November 05, 2007
Why? Oh, just because!
Glenn Reynolds asks a good question about Andrew Sullivan's inability to disagree with Glenn without misrepresenting what he says:
it's telling that he can't seem to criticize me without misrepresenting what I've said. In this post he links to a truncated version of my views on the torture debate on another blog. Why?What I find even more curious is that Sullivan not only asserts that Glenn Reynolds is not a "real" libertarian, but that the other blog -- Instaputz -- is:
Glenn Reynolds vs a real libertarian on torture.Whatever anyone might think of the Instaputz blog, to call it "libertarian" (whether of the large or small "l" variety) is ridiculous. Not only does the anonymously written site not promote libertarianism; its express purpose is to excoriate Glenn Reynolds on a daily basis. Moreover, there is not one libertarian website or blog listed on the blogroll. Aside from Jonathan Swift (a self-described conservative blog with a "liberal blogrolling policy") and Andrew Sullivan (a self-described anti-war and anti-gun conservative) the blogroll is standard left wing fare.
Glenn (Reynolds) has repeatedly stated that he is not a conservative (a proposition with which many anti-abortion, anti-gay, and pro-drug-war conservatives would agree) and he describes himself quite accurately as a small "l" libertarian. I don't know why Sullivan seems incapable of understanding that; perhaps it is because he wants to reduce everything to a new litmus test along his own lines. But then, what is the Sullivan litmus test for determining small "l" libertarianism?
Surely it can't mean agreement with "Blue Texan" of Instaputz, for if is to be considered a small "l" libertarian, then 99% of the people who consider themselves small "l" libertarians (myself included) are not small "l" libertarians. But on the other hand, neither can they meet the Sullivan litmus test for conservatives, because his own brand of conservatism means opposition to the war and support for gun control.
James Joyner looked at Sullivan's critique, and also found himself scratching his head:
Sully's critique of Reynolds is for supporting "the permanent suspension of habeas corpus, the transformation of the executive branch into a de facto extra-legal protectorate, the breaking of laws by the president, the authorization of torture, warrantless wiretapping, a war based on intelligence that simply wasn't there, and a ramping up of the drug war." My guess is that Reynolds would oppose most if not all of those things, at least if characterized that way, but I'll let him defend himself. As for me, I've opposed all of those generally but been willing to give the benefit of the doubt on electronic surveillance, provided all that's entailed is quasi-anonymous data mining and that the results are used only for intelligence purposes but kept out of criminal court via the Exclusionary Rule.I read Glenn every day, and while I can't say that I catch every last word or nuance, I can't believe I missed Glenn's support for the "permanent suspension of habeas corpus, the transformation of the executive branch into a de facto extra-legal protectorate, the breaking of laws by the president, the authorization of torture, warrantless wiretapping, a war based on intelligence that simply wasn't there, and a ramping up of the drug war." (Is Sullivan joking? Or did he leave someone else with the keys to his blog?)
Support for the war, yes. But like countless war supporters, Glenn's support was never conditioned on the presence of WMDs.
What I think is going on is a massive attempt to discredit pro-war libertarians by any means necessary. And it is not enough merely to label them "conservative"; the idea is that they are to be painted as far right maniacs with some sort of insane agenda.
But I guess once you posit Instaputz's Blue Texan as a small "l" libertarian, then almost anything becomes possible. After all, he is the antithesis of Glenn Reynolds, and by simple mathematics, if he is a libertarian, that means Glenn cannot be.
My concern is that Sullivan (whether you like him or not) may be giving up all pretenses of being fair. Instaputz is one of those anonymous blogs with no other purpose than to attack another blog. To give an idea of how singleminded and obsessively devoted he is to this task, in addition to his blog he spends time visiting Instapundit-friendly blogs to hurl anti-Reynolds invective. When he did this recently at Samizdata, he became so shrill and redundant that he was finally banned. It's worth noting that while he is an anonymous blogger, "Blue Texan" of Instaputz is obviously a close associate of Glenn Greenwald (who has accused Glenn Reynolds of murderous sociopathic, bloodthirsty, downright frightening right-wing authoritarianism), for he had blogging privileges at Glenn Greenwald's pre-Salon blog.
Parenthetically, I don't spend much time reading comments, because I barely have time to write my posts here, and I can't keep up with blog posts elsewhere, so comments are a low priority. Plus they tend to be argumentative and emotional, which wastes time. But a Samizdata commenter named "Charles Giacometti" rang a bell, because he's left comments here and I notice he's a loud and angry follower of Blue Texan and Glenn Greenwald, who claims (among many other things) that Glenn is an anti-Semite. (And indistinguishable from Rush Limbaugh.) At Dan Riehl's blog Giacometti devoted an extraordinary amount of time to calling people "wingnut pussies" (and "little puke," "fucking dolt," and other terms), and for some reason he has decided that people who disagree with him are fond of Cheetos. Another Giacometti Cheeto allegation here, and there are voluminous comments here, if you have the patience to read through them. (I don't.) He's another tireless promoter of the absurd meme that Glenn Reynolds has a radical-right-wing agenda of genocide, murder and hate.....
Basically, I don't like to argue with people, because I don't think arguments persuade anyone. However, I often disagree with points of view other than my own, and while it is not always possible to keep disagreements civil and logical, misrepresenting what someone else says by putting words in his mouth is even worse than being rude and emotional. At that point, the argument ceases to be an argument. If someone says, for example, that I called someone a traitor when I did not do that, what's to discuss? Instaputz's Blue Texan said just that about me (although he is of course best known for his attacks on Glenn Reynolds).
