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Silencing Dissent

pudge (3605) writes | more than 4 years ago

United States 16

I woke up this morning to a mass e-mail from Jen O'Malley Dillon of the Democratic Party, reading, "There's been a lot of media coverage about organized mobs intimidating lawmakers, disrupting town halls, and silencing real discussion about the need for real health insurance reform."

I woke up this morning to a mass e-mail from Jen O'Malley Dillon of the Democratic Party, reading, "There's been a lot of media coverage about organized mobs intimidating lawmakers, disrupting town halls, and silencing real discussion about the need for real health insurance reform."

What? Now I am a little confused. I have seen videos of people showing up complaining about a bill they don't like, to their representatives. How is that silencing discussion? And if lawmakers are intimidated by constituents saying they are angry, isn't that a good thing? I call that democracy.

But it gets even worse. They say that citizens showing up at "town hall" meetings are being funded by "Washington special interests and insurance companies." Funny, I've never seen any communication from "special interests" about this, but I did get e-mail from a friend that simply gave me the dates and times for Congressman Rick Larsen's "town hall" meetings (Aug. 6, 6 p.m., Coupeville Rec Center; Aug. 8, 2 p.m., Mt. Vernon location TBA; Aug. 12, 5 p.m., Everett Station, Weyerhauser Room). And I hope to go. Isn't that good for democracy? Even if you disagree with my views?

The Democratic Party doesn't think so. They say that complaining about the bill is to intend to "disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation." Of course, that is precisely what the Democrats are trying to do: they are trying to shut down my legitimate conversation, to intimidate me into not speaking my mind.

Perhaps some of the disconnect here is that where I'm from, the Town Hall is not a metaphor, it's a real thing. All major town business for the year was done at the annual meeting, where every registered voter got a vote on every part of the budget, on capital spending, on bylaw changes, and so on. And sometimes things get heated. This is normal: people are angry. The solution is not to tell people to shut up as the Democrats are doing, the solution is to have an organized and ordered meeting where rules are explained and enforced. And if someone is continually out of order, you simply remove them.

As us tech nerds like to say, this is a solved problem.

Now, I do agree with some of the complaints of the Dems. Some of the information being spread about this bill is wrong, as I've noted before. But then again, the Democrats are lying about the bill, too: in this very e-mail they actually say, there is no "government takeover" in any part of any plan supported by the President or Congress. But we know that the government is creating a new insurance plan to take over a large segment of the insurance market; a health insurance exchange to control all individual insurance plans. Those are nothing but government takeovers.

And they also have a legitimate point about some of the discourse: I think it is low to compare Obama to Nazis, and to resort to yelling and so on. But the Democrats alternatively ignored and cheered when their own did the same thing to Republicans when the GOP was in control, so this is a nonsensical complaint coming from the DNC.

It's sad that on the only two legitimate points the Democrats have, they are hypocrites.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

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16 comments

moof (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 4 years ago | (#28967061)

Well done, as is usually the case. Whatever happened to the Leftists of days of yore, who vehemently opposed censorship? (It's a rhetorical question -- I already know the answer.) I've been shocked recently, by 1) Pres. Obama having said we need to stop listening to certain information sources, and 2) my (Left-wing) sister saying I need to stop watching Fox News. I don't think I've ever nor would ever suggest to anyone where they should not go for information or opinion. I haven't held back criticizing sources, but that leads to my point here. I think people (at least "grownups) are responsible for what information sources they choose, and what they do with that information. It's an afront to tell people their business and how to conduct their lives including what to listen to and what not to. It's the American thing that people get to choose what they hear and believe, and then I get to tell them how they're wrong! But seriously, it's un-American (and I don't use this as an epithet, it's just an observation and opinion) to lamely try to head off certain ideas from even forming, rather than dutifully batting them down one-by-one in argumentation later. The latter is certainly the less efficient way of producing an outcome, but unlike the former is respectful of people and human dignity and innate, God-given freedoms. And that is the crux of almost all of the differences in modern, American politics.

Re:moof (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 4 years ago | (#28970791)

I don't know that I necessarily agree completely with your position here--I certainly believe it's un-American to censor, but at the same time, freedom of speech includes the freedom to give advice, and "don't watch Fox News" is functionally the same as "don't read Dan Brown novels" or something similar--that is, really, for all the force it has it's a review and not a command.

For example, I admit that I have said similar things to the former to my father, but less as a "(news source) has ideas I don't like" and more of a "(news source) has a noted history of falsehoods" or "(news source) is aesthetically displeasing, and you can get less ugly but similarly aligned views from (other news source)".

I'm sure, on a side note, we could have a great discussion on "God-given" freedoms (short answer, the hell with THAT, my freedoms are inherent regardless of the metaphysical ordering of the cosmos).

