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October 14, 2003
Name-calling as political discourse

Speaking of Amygdala, I noticed that he has posted (way down the left column) Farber's First Fundamental of Blogging:

If your idea of making an insightful point is to make fun of people's names, or refer to them by rilly clever labels such as "The Big Me" or "The Shrub," chances are high that I'm not reading your blog.

On the way home from work this afternoon, I listened to The Patriot, the conservative talk-radio outlet here in the Twin Cities. At my drive-time, Michael Medved is on the air, and I have enjoyed Medved from when he wrote The Golden Turkey Awards back in the 70s. It's out of print now, but it's hilarious. Anyway, unlike some of the other hosts on the Patriot, such as the screechy and utterly reactionary Michael Savage, Medved is thoughtful to his callers and encourages those who disagree with him to give him a call. In other words, he's pleasant, and manages to disagree without being disagreeable.

Today, however, I listened while Medved discussed his reservations about Wesley Clark, and in the course of this discussion called him Weasely Clark. Now, I think Clark is a dangerous egomaniac who can't be relied upon to stick to a position on anything: his whole campaign seems to be, "I'm a general and you're not. Elect me." But I really cannot understand why talk radio hosts can't resist the temptation to refer to people with silly epithets based on their names, just like we all endured in primary school, for crying out loud! The fact that Medved did this, and then went into a lengthy defense of this practice as political discourse severely impacted the respect I had previously had for him.

So, I am very disappointed, and I'm left wondering why neither side can argue and debate like adults. (And if you're tempted to write this off as a right-wing phenomenom, let's all recall the Schwarzengroper picket signs and column references last week, mm'kay? Or pithy little references to Bush as Shrub the past three years.) Let's get something straight: Calling me Eddie Spaghetti is not political discourse -- it's rude and it's pointless. It's a waste of my oxygen, and I resent anyone who wastes valuable rainforest resources on it. You don't like Wesley Clark? Join the club. Tell me why. If you can't tell me why, calling him Weasely tells me a hell of a lot more about you than it does Clark. And if you're making your living or your avocation as a radio show host or as a blogger, your credibility is all you've got, pal.

Medved's show will never excite me again, and his books will never get me as enthused as they did before. His vigorous defense of childishness as political discourse tells me he is not to be taken seriously. It's not that we disagree on much; it's just that I'd rather spend my time on people who don't insult my intelligence. And I'd rather start getting the childishness out of political debate than support those who want to sell it to us in spades.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 14, 2003 9:21 PM

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» I know you are, but what am I? from TwilightCafé
The Captain's Quarters has an excellent post about how people who use name-calling as political wit sound like idiots and lose our respect. On both sides of the political fence. [Read More]

Tracked on October 15, 2003 10:01 AM

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