of reactionary, incurious dipshits, witness this textbook exchange between myself and a blogger alternately calling himself **Raidernation** and Glib Fortuna. I give this guy a dollop of credit for being able to write in his native language and having the backbone, or whatever it is, to not simply delete opposing viewpoints, which is the usual recourse taken by his “colleagues.” However, he’s still flapping and flailing around in whatever alternate reality breeds these loudmouthed fringe-dwellers, and in our little back-and-forth he touches all of the usual bases:

1. His headline, and hence his premise, is factually incorrect (see Ed Brayton’s post here). In truth, this means that an in-depth argument with Glib is superfluous, but he makes other noteworthy forays into inanity, so it’s hard to resist further demolition.

2. The material he uses to support what is, to be generous, an ancillary point (the alleged effectiveness of the InnerChange prison ministry study) is demonstrably flawed, relying as it does on statistical chicanery.

3. In attempting to discredit one of my own sources, Glib screws the pooch yet again by labeling Brayton “obscure” despite “Dispatches from the Culture Wars” receiving three times as many hits a day as (see Brayton’s response to Glib’s comments). This is even though “features” ten contributors and an untold number of outgoing links to other winger blogs.

I’m done with that set-to, but it’s clear what has happened. Glib Fortuna has, in no special order, made an incredibly lame excuse for claiming that the ACLU is involved in the Massachusetts case; changed the subject repeatedly (he’s now bleating madly about abstinence programs); ignored Ed Brayton’s damning indictment of his bullshit despite being well aware of it, preferring to snipe from within the comparatively safe confines of the sewer; and uniformly tried to pretend, against any semblance of reason, that he hasn’t made the precise claims he clearly has. Throughout, he chalks up plain and objective evidence rendering his claims erroneous as “ultra-radical” nonsense synthesized by a left-wing conspiracy comprising Henry Waxman, Slat correspondent Mark Kleiman, myself, and who knows how many extant and imaginary others.

The question isn’t “How do these guys expect anyone other than fellow wingers to take them seriously?” because I don’t think they do. The question is, how can they take themselves seriously? Is it possible to have the wherewithal to at least scan an article yet be immune to facts no matter how clearly they’re presented?

Yes, that’s a rhetorical question. The only thing I wonder about with these clownish fuck-a-fucks is whether there's a glimmer of discomfort beneath all that comfortable denial or whether they really are as confident in their laughable claims as they appear to be.


Blogger Maven Swift said...

I think it's clear that these particular guys are not confident in their arguments, or at the very least, they are inept debaters.

A solid argument can withstand all kinds of criticism, and a good debater is her own harshest critic. She will not enter into a discussion until she has identified, come to terms with, and found evidence to counter her argument's weaknesses. She is never surprised or insulted when confronted with an apparently damning piece of evidence. She takes it in stride. She's thought of it already.

A good debater will also concede points to her opponent, which is something you almost never see these guys do. Their intractability reeks of fear.

1:12 PM  

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