below the belt

Unacceptable selective quotation of Steven den Beste from the usually-better-than-this gang at Crooked Timber:

And over at USS Clueless:

When I�ve read news reports lately about some kinds of obnoxious protests, I have mused to myself, �Perhaps it�s time to issue shoot-to-kill orders to security guards.� Perhaps if some people who made grandstanding protests ended up dead, it might cause others to start really thinking about the consequences of their behavior.

Here's the part immediately following the quote from Steven's actual post:

Obviously I don't think this should really happen. But it does seem to me that a lot of protesters are willing to do the things they do, and say the things they say, and advocate the things they advocate, because they suffer no consequences for it. They have license, but feel no responsibility. There are negative consequences, but someone else suffers the consequences, not the protesters. If such protests had negative consequences for the protesters then protest might become more responsible.

Shameful behavior, and quite damaging to the credibility of the larger point.

However, Steven's actual point in that paragrpah about teh responsibility of protestors is I think founded on the incorrect assumption that disagreement with your government's policies amounts to tangible and material support for your government's enemies. In this case, if you were against teh war on Iraq, and protested, you somehow helped theinsurgents kill US troops and share some of the responsibility for their deaths.

That's a terrible and deeply unamerican attitude towards dissent, and I sincerely hope I have misunderstood Steven's point here. The truth is that dissent is essential - even crazy, over the top, insensitive Ted Rall type dissent - because if the government's policies are sound, then they can withstand the critique. If not, then they won't - and the supporters of the government's policy can cry about media bias if they choose, as means of rationalizing the simple truth that their support was not enough to transform a bad course of action into a good one solely by the strength of their conviction.

The government is losing the support of the people, and it's not because the media has deceived them, it's because the media has informed them of things the Administration has been desperate to hide, such as teh true cost of war in both fiscal and blood terms.

I don't hate Bush, I hate his policies, yet actually feel a strong reservoir of goodwill and gratitude towards him for certain reasons I have previously stated. The terrible attitude towards dissent that SDB is hinting at here stems from the fact that he is a Bush-lover, ie has the same blind appraisal of all of Bush's actions as good, motivated by honest principle, part of some invisible larger plan, etc. that the bush-haters do - except flipped in polarity.

Yes, my blog is labeled UNMEDIA - not as a blind hatred of it, but as a statement that it serves a function quite opposite to it. This blog is opinion and analysis, not journalism. The press, not the media, is doing yeomans' work in bringing facts to the table, and the subtle inferences which analysts like Steven and Glenn tease out of their reports do not have any bearing on teh factual information that is provided to the public to make them informed.

A just war - such as World War II - would stand the strength of media scrutiny. ALL wars except for WWII have endured far worse media scrutiny than this one. Far mroe hostile attacks upon the President, overtly and not subtly biased, and completely unprofessional in comparison to today. Wishing away the failures of the Administration to sell the war despite it's flawed management is shooting the messenger, not the author, to kill.

1 comment:

Tom Paine II said...

Aziz - I suggest you go read the comments to SDB's "shoot-to-kill" suggestion. His readers get his point loud and clear. Steven does nothing to really disabuse his readers of the desirability of offing protesters - at the hands of rent-a-cops, no less.

Just how is it good for SBD - and many, many others - to suggest that killing protesters - or protest itself, for that matter - is something worthy of even fantasy? All of us imagine all kinds of things. However, it's generally considered the one of the first steps on the road to psychosis to begin verbalizing these fantasies in inappropriate contexts.

SDB does say that "...If such protests had negative consequences for the protesters then protest might become more responsible..." Just what does he mean? What should these "negative consequences" be?

How would it sound, as an example, if protesters, in turn, took these threats as just that - threats - and they, in turn decided to "shoot first and ask questions later"? Who among us would deem that appropriate? The logical result of any uncontained (i.e., one where the person threatening doesn't back down) physical threat is the point where someone acts on such a threat, either defensively or offensively (the distinction between them being, of course, in the minds of the beholders).

SDB on one hand says that he doesn't think a shoot-to-kill order should really happen - but then says that protesters should suffer "negative consequences." Huh? His thinking is typical of a whole range of rightwing fools suggesting that the exercise of an essential right in this country should produce negative consequences.

At some point these intimations of violence for legitimate free speech in this country will bear fruit. Why should any of us take the position that threats of such - or verbalized public fantasies - are acceptable?