Right & Left

Ann Althouse writes:

I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm a political moderate. More than any ideology, I care about rational discourse. In the year that I've been blogging, I've taken a lot of different positions, some left and some right. What I've noticed, over and over, is that the bloggers on the right link to you when they agree and ignore the disagreements, and the bloggers on the left link only for the things they disagree with, to denounce you with short posts saying you're evil/stupid/crazy, and don't even seem to notice all the times you've written posts that take their side. Why is this happening? I find it terribly, terribly sad.

I like to self-identify as a political moderate, although I agree with the War on Terror, disagree with gun control and support contesting in 2004 Washington election, which apparently puts me between Mussolini and Hitler in a lot of people's books.

In my sad experience those on the right actively seek out similar voices because they feel they are not heard by the general public and those on the left actively suppress contrary voices because they feel those voices are heard too much and need to be quelled. Because I have identified with both libertarians (I feel government is far too complicated and controlling) and gun owners (I'm a tool user that resents being told he can't own something because it might be misused) and been intimately involved with the politics of these groups that are deliberately shunned. I notice a lot of similarities. Both groups feel as though they are not taken seriously nor given a fair shake in the press. When I was involved with both groups I've seen them shouted down and insulted by smug, superior contrarians.

I wish I had a far left example. I have been involved with the ACLU before, but dumped them over the gun control issue. I have been involved with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but I haven't been a regular contributor.

I have been arguing about gun control online since the mid-1980's. I've run into a lot of smug, superior contrarians. They don't read what you say unless they want to pick it apart. They ignore the meat of your arguments and look for subtle claims to strawman and disassemble. If they're losing they do it in private emails to their friends or, nowadays, on their own blogs.

One interesting experience came from when I appeared on a cable access show with other libertarians, including the veteran congressional candidate Bruce Alexander Knight. At the time (mid-1998) all of us were running for office. We had a discussion (I wouldn't call it a debate) on various issues, but the gun control points apparently struck a chord with one of the women that worked the camera. After the show, in a local pizza shop, she got into a knock-down row with us because she felt that self-defense, in and of itself, was immoral. We were shocked. That was well outside our experience. It made me get involved in more local political groups outside my own. I needed to expand my view to understand such huge gulfs of thought.

I learned a lot from Tammy Bruce, for example. I got interested in audible.com and listened to these people talk. I had spent a long time with books and Usenet and I lost the emotional content of discussion that pervades real life. I even met people on the swpdx mailing list that I regularly debated remotely. The theory is that you wouldn't say the same thing to someone's face as in an email. The debates I had on swpdx were far more interesting than the petty, spiteful, in-politics I find in groups of like-minded people.

However, I discovered I'm different than some.

The most interesting thing I've discovered is that like-minded thinkers like to point out other people's postings and swoop down upon them like righteous fury. They haven't read your entire blog. They only look at individual postings one of their group found interesting. This is why I find trackbacks so interesting, although many blogs have disabled them because of trackback spammers.

Amazon.com links:

Josh Poulson

Posted Monday, Jan 31 2005 04:07 PM

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Stephen Duncan Jr linked to Ann's original post as well as this entry. He adds the interesting theory that only extremist lefties feel the need to blog in order to have their opinions known.

Josh Poulson

Posted Tuesday, Feb 1 2005 06:52 AM

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