Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hatred in the Name of "Compassion"

I am sure - or at least I suppose - the Chris Liebenthal is a decent enough guy in real life. Loves his family. Is kind to his friends. Doesn't kick puppies.

What is it, then, in politics that prompts this kind of inhumane nastiness. If the point is that Sarah Palin, in asking a normal human question, "why us" is supposed to have demonstrated that she is unaware that her child's birth was "caused" by her age, his comment is both a stretch and, in and of itself, reflects ignorance. Although the likelihood of a Down's child increases dramatically with age, it is still the case that less than 3% of live births at the maternal age of 44 are of babies with Downs.* She might, in a moment of anxiety about what will follow, wonder why it had to be her and her husband who drew the short straw.

And, of course, he misses the point of the story which is her husband's response. There is, he said, no reason that it could not be us and, in the end, we need to accept that. And that's what they did. The point is not that they cannot accept the consequences of what Liebenthal calls their "irresponsible actions (which, as far as I can tell, was marital intimacy), but that they should - and did - do precisely that.

But, beyond that, what is it about political disagreement that causes people to assume they have license to treat others with disrespect and hatred? Would Chris Liebenthal say that to a woman - any woman - that he knows? Tell her she is stupid because has a normal reaction to a difficult cirtcumstance? I doubt it and, if I am wrong, he ought to get out of the social work business.

I can anticipate the excuses. Sarah Palin supports policies that Chris Lieberthal thinks are bad so he can say whatever he wants about her. Certainly reasonable people can not disagree about whatever Chris Liebenthal happens to think is right.

"There are conservatives who do it too." I'm sure there are, but I don't (at least I try hard not to) and I don't see much of it among the writers and bloggers that I read. But the fact that some conservatives treat liberals in the same way that Chris Liebenthal thinks he can treat Sarah Palin only underscores my question. It takes an enormous amount of intellectual arrogance to think that those you disagree with are idiots or immoral. It poisons the public debate and ... more than that ...

... it's boring.

*His suggestion that a Down's child could be the result of the youthful marijauna use that Sarah Palin is meritless. Yeah, marijuana - particularly if used during pregancy (but I doubt that even the Governor of Alaska was getting baked in the state house) - is associated with some birth defects, but that doesn't "explain" what happened or even make it likely. If it did, my whole generation would be raising Downs kids.

25 comments:

AnotherTosaVoter said...

Rick, you offer up one of these "can't we agree without hatred?" posts once a month. While I agree with your sentiment, even though you rarely admit the problem is just as prevalent on your side of the prism (including people who you're willing to represent), I'm not sure what the point is.

Chris is someone who thinks GASB 34 was a conspiracy of the Bush administration, and who refuses to accept basic math involved in budgeting. Like an Owen Robinson or a Mike Plaisted or similar bloggers, he's consumed so much partisan kool-aid that he hasn't had an independent or original thought in years. Neither facts nor logic mean anything. There's simply nothing there - it's like Church or conservative talk radio or Countdown with Keith Olbermann - just a constant repetition of platitudes and talking points. You may as well argue with a cartoon character.

Stick to people who can argue and use rational logic, like me, depending on what kind of day I've had.

Anonymous said...

Rick, if you are consistent, I expect you to take on Dad29 next. He is equally obnoxious but, unlike Liebenthal (or whatever his name is), lacks the courage to reveal his name.

Dad29 said...

About 2 minutes' Googling will reveal my identity.

OR an offer of free lunch!

Rick Esenberg said...

Yeah, I know who Dad is. We've had lunch a few times. Should do it again.

I am not sure that I see Ms. Appling's comments as quite the same as this. She was using moral language to condemn a particular policy. She did not direct her remarks at a particular person or that person's personal tragedy.

I am not going to say more about it than that other than to note that a lawyer doesn't endorse everything his or her client says. If some liberal colleague of mine wanted to represent Chris Liebenthal in service of some commonly shared political goal, I wouldn't say she would be "stuck" or "tainted" by whatever intemperate thing Liebenthal chose to say.

Anonymous said...

Liebenthal claims he does community organising...kind of sounds familiar.

It was very disappointing to see that the Supreme Court didn't take your petition...exactly what are they protecting?

George Mitchell said...

I am an inept Googler. Tried for 5 minutes and could not find out who Dad29 is.

Dad29 said...

George, for a guy who worked at the Wall Street Journal, ......

You, of all people, should have the mastery of the arts.....

George Mitchell said...

OK, I'll bite.

Lunch?

Contact me at mitchco2025@aol.com.

AnotherTosaVoter said...

Funny how the loons on the other side are always guilty of hate, while the stuff said by the loons on our side can be justified so easily.

A Nonymouse said...

I stopped contributing to Badger Blogger a few weeks ago because I didn't want to be on the same page (bad pun, I guess) with so many gross and base personal attacks - which sometimes is all that is contributed, although Patrick is trying to balance freedom of expression with some need for censoreship (sp?). It seems overly simplistic to diagnose the flood of bile as the product of 'fear' but other than a simple abandonment of civility I wouldn't know what else to attribute it all to. It would be instructive to know how Chris Liebenthal would respond to the situation where his tirade caused actual physical consequences. Would he laugh or would he feel shame if one of his comments caused Jessica McBride to cry? Until I know that I'm not going to join you in assuming that in 'real life' he's a stand up guy.

reddess said...

ATV
I am so sick of the "your side our side" whining. This isn't directed at you because it is everywhere. I know I've used it when I have nothing else to say. It's only purpose is to put a quick end to the discussion.

Anon 11:33
I agree with you. The stuff this guy has said about Jessica is disgusting. I don't see how a person who says such cruel things can be a stand up guy.

Anonymous said...

