Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bill O'Reilly, the ACLU and NAMBLA

Tonight on The O'Reilly Factor, Bill interviewed a U.S. Ambassador who is a chief advisor on the subject of human trafficking – something we can all agree is bad. The ambassador talked at length about a litany of problems from children in the Middle East being forced to be camel jockeys to child prostitution in Cuba. The ambassador also brought up a case of a particular group of seven Americans who are members of NAMBLA who were arrested in February while trying to enter Mexico. And O'Reilly chimes in with "NAMBLA - the ACLU's favorite."

Good one, Bill. I'm sure they're all child molestors, every last one of them.

Here's the thing: the ACLU defends what it believes to be a correct interpretation of our civil rights. And when it comes to freedom of speech, they defend the right to talk about anything, whether you're a right wing nut job or a left wing loon or for that matter a sexual deviant – but that's not the same as defending the right to do the thing being talked about. Over the years they've supported free speech rights for all kinds of groups, from Christian fundamentalists to Nazis to Oliver North, but that doesn't mean they support Christianity, genocide or trading arms for hostages – but the will defend the right to speak freely about all of those things.

But that doesn't make for a quite as catchy or caustic a sound bite, and I suppose that's how O'Reilly makes his living.

PLG

9 Comments:

Blogger SMA said...

Your comments bring 2 related thoughts to mind.

First is the difference between defending the right to talk about something versus doing that thing. This, I believe is a nuance for many people. To me, the difference couldn't be more clear. But I have a brother who would not distinguish between the two. To him, such distinctions are a figment of the liberal imagination designed to disguise their lack of a moral compass. I don't know how many other out there see things like he does--but I think they all enjoy watching O'Reilly, and he knows it.

The second thought that comes to mind is that of Black & White thinking. I think there are many out there who cannot wrap their head around how something or someone can have both good and bad aspects. Unfortunately for some, this way of thinking is not a choice--it is a limit of their intellectual capacity.

I don't know if Bill O'Reilly suffers from this limitation, but he sure seems to play to an audience that does.

3/3/06  
Blogger RedBlueProject said...

Yeah, it's hard for some people to see shades of grey. But I don't think it's necessarily a matter of lacking IQ points. Everyone sees the world through their own lense. It's human nature to seek validation and one way we do that is to keep the company and counsel of those who reaffirm our pre-existing beliefs about the world.

But both sides do it. The right has Bill O'Reilly and Rush Lambaugh, the left has Al Franken and Michael Moore.

I think this study is really interesting:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11009379/

PLG

6/3/06  
Blogger SMA said...

The inability to see shades of grey is not a function of IQ. It's a function of the way a person's brain has developed--specific structures in specific locations of the brain. It's kind of like how some people are good with numbers and others are good with names and faces. In this case, some are good with abstractions and ambiguity; others work better with concrete, black and white distinctions. One is not inherently better that the other. But one lends itself to leadership more so than the other.

In a situation where success is based on strict adherence to specific rules or codes of behavior, the concrete leader will do best. Examples here might be a religious leader like the Pope, or a military trainer who prepares new recruits for battle.

In a constantly changing environment, someone who is good with abstract concepts and high tolerance for ambiguity will be a more successful leader (in terms of the led groups' performance in the world).

These differences in brain structure should not be ignored.

And yes, we all seek validation for our beliefs. But as pointed out in Moral Politics (by George Lakoff), Liberals will change their point of view when confronted with credible information that contradicts their views. Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to reject any information, no matter how credible, that is contrary to their current beliefs.

This is not just my opinion. These are documented patterns of behavior.

Conservatives' prime goal is to maintain their current belief system. Changing a belief is seen as moral weakness to conservatives.

Liberals, on the other hand, seek truth at the expense of their personal beliefs. They change their stance on issues based on new information. This is seen as a moral imperative and a sign of strength among liberals.

Hence, we have conservatives who support Bush's "I've made my decision and I'm sticking to it" attitude and consider changing an opinion based on new information as a "flip-flop."

Liberals see the "stick to your guns no matter what" attitude as a betrayal of the people for not acknowledging reality--which is constantly being revealed as we learn more about our world.

To the extent Al Franken and Michael Moore are partisans they are indeed like O'Reilly and Limbaugh. But I have listened and read much of Al Franken's work and I don't see him rejecting negative information about democrats. And Moore seems to raise information that conservative don't want to see--but I don't know his work well enough to know if he rejects negative info on democrats.

But I think we've all seen O'Reilly and Limbaugh cut the micrphone on people who are voicing opinions they don't like.

You know, I like the idea of this blog. But I simply cannot agree with the premise that conservatives and liberals are really all the same--just looking through different lenses. There are documented differences in how the conservative brain works differently than the liberal brain. To ignore these differences is to ignore the essence of why those two groups differ. I think we need to acknowledge and discuss these differences to identify when and where each sides' strengths are the most appropriate for a given situation.

9/3/06  
Blogger RedBlueProject said...

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20/3/06  
Blogger RedBlueProject said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

20/3/06  
Blogger RedBlueProject said...

You're certainly free to disagree.

The goal of this project is not to make a liberal vs conservative scorecard and try to decide which group is better at this or that. The goal of this project is simply to encourage empathy on both sides.

And I'm not saying conservatives and liberals are "All the same." They obviously have different values. But there is common humanity underneath people's political opinions.

Both sides are guilty, at various times, of misrepresenting and misinterpreting the arguments of the other. Both sides engage in rhetoric, sometimes in ways that are positive, sometimes in ways that are negative. Both sides sometimes stereotype the other. Both sides are susceptible to letting their anger and frustration get the best of them. Both sides sometimes engage in inflammatory, counter-productive rhetoric. Both sides can be hateful. Both sides are human.

Whether you're conservative or liberal, the ability to empathize, to really see the other side's point of view, is important. It's a mark of open-mindedness. Right now we have a highly antagonistic environment. To move forward, to find workable solutions, is going to take some empathy from both sides. The national dialogue has become so caustic, so angry, it's not productive. We would all benefit from some calm. But to calm a tense situation requires effort from both sides, regardless of who's right or who's wrong or who started it or who uses more of what part of the brain. We either find some common ground and find ways to work together, or we continue the deadlock.

Of course the one sure way to not find any common ground is to not look for any.

PLG

20/3/06  
Blogger SMA said...

I agree that openmindedness in any kind of debate is worthwhile. All I'm saying is that by their nature, conservatives are less openminded than liberals. That is not just an opinion based on emotion. It is a documented observation based on fact.

The basic goal of conservatism is to maintain the status quo. Openmindedness to new ideas is a direct threat to this basic goal of conservatism.

It's nice to dream of a world where both sides are as openminded as the other--but such a world is a fantasy land. If conservatives were open minded they'd be, well, liberals.

What I think will help the tenor of discussions between conservatives and liberals is to examine our shared values. I disagree with your position that liberals and conservative have different values. I think all our values--our core values--are basically the same; what differs is how we think these values can and should be achieved. We all, for example, want to help people in need. But what constitutes "help" differes between conservatives and liberals.

Now, the discussion gets all bogged down because each side thinks the other has the "wrong" values.

But if we can see that we agree on the values, it will take the heat out of the discussion as to how to achieve those values.

Which solution best accomplishes a value is more of an emperical question--try a few ways, see which one works best and keep doing that one.

We are not going to change how we are wired. To work together, we need to understand how we are the same and get around the ways we will always be different.

21/3/06  
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8/12/06  
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10/12/06  

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