Richard Miniter also complains about misrepresentations by Instaputz:
Instaputz twists my words to make some cheap shots. And, notice the anger and the bitterness in his voice? Instaputz could be a partisan of the left or the right, it doesn't matter. They both do this. Poor reading skills, mixed with anger and cheap shots. It doesn't portend well for the future of the country.Instaputz claimed that "Miniter has now set the standard that only those who've been to Iraq can have an opinion about it"
Each one said that they were "frightened" by President Bush and that the war was "ugly." These are literally childish complaints.So, posing the question "how can you be sure if your views are correct?" becomes "only those who've been to Iraq can have an opinion."
One of the things I've learned in blogging is that it's a waste of time to argue with people who don't even have the decency to argue with what you said. So (other than thanking him for the link) I didn't waste my time with Instaputz when he put words in my mouth:
....because Greenwald thinks the right wing hysteria over The Next Hitler speaking at Columbia was misplaced, Eric at Classical Values says that makes him a traitor.Of course, I never said that at all. My complaint was that Greenwald couldn't "seem to find the space to utter a single word about the savage executions of gays in Iran (much less their overall plight.)" Sorry, but criticizing someone for not mentioning something in a blog is not an accusation of treason.
Nor was my PhotoShop an accusation of treason. Here's the PhotoShop along with what I said:
And while it never managed to find its way into the government video, what about this?Not only did I not say the word "traitor," I didn't imply it. Furthermore, had "Blue Texan" bothered to click on the picture's link, he'd have seen that it originated as satire -- as a heartfelt plea to get Ahmadinejad to wear a necktie in the interest of peace. Removing a necktie from Greenwald and putting one on Ahmadinejad, was surrealist sartorial satire -- intended to make fun of both of them. But as I stated at the time, I still held out hope that Greenwald might be willing to take off his tie and send it to Ahmadinejad:
As to the man on the left, I can't be sure why he isn't wearing a tie. Maybe he took his off, and gave it to President Ahmadinejad in the interest of improved cultural ties.I think Ahmadinejad is a malevolent clown, and I think Greenwald is sorely lacking in the sense of humor department. Both, in my view merit ridicule, but for very different reasons.
Calling such ridicule an accusation of treason only demonstrates bad faith, and not only isn't it necessary to refute things like that, it's counterproductive, because people who put words in your mouth will just keep right on doing it. That's because they're not arguing with your words; they're arguing with their words. (Of course, I guess if Instaputz can find sexual innuendo in a picture of Ann Althouse doing nothing more than opening her mouth, I shouldn't be surprised that he insinuates the word "traitor" into my Photoshop.)
I normally would not have gone to the trouble of an elaborate explanation, for what is there to "explain"? That I did not say what I did not say? The whole thing is silly; the only reason I am bothering now is because I see that it's a recurrent pattern for others.
It is not new that Instaputz does what he does. What I can't figure out is why Sullivan takes him at his word. Unfortunately, the only answer I can come up with to Glenn's "Why?" is "I don't know."
But what puzzles me the most is Sullivan's idea that Glenn is not a libertarian, but Blue Texan is.
Seriously, what's up with that? Is Andrew trying to persuade other small "l" libertarians to turn in their invisible cards lest they be tainted by association? Is there really any "why"? Might it just be "because"?
Perhaps I should just say "why bother"? I mean, these are other people's labels. I've long considered myself to be politically homeless. I can just as easily go back to being a Democrat in name only as I can being a small "l" libertarian or whatever you want to call it. The world does not rise or fall depending on how Andrew Sullivan and Blue Texan define "libertarian."
So why should I care?
If the only people saying this stuff were bloggers like Blue Texan, Glenn Greenwald, and their assorted followers, I would not care enough to write this post. I care only because Andrew Sullivan seems to be going along with it. While I don't always agree with Andrew, I've been reading him for years and consider him to be at least capable of being intellectually fair. Maybe he's annoyed by something else right now, but taking a long view of him and his blog, I expected more from him than this.
I realize that Sullivan haters will say that I'm being naive. I hope they're not right.
UPDATE: Charles Giacometti has left lots of comments below, and I'm so excited and thrilled that I'm just speechless. (I'm leaving them all there as reminders of his love.)
UPDATE: Via Justin, Instaputz accuses me of being a reading-disabled tool of Glenn Reynolds.
Well, assuming I can't read, why shouldn't I be allowed to have Glenn do my reading for me?
Nah, because that would make Glenn my reading "tool"! And that wouldn't be, you know, fair.
MORE (11/07/07): Here goes the shameless Glenn Reynolds for the umpteenth time, minimizing torture by glibly downplaying its significance -- this time by accusing Congress of a lack of courage for not outlawing waterboarding.
Another clear case of Glenn "arguing with a straw man by making the same claim that he's anti-torture."
I'm telling you, the deception involved in Glenn's radical right wing agenda is downright frightening.
But really, isn't this just a new twist on an elaborate game of deception that has gone on for some time? I mean, what did we expect from someone who demonizes gay people to strengthen his cultural tribalism? And who says people are not gay as a way of saying that they are?
Glenn's double reverse denial must be watched closely.
Why, just today Glenn said "I don't like Pat Robertson."
If you know how to read Glenn Reynolds -- and I mean really read, in the proper context -- you know exactly what that statement means!
posted by Eric on 11.05.07 at 11:34 AM
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