Friday, November 12, 2010

A Couple More Notes From the Fringe

1. The prize for most unintentionally depressing subject line in an email goes to, which sent me one titled "It's a Savage Nation." The reference, of course, is to "[b]estselling author, conservative icon, and popular radio host Dr. Michael Savage," who has a new book out.  But that seems to be increasingly true, doesn't it? It is a savage nation.

2.  Recently I commented on the right's bizarre rage against Obama. Yesterday I was visiting The Volokh Conspiracy, a website that I mentioned here last week. (I assume the name is an allusion to Hillary Clinton's claim of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to bring about impeachment. The slogan of is, "Where the VRWC conspires." That's from memory, of course, as I'm banned. Personally, I think "vast" might have been a little over the top.) Anyway...

I was reading, and commenting in, a thread about global warming. As  you might expect, the thread started out being reasonable and was quickly overpowered by passionate denialists skeptics. I came across this remarkably frank account:

...I stopped hiking and travelling because of physical problems that preclude hiking 20+ mile days in the backcountry. And I'm one pissed-off dude because of that.  This kind of "discussion" gives me an outlet that is both socially acceptable AND useful.

Now - I've already said some things about the "denialist" thing. For the moment, I'll just add this - it's kinda like those who use the F-word 3 times in every sentence - it's an indication of their immaturity, mental capacity, lack of imagination, lack of socialization and how thin their veneer of civilization is.  IOW, it's rude, crude and uncalled for and deserves no respect at all. 

For those who understand what science is, how it operates, its history and possible future, the word "Consensus" is utter nonsense. It's not an argument and it's only persuasive to those who are either ignorant or stupid (or both). 

Yes, that's one pissed-off dude, all right. I'm not too clear on why he's so exercised about being called a "denialist," or why that's worse than a term that he uses elsewhere, "the Church of AGW" (anthropogenic global warming). But what's noteworthy is that he is quite open about his rage being completely unrelated to the topic, and about finding an outlet for it in the "discussion" (in quotation marks, I suppose to indicate that discussing things is only his ostensible purpose). No doubt that is more socially acceptable than shooting someone, or beating the crap out of them.

But have the non-political, exogenous causes of rage increased for some reason, or has it just become more common for people to channel their rage into politics? And when they do, does violence go down, or does public expression of rage become more socially acceptable? And does that, possibly, increase the temptation to feel rage in a variety of situations (say, physical limitations)?  Is there a vast Satanic conspiracy against the better angels of our nature? Are we in fact turning into a savage nation?

Just speculating.

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