A teachable moment

This should help anyone out there who is still confused about the standards of this blog.

Someone — actually a regular here (an anonymous regular, of course) — tried to post a comment that called the U.S. commander in Iraq "General ‘Betray Us.’" He did so without irony, and he wasn’t using it as a quotation in condemning the revolting, indefensible use of that bastardization by MoveOn.org.

Of course, the comment was not approved for publication. Nor was a gratuitous second comment from the same source that had no substance beyond a monotonously over-repeated ad hominem slap at me.

It may be that MoveOn.org did not completely place itself outside the realm of acceptable public discourse this week, but there are general indications that it did just that. It has set a new standard for "beyond the pale."

But one thing is clear — such trash rhetoric is most assuredly outside the boundaries on this blog. Those of you requiring sharper delineation of those limits might want to take note.

There might not be such a thing as "polite society" any more. But this will be a virtual version of that. Come here and argue back and forth all you like. And I urge you to have fun doing it. If I don’t find it fun, there won’t be a blog any more, because I certainly don’t have time for it otherwise. But find a more grownup way to argue other than calling those who disagree with you liars, as your default position. That won’t be accepted.

10 thoughts on “A teachable moment

  1. Wally Altman

    Now that you “has set a news standard”, how about a proofreading standard?
    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  2. bud

    What exactly was wrong about the Moveon.org article? They cited several independent sources to suggest that the situation is not improving as Petraeus suggests. He has, on more than one occassion, made a claim regarding a situation in Iraq that was later proven false. I pointed out one of the most egregious examples last week concerning the mobile labs that Petraeus (falsely) claimed were mobile chemical labs. Did he ever retract that false claim? Not that I’m aware of.
    His loyalty to the “stay the course” mission in Iraq was rewarded by a promotion to commander in chief of the military operations in Iraq. In what appears to be a quid-pro-quo Petraeus issued his a report that paints what is clearly a far too rosy picture of what is actually occuring in Iraq. The ethnic cleansing is nearly complete in many parts of Iraq and that has certainly resulted in some reduced violence. Yet our troops continue to die at the rate of 2-3 per day. I believe these troops are betrayed by our administration for an unjust cause. All moveon did was point out the inconsistencies in the Petraeus report.
    Petraeus ultimately works for the people of the U.S. and he should speak the truth. His cherry picked facts suggest he is betraying us in order to curry favor with the administration. To selectively attack moveon for it’s choice of the title for this article is to ignore the facts. And those facts show the national interest is not served by continuing with this failed and costly mission.

  3. bud

    Brad the only reason I continue to point out how partisan you are is that you continue to point out how partisan others are. We’re all partisans in one way or another. It is absolutely mind boggling that you cannot see your own partisan slant on the world. In another post you actually said war has it’s virtues. This reference to the Iraq war suggests you believe that war is somehow virtuous. To me that is an abomination. This war is evil. Petraeus supports the war. He selectively produces statistics to support continuation of the war. To me anyone who supports this war is ignoring facts, history and what the bedrock values of the founding fathers. To ignore the entirety of the facts is to be a partisan. That’s one of the definitions.

  4. Paul DeMarco

    Pointing out the inconsistencies in Petraeus’ report is absolutely fair. Calling the general a traitor is not.
    Civil discourse requires that no matter how right you are (or think you are) that you respect the humanity of your opponent (even if he doesn’t respect yours).
    I think the war in Iraq is futile, but I accept that President Bush and General Petraeus are decent people and fine Americans. They may not be, but I have no way to prove that-I don’t know what’s in their hearts-so I give them the benefit of the doubt. Being wrong and being evil are not synonymous.
    I disagree with their prosecution of the war and worry that we are losing American and Iraqi lives to make things worse, not better. But the bottom line is that none of us know how this will turn out. I could be wrong and Iraq could (miraculously, in my view) become a stable, democratic ally as a result of Bush’s policies
    In the long run, if you argue civilly, your point of view acquires credibility because people recognize that you argue the facts and not personalities.
    Many people argue like they’re dog-fighting-it’s a no-holds barred battle to the death. But little is accomplished when we trash each other that way. Hearts and minds are rarely changed by inflammatory rhetoric and insult.
    My father-in-law, a wise man who choses his words carefully, once told me, “Don’t argue with imbeciles. They drag you down and then beat you with experience.” In general, it is enough to let the imbeciles expose themselves. Calling them names only tarnishes you.

  5. bud

    Paul, we absolutely, positively must oppose this atrocious occupation very stridently. The only tiny breach of etiquette by moveon.org was using the perjoritive “betray us” in describing the general. The text of the article was full of supportable facts. Petraeus may be a good man but he is essentially a front man for this damn thing. Nearly 4,000 American soldiers have died in a vain attempt to project American values in the middle east.
    Factually speaking, Petraeus cherry-picked certain figures to support his C & C even though that goes against the interests of the American people. Is he a liar? I don’t know. But what I do know is that in 2002-03 we bought into the now discredited claims of WMD and imminent threats of doom. It is imperitive that we not do so again. Frankly, I think we’ve gone far too easy on the perpetrators of this immoral occupation. In a sense the Bush administration has betrayed us. At the very least we owe it to the majority of American citizens to point out the egregious factual errors that this administration, who Petraeus is now a part, foists onto the American public.
    (Besides Paul, you just called the Bush administration “imeciles”. Isn’t that also name calling?)

  6. Paul DeMarco

    I was quoting my father-in-law; I would not call Bush or Petraeus imbeciles.
    I agree with you about the war and about how extensively the administration has misled the American public. I don’t know how much has been intentional and how much has been poor judgement. I just don’t think it’s effective or sporting to call someone a liar. Lay out your case and you’ll win on the facts.
    MoveOn shot themselves in the foot by using the “Betray Us” pun. It just gives folks a reason to discredit what otherwise may be a strong argument. The movie “Sicko” suffers the same fate. I wholeheartedly agree with Michael Moore that we need national health care. If Moore had been less bombastic in the past, “Sicko” would have been much more effective. Unfortunately, most people have already formed a strong opinion about Moore, so “Sicko” changed few minds.

  7. Harry

    MoveOn was, indeed over the(my)line with the title and some rhetoric in their Petraeus article. Calling it a new standard for “beyond the pale” is certainly ridiculous. Watch Fox news every week, and you will find statements as offensive or worse characterizing politicians and others – from a “news” organization that calls itself “fair and balanced. Check out O’Reilly and Hannity. Be fair and balanced, Brad.

  8. bud

    Am I the only person who was NOT offended by the MoveOn article? Remember when Colin Powell was making the case for invading Iraq. Looking back on that now shouldn’t we have been far more skeptical of all those glossy charts, airial photographs and the prestige of a high-ranking military man? MoveOn was simply pointing out the descrepancies in Petreaus comments with independent evaluations of the situation in Iraq. The use of the words “Betray Us” was obviously a play on words. I would just ask everyone who is so animated by this teeny tiny breach of respect: did you get as offended by the disgusting specticle of the Swiftboaters? Brit Hume for one made a big deal out of the MoveOn article yet he DEFENDED the Swiftboaters. I think there is a bit of hypocricy going on from the right.

Comments are closed.