osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

American Spectator hits new low: But It is educational

There is a certain pathology that one finds in civic discourse these days. When confronted with a fact that irrefutably makes the case against your argument, seek to discredit the speaker on some trivial detail. This gives you permission to ignore everything else. It does not matter, of course, whether the actual contradiction is a real contradiction or not. It is only necessary to assert it, loudly and repeatedly, splitting ever finer hairs. This is not, after all, an exercise in convincing others. It is an exercise is providing the faithful with permission to believe.

Case in point, this American Spectator story claiming that Shirley Sherrod lied about a relative having been lynched. One would think that the smart thing for conservatives to do would be to construct an alternate narrative in which Mr. Brietbart was himself deceived by the edited tapes. Instead, Jeffery Lord seeks to discredit Sherrod. It's not exactly clear how this could change the fact that she was falsely accused, but it is clear that it gives him and other conservatives who believe him permission to dismiss this entire incident as somehow being consistent with the world they want to believe in.

It takes a full page for Mr. Lord to get to his argument, spending most of his time repeating the key theme: Sherrod lied, because she lied we are somehow vindicated, because she is a liar. Rational people will find this rather difficult to understand, but again, it is true believers desiring to find a way to dismiss the unfortunate truth who are the target audience.

By the bottom of page 1, Mr. Lord finally gets to what he believes is his smoking gun. The Surpreme Court description of what happened in the relevant incident:
The arrest was made late at night at Hall's home on a warrant charging Hall with theft of a tire. Hall, a young negro about thirty years of age, was handcuffed and taken by car to the courthouse. As Hall alighted from the car at the courthouse square, the three petitioners began beating him with their fists and with a solid-bar blackjack about eight inches long and weighing two pounds. They claimed Hall had reached for a gun and had used insulting language as he alighted from the car. But after Hall, still handcuffed, had been knocked to the ground, they continued to beat him from fifteen to thirty minutes until he was unconscious. Hall was then dragged feet first through the courthouse yard into the jail and thrown upon the floor, dying. An ambulance was called, and Hall was removed to a hospital, where he died within the hour and without regaining consciousness. There was evidence that Screws held a grudge against Hall, and had threatened to "get" him.

Apparently, this is a "lie" according to Mr. Lord because it for some reason does not count as a lynching and because the Supreme Court does not say the word "lynching."

Mr. Lord does not explain why this does not count as a lynching. But again, that is not the point. The point is to assert something with great vigor, be able to argue with lots of invective, belittle any who argue the opposite, and go away satisfied that the appropriate version of reality has been affirmed.

As a general rule, other people defining their own reality doesn't bug me. The problem occurs when this becomes the basis for government. Reality has a nasty tendency to bite one on the rear end.

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