Saturday, January 15, 2005

"Lazy equivalence" and the first annual Gatsby awards.

(Since I'm about to start packing for a trip and will be offline most of Sunday, I better get the blogging out of my system now. And before you read this piece, you might want to warm up with
the earlier one. Just some friendly advice. It's going to be a busy day so this piece will probably seem a bit rushed.)

Picking up where we left off with the momentous, right-wing echo chamber, content-free, total spin bullshit story about how two openly liberal, left-wing bloggers publicly did some campaign-funded work for Democratic presidential candidates, there's an interesting take on this by Dan Gillmor where almost everything that needs to be said is right there in the first sentence:

'The WSJ fell into what I call the "lazy equivalence" trap in this story today about two bloggers who got paid as consultants by the Dean presidential campaign.'

"Lazy equivalence". What a perfect description -- the strategy of trying to equate two wildly disparate events to make them seem equally pernicious. (Mind you, I take some exception with Gillmor calling it "lazy" equivalence. I'd prefer something like "deliberate". Or "ridiculously dishonest". You get the idea. But let's not get too far off track, shall we? Onward.)

Regarding the alleged "pay for blog" non-story, David from NYC does, with a single table, what words can't do justice to. If you're a right-wing hack, those are the differences you're supposed to ignore and sweep under the rug when no one's looking. ("Well, yes, I suppose there are some minor diff ... Hey! Look at the bright shiny thing over there!")

But it's not like lazy equivalence is anything new. We've all seen it before:

Liberal: "I think it's disgusting that Bill O'Falafel sexually harassed a co-worker. And that Arnold Schwarzenegger molested and groped over a dozen women."

Right-wing hack: "Yeah, but Bill Clinton got a hummer in the Oval Office. So there."

Apparently, in right-wing blogworld, there's no difference between consensual and non-consensual sex. Of course, lazy equivalence doesn't stop there:

Liberal: "I think it's outrageous that George Bush lied about WMDs and Iraq's participation in the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to provoke the United States into an illegal invasion of another country that cost hundreds of billions of dollars, over a thousand American lives and the international reputation of the entire country."

Right-wing hack: "Oh, yeah? Well, Bill Clinton lied about getting a hummer in the Oval Office. So there."

See how that works? It's actually pretty easy, if you have no intellectual standards whatsoever. So, what to do about it? Well, given that there's no chance of getting the right to stop with this nauseating dishonesty, the only thing we can do is have some fun with it.

Therefore, it is with great ... well, OK, moderate pride and even more tepid fanfare that I'm accepting nominations for the first annual Gatsby awards, to be given out to knee-jerk, right-wing partisan hacks for their contribution to literary lazy equivalence. Actual categories and nomination details will be posted in a couple of days, right after I make them up with the assistance of careful, meticulous research and several drunk friends. And, I suspect, the drunker, the better.


Anonymous said...

Jay McHue said...

Hey, CC, do you get your liberal spin from any other place than DailyKos?