Saturday, July 21, 2007

What makes 'em tick?

Front paged at Booman Tribune

Earlier in the week, I received an unsolicited email from my very own wingnut stalker. It happens from time to time – a random email shows up, either directly to me, or as a comment in (or in response to) a diary of mine. Luckily, I haven’t received anything that was remotely threatening – mainly strawman arguments, ad hominem attacks, and other lovely terms such as “baby killer”, “traitor” or the always lovely “asshole” or “liberal idiot”.

This particular unsolicited email was titled “pelosi and reid”, and didn’t seem to be in response to anything that I wrote in particular. But it said, in only the oh-so-eloquent way that an unhinged wingnut can say:


Can you tell me why these 2 Losers

approval rating is 16%.???????????????????

Why are they more hated than the greatest President since Reagan?

You far-left BabyKillers are getting yours really good.

Support out Country, you Losers!!

O'Reilly has your number and jetblue's!!

Sour grapes!!



“greatest president since Reagan”? “Far left baby-killers”? “Support out (sic) Country, you losers”? With not just one but TWO exclamation points. Rush Limbaugh would be so very pruod.

After a “um, who the fuck are you?” reply, the outrage was back with words like “far left babykilling whackos”, “despised by most Americans”, “accept God into your heart if you abortionbabykillers have one”, “your secular-progressive sickness”, “Michael Moore” and “kool aid”. Oh yeah, and good ole’ Matthew said that I should pray with him to find love and not hate.

Well, I’ll just say that after one last reply to that nonsense, I passed the email off to my good friend trashablanca, who toys with trolls like a cat does with a mouse. End of story there…

But I got to thinking – what made this total stranger not only decide to send me an email that was so full of anger, hate and hypocrisy (oh yeah, “Matthew” is a log cabin republican too), but what makes people like this think, do and say the things that they do. Not to say “know thy enemy”, but jeez….what the fuck?

I’m not talking about differences of opinion here – that is something that we see quite a bit of even here in the progressive blogosphere. I’m talking about outright venomous hate and stereotypical comments, wild accusations that are based in nothing more than some pre-conceived (or pre-programmed) notion about all those who dare to question what they are being told. Of course, when they were being told the same things by Democrats, then they were falling over themselves to feign moral outrage.

How does someone reconcile the “culture of life” when it comes to abortions or DNR wishes, and stranding hundreds of thousands of people in the Gulf Coast to starve and die needlessly? Or bombing other countries’ innocent citizens because they are “obviously enemies or all want to kill us”, yet obsessed with discarding embryos that would otherwise be used for stem cell research? Or sending troops to kill and die based on something that has long since been proven to be a lie, yet be ok with there being absolutely no mission, armor or equipment for our troops?

Is it ignorance? Arrogance? Is it willful? Why the feigned moral outrage that is so easily rebuked but is contradictory on its face?

And, while I don’t mean anything along the lines of trying to figure out why someone thinks that gay marriage will be the end of civilization (obviously it won’t), or that protecting children from sexual predators is of utmost importance (obviously it is), how the hypocrisy is so easily uncovered, especially in this day and age whereby the outrage at something – even something that is, on the most basic level, morally correct (like opposition to sexual predators) actually translates into the very behavior that is the target of outspoken outrage? Generally leveled by “moralists” “good American republicans” or “family oriented conservatives” at the “hedonistic”, “soulless” and “America hating liberals”.

Is it low self-esteem that causes this projection? Is it suppression of reality or acting the part of living a lie? A lie that is hiding the very behavior that is being exemplified? Is it a cry for attention, and negative attention is better than no attention whatsoever? Surely, this can’t all be a product of the yearning and need for an authoritarian environment that is playing out in cities and towns across America every day?

Now this doesn’t only relate to wingnut stalker trolls. What makes a person who hasn’t served one day in the military and would crap his pants faster than David Vitter can put on a diaper if he ever set one foot near what is actually going on in Iraq give a lecture to a retired major general on what should and should not be done in Iraq? Or Jonah Goldberg, William Kristol, Tom DeLay, G. Gordon Liddy or any other neoconservative or republican hack or criminal or chickenhawk be absolutely wrong about, well, everything, never admit to the bare facts and then think they have any authority to provide advice, ask for another chance, or be taken even remotely seriously?

And what the hell makes those who take these jackholes seriously tick? Were they beaten up too many times on the playground as a child?

On one level, it is very easy to dismiss and mock. Hell, it is one of my favorite things to do. But, we do need to think about this and figure out how to counteract this behavior if we are ever to build a progressive movement. Not even necessarily to change their minds – and hell there are some things that are so far out of the realm for any common ground, but to diffuse their actions for the ones who should be on our side but are skeptical.

Trolls and wingnuts come in many shapes, sizes, levels of vitriol and degree of anger. Most of them lie without thinking twice, project their outrage and behavior, are very vocal and don’t care about anything other than scoring points or getting the first, dirtiest shots in, rapidly lower the level of discourse to attacks, lies and name calling so that there is no chance of rational discussion, and are generally just as hypocritical as the words they are saying.

We need to recognize how they try to shape the debate, and what is their motivation for their total disregard for anything other than shouting you down. How are they even taken seriously? How do get our ideas and objectives out there? There are many things that are in serious need of debate and a new direction.

Iraq. Foreign policy in general. Healthcare. Education. The environment. Jobs. The tax code. And that is just a very few. The next few years will be a major battle of ideas and direction. If we see what we are up against (on the more basic level as opposed to the high level government corruption) and understand what we are dealing with, then we have a better chance at progress.

I use “Matthew” above as the initial example – mainly out of fun. But there are millions of “Matthew’s” out there who use these tactics on people like me, us, whomever they come into contact with and at various levels of “credibility”. And they are “winning” in a way that they have no business even being part of the picture.

We can easily change that.

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