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View Diary: Glenn Beck's exterminationist talk (352 comments)

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  •  You know, I thought about this, and maybe (0+ / 0-)

    you really are confused.  On that assumption, I'll try here to explain why the very first comment in this thread (the one I copied above) was inherently dishonest, and in my opinion inappropriate (which is why I responded).  I believe the subsequent discussion can then be more easily understood.  As I said, context matters.

    Now, before we get into Rwanda, let me take a moment to explain why Nazi references are generally bad.  I do this primarily because I suspect you will have an easier time understanding in this case.

    First off, there is Goodwin's law and its corollaries.  But more importantly, it is almost always a logical fallacy, and a dishonest one at that.  The purpose of invoking Nazis is almost always to inflame, tarring some subject or action with the horrific outcomes of the Nazi regime.  For example:

    You: I like water.  It's good to drink.

    Me: What?!? Hitler loved water!  He made sure all the Nazis drank a lot of it!  Whad'ya think of that, eh?

    You: WTF?!?

    See what I did there?  I took the completely innocuous act of drinking water, which Hitler and most Nazis certainly did, and attached to it the atrocities of the Nazi regime, with the implication that the Nazis did the terrible things they did in part because they drank water.  This is ridiculous.  More importantly, it is offensive.  It belittles the atrocities committed by the Nazis and dishonors their victims.

    Of course, that was a ridiculous example.  How about this one:

    Me: Violent rhetoric is dangerous!  These bastards are playing with fire.

    You: Yeah, it sounds like 1930's Germany.  Hell, they're even breaking windows and the Teabaggers are practically brownshirts.

    Me: WTF?!?

    Now that's a little less obvious.  The difficulty here is that the propaganda efforts were indeed an integral part of what made the evil committed by the Nazis possible.  However, the problem is that it implies that unchecked, right-wing propaganda is directly responsible for what the Nazis did.  I know, you're saying, "What? That's not what I said!".  But it is.  See, there have been lots of instances of violent, right-wing rhetoric throughout numerous countries, including our own (see Father Coughlin), during the past century.  We did not, as it turned out, single out various ethnic minorities and proceed to exterminate them.  (Well, we did, but not in the 20th century).  So, while again the comparison is strictly accurate, in practice it is again playing upon the horror of the Nazis to tar the previously described actions with consequences far beyond those that are actually imminent, with the specific intention of inflaming.  Again, it is dishonest to do so, offensive, belittling and dishonors the Nazi's victims.

    That's the Nazis.  What about Rwanda?  Well, the very first comment in this thread said:

    The question is when will Fox itself be pulled off the air?  It is no more than a slick version of Radio Rwanda with higher production values.

    What is the commenter doing here?  Calling for censorship (yes, that's what the first sentence is doing despite being phrased as an interrogative) based upon the assertion that Fox is essentially identical to Radio Rwanda.  Why choose Radio Rwanda?  Is it because of the local African content on Fox?  Or that it sounds like a radio station?  No, of course not.  It is precisely to imply the consequences that followed Radio Rwanda, namely the horrific murder of nearly a million innocent people, is the inevitable consequence of Fox news.  To paraphrase the comment: "Censor Fox, otherwise we'll end up like Rwanda!"  This, of course, hyperbole, and dishonest.  Worse, it is an offensive misuse of the tragedy.

    Now, you would be forgiven for saying, "But, those were the consequence of Radio Rwanda!  And Fox does marginalize and dehumanize the opposition in the same way!"  Indeed.  But the consequences of hate speech are dependent upon many things beyond the speech itself, and to suggest that the speech is solely responsible is sloppy.  Besides, would it really have been so much less compelling to say:

    The question is when will Fox itself be pulled off the air?  It's no better than the shit that drove McVeigh to kill 168 people.  If they keep it up, they'll have more blood on their hands.

    Or, reference Dr. Tiller's murder.  Or the murder of the Pittsburgh police officers.  Or the burning of black churches in the 60's.  Or any number of other domestic terrorism incidents, which are more appropriate in scale and share the cultural and economic issues at play here.  That is, a more honest comparison.

    Okay, so what about the comments that followed?  Well, let's see.  In short we have, in paraphrase with my interpretations in parentheses

    Commenter1: Fox is like Radio Rwanda (Failure to shut up fox leads to horrific genocide)

    Me: WTF?!?  That's bull.  Radio Rwanda was directing death squads!

    You: Well, Radio Rwanda did a bunch of shit slowly and bad shit happened.  Bad shit could happen here. (Radio Rwanda wasn't always abject evil.  At one point it was just crappy, like Fox.  Bad shit could eventually happen.)

    Commenter2: Well, Fox is already directing crazy shit! (See!  It's almost like directing stuff, like Radio Rwanda did!)

    Me: You can't be serious.  Teabaggers != death squads.

    Commenter3: Well, McVeigh did kill a bunch of people. (Teabaggers = death squads, in fact!)

    Me: The comparison is without merrit. (You are on fucking crack!)

    Commener4: Teabaggers love them some McVeigh. They threw him a party!  (No really, at least Teabaggers want to = death squads)

    Me: WTF!?!

    [queue our interesting interaction]

    Now maybe I misread that.  Most of those were probably off-the-cuff, poorly thought out comments.  Doesn't make it any better.  It's all a bunch of sloppy thinking.  Sloppy and offensive thinking.

    Hope that helps.

    Justice deferred is justice denied. -MLK

    by zephron on Fri Apr 23, 2010 at 09:14:20 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for your clarification. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zephron

      That there is hyperbole on DailyKos is a given at this point.  Much of what is posted here is pretty much "rallying the base" type stuff--to be sure, there is plenty of useful info, too, but one does need to wade through quite a bit of over-the-top language to get to the nuggets of truth.  

      I suppose when I read these threads I simply put my hyperbole filtering glasses on and try to focus on the real topic at hand.  If some people were actually making an explicit comparison to genocide, it eluded me.  And frankly, I really am a bit worried at this right wing rhetoric.  It's not just Beck, listen to the ever-escalating venom emanating from Mark Levin on AM radio these days--in many ways he outdoes Beck.  And yes, I do believe it is already inciting some woefully ignorant listeners to take violent action.  No, I do not think there should be censorship.  Never did suggest that, though others did.  But my worry is that it's almost like an addiction for these blowhards, they have to keep topping themselves with outrageous behavior to keep getting the same effect.  Have they crossed the line into outright "directing?"  Not yet.  But I won't be a bit surprised if it happens.

      Nothing in the world, however base nor however good, nor however theoretically admirable, can justify murder as an act of policy. - James Cameron (journalist)

      by Jimbo47 on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 12:19:53 PM PDT

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      •  Violent rhetoric is bad. (0+ / 0-)

        Period.  It debases the debate and divides people along imaginary lines.  It should be denounced in the harshest possible terms.  And, yes, it's on the rise again.

        However, have faith!  Look at Father Coughlin.  Look at the crap spewed across the South in the 60's (where it came to a head).  This is not the worst it has been by any stretch of the imagination, and that is a comforting, if not particularly satisfying, thought.

        Justice deferred is justice denied. -MLK

        by zephron on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 02:41:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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