I also disagree, given the examples I've seen, that either major party is fundamentally better in terms of how they treat news sources that they perceive as being aligned with the opposition party.

Re:moof (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 4 years ago | (#28973277)

Zerile, point taken, but ... do you see conservative politicians boycotting MSNBC or MSNBC-sponsored debates? I don't.

Democrats definitely go significantly further than Republicans in how poorly they treat Fox News. Not to defend how Republicans treat MSNBC ... but Democrats are just so bad on this front.

And for those who may be thinking it, no, the Fox hosts are not any worse than the MSNBC hosts. I'd say the morning Fox hosts are much worse, but the MSNBC evening hosts are significantly worse. Olbermann is worse than anyone, Maddow is worse than O'Reilly, etc.

Re:moof (1)

cmacb (547347) | more than 4 years ago | (#28978101)

Two points when doing these Fox vs MSNBC (substitute any liberal outlet).

First, you should separate purely news reporting from the majority of content these days which is opinion and analysis. It only takes a few minutes for either side to report that Bill Clinton went to North Korea to get some prisoners released, but then on to hours of speculation about how he got there, what the backstory MIGHT be, and how this will affect the healthcare debate.

If you just look at the reporting though, the networks are far more similar. At that point you have to look at where the emphasis is. Which stories are left out, which are included, which get 30 seconds and which get 5 minutes. I've had liberal tell me they watched Fox *News* because of better coverage. They switch over to MSNBC for the opinion pieces. I'm not saying they are correct about that as I don't watch TV at all! Reading Newspapers, watching C-span, getting news from all the sources on the Internet should be enough to convince almost anyone that news as covered on any of the mass-media outlets is more show-business than anything else.

Re:moof (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 4 years ago | (#28984995)

It's not as bad as it used to be, but I definitely remember back in the early G.W. Bush days that there was a lot of local stuff complaining about how liberal CNN was and how Fox News was superior in every way for people who cared about the truth and America, etc. I wasn't consuming a large amount of national news (or really, anything at all except textbooks and beer) at that point, so I can't say how prevalent that was on the national stage.

It does, however, suggest to me a potential working theory that Democrats tend to prefer working on a national level and Republicans tend to prefer working on a local level when they do this--I've noticed in our previous discussions a significant difference between the local Republican/conservative political apparati between your home and mine, but not all that much of one with the Democrats/liberals (not to the same degree, certainly, even if there are some).

As for the ranking of the hosts, man, I really can't say I enjoy listening to them (when I was talking about news sources being aesthetically unpleasing, I was thinking primarily of Beck, Olbermann, and O'Reilly, in roughly that order).

Re:moof (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 4 years ago | (#28980411)

that is, really, for all the force it has it's a review and not a command.

To me this is true, and at the same time, weaseling. Telling people what not to listen to smacks of the fascism that underlies what I'll call American neo-Liberalism. Maybe I would take less offense from a known more harmless group of people, but either way I have to interpret peoples' statements in the context of what I know about them. And it's certainly creepy and to me bordering on scary coming from someone in a position like POTUS, no matter who the person is.

"(news source) has a noted history of falsehoods"

Undoubtedly you mean "(news source) has a noted history of falsehoods that exceeds my personal threshold of tolerance for such".

(short answer, the hell with THAT, my freedoms are inherent regardless of the metaphysical ordering of the cosmos)

I'm completely tolerant of your rejection of the "God-given" part, as the purpose of it is still satisfied by the understanding you expressed -- "inherent". (I.e. does not come from man, or govt., etc.)

Re:moof (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 4 years ago | (#28984955)

that is, really, for all the force it has it's a review and not a command.

To me this is true, and at the same time, weaseling. Telling people what not to listen to smacks of the fascism that underlies what I'll call American neo-Liberalism. Maybe I would take less offense from a known more harmless group of people, but either way I have to interpret peoples' statements in the context of what I know about them. And it's certainly creepy and to me bordering on scary coming from someone in a position like POTUS, no matter who the person is.

This is one of those things, I suppose, that we're going to disagree on. Anyone can tell me anything they want to on their own time and property, and I'm just as free to ignore 'em.

"(news source) has a noted history of falsehoods"

Undoubtedly you mean "(news source) has a noted history of falsehoods that exceeds my personal threshold of tolerance for such".

I'd've assumed that was implied, unless you know of a perfect news source, but point taken and accepted.

(short answer, the hell with THAT, my freedoms are inherent regardless of the metaphysical ordering of the cosmos)

I'm completely tolerant of your rejection of the "God-given" part, as the purpose of it is still satisfied by the understanding you expressed -- "inherent". (I.e. does not come from man, or govt., etc.)

Figured you would be, you have your head screwed on straight. Mind talking to my dad about it at some point?

