The Name Game

Labeling certain people or certain types of groups negatively seems to be on the increase in society.  For example, it’s easy to call someone with a different point of view a “left wing cook” or a right wing wacko”.  We often hear these and other terms used by the talking heads on television; and we read them every day in the blogoshpere.  The labeling and wording used in posts (such as “track record of dishonesty”) only serve to inflame, rather than inspire, analytical debate.

Labeling someone in this manner is simply taking the lazy, easy, way out.  It is much easier to do this than, for instance, examine someone’s point of view and challenge it in the realm of political thought when it disagrees with your own.  Currently, the most popular form of labeling seems to be against the President of the United States.

Words like dumb, moron, imbecile, and stupid are used daily on a wide variety of blogs to describe Mr. Bush.  When these words are used to describe anyone, particularly the President, I usually stop reading a post at that point.  So what has the person posting achieved?  He certainly hasn’t changed my mind on any issue and has (to me) described with the use of one word or phrase exactly the type of person he is.  If one is looking to change the mind of someone else, usually the best method is not to resort to name calling of any kind.  Rather, challenge the ideas with counter points of your own in a clear, concise manner.

Too many talking heads and bloggers use the name calling, “hit and run”, method to try and express their points of view.  Following are some examples of posts, articles, and people that use labeling to try and bolster their own beliefs by tearing down others.  Are they contributing anything to the public debate?  Do they care?

PresidentMoron.com / Canadian official called Bush ‘a moron’ / Another Idiot in Congress / Another Virginia Congressional Whack Job / The Outrageous Silence of Dumb & Dumber

Some of these sites even have some interesting ideas, but most are simply full of hate.  For those that actually do have good content, it’s too bad that all but other’s who already have similar points of view have turned a deaf ear once the name calling begins.  For no one with an opposing point of view is going to sift through the trash to find a coherent argument.  If the objective of the writter is to change the opinions of those who do not agree, he has not acheived his goal.

Thanks to Stephen for his comments on my post “Should We Stay or Should We Go?“.  His contributions assisted me in shaping my point of view on this issue.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Current Events, General, In The News, National Politics, Politics

4 Comments on “The Name Game”

  1. Stephen Says:

    I mostly agree with you. Good public policy emerges only if people are free to express opposing points of view. But egos tend to get involved when one person contradicts another. It certainly doesn’t help when people resort to insults, thus inflaming emotions and distracting attention from the substantive issues under discussion.

    I try to set an example of respectful dialogue on my blog, and I’ve been pleased with the results. Commenters generally match the tone that I aim to set, even though I often tackle controversial topics.

    But now let me qualify what I’ve just said. First, I think labels can be utilized appropriately as a kind of shorthand. For example, a blogger may have spoken to the question of the President’s honesty repeatedly, arguing with concrete examples that the President intentionally misleads the public. That’s a serious allegation, but the blogger has attempted to support it with appropriate evidence.

    Now the blogger uses the phrase, “track record of dishonesty”. Taken in context, it isn’t a gratuitous or unfounded insult; it is a bit of shorthand, referring the reader back to earlier posts.

    Second, the topic is particularly emotive when the allegations are directed at the President of a country. But I don’t think President Bush has earned any special deference in this respect.

    You have to admit, politicians themselves set a very poor example. Ad hominem arguments are a commonplace in political discourse. Didn’t Dick Cheney argue that to vote for John Kerry was, in effect, to support terrorism?

    The President uses mouthpieces like Cheney to stoop to exactly this sort of content-free smearing of his political opponents. Dubya is a very divisive person, and he has made himself so. (“If you’re not with me your against me” and similar, binary formulations.) He has set the bar of public discourse regrettably low, so his supporters shouldn’t be thin-skinned.

  2. You Know Me Says:

    I see that you have chosen to not post the comment I submitted shortly after you linked to my blog.

    Very courageous of you to post your sanctimony and to not permit even a slightly contrary point of view.

  3. reportcard Says:

    You Know Me:

    My apologies, did I miss something? Please repost, as I have never intentionally omitted anyone’s comments from this forum. I have no comments awaiting moderation, and the dash board claims that none have been deleted. As you may be able to tell from other articles and comments on this site, I have no problem with contrary points of view…provided that little or no profanity is used.

  4. You Know Me Says:

    Reportcard,

    My apologies. There was apparently some problem and I apologize for jumping to an errant conclusion.


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