A model idealistic post
Published on February 26, 2005 By Angloesque In Politics
Contrary to how it may appear here at JU, I am actually fairly interested in politics. I keep up with the news and my local politics; Thursday during my lunch break I wrote to my senator. I vote, I get mad, I write letters to the editor and opine at length to a few friends and family. Generally speaking I am interested in the opinions and stances of all sides of the political spectrum--not just the 2-D conservative/liberal spectrum, but the 3-D conservative/ liberal/ anarchist/ totalitarian diamond. And I fall somewhere smack dab in the middle.

But my experiences with politics here and at a previous forum have left an unpleasant taste for online politics, and this is why: Political zealouts, who are disinterested in actually listening or participating in a rational discussion, dominate the forum. They are not the only participants, but they are the loudest and/or most prolific. Their verbosity usually means they have something to say in response to every article, no matter how well-thought-out it may have been. And the discussions degenerate from there.

Moreover, it is a waste of virtual breath to even discuss issues with them, as they're so deeply entrenched in their beliefs that they won't listen to any other side. They make gibes at the little flaws in arguments or at the people making them, while missing the big picture. But their crudest problem, the one that is at the base of their idiocy, is this: The gross generalizations they espouse.

What kinds of generalizations? All Europeans hate Bush/America, and are therefore either stupid or enlightened. All republicans/democrats have their heads in the sand or clouds, whichever is denser. All ideas related to Marx are brilliant or retarded. The United States is a great/awful nation. If you support the war in Iraq, you must be a republican. If you hate Bush, you must be a democrat. Ad nauseum, really.

This display of brilliant illogic invalidates their opinions to me, and any respect they may garner generally goes by the wayside. By making these generalizations, they're throwing aside the rational thought that we're not all lemmings or sheep. They assume, rather than look for evidence. They toe a party line, oftentimes. Or maybe they're just flame-throwing trolls looking for reactions.

And they are wrong. I refuse to be shoe-horned into a box that doesn't fit me. Recently I wrote about the Bush administration spending $50M on the inauguration. The first comment? "Get a better job, ya deadbeat liberal." My disgust at the costs of the inauguration had nothing to do with any party line--they were grounded in common sense. But because I was criticizing a conservative administration, the reader immediately assumed I was liberal. These are the kinds of gross, mass generalizations that don't deserve to see the light of day. Had the reader even finished reading what I wrote, I'd noted that I fall on no side of the spectrum--but s/he immediately pigeon-holed me. By doing this, s/he was invalidating my opinion--and wrongly.

But the worst part of this idiocy is that they use some crude rhetorical device--be it name-calling or using ALL-CAPS--to scream their message, and they get heard. As you've probably heard countless times, don't feed the trolls. If you ignore their incomprehensible ramblings, and ignore their bait, they will probably go away. I've even seen a case where one straightened out and got smart.

Great countries and great philosophies--even bad ones--are based on listening, understanding, and recognizing how human beings act and think. These philosophers and philosophies take ideas and expound on them--theorizing, yes, but on evidence and ideas not yet thought of, or turned and observed from another dimension. And these ideas, in turn, shape our worlds and worldviews. There are many political trolls and politicians who do not have that ability. A valid point may be argued, but an invalid one should waste away from the lack of response.

on Feb 26, 2005
Wow. Very insightful
on Feb 26, 2005
You know, this reminded me of something I just witnessed over at the Friendster discussions. Someone was asking advice about being blog-stalked, and another jerk just came in with something to the effect that "you must be a stupid liberal", and if you can't take criticism, then don't blog. Why did the person assume the troubled user was a liberal... because only liberals assume that anyone would stalk them.

It's a shame that this is a problem that is so widespread.

on Feb 26, 2005
I would like to give you an insightful for this, but I have no idea what it would do to your score (and JU has been really acting up on my lately). So just know I agree 100%. Excellent piece A.
on Feb 26, 2005
Uh oh, I gave ya an insightful. Hopefully it won't reflect negatively. Anyway, good thoughts.
on Feb 26, 2005
Insightful from me too Angloesque. I used to be exactly like you said, but I reformed myself, and now I'm here agreeing with you 100%. So some are salvagable. Of course, most you should just ignore, because they ain't ever reforming.
on Feb 27, 2005
Thanks. My score doesn't appear to be worse from the wear, so perhaps the points system is running fine. BlueDev, I noticed recently that I was able to give someone an insightful and it rated them positively; however, when I gave Ravenblack an "interesting," it did nothing. So I don't know what's up.

NJforever, glad to hear of another who's reformed. I wonder if you had to make a clean break with a new name or go to a new forum, because I have to admit that my deep-seated bias would prevent me from even clicking on more than a few articles by some people who may have changed by this point.

And to everyone: I realize that there is something hypocritical about this article, making generalizations about people who make generalizations. But I felt it was better than naming names.


on Mar 01, 2005
This is exactly why I dont write in the politics forums anymore... besides the Zealots, when you do come up with a political article, it says everything I want to anyway...

on Mar 06, 2005
Excellent article. It really inspired me to keep coming back to the politics forum and dig in the tons of crap for pieces like yours. I guess all of us who are interested in politics have at least once had to deal with someone like this in real life. The difference is that in a conversation you have some control over it, and in a newspaper or journal there is no way to reply. However in a public forum like this, everyone has a chance to express their opinion.

Look at it this way: It is great that you can read everyone's opinion, and everyone can read yours. The price is that we have to put up with idiocy like the one you describe. For me, it's worth it if I can read something sensible like your text once in a while.
on Mar 06, 2005
Look at it this way: It is great that you can read everyone's opinion, and everyone can read yours. The price is that we have to put up with idiocy like the one you describe. For me, it's worth it if I can read something sensible like your text once in a while.

True. I should have pointed that out in my article instead of being so negative. There are good political articles in the forum, and some of them don't get choked up with the partisan detritus. But it is off-putting; I don't like venturing in there too often, and I'm title shy: Anything with the words "liberal," "conservative," or any title that makes a claim about a group of people is one I won't touch. And there are a few users I won't touch, either.

This is exactly why I dont write in the politics forums anymore...

That's too bad. I really liked your political articles, if only because you'd say things I haven't the guts to say at times. Plus you always seem to put a spin on things I hadn't or haven't thought of. You should keep writing them, even if you keep them off the forums. (You're on my sidebar, so you'd get at least me commenting.)