The other point that I wanted to address was the comment on "American neo-Liberalism". I really think a fair part of that is selection bias or regional bias--from my personal experience, the larger portion of attempts to convince me to ignore news sources or boycott whatever come from what has been being called neo-conservative sources, particularly the scary fundamentalist wings of a variety of religions. This is largely because I'm living in a relatively liberal college town surrounded by Appalachia, as I mentioned, which means that there's a lot of money invested in the local news media that's NOT in the university town in order to drown out as much as possible the university's influence on state politics, especially by conservatives whose districts encompass both rural and in-town areas.

On the other hand, we'll get days where there's a pro-Palestine-nationhood rally, a pro-Israel counter-rally, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher, a fundamentalist Orthodox deacon, and a fundamentalist Hasidic Jew all screaming vaguely in the general direction of everyone else. (to which I usually sigh, smile, and mutter about how politically awesome this particular region is).

For the rest, I really think it's less a function of political alignment than a function of relative fanaticism, and I think we'll see as the next few years go by that there will be relatively less left-wing idiocy of this type and relatively more right-wing, simply because of the galvanizing effect the President's political behaviors have on the fanatic wings of the opposition.

I'd also like to clarify that "the fanatic wing" of any given party is the group that thinks they're so right it's worth oppressing people or committing crimes against democracy in order that "their guy" be in charge, regardless of the strength or orthodoxy of their particular party platform: I'd lump in anyone from the Black Panthers to Nixon's Watergate crew in this category.

Re:moof (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 4 years ago | (#28990531)

and I'm just as free to ignore 'em.

You're also free to ignore history (such as that of the development of repressive regimes). Potentially at your own peril included.

I'd've assumed that was implied, unless you know of a perfect news source,

I inferred a much stronger meaning than you may have intended -- by not "perfect" now, you appear to have been thinking roughly "merely having made (accidental) mistakes", whereas I took "history of falsehoods" as "a pattern of known or suspected falsehoods". Which you may not have implied.

"American neo-Liberalism".

I'm still in the process of, not formulating, but solidifying what I mean by that, BTW.

the larger portion of attempts to convince me to ignore

You may have then missed what was intended to be a critical distinction on this. It is insulting for someone to tell me to filter something in my life. If they approach it as "entity X has done this and if you're like us and resent that, then join us in temporarily filtering them until they come around", that's less offensive to me. If it's a govt. official telling me to filter something in my life, that's crossing a pseudo-sacred line and is extensively offensive to me, and borders on frightening. The reason for this is that my sister or Focus on the Family for example can only suggest that I filter something, but the govt. can force me to. So for me, the number of attempts are not quite as strongly determining of offense as their origins are, for that reason.

in order to drown out as much as possible the university's influence on state politics

In a way, maybe that's how it should be -- it would be imbalanced if small pocket(s) of a state disproportionately influenced the whole of state politics. A university has the potential to 1) include a lot of non-residents and 2) being a place where vigorous and frequent discussion of politics tends to occur, maybe moreso than in the general populace, the possibility of speaking louder than the areas outside the university. Just a thought.

For the rest,

You're welcome to your opinions, of course. I couldn't disagree more with what you've said in that paragraph.

I'd also like to clarify that "the fanatic wing" of any given party is the group that thinks they're so right it's worth oppressing people or committing crimes against democracy in order that "their guy" be in charge

I see it completely differently -- I see one political philosophy where that underlies basically all of it, and another that's vehemently against that. And so I see it as independent of fanaticism. For example, I'm a far-Right guy, a "fanatic" if you will, but I don't believe in doing any of that. In general I reject the "both sides are basically the same" simplisticism, in most of its popular applications, as naive and insufficiently studied.

Re:moof (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 4 years ago | (#28994113)

I see it completely differently -- I see one political philosophy where that underlies basically all of it, and another that's vehemently against that. And so I see it as independent of fanaticism. For example, I'm a far-Right guy, a "fanatic" if you will, but I don't believe in doing any of that. In general I reject the "both sides are basically the same" simplisticism, in most of its popular applications, as naive and insufficiently studied.

This is really the part that bothers me about your entire post--when I've got my dad saying that any news source that isn't Fox News is lying and unpatriotic, I've got presidents of both parties using "Free Speech Zones", I watch the cops shut down demonstrators and performers alike at both conventions every time, etc. I really can't see any institutional difference between the Democrats and Republicans in this regard.

It's certainly possible to be a far-Right guy and NOT be a fanatic--I don't reject the political positions of the far Right as wrong on their face, after all, I'm a pretty adamant balanced-budget and strong-military kinda guy.

