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April 11, 2003

Theorem: Kieran Healy is one of the sharpest webloggers posting regularly today. Also one of the few who regularly make me laugh actually, like they say, out loud.

“Why are there so many personally obnoxious people on the Left?” asks Nick Denton. In his next sentence, he explains to himself why his question is mistaken. (“I happen to spend most of my time in cities which tilt Left…so the obnoxious people I meet are statistically more likely to be left-wing.”) But he presses on regardless to the inevitable single data point. A couple of months ago, using the same methodology, Dan Drezner wondered why people on the left were more sensitive to insults than those on the right. So with that data in mind, we can now conclude that left-wingers are both more sensitive and more obnoxious than right-wingers.

Coming up soon, a study that attempts to explain why so many of the closets I open are full of my clothes.

[11:53 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Theorem: Kieran Healy:

zizka ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2003, 01:37 PM:

I think that this point is a lot more important than it seems. The blue-red split is almost two different worlds. The core of the right wing is people you never see, living in Cheyenne Wyoming, Macon, Georgia, Jackson, Mississippi, etc. Their lives are tied up in church, family, and business. Probably they have some gaps in their education even if they're very successful and trained in a profession, so maybe they aren't too articulate.

And maybe they believe that Martin Luther King was a communist, and that Armageddon will come soon and that that's a good thing, and that all Mexicans should be deported, and all queers shot, and we should nuke Iran, and so on. But you never run into them, because they're in a different social circle. (Some of them even have a policy of lying low).

The people we see on TV or hear on radio (Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Pat Robertson) are not these people, but they're pimping them. They're like vote contractors delivering consent. (When you hear people talking about "outside the beltway", you're hearing inside-the-beltway people who've taken on the pimping job.)

I'm not saying that every Republican or every conservative meets the description I just gave, but there's a big chunk of them, and sometimes they even get the President's ear. Rove is absolutely committed to keeping them on board.

Even though I live in a liberal city (Portland OR), I still run into these people, through neighborhood, co-workers, in-laws, etc.. And since I drew up in the boonies I know of others whom I don't see much any more.

These people can be very pleasant face-to-face. Since I'm white, not gay, no longer a hippy, and mild-mannered (believe it or not) in many situations, these people accept me if I don't argue politics. But when their political ideas slip out they can quite casually be utterly blood-curdling.

There's some kind of sick thing going on, where liberalism and everything to the left of it have been demonized and the most annoying, extravagently bizarre and unpleasant representatives of the left have come to be taken as typical. I know a lot of people who choose to be apolitical or snarkily right wing mostly because they think liberals are uncool. They really seem like dupes and fools to me, because none of them would really want to live in the world the right-wing is making a lot of progress in constructing, but they're going to let it happen because they're just too god damn cool.

marcum ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2003, 01:47 AM:

I am actually a student of Kieran Healy's at UofA.

I do not think that the majority of rational, legitimate conservatives are concentrated in the bible belt. The southern conservatives, Rush Limbaugh included, are demogogues. If one groups those whose, "lives are tied up in church, family, and business" into a class of conservatives, we must remember that Bill Clinton was religiously conservative, ran his own business, and his family...well his family life would be the exception.

I consider myself conservative in many ways. Dan Drezner's post is not totally illegitimate. Here is a conversation I recently had with a bleeding heart just prior to Kieran's class:

bleedy:"Why are you wearing an American flag pin? Don't you know that patriotism is not the way"
marcum:"Well, I am a patriot. I feel it is my civil duty to express my patriotism with not-so-arbitrary symbols of nationality."
bleedy:"That is disgusting. You should know better than that."
marcum:"Do you ever consider that I never critisize you about your politics; I do not complain when you brag about anti-war 'die-ins' or your uneducated plight about the state of Bush Administration domestic policy versus Clintons. Why do you even care that I am a patriot; why am I worthy of your criticism?"
bleedy:"Well, I honor your intentions, but I am right and you are all wrong."

Just after this conversation, we both sat through Kieran's lecture on Durkeheim's "generation of solidarity" through collective orientation towards a totem.

Armed Prophet ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2003, 12:18 PM:

Aha, but you miss the subtleties of the sensitivity/obnoxiousness of left-wingers. Thing is, the sensitivity is directed inward, while the obnoxiousness is directed outward. While this may be a contradiction in character, it is certainly possible that one could be both, simultaneously.

Me? I think people are this way all around -- left and right -- but the two are not mutually exclusive. Then again, hasn't the left always portrayed itself as more humane and considerate than their differently-winged counterparts -- who pride themselves on their pragmatism and individualism?

Betsy Devine ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2003, 09:49 PM:

"the sensitivity is directed inward, while the obnoxiousness is directed outward"--Or, as CS Lewis said, the sensitivity "that bleeds at a touch but scratches like a wildcat."

I associate this with youth and/or practical inexperience. Talk radio is full of right-wing folks who fit the profile...