Sunday, April 5, 2015

Civility Watchdog Digest: April 5, 2015

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
Protesters waving Australian flags and carrying signs such as "Yes Australia. No Sharia" rallied around the country on Saturday in events organisers said were against Islamic extremism. The "Reclaim Australia" events drew hundreds of supporters but also triggered counter-rallies from other groups who criticised them as racist and called for greater tolerance.
-- AFP news report, April 4, 2015, "Hundreds protest Islamic law in Australia".

Comment: "Reclaim Australia" is akin to "take back the country" rhetoric.

RUSH: This is Sissy in Wilmington, North Carolina. Great to have you on the program. Hi.

CALLER: Thank you, Rush. Hi. How are you today?

RUSH: Very good. Thank you.

CALLER: I just wanted to know if we have any hope for our country. I was reading the Limbaugh Letter, your article about surrounded by ignorance, and every single right we have is being eroded. These young people don't have a clue, and I've been listening to you since 1988, and you always give me confidence that things can get better. But now, can it? Should we just move to an island now or shoot ourselves now?
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, April 3, 2015.

Comment: This is exaggeration. Are things really that bad?

JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: In his remarks at the Ted Kennedy the other day, the president lamented that our politics today are not more purposeful and elevated. He also lamented that too often ideology gets in the way of basic respect. Those remarks struck me because this week we saw my CNN colleague Dana Bash do an interview with the Senate minority leader Harry Reid in which he asked him about his decision in the midst of the 2012 presidential campaign to take to the Senate floor and accuse Mitt Romney of not paying his taxes, and when Dana Bash mentioned this to him, she mentioned how it seemed to some people McCarthyite. And of course no evidence has ever been produced that Mitt Romney failed to pay his taxes, and I wonder if President Obama, who has lamented this lack of civility in our politics, this disrespect in our politics, has any view of Harry Reid telling Dana Bash, "Well Romney didn't get elected did he?"

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Well I haven't had the opportunity to talk to the president about Sen. Reid's interview. Obviously, Sen. Reid is somebody who is going to decide for himself about what he says on the Senate floor. He obviously is a vocal supporter of the president, and they have had a partnership that will go down in history as very productive. But ultimately, it is up to Sen. Reid to decide, what he is going to say on the House floor. There are a number of things Sen. Reid, over his career that, he has said pretty proudly were independent of the view of anyone else.

JAMES ROSEN: But it is the president's choice and his spokesman's choice to call out conduct unbecoming of our highest elected officials, when it is in fact unbecoming. Are you going to take this opportunity now?

JOSH EARNEST: Not when it is three years old.
-- White House press briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest April 1, 2015. The quote in question comes from a March 31, 2015, interview of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) by CNN's Dana Bash.

Comment: First, this is the "not my decision" evasion. Yes, Reid is in charge of what Reid says, but that's true of most everybody, right? How does that prevent us from criticizing Reid's remarks (or anyone else's remarks, for that matter)? Second, there's no good reason that President Barack Obama can't police civility on remarks that are three years old. Obama recently criticized remarks made by Republicans about the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") back when it was passed in 2010, why can't he comment on remarks made in 2012?

The gay rights movement cannot abide a middle ground and a free exercise of religion for a simple reason — homosexuality is not normal in nature, in historic relationships, or in the sacred texts of almost all religions. The gay rights movement must therefore censor and subjugate dissent. Any who point out the lack of historic or religious acceptance or the lack of its ready existence in nature or, for that matter, the lack of scientific evidence showing homosexuality is a birth trait as opposed to a choice or external factors, must be shut up.
-- Pundit Erick Erickson, March 31, 2015. His remarks concerned the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA, also known as Indiana Senate Bill 101).

Comment: The claim that being gay is not normal suffers from ambiguity: does "normal" in this context mean typical? Or does it mean acceptable? Or does it mean something else? At any rate, it's questionable to reason from the presence or absence of homosexuality in nature and religious scripture to whether homosexuality should be legally or morally acceptable. More, how is it that the entire gay rights movement is opposed to the free exercise of religion related to the RFRA? Nobody supports both gay rights and religious freedom at the same time in this instance? That seems like an exaggeration or a distortion.

"See, at the center of this, folks, is religion and a hate for it, a fear of it. The left wants no part of organized religion. That's why global warming exists and all these other issues. They take the place of organized religion. They're doing their best to tear it down. That's what the assaults on the Catholic Church are about. These never ending, constant assaults on Christianity in general are about that, because Christianity is morality, they think. They view it as judgmentalism. They view it as definitive. "This is what's right; this is what's wrong." They don't want any part of that. They don't want to have to be conscious of right or wrong. They don't want to be reminded of right and wrong. They don't want it in their own consciousness, right and wrong, 'cause it's all shackles. Morality is shackles. The idea of right and wrong, shackles, limits on freedom and behavior and so forth. So there's been a concerted effort by interest groups on the left -- not just gay activities, but a whole bunch of different fringe groups on the left -- to attack religion and what it stands for and the people of it. So now here comes this Indiana law on the trail of Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A and a number of other examples, and it turns out now that private citizens are able to use a law enacted by Democrats to protected themselves from the militant leftist agenda."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, March 30, 2015.

Comment: This is demonizing, saying that people have adopted certain causes (such as global warming) because they don't want to have to abide by moral rules. It's also an ad hominem argument against those causes: just because someone might have a bad reason for opposing organized religion doesn't mean there are no good reasons for the adopting the same position.

OzarkOrc, of Rogers, Arkansas: As correctly noted in the column, this seems to be a "Feature" not a bug in the current Republican Party, a deliberate, total ignorance about truth and facts, They have their own "Flat Earth" version of our Economic, Social and Political system, and what is really scary is that many of their elected representatives seem to truly believe the lies sold by their Orwellian propaganda machine. A generation ago, both parties operated from a consensus set of facts, with a few nut cases on the Fringes. The Republicans have rummaged around in their Lunatic Bin and put them in charge

Spence, of Malvern, PA: For the GOP, "reality" does not matter. It's all about creating “perception”. Those that frame the debate and control the narrative - win. It's that simple. Facts can be spin out of existence and drowned out by loudest megaphone.
-- Commenters, March 30, 2015, on "Imaginary Health Care Horrors", a piece by pundit Paul Krugman.

Comment: The commenters are accusing Republicans of not caring about truth.

Before [the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare")] went into effect, opponents predicted disaster on all levels. What has happened instead is that the law is working pretty well. So how have the prophets of disaster responded? By pretending that the bad things they said would happen have, in fact, happened. … At a deeper level, however, what we’re looking at here is the impact of post-truth politics. We live in an era in which politicians and the supposed experts who serve them never feel obliged to acknowledge uncomfortable facts, in which no argument is ever dropped, no matter how overwhelming the evidence that it’s wrong.
-- Pundit Paul Krugman, March 30, 2015, in a piece titled, "Imaginary Health Care Horrors".

Comment: Krugman is claiming that the opponents of Obamacare don't care about truth. Supporters of the Affordable Care Act have also been loathe to admit that they made predictions that proved false, does that mean they also don't care about truth?

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