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The heckler's veto

Recently, the Minuteman Project held a meeting in Las Vegas. You might recall these are the volunteers who are concerned about the government's failure to adequately secure our borders, and took it upon themselves to patrol and report illegal aliens entering the country. Naturally, the idea of people taking responsibility for their nation's security has the usual suspects in a lather. At this meeting, these protesters showed up shouted, waved accusatory signs ("racism" was the most common theme), raised foreign flags, and in general proved such a menace that the police on hand (vastly outnumbered) had to keep the Minutmen from going outside and meeting with the protesters, or making any sort of public statement or presence of their own to counter the charges.

This is a common occurrence these days. Peopple are discouraged or openly prevented from acting in perfectly legal manners out of concern that they may provoke an extreme response.

The common term for this is "the heckler's veto." And it, unfortunately, is widely recognized around the world.

In Italy, noted author (and dying cancer victim) Oriana Fallacci is facing trial on criminal charges. Her offense: writing a book that "defames Islam." The specific charges of defamation are spelled out here.

In Europe, a noted politician (Pym Fortuyn) and a noted filmmaker (Theo Van Gogh) have been murdered, and a noted author (Salman Rushdie) lives under a death sentence. Their offenses: "defaming Islam." Others have noted the consequences of speaking their minds, and have learned the wisdom of shutting up instead of challenging the Islamic mobs.

And it just isn't Islam that practices this tactic. Some of the far left have adopted it, but in a less-violent fashion. Several noted conservatives have had their speeches disrupted by pie-wielding assailants, and Pat Buchanan was nailed with salad dressing at an appearance. (OK, that one I can almost condone.)

One aphorism that bears far more attention is that "the best answer to bad speech is more speech." I've argued before that suppression is often counterproductive; it tends to rouse the "forbidden fruit" syndrome and often spreads the suppressed notion far faster than any other response. But I can't let the pragmatic argument overshadow the moral; it is just plain wrong. It's a simple application of might makes right, that the loudest and most violent voices can and should prevail.

And it all boils down to one simple question to the hecklers: just what are you so afraid of that you are willing to go to such extremes to keep people from hearing? Why do you doubt your own ability to answer and refute the argument?

But it is just so much easier to shout them down. Or throw a pie at them. Or just kill them.


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Comments (37)

Same thing happens in Israe... (Below threshold)
Jameel Rashid:

Same thing happens in Israel all the time...but against "Freedom of Religion"

Many Jews want to pray on the Temple Mount (Judaism's holiest site - where the first and second Jewish Temples were built), yet the Israeli government prevents Jews from praying there. Why? The Moslems riot whenever a Jew goes up there and moves their lips in prayer. There is a Moslem mosque on the Temple Mount, which is Islam's 3rd holiest site. Therefore...if they see a Jew trying to pray, he gets accosted, arrested, and thrown off the Temple Mount. Then, the riot starts, with the Moslems saying "The Jews are trying to destory the Mosque"

Of course, the Temple Mount is SUCH a holy site to the Moslems, that it doesn't stop Palestinian children from playing soccer up there. No Jewish Prayer - since thats an abomination. Soccer - cool.

So much for Freedom of Religion...and don't get me started on Sharon's plan to "disengage" from the Gaza Strip - and kick the Jewish settlers out of Gaza. Arabs can live in Israel - its just that the Jews can't live among Arabs (without being slaughtered).



Slander the President, the ... (Below threshold)
DL from Heidelberg:

Slander the President, the Pope, Christianity's sacred figures, western values and it can make you rich. Slander Islam and it can make you dead. When will the left wake-up.

Leftists are not liberal; l... (Below threshold)

Leftists are not liberal; like Islamists, they don't consider disagreement with their dogma as legitimate. Their tenets are Revealed Truth™ and as such, there is nothing illegitimate in stopping or disrupting infidels and apostates.

