Monday, September 01, 2008

My Weekend Trip to the Conservative Blogosphere.

This has certainly been an interesting extended weekend. The McCain campaign's decision to roll out their pick for VP came at an intriguing time. Initially the GOP must have felt very self-satisfied about having eroded the "bump" that Obama received after last week's convention. But there were risks as well. People have had plenty of free time over the last few weeks to do their own independent research on Ms. Palin. As a result there is a landslide of information, rumor, innuendo, and disclosure about the current Governor of Alaska. Perhaps the Republican National Committee believed that it could firmly establish a public persona for the little-known politician. However that assumption appears a bit flawed only a few days after their "historic announcement".

I decided to participate in the drama of the event by engaging online communities that I'd ordinarily avoid. In the process I had countless exchanges with self-professed "conservatives" and Palin supporters. There is no denying that the Theo-con wing of the Right has been invigorated by the prospect of a "family values"-espousing politician as second-in-command of the nation. I learned very quickly that they take the defense of Sarah Palin personally. They relate to her story on such an intimate level that to impugn their hero is tantamount to assaulting them. With the knowledge that I was coming into their house uninvited (so-to-speak), I did everything I could to avoid invective, vitriol, and insult in my own responses.

Despite my best efforts I was met with a wave of animosity and a general refusal to engage in a reasoned adult discussion. If you are skeptical about this, simply follow this link for a sample of the experiences I had on just one forum. Here are (just a few of many) highlights for those who would rather not wade through the morass:

"Be careful out there, a snark will get you and crew your detestable body parts into metaphysical mince meat." (Ed. note: actually I found this one kind of witty)

"As Malcolm Reynolds might say, I would bet my rutting life that child has a better upbringing and home life than you did. And as you are evidently a sufferer of moral retardation, the cases seem muchlike. Perhaps Trim or Trig or Tick or Tuck or Tug or whatsisname won't grow up to be an Internet dirtbag like you."

"I call troll on Merge and will not engage him again. He is engaging in creeping Cyrus Pinkertonism. May whatever God or Demon he believes in have mercy on his soul."

"Merge - you stepped into a known big pile of moose shit and kept smearing it all over your body. Stop already."

"Now, please go away you irritating little man. You are not engaging in political discourse, you are engaging in the most boring form of dikhed verbosity."

"No questions here, it's just fun watching an elitist know-nothing try to defend the indefensible."

"merege: what part of "fuck you' do you not understand--no sanctimony here, just pure loathing."

"Your net value to the participants is either zero or negative. It is a nuisance value.
If I every take a blog seriously, I will ban or suspend right and left among those who bore me."

"Do you actually believe the shit you post?"

That's pretty impressive stuff from a group of folks that (presumably) identify with the "family values" plank of the Republicans. Of course there were also a smattering of folks that rose above the ordinary shit-flinging, and simply "agreed to disagree". There always are. And I have to be fair and point out that there are many so-called left-wing sites wherein conservative posters (even ones employing frank sincerity and rational argument) might be similarly attacked.

I want to make it clear that I wasn't hurt or personally offended by any of these comments (although I didn't especially enjoy being called a "baby-killer" on another site). I knew exactly what I was getting myself into when I initiated contact with this bunch. Remember that I listen to conservative talk radio on a daily basis. The nasty tone flows downhill certainly. The truth is that I benefited greatly from these interactions. I got to see some interesting viewpoints that I wouldn't have otherwise encountered. The anonymity of the net allows folks to get beyond the niceties that apply in face-to-face encounters. One gets to see within their minds in a way that is much less adulterated by ordinary social decorum. It's just a shame that so many of us have become inured from ever entertaining an opposing position.

Addendum: It appears that Ann Althouse has some difficulty fielding dissenting opinion over on her blog (either that or she didn't appreciate the flow of traffic away from her site). I posted a comment tonight, and within a couple minutes she had deleted it. I understand that the shepherd has to protect her flock, but she appears to have an awful low regard for her regular posters' collective ability to defend their views. I guess eternal vigilance is required for her to stay on message. Maybe we should give her a break, and not rile her up too much- Hitler was a failed artist too.

Addendum #2: (9/2/08) Either someone from Althouse must have read this post and alerted Ann. Either that or she's read the e-mail I sent her. Now she's reinstated my comment and dropped it straight into another unrelated thread without any context. Very interesting... see it here.

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Blogger Indigo Red said...

Since you made the effort to visit so many Rightwing blogs this weekend, I just thought it would be considerate if I left my answer to your comment here.

But, I see you've beaten me to it and left another comment at Indigo Red.

12:06 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

indigo red,

Although I may disagree with much of what you write on your blog, I consider it a priority to seek out and engage opposing viewpoints. It's an important factor in keeping me honest.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Free RyanToday! said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I appreciate the feedback. Honestly though, I don't consider myself a right wing type of hound, as most liberals would see me as. I'm realistic and frankly I'm tired of reading crap on the net, especially from reputable sites like Daily Kos. These people need to understand the way the world really works. Honestly, if Obama makes it, I would be very very surprised. Even as a Canadian. The media will kill all his credibility, because most of the liberal media pretend they have the answers yet in the first week they pulled off every cheap shot possible. I won't cry when the republicans fight back now. I'm originally from Alberta Canada, which is where the massive pipeline from Alaska will be making its way through that province and eventually goods will be shipped via a massive highway straight down south. This same highway will connect with a Texas superhighway that is being built. (ever heard of ENDGAME?)
The media never talks about this stuff, but, it is these types of deals that are going on that will ensure ...the republicans stay in power. So, if the liberal media is so smart down there..start digging true issues up and maybe then you will succeed in your plan of bringing down the Republicans. Otherwise, you are toast.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...


And I return the thanks to you for visiting my blog in turn.

I want to let you know that I don't see all "conservatives" as some homogeneous, hateful group. I know that they come in all shapes and sizes and variations. For instance, the above commenter (indigo red) recently deliberately misconstrued my meaning from a response I left on his site, and then he turned around and threatened me with this little gem:

"Expect a visit in a week."

See the whole thread HERE

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Notoriously Conservative said...

"Despite my best efforts I was met with a wave of animosity and a general refusal to engage in a reasoned adult discussion. If you are skeptical about this, simply follow this link for a sample of the experiences I had on just one forum."

I'm saddened. I thought we had a very adult discussion. In fact I would love to invite all of your liberal friends and bloggers to visit my site. I am always willing to engage in polite conversation.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

notoriously conservative,

No I agree with you. We didn't have those types of issues on your blog. There were a couple of sly digs, but nothing out-of-bounds, as far as I saw it. But check the date I wrote this post too. I came to your site afterward, determined to find folks I could actually debate with. There have been 1-2 places since that haven't been too negative. Still they are few and far between.

7:02 PM  

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