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"Why I Am No Longer A 'Brain-Dead Liberal'"
My old pal Tony Ortega is doing a great job as the editor of The Village Voice, turning a tired old rag into an interesting read. And yes, the quote above is actually the headline on a piece in The Voice by David Mamet, who writes:

I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind.

As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.

He then writes that, at the same time, he held the worldview that "everything is always wrong."

...But in my life, a brief review revealed, everything was not always wrong, and neither was nor is always wrong in the community in which I live, or in my country. Further, it was not always wrong in previous communities in which I lived, and among the various and mobile classes of which I was at various times a part.

And, I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it? I began to question what I actually thought and found that I do not think that people are basically good at heart; indeed, that view of human nature has both prompted and informed my writing for the last 40 years. I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine, and that this, indeed, is not only a fit subject, but the only subject, of drama.

I'd observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances—that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired—in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.

...I found not only that I didn't trust the current government (that, to me, was no surprise), but that an impartial review revealed that the faults of this president—whom I, a good liberal, considered a monster—were little different from those of a president whom I revered.

Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia. Oh.

And I began to question my hatred for "the Corporations"—the hatred of which, I found, was but the flip side of my hunger for those goods and services they provide and without which we could not live.

And I began to question my distrust of the "Bad, Bad Military" of my youth, which, I saw, was then and is now made up of those men and women who actually risk their lives to protect the rest of us from a very hostile world. Is the military always right? No. Neither is government, nor are the corporations—they are just different signposts for the particular amalgamation of our country into separate working groups, if you will. Are these groups infallible, free from the possibility of mismanagement, corruption, or crime? No, and neither are you or I. So, taking the tragic view, the question was not "Is everything perfect?" but "How could it be better, at what cost, and according to whose definition?" Put into which form, things appeared to me to be unfolding pretty well.

...I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) but Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson, and Shelby Steele, and a host of conservative writers, and found that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism.

Who who's reading here has changed their worldview, and why, and how?

P.S. Regarding "Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher)"...betcha thought you'd never read those words in The Village Voice!

Posted by aalkon at March 13, 2008 11:37 AM

Comments

Most poignant line:

[T]here is such a thing as liberalism, and it may be reduced to these saddest of words: " . . . and yet . . . "


Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 1:10 AM

Ps- Mamet's offering another description of needs-clustering.

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 1:14 AM

A lot of truth in that essay, thanks for posting it.

Posted by: jerry at March 13, 2008 1:36 AM

Well, where would he be without repeating the claim that "George Bush stole the election"...

See http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/vote2000/main.htm , and try to reconcile the fishing expedition with anything he or Jeb did. There are some real gems in there.

Posted by: Radwaste at March 13, 2008 2:11 AM

I like to think of myself as the worlds most liberal conservative...or conservative liberal, depending on which issue one covers.

Personally, I find the author to be refreshingly self reflecting. Frankly, I think if our founding fathers were to look at the U.S. today, they would be horrified by the direction liberalism has gone.

I think they would be only marginally less horrified by the direction conservatism has gone.

When it comes to trusting ANY institution, there is a very old saying that I believe applies, whether it be the government, the private sector corporations, the military or even local police & school districts:

"TRUST...BUT VERIFY."

Posted by: Robert H. Butler at March 13, 2008 5:43 AM

I used to think of myself as a radical conservative, but I think of myself now as more of a curable optimist. There was an item in the news here yesterday about a young man in the New Haven school system who was suspended and stripped of his class vice presidency, and his seat at an honors dinner, for buying a (gasp!) bag of Skittles candy! Apparently it was against school policy. Come to find out that the school (a "magnet school", which accepts students from different communities, based on their sholastic scores) had a "sero-tolerance" policy on candy, because it's unhealthy (and also because it would lose funding if it was found that "unhealthy foods" were on campus). The mother, goddess bless her, made a huge stink about it, and the suspension was wiped from his record and his vice presidency reinstated. But seriously, suspended over candy? When kids in other schools are being caught with guns and knives (the last one I read about locally was 13, but the youngest I've read about was 7!), they institute a zero-tolerance against candy??

On the other hand, I do believe there's nowhere that I'd rather live than where I currently do. YMMV

Posted by: Flynne at March 13, 2008 6:01 AM

ack. sCholastic, not sHolastic. And Zero, not sero. Serves me right for posting before I've had my caffine fix. o_O

Posted by: Flynne at March 13, 2008 6:03 AM

Here's the link to the story:

http://www.connpost.com/localnews/ci_8545320

Some of the comments in the forum are hilarious, but disturbing, too!

Posted by: Flynne at March 13, 2008 6:25 AM

My worldview hasn't changed, but in college I thought I was a liberal as in Democrat. When I finally learned more I figured out that my way of processing issues is libertarian. I knew Democrats didn't match me perfectly because they're nuts on economics (and most everything else now, more than when I was in college). But I couldn't get behind less socially uptight Republicans because I didn't yet make the connection that economics is as much about liberty as social issues. Now I know both parties are more interested in politics than principles, willing to sell anyone out to anyone.