The debacle in Baldwan Park, CA, where mobs of Reconquistas and their fellow travelers declared the area off limits to Americans, including signs that declared the US is "Nazi", "F*** the Alamo", etc, is yet another chapter in the continued assault against US sovereignty.

Yeah, sadly the extremists ... (Below threshold)

Yeah, sadly the extremists of the far Left find far more to like about the splodeydopes than about their own country -- and their tactics for "engaging" those who disagree seem to come from the same handbook.

"Why do you doubt your own ... (Below threshold)

"Why do you doubt your own ability to answer and refute the argument?"

Excellent point.

Darleen,You fail t... (Below threshold)


You fail to understand that Leftist are to Liberals as Islamofascist Muslims are to the Muslim faith. The latter seem to not speak out directly against those who are extremes in their affiliation. It's almost like their silence reaffirms these extreme actions in a clever defense. In their hearts they really aggree with it but they can always say "DON'T LUMP US TOGETHER." If not, why aren't they as passionate as those who directly oppose them?

"Slander the President, the... (Below threshold)

"Slander the President, the Pope, Christianity's sacred figures, western values and it can make you rich. Slander Islam and it can make you dead. When will the left wake-up."

Oh, they're awake. They've simply chosen to take the enemy's side.

I agree with you on this on... (Below threshold)

I agree with you on this one Jay. When people like these protesters start threatening others, as a protest to violence or hatred or whatever...well...that really seems to defeat the purpose. It's stupid to be some "peace" protester, or "anti-hatred" protester, while basically hating others. It's certainly important to wonder why they wont let the other side even speak. It really pisses me off when people start acting in ways that severely contradict what they profess they are all about. Maybe if more people calmed down and actually listened to each other they could figure this particular thing out...but that might be a bit too idealistic huh?

That said...I have to say that the people on here who like to keep automatically equating the left, or liberals, with the enemy can be just as narrow minded as anyone out there.

I happen to disagree often with people on here, but I certainly dont think that my views are the only legitimate views. I dont think that just because I dont see eye to eye with everyone on here means that they must be anti-American or some bullshit like that. I think that they have a different opinion, and I respect that. We're all American citizens, entitled to our own opinions.

People can disagree with the policies of this administration, or certain actions that our country takes, without being anti-American. Thats what this whole democratic system is supposed to be about...so that we dont all have to blindly follow some dictator's orders. It's good that people can speak their mind.

If any of you disagree with what people say or do, then why not try explaining to them why you disagree? Maybe try to convince them that yours is the better view, instead of calling them traitors and all that crap.

Shouting "traitor" at people who disagree with you is just as weak as not letting someone speak, in my opinion.

I'll be more direct, Jay --... (Below threshold)

I'll be more direct, Jay -- not that you haven't been -- and that is that it was/is racists from Mexico protecting illegal immigration as some "right" of Mexicans, etc. who heckled that Minutemen gathering you mention.

And, apparently, have now created a few bogus websites for to further sucker American dollars out of the hands of Americans. Fraud, heckling, throwing things, rioting...not the behavior of honorable folks, but the behavior by those who heckled (makes it sound almost harmless) the Minutemen gathering that you mention.

Oh, let's see, what else: one of their kind drove a vehicle into a peacefully assembled group of people who were trying to listen to the speeches at that Minuteman meeting, running down several people. Some of the others threw soda cans that were filled into the group, even at the police, some of them tried to bash people with flag poles on which they hurled the Mexican flag....

These are people who are not even in the country legally trying to silence American citizens who were not violating even so much as loud noises restrictions (The Minutemen gathering). I was googling the illegal vandals/criminals yesterday and it seems that they're funded a great deal by Soros' indymedia, trying to drum up the idea that California "belongs to Mexico" and that illegal immigration is their "right." If you can figure any of that out, let me know.

