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pudge's Journal: Silencing Dissent 16

Journal by pudge

I woke up this morning to a mass e-mail from Jen O'Malley Dillon of the Democratic Party, reading, "There's been a lot of media coverage about organized mobs intimidating lawmakers, disrupting town halls, and silencing real discussion about the need for real health insurance reform."

What? Now I am a little confused. I have seen videos of people showing up complaining about a bill they don't like, to their representatives. How is that silencing discussion? And if lawmakers are intimidated by constituents saying they are angry, isn't that a good thing? I call that democracy.

But it gets even worse. They say that citizens showing up at "town hall" meetings are being funded by "Washington special interests and insurance companies." Funny, I've never seen any communication from "special interests" about this, but I did get e-mail from a friend that simply gave me the dates and times for Congressman Rick Larsen's "town hall" meetings (Aug. 6, 6 p.m., Coupeville Rec Center; Aug. 8, 2 p.m., Mt. Vernon location TBA; Aug. 12, 5 p.m., Everett Station, Weyerhauser Room). And I hope to go. Isn't that good for democracy? Even if you disagree with my views?

The Democratic Party doesn't think so. They say that complaining about the bill is to intend to "disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation." Of course, that is precisely what the Democrats are trying to do: they are trying to shut down my legitimate conversation, to intimidate me into not speaking my mind.

Perhaps some of the disconnect here is that where I'm from, the Town Hall is not a metaphor, it's a real thing. All major town business for the year was done at the annual meeting, where every registered voter got a vote on every part of the budget, on capital spending, on bylaw changes, and so on. And sometimes things get heated. This is normal: people are angry. The solution is not to tell people to shut up as the Democrats are doing, the solution is to have an organized and ordered meeting where rules are explained and enforced. And if someone is continually out of order, you simply remove them.

As us tech nerds like to say, this is a solved problem.

Now, I do agree with some of the complaints of the Dems. Some of the information being spread about this bill is wrong, as I've noted before. But then again, the Democrats are lying about the bill, too: in this very e-mail they actually say, there is no "government takeover" in any part of any plan supported by the President or Congress. But we know that the government is creating a new insurance plan to take over a large segment of the insurance market; a health insurance exchange to control all individual insurance plans. Those are nothing but government takeovers.

And they also have a legitimate point about some of the discourse: I think it is low to compare Obama to Nazis, and to resort to yelling and so on. But the Democrats alternatively ignored and cheered when their own did the same thing to Republicans when the GOP was in control, so this is a nonsensical complaint coming from the DNC.

It's sad that on the only two legitimate points the Democrats have, they are hypocrites.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

This discussion was created by pudge (3605) for no Foes, but now has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Silencing Dissent

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  • by Bill Dog (726542)

    Well done, as is usually the case. Whatever happened to the Leftists of days of yore, who vehemently opposed censorship? (It's a rhetorical question -- I already know the answer.) I've been shocked recently, by 1) Pres. Obama having said we need to stop listening to certain information sources, and 2) my (Left-wing) sister saying I need to stop watching Fox News. I don't think I've ever nor would ever suggest to anyone where they should not go for information or opinion. I haven't held back criticizing sour

    • by Zeriel (670422)

      I don't know that I necessarily agree completely with your position here--I certainly believe it's un-American to censor, but at the same time, freedom of speech includes the freedom to give advice, and "don't watch Fox News" is functionally the same as "don't read Dan Brown novels" or something similar--that is, really, for all the force it has it's a review and not a command.

      For example, I admit that I have said similar things to the former to my father, but less as a "(news source) has ideas I don't like

      • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

        Zerile, point taken, but ... do you see conservative politicians boycotting MSNBC or MSNBC-sponsored debates? I don't.

        Democrats definitely go significantly further than Republicans in how poorly they treat Fox News. Not to defend how Republicans treat MSNBC ... but Democrats are just so bad on this front.

        And for those who may be thinking it, no, the Fox hosts are not any worse than the MSNBC hosts. I'd say the morning Fox hosts are much worse, but the MSNBC evening hosts are significantly worse. Olberma

        • by cmacb (547347)

          Two points when doing these Fox vs MSNBC (substitute any liberal outlet).

          First, you should separate purely news reporting from the majority of content these days which is opinion and analysis. It only takes a few minutes for either side to report that Bill Clinton went to North Korea to get some prisoners released, but then on to hours of speculation about how he got there, what the backstory MIGHT be, and how this will affect the healthcare debate.

          If you just look at the reporting though, the networks are

        • by Zeriel (670422)

          It's not as bad as it used to be, but I definitely remember back in the early G.W. Bush days that there was a lot of local stuff complaining about how liberal CNN was and how Fox News was superior in every way for people who cared about the truth and America, etc. I wasn't consuming a large amount of national news (or really, anything at all except textbooks and beer) at that point, so I can't say how prevalent that was on the national stage.

          It does, however, suggest to me a potential working theory that

      • by Bill Dog (726542)

        that is, really, for all the force it has it's a review and not a command.

