Mar. 24th, 2010

Reading Jon Carroll's column on Erick Ericksen got me wondering about the apparent difference in flavors of hyperbole indulged in by political extremists. Right-wing nuts like Ericksen seem to favor accusations of sexual perversion or at least immorality; accusations of gender variance (male leftists are described as emasculated or effeminate, females as mannish and castrating); threats of violence, often with guns; accusations of laziness; etc. Left-wing nuts seem to have a tamer vocabulary: shadowy conspiracies of the powerful; accusations of greed and lack of compassion; accusations of hypocrisy. The only times a leftist brings up sexual immorality are when hypocrisy is involved, e.g. the Catholic church's pederastic priests or numerous "family values" Republicans caught with their pants down.

First of all, is this difference real, or just a stereotype in itself? Second: if it is real, why does it exist? What is it about the conservative mind-set that inspires someone to accuse David Souter of bestiality and pederasty? I mean, a lot of us leftists are less than fond certain Justices, but I for one would not, even in private, go farther than questioning the legitimacy of their births in a common figure of speech. Even when we get hyperbolic -- I often compared Bush and Cheney's administration to the Third Reich -- the enormities we accuse our opponents of are usually political, not pornographic. I'm not claiming that we're more virtuous for that; I'm wondering what inner narratives make people of all kinds choose the kind of mud they sling.

Some political science student, probably more than one, has no doubt done the legwork and written this all up. I'd love to see it.

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Gan Ainm

September 2010

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