And, don't be fooled by the... (Below threshold)

And, don't be fooled by the Villiarosa guy who has just squeaked into the Mayor of Los Angeles office...the guy was/is an activist for the ACLU and for MECha, the racist Mexican Aztlan group, a guy who thinks he's clean now that he corraled some donations for the Weisenthal Center in Los Angeles (that makes it alright, I guess, if you listen to Villiarosa).

Apparently he's now in the Mayor's office because a swing voter group objected to the previous Mayor having fired the now-former Chief of Police, who was/is black.

It's sad to see so much of Southern CA driven and motivated by racism, but it's the racists who are now trying to call everyone else racists. Very sad times for Los Angeles, which now is being promoted as a city taking it's directions from Mexico, not from the United States. It's really sad.

"Oh, they're awake. They've... (Below threshold)

"Oh, they're awake. They've simply chosen to take the enemy's side."

Because accussing someone of treason isn't a form of "heckler's veto"? This isn't a form of verbal intimidation?

Oh and here's an excellent example of the right's confident powers of refutation:

"Just your usial bunch of sewer mouthed supporters of illeagl imagrints and terrorists lovers showing what a bunch of assholes they are tell them to screw it and go jump in a lake."

Some of you people here should really start practicing what you preach. As to Jay's argument I agree with him 100 hundred percent. Although I'd like to know where he stands on the incident in which the cops dragged away a college kid who dared ask Anne Coulter, during a Q&A session, if she supported ass fucking among heterosexuals. Or where does Jay stand on the angry Republican operatives who stormed the election offices demanding a stop to the vote counting in Broward country during the 2000 election. I bet he and everyone else here has a good reason why these and other incidents are okay.

frameoneThat's som... (Below threshold)


That's some really bad sh*t you're smoking.

Put down the pipe and step away.

What a thoughtful response ... (Below threshold)

What a thoughtful response to the suggestion that the Right might engage in its own brand of thuggery to suppress speech:

"That's some really bad sh*t you're smoking.

Put down the pipe and step away."

For bonus points can anyone here tell me why the President's precisely stage-managed, carefully vetted "townhall-style" meetings on Social Security a) don't evince a willingness to go to extremes to keep from hearing a certain point of view and b) how they help to sharpen the President's ability to "answer and refute" the arguments against his plan?

I guess it's just so much easier to live in a bubble.

frameone: neener, neener.<... (Below threshold)

frameone: neener, neener.

frameone: neener, neener!<... (Below threshold)

frameone: neener, neener!

This is simply a further ex... (Below threshold)

This is simply a further extension of a common fault the left has always had - their own personal beliefs can never withstand other people's personal beliefs being expressed, especially when those beliefs happen to disagree, or, God forbid, punch holes in their own beliefs.

Confused now?

Basically, since they cannot come up with any rational, logical, reasonable argument against the topics, they do their damnably best to suppress the people speaking/acting out against them. It used to be just protesting and shouting matches, but, as you demonstrated, it has devolved to senseless murders.

No, not all liberals/lefties/etc. subscribe to this "theory", but those that do are more than making up for their more-rational bretheren.

It's sad when the left uses... (Below threshold)

It's sad when the left uses the heckler's veto. I remember when some students shouted down Jerry Falwell in NY City. They interviewed one of the protesters on TV - she said "we don't believe in free speech for fascists".

Actually, isn't that exactly who free speech is for - the people who are out of the mainstream? The First Amendment is for Lenora Fulani and Andrea Dworkin, Patrick Buchanan and David Duke. It's intended to protect the voice of the dissenter, the powerless, the minority.

frameone did ask a good que... (Below threshold)

frameone did ask a good question:

Because accussing someone of treason isn't a form of "heckler's veto"? This isn't a form of verbal intimidation?

...which nobody has yet answered. I brought up the same point earlier, but for some reason nobody seems inclined to respond. I wonder why.

Ryan (and frameone),... (Below threshold)

Ryan (and frameone),
No one responded because it is a ridiculous assertion.

