Monday, January 12, 2009

Gadfly Polemics or Enlightened Dissent?

Is there a fine line or any line between dissent and belly aching?

If so, what is it?

Here are some quotes which are purported to be from the 'was that a gadfly comment?' department:
'Oh, to be able to be a gadfly!' --Terry Gilliam

'Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburgers.' -- Abbie Hoffman

'Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.' -- Butch Hancock

'When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.' -- Jonathan Swift
(BBC Article). Either way, it changes when you add 'polemic' to the fray. That word comes from a Greek word attached to the concept "war", and is explained in part by:
polemic: 1638, "controversial argument or discussion," from Gk. polemikos "warlike, belligerent," from polemos "war." Meaning "one who writes in opposition to another" is attested from 1680.

"The worst offense that can be committed by a polemic is to stigmatize those who hold a contrary opinion as bad and immoral men." [John Stuart Mill, 1806-73]
(Dictionary). How does the gadfly polemic syndrome morph into essentially a "repugnant ideology"? They become unfair.

Take the case of the new US president, Barak Obama, who has not yet taken office. Some in the world of "gadfly polemics" are making racial slurs against him, or otherwise condemning him, even before he has any legal power. While he still, pursuant to American law, has to wait.

Blogs can have a lot of good content but still tend to elevate their opinions and preferences over his national mandate (after all, he is president to "us" and to "them"). And whether or not he or anyone else could comply with the demands of the politics of these gadfly polemics on steroids, our Office Of The President is by design an office that will listen. Listen both to "us" and to "them".

Surely most people would agree that gadfly polemics steps over the line of enlightened dissent, and gets far afield and even into foolishness, when a fair and common decency ... "give him and/or her a fair chance" ... is yet to manifest.


  1. I think those blogs tend not to realize that hate itself, in the sense of a strong feeling, is not required before their speech can be properly and technically classified as "hate speech".

    It is the words themselves ... what is said or written ... that makes speech hate speech.

  2. Ruh Roh ... breaking bread with the righties ... is he softening or is he softening them ...

    Meal Fit For a Wing

  3. Hate speech can eventually lead to murder ... even by policemen:

    Officer Charged With Murder

  4. It is all fun and games to the fool. These parents found out the hard way:

    Parents Name Kid Adolf Hitler, Loose Kids

  5. Get your hate threads at Lowla's IQ.

  6. In our nation, compromised seriously by propaganda for decades, we should expect any movement to have been infiltrated by the military oil complex.

    The environmental movement is a prime target of the warster propaganda machine:

    But when it comes to Jackson's nomination, PEER is in the minority in the green community. Most environmental groups support Jackson. Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, has said Jackson is "an excellent choice as the next administrator of the EPA" and that she has been a "strong advocate for the enforcement of environmental laws." The Sierra Club also applauds the pick. Its executive director, Carl Pope, said the organization has a "very close, very positive relationship" with Jackson and that "she brings a strong scientific background to an agency where for the past eight years science and knowledge have been systematically corrupted and disregarded."

    (EcoGadfly Polemics).

  7. Greg,

    I was going to move your post to the open thread, but on second thought realized it contributes to this subject matter in this thread.

    While I do not think "two faced liar" is the most accurate phrase to use, the point you make in your article has a point touched upon in this thread.

    Some of the "progressives" who want to throw the baby out with the bath water, and who would be drawn to your title, are shooting their own interests in the foot.

    Like those who disbanded from Clinton's campaign after she lost, and who thereafter supported McCain.

    That move was disingenuous because MCain was far worse on the issues those Hillary supporters purported to be all about.

    Your article portrays a scenario where Obama is maybe not sincere, maybe sincere, or is sincere on the way he is interacting with republican congress members on some issues.

    I think he sincerely understands the nature of our legislative engine, and that the framers of our system weakened it on purpose. Made it where one party can have a tough time running roughshod over the other.

    In the post Why Trial By Jury? I try to point out that a single trial is a stage where mistakes can be made whereby innocent people are jailed, but that does not condemn the jury system because it is designed to thwart general oppression.

    Likewise, the design of legislative system as a whole is one issue, but individual bills and the back and forth over them is another issue.

    I think that a person can honestly and sincerely disagree with opponents, listen honestly, but in the end disagree without being disagreeable.

    I thought that you showed that to the readership you were targeting, and did it well.

    Lets keep tuned to see how it goes?

  8. One's motives sometimes are in the eye of the beholder.

    There is talk that Obama is going to nominate a republican senator to be commerce secretary.

    The blind men around the elephant see this according to their own localized instincts.

    Obama is deceitful or friendly and fair depending on which part of the elephant one is touching.

  9. Some intentional debate took place on the subject during a conference.