Monday, April 13, 2015

So much for sanity and civility . . .

Yesterday I published a personal response to the Hugo Awards controversy, trying to pour oil on troubled waters and call for a legitimate, considered, reasoned vote for the awards instead of a biased, slanted, one-sided approach.

I might as well have saved my breath.  The extremists on both sides are still going at it hammer and tongs.  I'm not going to bother to give details or link to their posts - there are plenty of them out there.

I'm particularly sad about that because of my own life experiences.  I've watched an entire society become so polarized over differing views on a major issue that the situation degenerated into civil war (of the shooting and blowing-up variety rather than verbally).  I know some people laugh at me when I warn that the same could happen in this country, with the hard-line extremists on both sides intent on forcing everyone in the middle to conform to their side, or else.  Just look at a few quotations from both sides of American opinion in recent decades:

  • "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."
  • "The greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself."
  • "Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means."
  • "If you don't put certain structures in place or restrictions on those parts of our being that come from that dark place, then it gets out of control."
  • "Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
  • "There can be no such thing as a successful traitor, for if one succeeds he becomes a founding father."
  • "When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat."
  • "No decisions should ever be made without asking the question, is this for the common good?"

See if you can work out, without looking them up, which side of the aisle produced each of those quotations.  The scary thing is, some of them could come from either side - at least, similar sentiments have been expressed by both sides.  I heard similar views in my former home country . . . and I know what they became, in the end.  I don't want to see that here.

I will not allow others to do my thinking for me, and I will not allow others to sway me by rhetoric, propaganda or bullying.  I'll make up my own mind on the positions, persons and issues involved in this, and any and every other matter, and act accordingly.  I hope and trust all my readers will do the same, irrespective of your individual perspectives and whether or not we'd agree with each other.  That way, at least, we can continue to respect each other.  In today's world, I submit that counts for more than a little.



W. Fleetwood said...

I'm not sure 1963 counts as "recent decades", but in any case, I was around then and saw firsthand the lies and slander the left used against Senator Goldwater, same MO as today with only slight changes in vocabulary. If you are serious about your own rules you need to go back and find out about the real Barry Goldwater, who was one of the most decent and honorable men in American public life, not recycle the Lefthate that was heaped upon him when he spoke the truth to LBJ's lies. Really, you should.

Peter said...

@W. Fleetwood: If you read my words, I've never once slandered Barry Goldwater, much less "recycle[d] the Lefthate". You're reading into my words something that simply isn't there.

W. Fleetwood said...

Well, okay, let's review. You speak of civil war with shooting and blowing-up. --- By the way, I was there for that one too. 701 Bn SWATF out of Katima Mulilo, two years getting shot at and blowed-up in Ovamboland and Angola. (And if you run into that Koevoet Warrant Officer who still owes me for a Colt 1911 factory magazine and fifty rounds of .45 ACP GI Ball tell him I haven't forgotten.) --- But I digress. We then move on to "hard line extremists" who want to force everyone to agree with them "or else". We then have some quotes. If those weren't from the above mentioned "extremists" leading us to civil war why put them out? I'm sorry but I stand by my statement.

Anonymous said...

Man you are trying to use rational thought on the irrational mind, Or to quote my favorite Hugo award winner Robert Heinlein; "Never try to teach a pig to sing. You waste your time and annoy the pig" or mine own; "you can't fix stupid"--Ray

WOZ said...

While we all pledge to "make up our own mind" and not have others do our thinking, we have to get our data from somewhere. It used to be the MSM with some slight caution. Now we can't believe the fourth estate. It's frustrating and digging for the truth in what's presented as fact is daunting. If congress can't (doesn't care to) get the truth what's a poor sap like me to do?

Old NFO said...

Concur, and agree on the not allowing others to make up 'my' mind...

Anonymous said...

Peter, I'm a moderate and you used to be able to shame extremists on both sides to moderate (not eliminate) their behavior, and no one paid them much mind. The next paragraph sets up the point.

At 50+ I've been the victim of a smear campaign and it seriously affected my wife and her health. Even with a restraining order and court transcripts against the individual it was my experience no one took the time to find out the real story - easier to believe the guy who will say anything rather than the guy who says his lawyer has advised him to say nothing. To the point where we had to move (The judge literally asked us why we couldn't get along. Maybe because an individual can't follow the restraining order and won't stop lying).

So my point is, to be a moderate or to do the responsible thing is to be a victim. Anyone who pushes back is seen as the victimizer. I have learned the accuser typically reveals more about himself than the accused with the accusations made. Think of all the bullies you have known in your life, how many changed their behavior because they were asked. Most need a consequence sufficient and painful. Moderates have to stand up for what they believe, they have to expose the lies and bullying no matter the source. The only way for the moderates to get back in control is to get back in the game.

I understand your fears, and sadly I don't think moderates will take control back from the extremes.

Our society has lost a sense of perspective - these are the "Crazy Years."

Toastrider said...

As I commented in the earlier post, the ship has sailed.

The two sides do not regard each other as opponents, but as enemies. Blood feud, if you will. That's what happens when you denigrate your opposition as not just wrong, or even foolish, but evil. Right out of Alinsky's book.

I appreciate your sentiment and candor. Full disclosure: I own all your books on Kindle. :)

But I think we have passed the point where moderation will help. Someone is going to have to get punched out (metaphorically speaking) before things can calm down again.

Anonymous said...


Great minds apparently think alike. Jared Diamond had an op-ed on the very same topic just before new year's.

Anonymous said...

Willie Boy says:

The only way to stop the liberal extremism already in play (Thesis)is with conservative extremism (Anti-thesis), which, if effectively and aggressively advanced, will result in moderation (Synthesis). Throughout history this has proven to be axiomatic. Intellectual argument is laughable in the face of evil that is willing to suspend morality (which the progressives seem readily willing to do). Would moderation have overcome the Nazis? Only Neville Chamberlin was fool enough to believe that, and we all know how that turned out. The social physics of Dialectic Materialism must now be used as a weapon working for anti-progressives.

Anonymous said...

Willie Boy also says:

Please keep my comments within the confines of the language war being carried out in the Hugo Award controversy currently in play. Actual violence is a domain best avoided. Nobody needs that.