Monday, August 10, 2009

This thing is not like that thing

Both Illinipundit and Glock21 have accused the Obama administration of astroturfing and that they are therefore no better than the right wing mobs currently shutting down town hall meetings across the country. These are excellent examples of the logical fallacy of false equivalence. Basically it goes like this: the right wing is inciting their base to be as disruptive as possible, the Obama administration is encouraging people to contact their local officials: see, they're both astroturfing!

Well, no. This is a great example of the false equivalence. The best definition I can find online is from the link above, as equating "an act by one party as being equally egregious to that of another without taking into account the underlying differences which may make the comparison patently invalid."

I don't like the idea of the Obama administration handing out talking points; I think talking points are the lazy way out and are for people who don't really have an argument. But if you look at the evil, evil document that Illinipundit posted, all it's really encouraging you to do is "have a quick conversation with the local staff, tell your personal story, or even just drop off a customized flyer and say that reform matters to you." And it offers to provide you with "the address, phone number, and open hours for the office, information about how the health care crisis affects your state for you to drop off (with the option of adding your personal story), and a step-by-step guide for your visit."

Really, that doesn't sound like much to me. I've never visited my Congressional office and I can definetly see how that might be a bit intimidating. I don't know the protocol or procedures involved. (Did you know letters to your Congressman are properly addressed to "The Honorable So-and-so?")

When you really get down to it, the Obama campaign is nothing more than asking people to politely contact their own, local representatives and make their wishes known.

The opposition is not.

  • In Tampa, Florida, a town hall meeting had to be cut short because of shouting in the meeting, after the mob of 1,000 people was banging on the windows, and after a violent fistfight broke out in the entryway.
  • The SEIU is getting death threats by phone and -- believe it or not -- Twitter.
  • Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) has said "the time for polite town halls is 'over.'"

I'm all for people talking to their reps and voicing their opinions, even if I disagree with them. But these tactics show that the right-wing is not attempting to participate in the health care discussion, they're attempting to disrupt it.


Glock21 said...

Not quite what I was arguing. The Obama stuff alone is hardly on par with everything else being organized by the right... but on the whole you can find numerous examples of disruptive action by both individual and organized parties via crashing speeches, meetings, etc with shouting and disruption, etc. You can also find the same boneheaded reductio ad hitlerum arguments from the real moonbats of both sides.

And just as the townhall crashers include some paid activists, so to did many of the anti-war protests via larger organizations as well as pro health care reform groups now who are advertising paid employment as "grassroots" activists for the cause.

It's not identical or the same, but both sides have used similar tactics and have been absolutely hypocritical in their condemnation of the other.

Not the same, just not all that different in many of the ways that get a lot of complaints.

That's my point, and that should be clear from my post and the post it links to ripping on the tea party extremists.

Glock21 said...

An additional humorous bit though is back in the Bush years I got a lot of the same complaints from Republicans when I pointed out that the left's protests weren't all that extreme compared to their demonization of Clinton.

They were also as offended that I dare suggest they were anything like them.

A quick stroll on zombie time, which arguably has some of the most insane of the left-wing protesters, reveals that the tea party yahoos and the townhall crashers haven't even scratched the surface of how bad some lefties got when protesting Bush, or the war, or gitmo, or some Israel related function.

On the other hand it's a wee bit more worrisome since all of the libertarians and die-hard anti-government libertarians that border on near anarchism are part are poking up here and there.

But the anarchists aren't shy of left-wing protests either when it gives them a good opportunity to challenge authority (which they tend to hate more when a Republican is in charge) and start fires and throw molotov cocktails and generally cause violence at left-wing rallies.

Fortunately most folks at protests, right or left, generally behave themselves even if the rowdy minority tends to make the rest look bad or are used by their opponents to generalize the whole.

moongrrl said...

"I did have an unfortunate incident with a woman when I was trying to make a phone call outside of the hall while being black. She got up in my face…said something about being tired of all us [insert N-word]…and then called me a baby killer (I was wearing a pink Planned Parenthood t-shirt). She was quickly escorted away by an extremely nice and police officer."

This reminds me of pro-war protests on Prospect a few years ago. I was driving by them with my windows down and, while stopped in traffic, a woman proceeded to yell at me because I wasn't honking in support of them. She asked me what my problem was and if I was 'SOME KIND OF LIBERAL BITCH". I hadn't even made eye contact with this woman and was not taunting HER. This, folks, is how the right wing decided to make their point years and years before the current bullshit going down.

Oh, well, I guess my experience is isolated. Just like Shark-Fu's.