September 13, 2009
Can anti-idiotarianism be kept alive?
Considering some of the nastiness that has been going on in the blogosphere since the election of Barack Obama, "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" is probably good advice right now.
Last night, I was a bit taken aback at the level of vitriol directed towards Stephen Green -- for his crimes in linking one blogger and for apparently not delinking another. It's so nasty and contentious that I don't feel like sharing my thoughts about either of the bloggers in question right now. (Sorry, I won't even quote the comments, but trust me. If you don't trust me, then just go for a Sunday scroll.)
I'd just like to remember the good old days of a more pleasant world. A world where there was more or less unity against what was called idiotarianism. The term had its origins in an observation Glenn Reynolds made back in 2002:
"What bloggers are more than anything, I think, is anti-idiot. That makes life tough for Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, and the Revs. Falwell, Robertson, Jackson, & Sharpton, for reasons that transcend traditional partisanship and ideology."This eventually evolved into a sort of common sense manifesto articulated by Eric S. Raymond:
"WE DEFINE IDIOTARIANISM as the species of delusion within the moral community of mankind that gives aid and comfort to terrorists and tyrants operating outside it.Perhaps that was too utopian an idea to withstand the pressures of change.
So many people's definitions of what is idiotic have changed that it sometimes seems to me that almost everyone thinks almost everyone else is an idiot on some level.
Still, even now, I think the anti-idiotarian cause is a good one. Incurable romantic that I may be, I'm as much against idiots as I ever was. The devil is in the details, though.
However, I'd be less than candid if I did not observe that much of what I said over the years (and perhaps the basic philosophy of this blog) would no longer be seen as rightish small l-libertarianism, but as left wing. Criticisms of guys like Falwell are now seen as "attacking Christianity." Even defending Bush (for which I used to get reams of excrement) now looks suspiciously liberal.
I often feel as if I can't say anything. Everyone is offended by something now, including me.
Geez, this is looking pretty bleak. I should point out that I like the Tea Party Movement, which I find new and refreshing. Sure, there are a few idiots with idiotic signs, but as Matt Welch notes, they're far outnumbered by the good ones. The movement strikes me as inherently anti-idiotarian in nature.
But what about the idiots? Should they just be ignored?
posted by Eric on 09.13.09 at 11:59 AM
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