Herr Professor's defense of his representation of Julaine Appling and her motley crew brings to mind the joke about why scientists are now using lawyers instead of rats in various experiments -- there are some things that you just can't get a rat to do.

reddess said...

Anon 8:22
Why do anonymous posters who try to be cute (but fail miserably), never give their names?
Too embarrassed or too much of a chicken-butt? I would use another word but it would get deleted.

John Foust said...

The greatly increased risk of Down Syndrome for older women should be common knowledge among the fertile. Certainly that was among the reasons that Palin or Palin's doctor recommended ultrasound, where they learned that Trig's neck seemed thick. Three percent needs to be considered in context. The March of Dimes site says "The risk of Down syndrome increases from about 1 in 1,250 at age 25, to 1 in 1,000 at age 30, 1 in 400 at age 35, 1 in 100 at age 40 and 1 in 30 at age 45." I'd call that a significant increase in risk if you're 44. Presuming you aren't opposed to contraception, you'd hope they were taking some kind of precaution against pregnancy if they didn't plan to have another child. Has Palin ever claimed it was due to contraceptive failure? This is intensely personal, of course. She can say nothing.

Capper's post states two potential causes: age and marijuana. The latter isn't typically known as a cause of Down Syndrome. He ran with his conclusion, yes, to ridicule precious Sarah. "Why us?" Well, as Capper states, the odds changed. Sarah and Todd weren't really marvelling at the odds, of course, they were no doubt overwhelmed by considering the larger implications for their future. Trig may be a great kid, but we don't hear about people striving to have a Down Syndrome child. We can inform Capper he's wrong about the pot, but he's not wrong about the age-related prevalence. I don't see anything in his post that says he's glad she had a Down Syndrome kid. His post lacks insight, compassion, or subtlety. There's a lot of posts like that in the world.

Yes, your lunch buddy Dad29 spends a good part of his Morning Hate finding people he can call "idiot" or "boyzz" or "Bawney Fwank" or "LeftOWackies", when he's not debating with himself about whether various Catholic priests, cardinals, and bishops are actual Catholics or not. Does that fall within "enormous amount of intellectual arrogance"? How about your boundary for "religious arrogance"? With his prior permission, I'll post the links to his identity. George, feel free to buy me lunch.

Yes, A Nonymi, BadgerBlogger is defined by personal attack. They were even leaving crank calls on my office phone this summer. I blame all anonymous poor behavior on this (warning, link includes one of the seven words) . "R"DW isn't much better. There's even a once-popular Catholic conservative blogger who doesn't allow comments. He wants his hateful attacks to stand on their own.

Reddess, just once I'd like to see someone write at length about what they think is civil behavior, then stick to it. If they're eager to throw stones and regularly judge others' blog behavior (like Confession, but pointing out other's sins), then they would impress me by identifying it even-handedly without partisan bias, and be just as capable of admitting if they've strayed from their goal.

In short, I don't think Richard spends much time hunting for inhumane nastiness on conservative blogs. In response to Capper, Charlie Sykes ridiculed Capper's waistline. Fair game, civil, admirable behavior? Or will there be a future S&S column about Sykes' nastiness, too?

Dad29 said...

Certainly that was among the reasons that Palin or Palin's doctor recommended ultrasound

Wrong.

US is SOP for any pregnancy, any age, any time.

And John, I have a confessor. He ain't my blog. Feel free, however, to post your sins on your blog.

John Foust said...

Gosh, Dad29, that's pretty thin criticism, weaving implication into my statement that's not there. You think my statement is wrong? They use ultrasound to look for, among other things, exactly what they found. "SOP" is defined by the quality of your health care. You think I'd be wrong to say some women don't get an ultrasound? That some get several and others get one? There's also the question of whether Palin's was an early ultrasound in order to give her choices, but then we'd be talking about the possibility of abortion and Heaven knows we don't want to get you started. I'm sure she had some pretty good health care on the Gummint dime, ne?

Not quite ready to associate your sins with your real name, hmm?

Anonymous said...

Who's to say the soul doesn't begin at conception, and when aborted does not return in a more viable body?

AnotherTosaVoter said...

Totally off topic, but this is why your party shouldn't be given a chance to govern in the near future Rick...

"Sullivan was working as an analyst at the Veterans Benefits Administration in Washington in early 2005 when he was called to a meeting with a top political appointee at the VA, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Michael McLendon. McLendon, an intensely focused man in a neatly pressed suit, kept a Bible on his desk at the office. Sullivan explained to McLendon and the other attendees that the rise in benefits claims the VA was noticing was caused partly by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who were suffering from PTSD. “That’s too many,” McLendon said, then hit his hand on the table. “They are too young” to be filing claims, and they are doing it “too soon.” He hit the table again. The claims, he said, are “costing us too much money,” and if the veterans “believed in God and country . . . they would not come home with PTSD.” At that point, he slammed his palm against the table a final time, making a loud smack. Everyone in the room fell silent.
“I was a little bit surprised,” Sullivan said, recalling the incident. “In that one comment, he appeared to be a religious fundamentalist.” For Sullivan, McLendon’s remarks reflected the views of many political appointees in the VA and revealed what was behind their efforts to reduce costs by restricting claims. The backlog of claims was immense, and veterans, often suffering extreme psychological stress, had to wait an average of five months for decisions on their requests."

Handing people a bible is not effective public policy, as your party now believes.

Anonymous said...

ATV: "Rick, you offer up one of these "can't we agree without hatred?" posts once a month."

Hey it works in politics all the time. Say it enough times and people start to believe it. If one cannot refrain from persoanl attack, maybe they will at least stop commenting here if they get continual discouragement. It is a worthy attempt, in any case.
Tuerqas

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