Identifying certain behavior as "treasonous" and the people engaging in it as "traitors" is a judgment. It is not shouting. It is not throwing pies. It is not running people down. It is not using vulgar language in a public place for shock effect. It is comparing an action (or words) to a set of values and expressing how those actions (or words) fail to measure up as a principled opposition.

If someone doesn't like having their opinions or actions to be called treasonous, they can try to explain it better. There's not much I can do to someone who hits me because I dare to say that affirmative action is racist in essence, is there?

Frameone really doesn't get it: he uses the example of someone purposefully disrupting a speech and says that the lawful actions to remove him and end his heckler's veto is just as bad as the heckler's veto itself. Up is down, bad is good, and frameone's logic is about as straight as a pretzel.

But I'm sure he'll be offended that I'm stifling his free speech and claim that conservatives are all meanies who bully sensitive liberals like him, and so the actions of these hecklers is now justified.

The whining just gets tiresome after a while, yanno?

Ryan, nobody answered your ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Ryan, nobody answered your and frame's "question" because it was pretty much universally accepted as too stupid a point to refute. But if you insist, I'll do so.

When during the course of a political argument, one party calls the other a "traitor," the accused party has a choice of several options:
1) They can deny the charges;
2) They can dismiss the charge;
3) They can ignore the charge;
4) They can refute the charge;
5) They can use the charge to counterattack their opponent as a whacko.

Now, in the example I cited, there really isn't any choice of responses. When one is shouted down, pied in the face, or knifed in the back, there really isn't an adequate verbal response. And anyone who equates the use of a single word with the use of force to smother debate is beyond an idiot.

I trust that's an adequate response, ryan?


Thanks JayFrameone... (Below threshold)

Thanks Jay

Frameone wearies me. He uses the usual tactic of making a ridiculous opening statement then tosses in a kitchensink full of non-related events he frames in his own risible POV.

Good Lord, don't some people ever let go of the 2000 election???!!

Jay:Ahh...insults.... (Below threshold)


Ahh...insults. Very clever.

Basically, I get frameone's point, in that the behaviors exhibited by the protesters are deplorable, but also people on here arent the most civil either, especially towards them "liberals".

If you read my first response, you would see that I agreed with your original post. What concerned me after that was all the holier than thou types who started calling all Liberals traitors, equating them with the enemy, and all of that shit. It's the same kind of narrow minded behavior that they're proclaiming to be so apalled by, and thats ironic.

Now, I will remember to spell it out next time, but I dont put verbal attacks on par with physical coercion by any means. Even frameone called it a FORM of the Heckler's Veto, and I got his/her point. It's a related behavior, where instead of behaving in an understanding or open minded way, people respond with fear, hatred, or hostility. It happens on here (Wizbang) all the time.

Nathan:It is co... (Below threshold)


It is comparing an action (or words) to a set of values and expressing how those actions (or words) fail to measure up as a principled opposition.

What you're talking about sounds more like ideological disagreement than anything, which would not merit the treason charge.

Treason is "a violation of allegiance towards one's country."

There's big difference between the treason charge and saying that you disagree with a person. Treason is a crime against our country. Political disagreements are a healthy part of our democratic system.

If someone doesn't like having their opinions or actions to be called treasonous, they can try to explain it better.

Or maybe people should refrain from making such serious charges in the context of debate, unless its really warranted. Calling someone a traitor is like saying that they want to see the United States get defeated, like saying that they want to see Americans die, and I think is a very serious charge to be making. I see it used way too easily around here.

Frameone's point, I think, was that calling someone your enemy, just because they disagree with you politically or ideologically is similar to what those protesters are doing....they arent listening or trying to understand the other side, instead they are calling them racists and all that, and making things worse.

Frameone really doesn't get it: he uses the example of someone purposefully disrupting a speech and says that the lawful actions to remove him and end his heckler's veto is just as bad as the heckler's veto itself.

I agree that the examples he/she used were less than stellar. But what I'm saying is that I get his/her point...I see what they're trying to say, and I think it's relevant. People like to talk trash about others' behaviors without considering their own...something like that. The pot and the kettle, etc.

