Mind if I generalize about being a stereotypical exception to the rule?

Eric S. Raymond (whom I greatly respect) took umbrage at this statement from Bill Whittle (whom I also greatly respect):

Of course, the media coverage has tried very hard to portray the normal, average, every-day Americans of the Tea party rallies as dangerous and angry racists and Wal-Mart knuckle-draggers, while identifying the mass-produced signs, the mass-produced T-shirts, the mass-produced members of bused-in wiccan nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestors as somehow the genuine voice of the American people.
Accustomed as I am to rhetorical hyperbole, when I first saw the above paragraph, I pretty much read through the above as something said in passing, hardly a central argument worthy of a detailed, point-by-point refutation. You could say it would be inartful in a campaign speech, but in a blog post such stuff is the sort of throwaway language which is routinely put there for like minded-people to read. Like many generalities used in such contexts, it throws together a number of general statements in a hyperbolic manner. (Had I heard him say that out loud, though, my reaction may well have been different, and I don't know why...) So even though I had seen the Whittle post earlier, had Glenn Reynolds not linked Raymond's post, I might have missed this opportunity to engage in an unfairly specific hyper-analysis of Whittle's generalizations. I think the latter are understandable in context (and I've made similar statements myself), but they're worth a closer look.

As to the "mass-produced signs" carried by leftists, check. As to the "mass-produced T-shirts," check. These are general statements, though and while there is no denying that there were most likely hand-lettered signs as well as hand-made T-shirts, the point is made to contrast the professional SEIU union-type activists with the Tea Party demonstrators. Take a look at my photographs from a Michigan Tea Party and I doubt you'll see a single mass-produced sign. I saw plenty of home-made and improvised T-shirts too, although because of their nature, any crowd will contain a lot people wearing mass-produced T-shirts. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was wearing this now worn-out T-shirt, which I have been wearing ever since it was "right wing":


I can't remember whether I bought it at a cafe press store or at the blog's own store, but it's a standard Hanes shirt, so to that extent it's fair to say it was mass-produced. Does the added design mean it's not home-made? I don't know.

Parenthetically, I should probably point out for the many years I wore it, I always thought I was being politically incorrect. However, since the Tea Party event, the T-shirt's designer has stereotyped the Tea Parties in what I consider to be such an unfair manner that it wouldn't be right for me to wear it to a Tea Party today. Nor would I wear it in the streets of Ann Arbor, lest someone mistake me for a leftie. I know that sounds crazy, but that's the way it is. The shirt is longer politically incorrect. It has become politically correct. Well, I guess you could say that the T-shirt is still politically incorrect in conservative circles. But I like the Tea Parties, so I wouldn't wear it to a real Tea Party event. I might keep it, though.... just in case there's ever an AFA or World Net Daily event in my hood. Plus, it might be a good conversation starter at a left wing event. I could explain that "I bought it in 2004, back in the good old anti-idiotarian days...." (Yes, I consider it all very sad, and I have avoided writing about it because arguments are always pointless.)

As it happens, I have another T-shirt that I designed myself and actually contemplated wearing to the Tea Party, and it really is politically incorrect:


The problem is, it might be too politically incorrect for any event anywhere, as it could create confusion in the minds of emotional people. People who might not get my point, and either think I was endorsing Che Guevara, or making an unfair comparison between him and their favorite dictator. The T-shirt is likely to cause trouble and might hurt feelings unnecessarily. (My duel with commie fascism notwithstanding.)


Where was I before I got distracted by the T-shirt issue? I guess the point was that plenty of people wearing non-mass-produced T-shirts at leftie events -- or mass-produced T-shirts at Tea Party events -- could theoretically have taken umbrage at Bill Whittle's generalization. I didn't, even though T-shirts are a somewhat touchy issue for me (especially when their meaning changes through no fault of my own).

Next we come to the general statements guaranteed to step on a number of sensitive toes (including mine, had I not simply scrolled through the post to determine his central thesis) -- the "mass-produced members of bused-in wiccan nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestors."

You know, that is quite a mouthful. I might have put it this way --"mass-produced members of bused-in Islamist-loving nihilist anarcho-Maoist multicultural identitarian eco-weenie anti-war protestors" -- but that's just me. There are conservative and libertarian wiccans just as there are conservative and libertarian gay people. And there are right wing anarchists. I'd call myself a pantheistic pansexual except it would only invite arguments and it sounds ridiculous. But I can see why people would get offended by being lumped in with the enemies of the Tea Parties because of their personal lifestyle characteristics.

It's tough to generalize, because generalizations tend to be stereotypes. And while it's easy -- in general, of course -- to say that the exception proves the rule, it's never easy to be an exception. If you happen to be one of the exceptions to one of these "general rules," you're likely to feel dissed and pissed. A lot. It makes what most people take for granted -- being with their own kind -- tough. Because if you're an exception to the rule, you don't have your own kind. (That problem touches on what I most love about the blogosphere, but that's another, complex, topic.)

