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October 05, 2015

Oregon Sheriff Investigating Umpqua Shooting Under Fire For Conspiracy Video Posted on FaceBook Page

I don't know. All seems kinda silly.

A prominent gun-control advocate is calling for the resignation of the Oregon sheriff leading the investigation into the recent shooting, who he labeled a pro-gun "conspiracy theorist."

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin ruffled feathers after it came to light that he sent Vice President Joe Biden a letter in January 2013, threatening to not enforce stronger gun laws.

According to reports, Hanlin also posted a conspiracy video on his Facebook page suggesting the government was behind the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting as well as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in a coordinated effort to "disarm the public." He later distanced himself from the video and denied claims he is a conspiracy theorist.
This has enraged gun-control activists.

He's denying he believes that.

Before Douglas County, Oregon, Sheriff John Hanlin found himself answering questions about a school shooting in his backyard, he posted a link to a video raising questions about another -- the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that left 20 children and six adults dead.

"This makes me wonder who we can trust anymore ..." Hanlin wrote on his Facebook page on January 13, 2013, above the conspiracy video link. "Watch, listen and keep an open mind."

That post has since been taken down, albeit not before many saw it.

When asked about the video Friday, Hanlin told CNN that "I know what you're referring to, but that's not a conspiracy theory that I have."

I'm not a fan of silly conspiracy theories. I'm also not a fan of this age's method of political argumentation, which consists merely of blackening the reputation of a person offering a political claim, as if smearing that person also discredited the political claim itself.

But that's all we do anymore. It's a normal and routine technique in actual political elections to talk about character issues and personal scandals because we're actually not just electing a series of (vague) policy proposals, we're electing an actual person, and we should know about that actual person.

This has always been grist for the easiest, laziest sort of political writing -- and as someone who practices this and loves a scandal story because of how damn easy it is to write up, I say this with complete expert authority.

But this sort of character attack is completely irrelevant in all areas except the situation where we're choosing one person or another for an office.

It has absolutely nothing to do with questions of actual policy. The fact that Hanlin may have posted this tells us precisely nothing at all about the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment and the proper level of freedom (or restriction) of gun ownership.

But this is all we do anymore -- this lazy, #HotTake Gawker-style method of dealing with policy issues. It's nothing more than Hashtag Scandal anymore.

We're increasingly running full political campaigns -- dredging up negative information, discrediting people on character grounds, etc. -- who are not in fact running for any office at all.

Sometimes, we're running political campaigns against complete nobodies who are jus trying to make a joke about an upcoming trip on Twitter.

We are reducing all difficult arguments requiring thoughtfulness, evidence, and logic into mere smear campaigns run against whoever happens to speak out on an issue.

And this isn't just evil. It is evil. It is surely evil. But it's also deeply stupid. It's Idiocracy.

Stupid, thoughtless people always try to reduce things down to their own stupid, thoughtless level, so they can participate.

And the media, of course, is a prime enabler of this New Age of Stupidity, because they're among the laziest and dumbest public speakers in the world. Getting things down to a very dumb, lazy level plays to their strengths.

So once again another awful, vicious campaign of personal destruction because all too many Americans in the media are completely ill-equipped to have anything resembling a policy argument.

Contempt as an "Argument." I noted in the sidebar the fact that the Washington Post's The Fix wrote up a Seth Meyers attack on the GOP, and stalwart defense of Planned Parenthood, as a real news piece, headlining it (Vox-style) The Planned Parenthood Controversy, Explained By Seth Meyers [Video]."

It was of course not an explanation at all: It was simply a staged show of emotional contempt.

It occurs to me that the left, particularly, only makes this sort emotional-solidarity sort of "argument" anymore, the public expression of theatricalized contempt.

They bond through their hatred; they politically agitate through their expressions of hate.

And I'm not sure if they have any other game, really.

The fact that the Washington Post, a supposedly "real newspaper," could mistake this showing of theatrical contempt for an "explanation" of a political issue tells you a lot about our media, our country, and the deeply stupid age we live in.

It keeps reminding me of this observation of David French's:

So, a "senior Obama administration official" called the prime minister of Israel -- our closest ally in the Middle East and one of the few nations in the region that is not (a) imploding or (b) actively funding or supporting terrorists --"“a chickenshit." While that word has rocketed around the globe, other descriptions of Benjamin Netanyahu include,"“recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and 'Aspergery.'" And let’s not forget the worst word of all, "coward."

Behold, the beautiful and delicate rhetorical stylings of our cultural and political elite. They’re the improvisational jazz musicians of American diplomacy, always ready with just the right word to solidify alliances, avoid unnecessary confrontation, and reassure Americans they know exactly what they’re doing in the face of bloody violence. This is what happens when the academic Left runs American foreign policy.

[This is an example of] the sophomoric, malicious style of campus rhetoric, where stigma is the preferred method of argument. It’s hard to overstate the propensity towards name-calling even of "elite" academics, and the culture of the academy is one where groupthink is enforced and reinforced through vicious rhetoric. Their opponents can’t be merely wrong. Instead they are racist, bigoted, homophobic, or -- despite professed love of the disabled -- "Aspergery."The arrogance is overwhelming, and the fake tough-guy posture of name-calling elitists is laughable to everyone but themselves.

French has also pondered the how this sort of increasing fantatacism evolves in a closed group which refuses all possible outside information.

If the recent history of our universities is any guide, the products of a leftist bureacratic monoculture will be characterized by the following:

Ignorance: Groups of like-minded people are notoriously incurious about the ideas and perspectives of dissenters.

Condescension: They don't let ignorance stand in the way of a bulletproof sense of moral and intellectual superiority. Hatred: Since all the good people they know agree with them, they ascribe the worst of motives to the other side, believing them to be motivated by little more than greed and bigotry. And, finally . . .

Fanaticism: Cass Sunstein described the "law of group polarization" like this: "In a striking empirical regularity, deliberation tends to move groups, and the individuals who compose them, toward a more extreme point in the direction indicated by their own predeliberation judgments." In other words, when like-minded individuals deliberate, their common views grow more extreme over time.

He's quite right. The only "argument" made by the left is the political technique of the assignment of stigma to a view -- and the entire left now does this, not just the branches of it (such as Media Matters, etc.) which you could forgive for doing it, as it's their actual job.

But all members of the left, the media, the bien-pensant intellectual class, every single of one them now knows only the primitive, stupid, animal-level technique of ginning up campaigns of social ostracism against individual people, in hopes of (or do they even care about this part any longer...?) stupid people confusing an argument about a person with an argument about a policy.

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posted by Ace at 04:43 PM

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