Really, I think when you can't acknowledge there are complete jerks on all sides of the political spectrum, THAT gets dangerous. From my point of view, I feel like you're putting on the blinders a bit and ignoring the people who are calling for this kind of stuff while they're on your side. Speaking as a guy who votes split ticket all the time, and who votes in every election, I just can't see that neo-Liberalism and neo-Conservatism are any different--both of 'em want to take away more of my freedoms than I'm comfortable with, both have a habit of trying to suppress debate, etc.

If this isn't happening where you are, you're arguably lucky, but here in State College, it seems like there are more disruptors than there are debaters on all sides.

Oh, and as for "how it should be" with regard to the university's influence on this area, that kind of stuff only goes so far with me when it's people outside of my district trying to media-saturate my district--this is probably, for example, the number one reason why I'm going to not vote R for Senate next time it comes around, because Twoomey is 100% grade-A jerk and it comes across in everything he says (aside from being an anti-liberty force of the Christian Fundie type--again, I know a lot of Christian Fundies who are great people and NOT interested in taking my rights away. He's not one of them.)

It's entirely possible that I'm biased because I'm in an area that's a focused target of the worst the Republican and Libertarian parties have to offer--the former because it's a blue county in a swing state, and the latter because it's a college town and therefore their most fertile recruiting ground. On the other hand, I see these efforts as just as potentially frightening as anything on the national stage, especially if a lot of us here, including me, get our way with regard to the relatively higher importance of state and local governance.

Re:moof (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 4 years ago | (#28994403)

No one's denying that there are complete jerks on both sides of the political spectrum. An example on my side, Sean Hannity on FNC. We're prolly in agreement 99.9%, yet I hate him as much as I do Liberals. And that's because he employs the same tactics as them.

And I didn't mean to imply that I was talking about Democrats vis-a-vis Republicans. I've journaled about how they can be alike.

Neither do I even precisely mean today's Liberals in America and today's Conservatives in America. As both neo-Liberals and neo-Cons exhibit fascist tendencies.

I'm really comparing neo-Liberals vs. paleo-Conservatives/libertarians. Where, I've gradually come to understand, the common thread thru the positions and ideas and ideals of the former is a hellaciously strong fascist bent, and what's common among people of the latter is a particular adversity to such.

FWIW.

Re:moof (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 4 years ago | (#28995973)

No one's denying that there are complete jerks on both sides of the political spectrum. An example on my side, Sean Hannity on FNC. We're prolly in agreement 99.9%, yet I hate him as much as I do Liberals. And that's because he employs the same tactics as them.

Amen. Also, Ann Coulter. :-)

Re:moof (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 4 years ago | (#28999125)

I think only in abrasiveness. I guess she does serve as an unrelenting attack dog, on the Right, which before she came along I only saw on the Left (and how!).

But I haven't noticed the one-sidedness, the overstating of things, and the repetitiveness, for example that is Hannity's SOP. Plus I've never learned anything from the guy -- he never has anything originally insightful to say, he's really just like someone who wants to be a Republican party drone.

Ann, like Rush, is brilliant. Even if they are and have gotten, respectively, a bit cantankerous! I'm feeling a little of that way these days.

Re:moof (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 4 years ago | (#28999463)

But I haven't noticed the one-sidedness, the overstating of things, and the repetitiveness ...

Perhaps she is a bit less one-sided than Hannity. And I don't know about repetitiveness. But this is the woman who tried to make the case that NOT APPLAUDING the President -- when he said in his State of the Union that we should have strong missile defense -- was literally treasonous.

She is the queen of overstatement, although perhaps more obviously for effect than with Hannity.

More and more, I want to move to Washington (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 4 years ago | (#28970827)

The off-the-deep-end wing of the "right-wing" types here definitely are making it known that they plan to be not just present, but actively disruptive.

Of course, this is partially a problem of it being a college town surrounded by a significant amount of very rural Appalachia--I can't think of the last event of ANY type that didn't have disruptive types trying to shout down the speaker.

Re:More and more, I want to move to Washington (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 4 years ago | (#28973299)

I can't think of the last event of ANY type that didn't have disruptive types trying to shout down the speaker.

Ha!

Excellent Post (1)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 4 years ago | (#28988955)

Your dead on with your analysis. I'll add that, adding ANY disinformation to an argument eventually works to detract from the debate.

There is a clear explanation for the reactions and methods of the Democratic party.

"Rules for Radicals" by Saul Alinsky.

"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and 'frozen.'..."

"...any target can always say, 'Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?' When your 'freeze the target,' you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments.... Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the 'others' come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target...'

"One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other." (pps.127-134)

http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/communism/alinsky.htm [crossroad.to]

The goal is not to "unify" the American public, it is to divide, conquer and control. Start with the easy targets: Wall street, Auto Makers, Insurance Industries. Wanna guess whos next?

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