On the Weakness of Prim ‘n’ Proper
In a tangential comment to Marc’s post about population loss, “Chalkdust” issued the following multipart critique of Anchor Rising’s comment sections:
“Of course, once NOW stayed on its knees for Bill Clinton”
Another reason (along with “brown babies”) that Anchor Rising MIGHT be an interesting place to debate issues, if one can manage to close one’s ears to this trash.
Does anybody in charge here ever try to actively disassociate from this crowd? I don’t mean censor, I just mean say loudly that they’re over the top and unwanted. Just curious. …
… I hadn’t realized until now that “conservative talk” actually requires crude sexual and racial references. Maybe I was reading too much Buckley, Safire and Scalia, but thanks for the clearer picture of what conservativism in RI means. …
… It’s just that being raised by very, very conservative parents (Goldwater Republicans) , I was taught that, at least in public discussion, vulgarity, name-calling and hubris were not only improper, but sinful. I guess it’s a different game today.
Monique left a subsequent comment explaining that we do pull the trigger, from time to time, when comments shift out of bounds, but I think a somewhat more involved answer might be useful.
I can’t speak for the other contributors to Anchor Rising, but I grew up on the highway side of town in Jersey — by the exit, if you get what I mean. Nobody was poor in my town, but neither were the cardigans plentiful. Now, I live in a working-class neighborhood, which is fitting considering that I spend my days on the construction site and need a driveway in which my work van won’t look out of place at night. This is all to say that, while I appreciate — and enjoy — restrictive, rules-based conversations that seek to address ideas and issues with viscera at arm’s length, colorful language has its attractions and uses in certain contexts.
As a word guy, I’d suggest that choice imagery — emotion-drenched though it may be — can more fully convey a thought than antiseptic descriptions and abstractions. Comme il faut faux civility has actually become a useful mechanism for the Left. It’s not “sucking the brains out of a just-about-born baby”; it’s “partial-birth abortion.” (Sometimes, it’s not even “abortion”; it’s “dilation and evacuation.”) Racist, bigot, fascist, sexist, homophobe… these are all words that purport to be descriptive, but are wielded in such a way as to beat back and dismiss an opponent without staining one’s white gloves with any taint of irrationality.
I suppose the writer of the “trash” could have avoided the fellatial metaphor and written, instead, something like: “Of course, NOW once compromised the integrity of its ostensible message.” But that loses something of the justified scorn and the curiously stained irony of the empowerment group’s fawning passivity before an alpha male.
I suppose that, if a reader’s tender sensibilities are such that he or she cannot filter through the inevitable range of voices in an open online forum, then, yes, the Anchor Rising comment sections might not be the place to seek conversation. For my part, I figure that Carnegie Mellon called one of its required freshman English courses “Argumentative Writing” for a reason.