Gay Patriot is another exception to a general rule. The general rule is, simply, that gays belong on the left. I have devoted a great deal of time to undermining that rule, not only because I see no logical connection between politics and sexuality (much less homosexuality and socialism), but because I don't like the way the demagogic opportunists on the left (who claim to love gays, so long as they're socialists) are assisted by anti-gay activists on the right (who also want gays to be on the left, and additionally do everything they can to help drive them there). This "rule" is very tyrannical, as the idea is to keep gays from being free to make up their own minds about politics. It activates a reflexively stubborn emotional mechanism which I think helps keep gays relegated to being less than full, informed, participating citizens.

But there's another general rule to which Gay Patriot (B. Daniel Blatt) finds himself being an exception. The rule? That all intellectuals belong on the left. If you think about it, that's possibly more sickening and stultifying than the rule that all gays belong on the left -- because intellectuals are by their nature supposed to have the intellectual ability to reject such rules out of hand. I touched on this in my post about my own background vis-a-vis Sean Kinsell's background. In a post Glenn linked recently, Gay Patriot discusses his background and adds a very important observation which sheds light on the mechanism that pushes intellectuals leftward:

Like many intellectually-inclined individuals born in the Midwest, I chose to attend college in New England and settle in cities outside my native region, first living in the Washington, D.C.-metropolitan area and now in Los Angeles. And while many of my peers who made similar journeys share my politics, most do not. It seems that when they pull up stakes, they lose all allegiance to their place of birth-and the people who live there.

They behave as if because they're so much smarter than the folks they left behind, they know better how to run their lives than they do. They heap scorn on those who don't know the difference between Hegel and Heidegger and can't name a single German film director from the 1920s or a French one from the 1960s. In fact, most of the folk left behind probably couldn't name more than one or two American directors for the 200os.

We conservatives, most of us at least, are a tad more humble. While we appreciate the company of those with whom we can share our intellectual/cultural pursuits, we recognize that our supposed smarts don't give us the qualifications to run the lives of our youthful companions or to question their world view. Sometimes, we're even aware that these folks have more practical intelligence than we do; we even turn to them for advice on matters of running our households and managing our money.

Yet, many of our left-wing counterparts just can't accept that those in the hinterlands just don't trust the judgments of their betters.

Absolutely true. Read it all, as he gives examples.

Especially all of you who belong to the "effete corps of impudent snobs" or if you're a card-carrying member of the "pointy-headed intellectuals who can't even park their bicycles straight."

They can have my impudent snobbery when they pry it from my stinking effete corpse!

And as to my bicycle, there's nothing "straight" about it! Besides, bicycle riders are all a bunch of demented car-hating radical greenie weenies.

No really. They annoy me every day.

posted by Eric on 02.10.10 at 10:55 AM


Love the LGF shirt. The photo is ironically delicious. And that smile.

BTW I used the same Bill Whittle piece (video version) in the previous post. Posted within minutes of each other.

M. Simon   ·  February 10, 2010 11:09 AM

It's typical blog fair for someone to seize on one comment out of a large piece and only discuss or attack that.
I hate it when people do that.

So anyway, you said this
And there are right wing anarchists.

I've always thought that anarchists (the real kind, not the ones who put on black clothing and masks and destroy property) are the logical end point of right wingers.
The left is all about more and more gov't, the right is about less and less gov't.

All gov't is Big Brother.
No gov't is anarchy.

Saying that, good post.
Often, when people seize on one, small bit they're trying to attack the whole thing by "proving" that one, small bit was wrong (S D Beste used to have that problem, he'd write a 10,000 word essay and the response would be "Yeah, well the French didn't use crossbows in their military until 1287 not 1284, so your whole post is wrong")

Me? When I pick on one, small part, it's usually because I generally agree with the post but have some pet, related or semi-related deal I want to talk about.

Veeshir   ·  February 10, 2010 12:30 PM

It is typical blog FARE, dude, to flog other comments about the head and neck for mis-spelling, too.

I like the anarchy idea. Let's try that for a decade or so.

dr kill   ·  February 10, 2010 4:15 PM

I'm contemplating the sad fact I might be an impudent snob. And I can't even ride a bike.

Woe is me. And I'd like to sign up for Heinlein's "Rational Anarchy."

Double woe is me. I'm a science fiction impudent snob. (Slinks off.)

Sarah   ·  February 10, 2010 6:56 PM

Sarah, I actually edited out a paragraph on the Prof from the Moon is a Harsh Mistress and his "Rational Anarchy".

Veeshir   ·  February 10, 2010 9:54 PM

I realize this is O/T, but do you actually fence?

Lynne   ·  February 11, 2010 8:57 AM

Lynne, only to keep the dogs in!


Eric Scheie   ·  February 13, 2010 6:13 PM

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