Thursday, 13 November 2008

About that agon . . . In the comments to ari’s post, Martin G. noted his fondness for Bérubé-style agon. I couldn’t agree more. That is, after all, the point of the copy-pasta post everyone incidentally linked to the other day. But a proper political agon requires some ground rules: first and foremost, a commitment not to Rorschach your interlocutor with a Godwin to the balls.* Such strictures are, however, unmanly. Manly men—real Men—cede every ounce of their intellectual authority to the Man who wrote The Most Important Book Ever: [A]s Jonah showed us in Liberal Fascism . . . I recommend Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism . . . Why worry about people using it to invoke “Godwin’s Law”? As if that is anything more than an internet convention used as shorthand to dismiss arguments like those made in Liberal Fascism. Goldberg’s book has opened a door to enlightening . . . And when Really Manly Men are challenged, they choke back the tears, tighten the gasket on that whine, and project, project, project. To wit: The man whose posts regularly range in 4,000 word pastures writes “[a]s for SEK, he just likes to hear himself talk[.]“ The man who valiantly complains that others “want to freeze me out from their linkfests” writes “[SEK's] entire blog is predicated on traffic.” Really Manly Men don’t care about traffic. Not one whit. The people who care about traffic are the ones who never mention it. We’re all about listening to ourselves talk, ignoring the “self-” of our importance, and guilting our readers into giving us money.** Once upon a time, I thought it possible to discuss things with Manly Men whose Knowledge and Foresight allow them to see The Coming Socialism. Then the Manly Men drunk deeply of the Manly Book, realized the Womanly Challenge before them, and told their less Manly compatriots to ____ ___.*** All of which means I was as right as I was wrong: whatever you might say about the boorishness of Manly Men, they were once far less stupid. Now that Goldberg’s spoon-fed them Kool-Aid, they feel history vindicates their abject paranoia. The Democrats won this election cycle, certainly, but we ignore idiocy at our own peril. I’m not saying all our time ought to be devoted to slapping the sluggish—that’d leave no time to marvel at the spectalurness of our failure—but as stupidity trickles down, we can’t rest on Obama’s laurels. (x-posted.) *Rorshach’s “power,” for those unfamiliar with Watchmen, being raw brutality of the Pol Pot variety. **Because, you know, we’re “important,” i.e. the only ones who can “break away from partisan cheerleading and closely examine the kernel assumptions of the several mainstream political ideologies in order to tease out how and why those ideologies either conform to, or break with, our founding principles.” ***And despite their hate-hate affair with their own voice, they only linked to themselves five times while doing so.
NPR Today Jen: CALIFORNIA'S BURNING! Pat: That's really interesting, Jen, because you know what else is burning? Felicia Smith of Santa Ana's love for the kind of quality programming you can only find here on NPR. She says it's a constant companion, whether she's on the way to work, running errands, or having unimpassioned sex with her fiancé of eleven years. Bob: Speaking of impending nuptials, Pat, people really value their relationship to NPR. Kat Little from Costa Mesa even compares the difference between being a listener and an active supporter to the hours between when a couple exchanges their vows and the moment the marriage is consummated. "You've already made the commitment," she says, "but only 100 percent of the way. You need to go 110 percent and hit that already." Pat: Funny you should mention math, Bob, because here at NPR listeners will find exclusive maths they can't find anywhere else. Consider when you're on the highway with your secretary, on the way to your favorite bed and breakfast, and you think about the first time you hit that and you wonder whether your infidelity is a personal failing or the product of millions of years of evolution, so you turn on NPR because where else can you get the Loh Down on Science? and you learn not even swans or fruit flies mate for life and start thinking about the sweet inevitable love you're about to make with your secretary. Bob: And maybe when you're done you can buy her the gift of an NPR supporter package where she'll receive not one but two copies of the book Green Living through Healthy Oil and Taxes. It makes a great stocking stuffer for anyone who already listens to NPR as much as you do and received their copy when their membership was automatically renewed for the seventeenth year running. Being a contributor is just simply that convenient. Pat: While we're on the subject of convenience, Bob, if our listener and his secretary's favorite bed and breakfast is anywhere north of Orange County, they'll likely find their route up there to be really tortured by the lines of fires currently engulfing all of Los Angeles County and much of the rest of the Southland. For more on this important story, the kind of story and reporting you can only find on NPR, we turn to Jen on the scene. Jen: CALIFORNIA'S BURNING! CHRIST YOU FUCKER EVERYTHING'S ON FUCKING FIRE! Bob: That's really interesting, Jen, because you know what else is on fire? Copies of Green Living through Healthy Oil and Taxes which the LA Times calls the must-read book this holiday season . . . (x-posted)

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