Some of my best liberal friends are not going to like this, but I’m with comedian Bill Maher: There is only one major religion in the world that spawns murderers by the bushel in these modern times. You know which one.
Not only will my little legion of left-wing, liberal friends hate that statement, but The Tribune’s little legion of right-wing, online bloviators will, too, even though they probably agree with it.
You know who they are: Guys mostly. Older guys. Older white guys. Perpetually aggrieved older white guys who pounce within seconds of something being posted online by The Tribune staff, contributors and letter writers. Their offerings often consist of Twain-like nuggets similar to — but of a different genre from — the classic “So’s your old man” gems I heard from my dad, in bathrobe, ensconced on the couch, belching, reading the paper. The modern vintage is more like, “Suck on that!” “Liberal fool!” “Leftwing moron!”
Because apparently they don’t like anything “liberals” of my ilk say or write. Because they apparently don’t like us, even though we’ve never met or had a conversation. It doesn’t matter what is said on the left, the online right will oppose it, even if it’s right up their alley — mean, vulgar, ill-informed, spiteful, offensive, misspelled and just plain stupid — pretty much the foundation of what passes for content nowadays in the brave online world of this newspaper’s chattering class.
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I include myself, by the way, in that class of nattering nabobs. I’m in there sometimes, flailing away, feeling like I’m swatting at a swarm of fruit flies at the produce stand. My liberal brethren and I don’t ever win a debate. That’s impossible. But we give it our best before checking out, and then we check back in from time to time. It’s like driving by a car crash — nearly impossible to look away.
Apparently, there’s a rule followed by a few dedicated horsemen of the right: If someone judged to be on their left says it, they must be against it, no matter what, even if they agree with it. And they must personally insult the offender.
For example, a recent letter to the editor lauding former VP Dick Cheney for doing a good job torturing people elicited several responses, including one from me:
“George Washington refused to torture British prisoners during the Revolutionary War, despite knowing how horribly and inhumanly the British were treating American prisoners. We have always held ourselves out as being better than torturers, and led the effort to criminalize torture globally. Cheney and his band of chicken hawk thugs must be held to account for war crimes. Many Japanese and Germans who tortured American prisoners during WWII were shot or hanged after a trial. Torture apologists like this letter writer do not speak for the American people, nor do they deserve any respect.”
I know what you’re thinking. It was probably that “chicken hawk thugs” thing that undid an otherwise well-reasoned, historically accurate, perfectly logical rebuttal (according to me). Yep — guilty. Sometimes I can’t stop myself from crazy baiting.
One online commenter bleated in response, in classic Rovian “accuse-your-opponent-of-doing-the-very-rotten-things-you-are-actually-doing” style: “Dick Cheney is the greatest VP this century. It’s typical to see so much hate from the far-left who have conveniently forgotten how many prominent Democrats solidly endorsed the war in Iraq and claimed Iraq had WMD. But you won’t see any truthful comments from the far-left. Just more lies and hate.”
I was disappointed to not see a personal slur included, like “you liberal moran (sic),” just to keep with protocol.
If it were measured by the predominant tone of The Tribune’s online commentary, the state of public opinion in San Luis Obispo County is this: The “righties” are correct about everything. They get no respect from the “liberal media.” Everyone is out to get them. There’s a war on their religion and personal values. And anyone who disagrees is an idiot.
None of that is true. Except we are all out to get them.
So let’s get this party started. Old, perpetually angry, belching, bathrobed white guys — start your keyboards! Everyone else, brace yourselves.
Oh, and I still think Bill Maher is right.