        To me this is true, and at the same time, weaseling. Telling people what not to listen to smacks of the fascism that underlies what I'll call American neo-Liberalism. Maybe I would take less offense from a known more harmless group of people, but either way I have to interpret peoples' statements in the context of what I know about them. And it's certainly creepy and to me bordering on scary coming from someone in a position like POTU

        • by Zeriel (670422)

          that is, really, for all the force it has it's a review and not a command.

          To me this is true, and at the same time, weaseling. Telling people what not to listen to smacks of the fascism that underlies what I'll call American neo-Liberalism. Maybe I would take less offense from a known more harmless group of people, but either way I have to interpret peoples' statements in the context of what I know about them. And it's certainly creepy and to me bordering on scary coming from someone in a position like POTUS, no matter who the person is.

          This is one of those things, I suppose, that we're going to disagree on. Anyone can tell me anything they want to on their own time and property, and I'm just as free to ignore 'em.

          "(news source) has a noted history of falsehoods"

          Undoubtedly you mean "(news source) has a noted history of falsehoods that exceeds my personal threshold of tolerance for such".

          I'd've assumed that was implied, unless you know of a perfect news source, but point taken and accepted.

          (short answer, the hell with THAT, my freedoms are inherent regardless of the metaphysical ordering of the cosmos)

          I'm completely tolerant of your rejection of the "God-given" part, as the purpose of it is still satisfied by the understanding you expressed -- "inherent". (I.e. does not come from man, or govt., etc.)

          Figured you would be, you have your head screwed on straight. Mind talking to my dad about it at some point?

          The other point that I wanted to address was the comment on "American neo-Liberalism". I really think a fair part of

          • by Bill Dog (726542)

            and I'm just as free to ignore 'em.

            You're also free to ignore history (such as that of the development of repressive regimes). Potentially at your own peril included.

            I'd've assumed that was implied, unless you know of a perfect news source,

            I inferred a much stronger meaning than you may have intended -- by not "perfect" now, you appear to have been thinking roughly "merely having made (accidental) mistakes", whereas I took "history of falsehoods" as "a pattern of known or suspected falsehoods". Which you ma

            • by Zeriel (670422)

              I see it completely differently -- I see one political philosophy where that underlies basically all of it, and another that's vehemently against that. And so I see it as independent of fanaticism. For example, I'm a far-Right guy, a "fanatic" if you will, but I don't believe in doing any of that. In general I reject the "both sides are basically the same" simplisticism, in most of its popular applications, as naive and insufficiently studied.

              This is really the part that bothers me about your entire post--when I've got my dad saying that any news source that isn't Fox News is lying and unpatriotic, I've got presidents of both parties using "Free Speech Zones", I watch the cops shut down demonstrators and performers alike at both conventions every time, etc. I really can't see any institutional difference between the Democrats and Republicans in this regard.

              It's certainly possible to be a far-Right guy and NOT be a fanatic--I don't reject the po

              • by Bill Dog (726542)

                No one's denying that there are complete jerks on both sides of the political spectrum. An example on my side, Sean Hannity on FNC. We're prolly in agreement 99.9%, yet I hate him as much as I do Liberals. And that's because he employs the same tactics as them.

                And I didn't mean to imply that I was talking about Democrats vis-a-vis Republicans. I've journaled about how they can be alike.

                Neither do I even precisely mean today's Liberals in America and today's Conservatives in America. As both neo-Liberals and

                • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                  No one's denying that there are complete jerks on both sides of the political spectrum. An example on my side, Sean Hannity on FNC. We're prolly in agreement 99.9%, yet I hate him as much as I do Liberals. And that's because he employs the same tactics as them.

                  Amen. Also, Ann Coulter. :-)

                  • by Bill Dog (726542)

                    I think only in abrasiveness. I guess she does serve as an unrelenting attack dog, on the Right, which before she came along I only saw on the Left (and how!).

                    But I haven't noticed the one-sidedness, the overstating of things, and the repetitiveness, for example that is Hannity's SOP. Plus I've never learned anything from the guy -- he never has anything originally insightful to say, he's really just like someone who wants to be a Republican party drone.

                    Ann, like Rush, is brilliant. Even if they are and hav

                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      But I haven't noticed the one-sidedness, the overstating of things, and the repetitiveness ...

                      Perhaps she is a bit less one-sided than Hannity. And I don't know about repetitiveness. But this is the woman who tried to make the case that NOT APPLAUDING the President -- when he said in his State of the Union that we should have strong missile defense -- was literally treasonous.

                      She is the queen of overstatement, although perhaps more obviously for effect than with Hannity.

  • The off-the-deep-end wing of the "right-wing" types here definitely are making it known that they plan to be not just present, but actively disruptive.

    Of course, this is partially a problem of it being a college town surrounded by a significant amount of very rural Appalachia--I can't think of the last event of ANY type that didn't have disruptive types trying to shout down the speaker.

    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

      I can't think of the last event of ANY type that didn't have disruptive types trying to shout down the speaker.

      Ha!

  • Your dead on with your analysis. I'll add that, adding ANY disinformation to an argument eventually works to detract from the debate.

    There is a clear explanation for the reactions and methods of the Democratic party.

    "Rules for Radicals" by Saul Alinsky.

    "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and 'frozen.'..."

    "...any target can always say

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