Thursday, May 14, 2009

Of banning, hypocrisy and empathy

I opened up a discussion earlier this week about my decision to ban long-time commenter and blogger Jay Currie. Comments came from across the political field. I'm still digesting them, and getting a bit of a chuckle, I must admit, from some of the commentary on a parallel thread at his place. What a charming collection of liars and pretentious half-wits he has on his side. But I digress.

Words like "echo-chamber" are being tossed around over there, and this ripe bit of buffoonery from Currie himself: "
It is an interesting example of how the pomo lefty mind works. Lacking arguments, the first move is libel and the second is to crush dissent."

Crushing dissent, eh? That's a bit rich, coming from the starboard side of the 'sphere. I have been banned by Kate McMillan (for the crime of quoting some of her commenters), warned off by Mick Hartley (for defending Terry Eagleton too vigorously), and given a prompt heave-ho by Terry Glavin (who brooks no dissent of any kind at his place, as others will attest). I was pitched from Dust My Broom because the owner disapproved of someone on my blogroll, I lasted about half a day at Speech Warrior™ Nick Packwood's place (Ghost of a Flea), and my comments at Ezra Levant's dive have tended to vanish down the memory hole. And that evil little imp Kathy Shaidle, of course, doesn't allow comments from anyone.

Not a peep out of Currie and his gibbering cheerleaders about any of this, of course. Good grief, the hypocrisy is so thick in that quarter that you could bang your head on it.

But back to the reason for my ban. Obviously it wasn't to "crush dissent," or a lot of the comments on my previous post would never have seen the light of day. It was, as I said at the time, a question of value, not opinion.

A generalization: the Right simply lacks empathy. It's a kind of political Asperger Syndrome. You can easily multiply the examples: when people were drowning like rats in New Orleans, the immediate response of the Right (and Currie was up there with the rest of them) was to blame and mock the victims. Eliminationist rhetoric--wishing political opponents dead--is commonplace on that side of the aisle.

The crushing of a peace activist under an Israeli bulldozer serves merely as an occasion for obscene laughter. The slaughter of Tamils is openly advocated. Reacting to this, I am accused of possessing an "overdone sympathy for people of colour," a fastidious version of that venerable term,
"n----r-lover." (One certainly can't accuse these conservatives of sympathy, overdone or otherwise, when victims of natural or man-made disasters are off-white or politically to the left.)

Of course there are empathetic conservatives, usually of the old school--some regular commenters here, for instance--but the new conservatives generally seem to regard empathy as a vice.

I find that abhorrent--and, admittedly, frightening. "There is no such thing as society," said Maggie Thatcher, as she pulled the wings off a fly. And if everyone were missing that vital part of the human psyche, there would indeed be no society, just a dwindling number of brutes clubbing and being clubbed. A Randian dream.

I've been mulling over my decision, nonetheless. A lot of thoughtful people have commented, pro and con. Some of the "unban" folks are political allies, people I have long respected. Maybe I should invite Currie back to "
live to be the show and gaze o' the time," because he does manifest, at a more literate level than that of his grunting fellows, the fundamental flaws in both politics and character that are the hallmarks of today's conservatives. These need all the critique we can provide. Besides, if folks want to have at him, they shouldn't have to enter his squalid den and endure the inevitable spitting and hissing from the corners.

Unbanned, then. My house has many mansions. Just try not to make a mess on the carpet, and leave the mammals alone.


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