I argue with people on the Internet professionally, and if that sounds like easy work, all I can say is that while it's better than emptying septic tanks for a living, you do actually contract more poop-borne illnesses doing it. The Internet is exactly what would have happened if the Wild West had laser cannons, except that in the Wild West, things would have eventually stopped burning. If you type the comments from a Yahoo News story into a graphing calculator, it charts a picture of screaming bat children.
Since many of the word jousts I find myself Don Quixote-ing through these days tend to be political, there's a curious phenomenon that I've noticed. On both sides there seems to be this idea that the other is simply ignorant of minor but tone-changing facts, and if only the opposite side can be hit in the face with these factoids like the final round of the fish-slapping competition, then it would see the light.
And in every case, at least from my fairly liberal standpoint, it always turns out to be something I know but could not give less of a monkey's poop fling about. Such as...
Margaret Sanger Was a Racist Eugenicist When a discussion about Planned Parenthood comes up, if the discussion goes on long enough, someone will eventually bring up founder Margaret Sanger's connection to the eugenics movement. If you don't know what that is, it was basically the scientific theory that we could improve the human race by weeding out undesirable traits through more selective breeding and better access to birth control. Of course, some folks took it a liiiiiiiittle further than that.
Yes, Sanger was a big fan of the idea that America and the world would be better off if the mentally handicapped shouldn't breed, and often regarded nonwhite races as inferior. She was a racist, and not a single liberal doesn't know that or really care about it. You know why? Because this is America. There is a slave owner on the dollar bill. Everything here was founded by racists. Literally everything we have here is a result of the less douchebaggy moments of racists. I wish Sanger had been a progressive bottle of rainbows, but the reality is that she was ten years older than Hitler and barely 15 years younger than the Emancipation Proclamation. Calling her on racism is like calling Dostoevsky on being a downer. You have to consider the time.
The Clintons Referring to Chelsea Clinton's Expected Child as a Baby Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child, and when your dad is a former President and your mom is a former Secretary of State/potential presidential candidate, that is going to be big news. The entire Clinton family took to Twitter to announce how happy they were at the impending birth of the next generation, a move that brought about some rather interesting reactions from more conservative bloggers.
"I don't see them referring to it as a fetus!" seems to be the regular not-zinger hurled in comment sections, presumably in response to Chelsea's parents' both being very public in their defense of reproductive rights. The fact that such people can't distinguish between the biological physical development of a child and the emotional joy that comes with a planned and wanted pregnancy you have the means to see through to the birth of a healthy child is telling of the all-or-nothingness that dictates their lack of nuance. As I've pointed out before, they simply don't know what they're talking about.
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Most Gunshot Deaths Are Suicides There's a lot of nonsense in the American gun debate, and admittedly the burning dum dum does indeed come from both sides. Images of school shooters mowing down children have been in the news all my adult life, and that's the sort of thing that makes folks go a little bonkers. Trying to simmer down the heat from the left, the right is always helpful to point out that most gun deaths are actually suicides.
That's totally accurate, by the way. Suicides outnumber all other forms of gun death combined. What's baffling to me is how this fact is supposed to reassure or deter proponents of stricter gun ownership laws? We've already seen how when other countries institute handguns bans, their suicide rates plummet. Also, is a death by suicide supposed to be better than a murder if it's still a death than can be prevented? I mean, just because something is better than opening fire in a crowded mall doesn't make it not still horrifying.
And on the subject of gun control...
Nazis Banned Guns Godwin's Internet Law states, "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." Nowhere is this better illustrated than in a debate about gun control, and references to Hitler's disarmament of the Jews before his subsequent dislivingment of them.
The problem with this "fact" is that it is true only in the narrowest sense. The 1938 German Weapons Act that Hitler signed didn't institute gun control; it lifted it. At least, it lifted a widespread ban on owning guns for anyone who was a Jew or for members of other undesirable races. The differences between pre-World War II German gun ownership and 21st-century American gun ownership are so far apart that it effectively renders comparison meaningless. So if you're wondering why liberals react with blank stares when you bring it up, it's because they're wondering when high school history stopped teaching the concept of context.
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Pre-Civil Rights Southerners Were Democrats Modern racism is alive and well in America, but as evidenced by the video above, it's largely become something more akin to the Junior Jumble. Racists seem to think that the best way not to be called racist is to mash words together in order to try to unlock some kind of bigoted cheat code instead of just not saying stupid racist things.
Case in point is that bigots looking to head off complaints about race problems in the modern conservative movement are quick to point out that it was a Republican who freed the slaves in the form of Abraham Lincoln and that it was actually Democrats in the Southern states who were responsible for most of the inequalities during the Civil Rights era.
That's very true. Most of the most openly racist politicians holding down progress at the time were Democrats. Just for fun, though, go look at a map of all the states that seceded from the Union in the Civil War. Now go look up the current governors of those states. They match up almost perfectly with the politicians who seem to give the least amount of damn about anyone darker than Hulk Hogan. That's because a struggling Republican Party realized it could steal a lot of power by running down south in the 1960s and appealing to seething racial hatred to win votes.
Who said that? The head of the Republican National Convention did when he apologized to the NAACP in 2005. That's why no one cares when you point out that Democrats were once racists, too. We know it has nothing much to do with the party as much as it's a bunch of states that really have a hard time letting go of being able to own black people.