The whining just gets tiresome after a while, yanno?

I can understand that, definitely. I know that Liberal arguments get really whiny, lame, and repetitive.

From my perspective, this "traitor" charge is one of the conservative tactics that gets really old, and is used way too often to get around having to actually debate or be reasonable.

No one responded because it is a ridiculous assertion.

Charging someone with treason is serious. Is it really so ridiculous to put that in the same catagory as other behaviors that attempt to silence opposition?

Calling dissenters traitors is an old way of trying to keep them quiet by instilling fear in them, by turning people who disagree into outright enemies.

Charging someone wit... (Below threshold)

Charging someone with treason is serious. I agree.

...who has been charged?


So I find it disingenuous at best for a group who accuses President Bush of lying about WMD to equate being called "traitors" (but not charged, mind you) to a "heckler's veto".

It's nothing more than a variation of the "Free speech for me, but not for thee" that runs so rampant among liberals.

However, I freely admit: Jay Tea answered it better than I did.

Nathan:Ok, now we'... (Below threshold)


Ok, now we're going to play semantic games. The third definition of "charge" in my webster is "accuse or blame". Come on, dont resort to that shit...you know what I was saying.

So I find it disingenuous at best for a group who accuses President Bush of lying about WMD to equate being called "traitors" (but not charged, mind you) to a "heckler's veto".

That means you think its bullshit to equate calling people traitors with the hecklers veto, which is your opinion. I personally see some similarities in the two, at least in intent. People who are threatened with violence are kept from speaking their minds. People who are called traitors for speaking their minds might feel less inclined to speak their minds as well. Its a softer form of the same shit. Basically calling someone your enemy isnt going to foster any mutual understanding.

I'm not trying to limit anyone's free speech by any means. I'm not saying that conservatives CANT go around calling Liberals traitors, or that it isnt their right. Sure it is. They can do whatever the hell they want. I see people resort to it here, however, and I think they use it to avoid debate, and I think its a chickenshitted way of going about things...but by all means...keep it up all you guys.

I agree that there are plenty of Liberal accusations that are just as over the top and out of line as anything.

In civil discourse matters, alot of this falls under the same category for me:

1. Heckler's Veto=being an asshole
2. Equating Bush to Hitler=being an asshole
3. Calling people who disagree with your ideas a traitor=being an asshole
4. Hating Conservatives because they're conservatives=being an asshole
5. Hating Liberals because they're liberals=being an asshole
6. Asking Ann Coulter a rude question during a speech=being an asshole
7. Writing books that accuse Liberals of Treason=being an asshole

you get the point.

Of course, acting like an asshole is perfectly legal, with freedom of speech and all, but where does that get us???

Darleen:Good Lo... (Below threshold)


Good Lord, don't some people ever let go of the 2000 election???!!

In that line of thinking...why dont you guys just get over what these protesters did to the Minutemen?

Ah...because its something that you feel is important, thats why. Maybe Frameone genuinely feels that what happened during the 2000 election was important as well. You're asking him/her to stop caring about it simply because you dont give a damn about it, instead of trying to understand another point of view.

Ryan,I wasn't playin... (Below threshold)

I wasn't playing semantic games. I thought you meant "charged" as in "charged with a crime".

But if you are going to consider someone calling someone "unpatriotic" as equal to what Jay Tea was calling a "Heckler's Veto" (and you are going to have to define who is slinging "treason" accusations and at whom...I've never used the term, myself, but I have pointed out that the national press doesn't seem to put the welfare of the nation as one of their priorities), well, I still think that's ridiculous.
Or else, I can now accuse (charge?) you with stifling my dissent by disagreeing with me and making me feel bad, thus making it less likely that I'll speak my mind in the future.
You, Ryan, are now just as bad as Saddam Hussein putting people in shredders for daring to disagree with him.
Of course I'm not serious with that last sentence. But this is the type of equating that I see frameone (especially), and you (to a lesser extent) trying to make. It's like Teresa-Heinz Kerry complaining that someone questioned her husband's patriotism, calling that the worst sort of unfair criticism, and then immediately questioning some Republican's (Bush's? Cheney's? I can't remember) patriotism.

