Thursday, September 3, 2009

On Demabloggery

Demagogue: One who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. (H.L. Mencken)

I don't want to write much about politics on this blog. Not that I don't have political opinions; I've got loads. And in personal discussions I express them freely, typically annoying friends on the left, right, and middle in equal measure, depending on which of my prejudices has been inflamed on a particular issue. I'm an independent, you see, and independents are like bisexuals: everyone thinks you're a pervert.

But I think that the Internet is a terrible place to discuss politics. I'd go so far as to say that true political discourse is almost impossible to find on the Web. Anything like an intelligent discussion of politics (among other topics) requires participants who are willing not only to express but to stand by their principles. To the extent that the Internet allows anonymity and devalues accountability, principles take a back seat to expression with discouraging regularity. Blogs, forums, and other online outlets for opinion and discussion, even the best-intended, too often devolve into electronic street corners jealously occupied by demagogues who fundamentally and willfully misunderstand the concept of free speech.

In other words, semi-literate cowards can spew unfiltered crap from behind their screen names without fear of reprisal, and it pisses me off.

Ahem. I'd also like to point out that, while I avidly follow current events, and enjoy a lively discussion of same, I actually find pure politics a rather abhorrent subject. At the inevitable moment an issue - whether it be taxation, health care, job creation, or international security - transforms in the public eye from a problem to be solved into a contest to be won, my anxiety level rises even as my interest wanes. Many people enjoy following the manipulations and counter-manipulations involved in shaping public policy. Some even make a living at it. It's not my cup of mud. And as far as the level of discourse that seems to be prevalent in the blogosphere, I don't agree that the cause of democracy is furthered by the persistent implication that a person's character is inextricably linked to his or her political preferences. I don't want to be stuffed into somebody else's mold and then used to push his or agenda, based on my isolated response to a random question.

So I stay out of the fight by staying away from demabloggery, and for the most part I'm going to stay out of it here in my little corner of the Internet. Which may simply make me a chicken in the arena of political debate. But I figure that if I don't stick my neck out, I'm less likely to get my head chopped off.

1 comment:

  1. This discourse hit the spot. The spot that has been rubbed raw by the hysteria surrounding our current political spectrum. Thanks for the levity.


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