Monday, November 30, 2009

ENOUGH with the bad faith arguments already!

If there's one thing that characterizes the modern conservative, it's their utter inability to argue honestly or in good faith. Instead, every rebuttal is some sleazy variation of the form, "So what you're saying is ...", followed by precisely what the other party wasn't saying. I call it the "Twatsification" of discourse, and here's the latest disgusting example from Canadian PM Stephen Waste-of-skin:

“Let me just say this: living as we do, in a time when some in the political arena do not hesitate before throwing the most serious of allegations at our men and women in uniform, based on the most flimsy of evidence, remember that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are proud of you and stand behind you, and I am proud of you, and I stand beside you.”

How noble. How patriotic. And how totally, totally dishonest since Harper knows full well that the outrage he's hearing is not directed at the troops. It is, in fact, directed at him. And his flunkies. However, he simply chooses to misinterpret what he hears and responds to accusations that no one's ever made. And with these people, it's a pattern.

Recall Conservative MP Shelly Glover and her attempt to saturate a Manitoba school division with Conservative propaganda:

St. Boniface riding Tory MP Shelly Glover recently offered students free water bottles in Manitoba's Louis Riel school division, but trustees turned Glover down when they learned the bottles would bear the Conservatives' logo.

"The bottles were personalized and had her name and the Conservative logo," Louis Riel school board chairwoman Marilyn Seguire said Thursday, referring to Glover. "It was clear it was an issue in terms of our own policy."

That policy bans any political materials in classrooms that promote a single individual or party.

This would seem to be cut-and-dried -- thanks, but no propaganda, a policy that would be applied to any political party. And how did Glover respond? Unsurprisingly, in bad faith:

"It's really disappointing to see a media outlet exploit that and turn it into a story where it wasn't a positive story, but it should have been a positive story," she said. "I'm still going to work with the school division to try to make sure that we give those kids incentives and rewards when they speak French." ...

"Whether or not the Conservative logo is on paraphernalia . . . I believe the issue should be that we are encouraging our children to do better."

And yes, Shelly, that's very noble but no one was protesting the idea of encouraging students to do better. They were protesting the propaganda, but Shelly is much happier distorting reality and bitching about a complaint that no one was making.

Then there was Federal Science Minister and scientific illiterate Gary Goodyear, who thoroughly stepped in it when he waffled on the subject of biological evolution, then played the whiny martyr card:

"I'm not going to answer that question," Goodyear, federal minister of state for science and technology, told the Globe and Mail in an article published Tuesday. "I am a Christian, and I don't think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate."

But Gary, you weaselly little shit, no one was taking you to task for your religious beliefs. They were pounding on you because, for being the federal Science Minister, you were appallingly ignorant about science. Once again, one of Harper's sleazy cronies, arguing in bad faith.

It's relentless. You simply can't have an honest discussion with these people. Every position is mangled, misrepresented and distorted beyond recognition. It's the perpetual comeback of, "So what you're saying is ..." followed by rubbish and lies.

It is the Twatsification of public discourse. And regular readers here will know exactly of what I speak. Feel free to supply your own examples in the comments section.

P.S. Some people call it "conflation." Eh, douchebagitude by any other name ...


Balbulican said...

I would propose a variant of that phenomenon: the blogger who posts something they either know to be false, or refuse to take the most simple steps to verify. The sin is compounded when the error/lie is pointed out and they refuse to correct it.

Yup, the dreaded MSM can, and have, been hoodwinked. Yes, editorial review and fact checking can screw up. But until the self-proclaimed "citizen journalists" start taking at least some responsibility for the accuracy of what they choose to publish, they will remain marginal to all but the ideologues they feed.

Noni Mausa said...

There's a reason for that, and it's so fundamental that it's unavoidable.

See, if what your faction wants to accomplish is deeply contrary to the best interests of the people who vote for you, then to get elected you must deceive, distract or stupidify those people. You must be consistently and relentlessly dishonest.

This is very difficult. I couldn't do it. It requires training, as we have seen with the predictable talking points of Harper's sock puppets. But more importantly, it requires enough intelligence to grasp the truth -- so it can be avoided. I have listened to prize specimens like Lawrence Cannon and Jason Kenney on The House, and it is a real education listening to how they slip and slide through the rocks of pertinence and honesty.

SO -- dishonesty isn't a side effect, it's a necessity. The people who cannot do it, either never succeed in Conservative politics, or else they become Stealth Tories, with a vote but no voice at all.


Ti-Guy said...

Calling this the Twatification of discourse really gives Twatsy too much credit. Besides, his thing really isn't bad faith, but maniacal persistence.

It really does a disservice to the genius of right wing discourse, which is fascinating and complex and encompasses every method for distorting communication and dialogue known to man, quite often in the same, short utterance.

Mike said...

I see Ti-Guy has made the point I was going to make. Twatsy simply isn't clever enough have authored this brand of sophistry.

Other groups have been using this method for many years vis a vis Middle East politics, BTW, treating concern for Palestinians as support for terrorists. "So what you're saying is, terrorists deserve our sympathy and support? Have I got that right?"

CC said...

Just to be clear, I wasn't suggesting that Twatsy invented this type of dishonesty, only that he's the most obvious and blatant proponent of it these days. I mean, he literally opens his rebuttals with "So what you're saying is ..." before launching into the inevitable dishonest misrepresentation.

He has become, quite simply, his own metaphor.

Ti-Guy said...

I just think it reduces it to harmless (or at least isolated) sociopathy/anti-social behaviour of nobodies, when in fact it's practised by the most well-educated, influential and intelligent (and morally bankrupt, of course) people around, notably in the communications and PR industries. And not just by conservatives either, although their supporters are entirely uncritical of it, unlike the rest of us.

It is something that should worry us, because they're better at than they ever have been in the past. Look at how easily journalists are manipulated these days.