If you really still don't get it, I'm not sure what else to do but repeat it again:
It is ridiculous to consider an accusation of treason (or being a traitor) to be equal to violence, disruption, or shouting someone down. If you hit me for speaking, or make noise to prevent people from hearing me, or raise enough stink to force someone to cancel my speech, you prevent me from having my say at all. That is a Heckler's Veto. That is cowardice. That is oppression. That is a violation of my right to speech.
But if I call you a traitor, with no authority to back it up, or no attempt to bring legal action, then you are free to respond in any way, including totally ignoring my accusation. Your right to free speech isn't affected. You still have your forum. If you choose to be so offended or cowed by a mere word into not speaking, that reflects more on your lack of commitment to your principles. Any 'stifling' of your speech happens entirely within your own skull.
And so I'm forced to conclude that the people complaining about being accused of being traitors aren't being honest. They are intentionally using any excuse to pre-empt criticism while retaining their own right to say whatever they want (usually going on to call for an impeachment of President Bush for 'high crimes and misdemeanors'...because he believed his Intel Director, I guess).

It's a little kid complaining to Mommy: "He was going to hit me back!"

Not a "Minuteman" and don... (Below threshold)

Not a "Minuteman" and don't even know any of those who are participating in that effort. What I am is a government trained, professional killer who has been adequately indoctrinated to recognize my countries enemies and apply the skills which I was so adequately embued with to eliminate them. When the time comes, if it ever does, one might want to buy large amounts of bodybag stock. Patiently we await the call!

screw Islam. I don't frigg... (Below threshold)

screw Islam. I don't frigging care if someone flushed a Koran. I will whipe my butt with one. If you have a problem with that, come to poppa for me to cut your balls off.

Ryan,I should clarif... (Below threshold)

I should clarify, I don't thing you have done that here. But that's why I feel the question remains ridiculous.

I do think Frameone was engaging in such skewed equivalency to a certain extent; but in doing so, he was certainly acting as a stand-in for all the petulant liberal Democrat leaders, spokesmen, and activists that have made pretty much the same argument since 9/11. You are getting the brunt of my explanation, Ryan, because you asked.


Nathan:I have to c... (Below threshold)


I have to commend you on providing strong responses without insults or personal attacks. I have a great deal of respect for that.

Your points are well taken.

But if I call you a traitor, with no authority to back it up, or no attempt to bring legal action, then you are free to respond in any way, including totally ignoring my accusation. Your right to free speech isn't affected.

Well said.

If you choose to be so offended or cowed by a mere word into not speaking, that reflects more on your lack of commitment to your principles. Any 'stifling' of your speech happens entirely within your own skull.

Well said again. Good points.

I basically get tired of people dismissing others on here as traitors, instead of actually trying to understand a different perspective. I think that some people with less than well thought out arguments stand behind such tactics, instead of trying to actually discuss or engage with people they disagree with. You know where I'm coming from there? I'm pretty fed up with the red state vs. blue state mentality at this point. Sometimes I feel like it goes way too far, on both sides of the fence.

I personally dont give a damn what people call me, and have no problem defending myself.

So, I'll have to concede the main argument to you and say that indeed there is a great deal of difference between forceful silencing and accusing someone of being a traitor, and that equating the two isnt the greatest idea of all time. The connection was weak and tentative, and I milked it and ultimately ran dry until I had to go to the local 7-11 and buy another half pint just to make it through this post. Ha.

They are intentionally using any excuse to pre-empt criticism while retaining their own right to say whatever they want (usually going on to call for an impeachment of President Bush for 'high crimes and misdemeanors'...because he believed his Intel Director, I guess).

