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Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Seeking the Reasonable

By Steven Taylor @ 1:22 pm

I think that the Rooftop Report misses my point on the contents and styles of some bloggers:

Steven Taylor has given up reading Kos, Atrios, and Little Green Footballs due to their heavily slanted coverage. Strangely he has not said anything about Instapundit, A Small Victory, or Outside the Beltway. I personally read and like all six of them, but to say that the later three don’t present slanted coverage would be ridiculous. Just sounds like he has tired of reading thoughts from the left.

I don’t object to “slant” (although I would prefer the term “point of view” in this case). My problem with the site listed (and the same problem I have with Ted Rall and Ann Coulter) is that rhetoric tends to be overheated (to put it mildly) and rather than arguing a position, or even trying to be reasonable about the opposition or another point of view, these sites and authors tend (by no means will I say always), live in the land of vituperation, rants and ideological blinders. I have too little time in the day to fool with that.

I partake of a wide array of media ideologically speaking. But tend to shy away from authors and publications that are extremist (which is a relative term) or overly vitriolic. If I stopped reading sites with a point of view, I would be limited to Wizbang Tech-a fine site, but decidedly apolitical (unless you count its position on BlogSpot).

And it isn’t just about the left side of the spectrum. I am not a fan of the Free Republic and NewsMax lets its ideological POV sway its coverage of the news far too much for my tastes.

Really, what I want is intelligence, rational dialog. I don’t like rants, screeds or emotion-based diatribes. While I can see the occasional need to vent some stream, if that is your style, then I have little use for you.

The reason I can sympathize, to a degree, with Bryan’s position, is that it does seem with some partisans that it is impossible to engage in reasonable dialog. We all get too caught in our “side” on occasion—treating politics like sports and rooting for our team. If you have a point of view, make your case. You don’t have to call names or curse. I like to think of myself as reasonable, and therefore amenable to a reasoned argument. If you just want to yell at me or to yell at the opposition, then what’s the point? We all can get passionate about what we believe, but passion need not result in insult.

And, I am not saying that I never say partisan thing-clearly I do. I try, however, to avoid being mean-spirited and hopefully I accomplish that. Above all else, I try to be reasonable in my presentation, although certainly I often play in SarcasmLandia.

Things that drive me nuts in the BlogoSphere-both on blogs and in comments:

  • The usage of insulting terms to describe those you disagree with: i.e., Repugs, Hitllary/Hitlery, Dims, etc. Not only is it rude, the flinging of unnecessary insults is hardly persuasive argumentation.
  • Really any and all Hitler comparison, save when used to describe mass murderers, turns me off. As does the casual use of the term “fascist” (or “Communist” for that matter).
  • Ranting in general is usually annoying.
  • The usage of “colorful metaphors” (e.g., “double dumb-ass on you”) tends not to be helpful.

    James Joyner comments on this meme as well as does Paul guest-blogging at WizBang! (the non-tech one) and Dean Esmay. Indeed, Dean does a fair job of encapsulating the problem:

    Oh and one more thing: you know there really is a difference between making a joke along the lines of, “Bush’s strategery are edumacated” and “that evil murdering bastard led us into a phony war to make his friends rich.” Or between, “Kerry’s a haughty French-looking geek who talks too much about Vietnam” and “Kerry murdered his wife’s first husband so he could inherit her money.”

    There’s also a difference between reacting to bad news and saying, “maybe we should change our strategy in how we conduct the war effort” and “our leaders are a failure who are ruining everything!”

    If you can’t tell the difference, there’s something wrong with you.


    (UPDATE: This post is my entry is today’s OTB Beltway Traffic Jam,.)

  • Filed under: Blogging
    • Jay linked with When Rhetoric Goes Bad
    • Confessions Of A Political Junkie linked with Amen!

    Click here to go to the main page.


    1. Hmmm, good points. Ranting can be quite therapeutic. Or at least invigorating to one’s constitution.

      Comment by Jeremiah — Tuesday, April 13, 2004 @ 2:50 pm

    2. “The usage of �colorful metaphors� (e.g., �double dumb-ass on you�) tends not to be helpful.”

      Thanks for the Star Trek flash back. And also the excellent post.

      Comment by Avonelle Lovhaug — Tuesday, April 13, 2004 @ 4:07 pm

    3. Well, sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me, but usually I tried to offer a reasoned discussion. I admit my conservative bias, however.

      Comment by La Shawn Barber — Tuesday, April 13, 2004 @ 5:00 pm

    4. Is it alright to call mainland China “communist China"? I don’t, since it (or worse, Red China) sounds extremist, but the country is still run by the Chinese Communist Party. Out of more than 1,200 companies listed on the Shanghai and Shenzen exchanges, less than 10 are privately-owned (i.e. less than 50% of the stock controlled by some sort of government entity). The official stance is that the country is still communist, but that, in the early stage of communism, some markets are necessary, and this early stage may take 100 years. Its long term plan is “crossing the river by groping for stones".

      All businesses, including joint enterprises and even foreign-owned, are required by law to have a Party member that is in charge of all Chinese employees (sometimes the foreigners don’t even know that there’s a Party member, and that even the most senior local employees may all be reporting to the janitor). Yes, China is currently amending its Constitution to allow private property. But Chinese courts have ruled that the Constitution is subservient to the needs of the Chinese Communist Party.

      Can I call them communist?

      Comment by Ann — Tuesday, April 13, 2004 @ 10:46 pm

    5. I agree, which is why I read your blog despite being a lefty. I can appreciate a conservative opinion when it leaves behind the vitriol.

      I would suggest Leading with the Left at for a good lefty opinion. The tagline is a mild gibe, but otherwise I find it to be very rational and intelligent, focusing mostly on strategy advice for the Dems. It’s a shame they only update once a day.

      I can’t speak for it’s humor column though, because I don’t read it.

      Comment by Gg — Tuesday, April 13, 2004 @ 11:15 pm

    6. Ann,

      Calling China communist i accurate-calling Hillary Clinton communistt isn’t-that’s my point. I mean using the term as an unwarranted epithet.


      Thanks-both for reading and for the suggestions.

      Comment by Steven — Wednesday, April 14, 2004 @ 6:53 am

    7. Make sure you read the April 13th entry. That’s more typical of the site than today’s.

      Comment by Gg — Wednesday, April 14, 2004 @ 10:15 am

    8. The reason I asked about China is that so many people have told me it’s not communist anymore, and that it’s “Cold War” thinking to call it that.

      I guess I was concerned about the opposite problem from the one you were discussing - we shouldn’t use terms such as facist or communist when they’re not warranted, but on the other hand, we should be willing to use them when they’re appropriate. Kerry worries me because his “nuanced” approach hits both extremes - he’s unwilling to label Kim Jong Il evil but is willing to vilify companies that provide jobs for people in India or Mexico.

      I appreciate Gg pointing out a rational and intelligent left-leaning source - it’s important for left and right to understand each other and communicate, but that has gotten hard with everyone so partisan. The 9-11 commission is a disgrace!

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