Thanks to Barry Ritholtz for posting these classic Seinfeld videos...they definitely got me in the Festivus spirit. Since feats of strength wouldn't work in a blog post, I decided to celebrate with an airing of grievances.
FactCheck examined 2010's bogus chain emails, those ubiquitous lies about everything from Obama's dog [who didn't fly on his own private jet] and the National Day of Prayer [it wasn't cancelled] to Congressional pay raises [none this year or next] and healthcare reform legislation [Muslims aren't exempt, and there's no civilian army].
What continues to aggrieve me about this phenomenon is that the fabricated quotes, manufactured data, and Photoshopped images are almost exclusively created to benefit the Right. I've written a few lengthy rebuttals of conservatives' lie-filled screeds (fables about "Hanoi" Jane, oblivious professors, and Obama's mistakes) as well as reviews of some of their books (Ann Coulter's Godless and Sean Hannity's Conservative
Vitriol Victory) over the past few years, so I have no small appreciation for the structure and composition of their arguments. It was in that piece on Hannity that I wondered about differences between liberals and conservatives:
Are commentators on the Left necessarily any better [than those on the Right]?
No...the key word being necessarily. We have our own purveyors of hyperbole and vitriol: James Carville, Al Franken, and Michael Moore are a few of the best-selling ones, but the main difference is the (relative) lack of COMPLETELY MAKING SHIT UP on the Left as compared to the Right. I've lost track of how many times I've spent hours researching a right-wing chain email to discover...that it's a morass of manufactured outrage, selective quotation, deliberate misinterpretation, outright lies, and other easily falsifiable bullshit. [...]
I don't want to go all Lakoff here ... but it really does seem that the right-wing psyche is much more amenable to making the leap of blind faith from hearing something to believing it without ever passing through any sort of thought or analysis.
Nearly two years ago, I wrote about fighting back against this pernicious annoyance:
If a liberal dares to hit "reply" and sends back a criticism or a correction, then the emailer's true purpose is laid bare. Conservatives are rarely looking for discussion or debate, they're looking for--sometimes all but demanding--ideological agreement and emotional validation. They expect to be able to tell all of us what they believe, without ever having to deal with us talking back to them.
Their time of monopolizing my inbox is over...much of what they write needs to be rebutted, whether or not they can handle it.
By airing this grievance, I'm likely to receive complaints that I'm being "vitriolic" toward those poor conservatives--they just want to continue lying with impunity, and who am I to stand in their way with my research and my book learning, providing facts that negate their fantasies?
So...what are you thinking about on this beautiful Festivus evening?