Right. It gets old hearing the same lines over and over again, and thats one of the issues that I have with the lefties. They keep saying the same shit about Bush, yet all they have to do is read the commission report to realize that he wasnt all that gung ho about going into Iraq...it wasnt really his deal. From what I can tell, he kinda got talked into it by the PNAC types. Certain people were really pushing for going into Iraq, feeling that the time was right.

And the same people that are calling Bush a Nazi and calling for his impeachment are the ones bitching about being called traitors. I see where you're coming from. I wasnt really looking at it that way.

ryan: MOST of us try not t... (Below threshold)

ryan: MOST of us try not to respond to trolling. A "question" was "posed" that was so clearly a trolling, bating technique (state an irrational thing, challenge anyone to respond to it, then taunt anyone who does or does not respond...it's trolling and you are revealing yourself here as to what many of us have surmised a while ago).

No response will work for you (more trolling behavior). But, go ahead, knock yourself out on someone else's bandwidth...you continue to reveal your own character and it's helpful to perhaps provide others the impetus to just keep scrolling whenever they see your user I.D. here (as with frameone).

The Minutemen are heroes and a lot of us regard them as such. The heckling only reveals hecklers, and trolling only reveals trolls. It's predictable that as with The Minutemen making sense, they're being harassed increasingly. In fact, by this point, it's becoming a measure of how much sense someone does make, as to how much heckling and harassment (and trolling) they garner afterward: the latter indicates the former. Make sense, be effective = hecklers appear, harassment begins, increases, trolling occurs. It's a predictable process.

Deport all illegal immigrants. No amnesty, no benefits, no reward for criminal behaviors.

Nathan:After more ... (Below threshold)


After more thinking I want to ask you what you think about this situation, which is a frequent occurence around these parts:

A liberal comes on here and makes an assertion, which many people disagree with.

Multiple commenters respond, but instead of telling the Liberal why they disagree, they instead resort to personal attacks by calling them a traitor, moonbat, idiot, etc.

Thats what I was talking about. In this particular context, it is a form of "might makes right", where debate is squashed and name calling takes over. I see it happen quite often here, but also in places like DKos toward Conservatives. Maybe it should be called the eHeckler's Veto or something!

Of course people can spend all day trying to defend themselves from the all the commenters who accuse them of any number of things, but by that time, the actual debate is often long gone. Usually, they just stop responding.

The ultimate result is that Liberals do not post here, their views are not heard, and people on here are content with their happy little echo chamber. The same thing happens in reverse on the Dkos site, where conservatives are attacked so much that they stop trying to respond. I dont like any of it, and it has a certain mob mentality about it.

It still looks vaguely similar to the end result of the Heckler's Veto, where the group that uses its higher numbers or greater force silences the other viewpoint.

I already condeded the debate and fell upon my sword, as they say, but I had to add this, just to see what you think. I wasnt sure if you understood that I was specifically talking about this particular context.

Apologies if this double-po... (Below threshold)

Apologies if this double-posts:

Thanks. I worried I had gone too far a few times. The thing is, you showed enough to make me think you weren't actually trolling.

Lacking facial expressions and tone of voice...heck, even lacking the normal exchange series of a voice conversation, different viewpoints get lost as we shout past each other. I'm glad you and I could avoid that.

..but then, blogging for nearly three years has certainly increased my patience and maturity. Feel free to stop by my blog and leave comments/questions any time. You don't have a blog?

Ryan,Somehow I misse... (Below threshold)

Somehow I missed your final question until just now. Sorry about that.

I've been on both sides of this issue, I think. I've responded badly to trolls, I've treated people like trolls who were asking honest questions, I've been treated like a troll when I was asking honest questions...
It isn't pleasant to be treated like a troll when you aren't trying to be one, to be sure.

Part of the problem is that in a normal conversation, 60% of the communication is separate from the words. Emoticons help, but we are still using a woefully incomplete mode of communication to carry on conversations.

"Blogging" is still young, and the etiquette is still evolving.

Another part of the problem is when you have a group of friends discussing issues for quite some time, they don't really wish to cover ground they feel they've already covered. So when someone like you comes in and tries to re-address something other people feel has already been laid to rest, they don't react all that well.

Which is sad, but perhaps inavoidable.

The more people visit and comment on a site, the less likely it is that I will participate in the conversation. Partly because of what you described.

I don't think it's necessarily "echo-chamber" dynamics as much as a consensus forms among a majority of readers, and then anyone who comes in and challenges the consensus without "paying one's dues" is met with resentment and sometimes anger.

A blog proprietor has to make an effort to control debate and keep it civil to create an environment where a newcomer is allowed to come in and challenge assumptions.

I like to think one such blog is mine own; another certainly is Resurrection Song, as long as you don't call Zombyboy a racist or mis-spell his mis-spelled name.

And therein lies the clue: one of the unspoken aspects of developing blog etiquette is that you should observe a while and adjust your questions/challenges to be more palatable to the regulars. But I think few people really realize that's the requirement they have.

There are plenty of debates and challenges accepted here, I assure you. However, you may need to adjust how you approach it, whether or not that's fair...

I hope that helps.

-S-:The funny thin... (Below threshold)


The funny thing is that I have repeatedly said that I have an understanding for other viewpoints, including your own viewpoint. Whereas I might not always agree with you, I try to at least understand where you're coming from.

However, you continually make these weird accusations about my character, as if you actually know me, or have some great insight into what I'm all about. I dont get it. Why not just disagree with me and leave all the anti-american, character judging, accusing, name calling shit out?

People can disagree without becoming mortal enemies you know.

And just to let you know, if you read my first comment on here you will see that I already said that I agree that the protesters were acting like idiots, which they were. And if you actually read anything that I wrote about illegal immigration, you would see that I do not support or defend illegal immigration. I am simply saying that we should start looking into whats really happening, and who is involved, instead of putting all the blame on one aspect.

Try to keep an open mind.

Nathan:No worries.... (Below threshold)


No worries. You didnt go too far...not once did you accuse me of being a traitor or call me an idiot or any of that usual nonsense.

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

I have to admit that I am not all that new around these parts. I first started checking this site after the November election, due to frustration with how divided everyone was. I was coming from a more Liberal perspective, but was pretty displeased with the hatred that was coming from their camp and directed at conservatives. Both sides were engaging in the same behavior, IMO.

So, I started checking this site and a couple others with the idea in my head that conservatives weren't some evil bunch of warmongers, as many liberals like to believe, but just people with a differing viewpoint, and one that is just as valid as any other. I also still have the opinion that Liberals are not treasonous anti-american commies, but instead people with a different point of view, etc. I feel that both sides, all sides, have something to add to American politics.

I have to admit that attempting to have some sort of dialogue here hasnt been the easiest thing of all time. Many people respond to different viewpoints with ridicule and name calling and other grade school tactics. I noticed the same thing happen to conservatives who honestly tried to debate with people on DKos, and I really didnt like it. The supposedly open minded democrats really tore into people for having a different perspective, and I thought that was wrong. In fact, I started writing some things on there suggesting that maybe it would be better to engage with conservatives instead of continually calling them evil nazis. It wasnt too well received.

I get the same reaction on here when I suggest that maybe it would be better to try to understand where Liberals are coming from...not well received. People seem to prefer the Ann Coulter/Michael Moore political bashing system that we have going now, which is humorous and entertaining, but not very effective as a problem solving tool.

Thanks for the tips. I do understand what you are saying about paying one's dues, and framing challenges the right way. I post on here basically because although I disagree with conservatives on many issues, I DO NOT THINK they are stupid, or evil, or any of that nonsense. Theirs is an important viewpoint, and worth taking the time to understand. Thats what I think...

Take it easy Nathan...I'll check your blog from now on.







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