To Radwaste's point, I liked Mamet's essay, but I did roll my eyes at the "Bush stole Florida" nonsense.

Posted by: Tony Author Profile Page at March 13, 2008 6:26 AM

'Man needs to move his ass out of Vermont. Given his predilection for hunting, maybe he can shack up with Ted Nugent.

Posted by: David Traver Adolphus at March 13, 2008 6:30 AM

I read this article yesterday that argues that Mamet never really was a liberal (though he thought he was.)

http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/03/shock-mamet.html

Generally I think a lot of people are unaware of what the political parties ACTUALLY stand for. George Bush would be a good example, limited government powers? Anyone? Bueller?

But I guess that brigns up an important point, if you think that you belong to a political party, even though you may not share the actual views of that party, do you really belong to it?

Posted by: Shinobi42 at March 13, 2008 6:40 AM

Along the same lines, I often wonder why so many anti-war people are so angry and, well, warlike. (Present company excluded.) It's amazing how the human mind can incorporate its own contradictions into itself. "What I'm saying is right because I'm the one saying it." I only catch myself doing it 20-30 times a day myself.

Posted by: Jim Treacher Author Profile Page at March 13, 2008 6:55 AM

I think some people hold political beliefs as a point of personal style, and actually find it threatening to consider whether their beliefs hold water.

Ted Nugent used to live down the road from my parents in Michigan. Not sure if he still does. But, I wouldn't recommend moving to the Detroit suburbs. I got out as soon as I could and moved to the lower east side. Eventually, I left NYC and moved to California, but my ancestors, who came through Ellis Island and worked hard for decades until the family could move to a better life in the Detroit suburbs, are still rolling over in their graves.

Posted by: Amy Alkon Author Profile Page at March 13, 2008 7:01 AM

I used to be an extreme conservative (high school). I have refined my views and dropped labels for the most part. "Democrat" and "Republican" both make me gag a little.

I'd consider myself a libertarian these days. Minimal government input into my life. Leave people alone. If they are huge assholes take 'em behind the woodshed(hah - just kidding. sorta).

I used to be PRO WAR! but I realized it was because my dad was PRO WAR! and he's a pretty angry, narrow minded, jaded human being. I used to have my parents on a pedestal like most kids until one day I realized they're human and that their opinions aren't Doctrine and that it's ok to think they are wrong.

I also used to believe that homosexuality was evil and gay people were going to hell. Then I realized that religion is bullshit and if I disagree with it I won't get struck down by lightening. That allowed me to also reject the made up crap religion pushes on people (I was raised Catholic). I am indifferent to homosexuality these days - it just doesn't prompt an opinion from me, just as heterosexuality doesn't. I'm sexuality-judgment-neutral.

Overall I've become hugely reflective in my life. I constantly refine my opinions. If I argue with someone and see their point I let them know - I don't hold on to my ideals for the sake of looking strong or seeming steadfast (I used to do that). I will even be persuaded by solid facts and strong arguments from time to time. I like myself a lot more today than I did in high school. I'm a lot more sure of my ideas, opinions, capabilities and limitations (and how to challenge those limitations).

The best thing I ever learned from my parents was an unintentional lesson: they don't self-analyze or reflect AT ALL. EVER. I decided this was a shortcoming and didn't promote healthy relationships. I then decided NOT to be that way and I think I'm doing a good job so far.

Posted by: Gretchen Author Profile Page at March 13, 2008 7:05 AM

I'm not sure what part I would most align with. The best quote was on a special I saw on tv. "The democrats want to take away my guns and the republicans want to take away my porn."

I vote for who ever is going to screw me the least.

Posted by: vlad at March 13, 2008 7:05 AM

Actually, vlad, the Democrats want to take your porn. The Republicans just want to make you feel bad about it.

Every censorship law proposed in my lifetime (at least that I've heard of) has been put forth by a Democrat. They might have had Republican co-sponsors, but they were all started by Democrats.

Luckily, they've all been either shot down by the courts, or never made it out of committee.

I was a Republican until the moment they discarded any claim to a belief in smaller, less intrusive government. In other words, until 2000.

Posted by: brian Author Profile Page at March 13, 2008 7:14 AM

Shinobi42,

Great link (and comment). Thank you. I've always rated some of Mamet's work very highly. Some of it I've found fatuous and horribly structured.

At college we were always advised by our lit. profs that they would listen respectfully to anything we had to say about the text under discussion UNLESS we began by saying: "In the light of what we now know about the author's personal views, I think this text shows...".

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 13, 2008 7:20 AM

I'd planned to enter the priesthood until my early teens and was an atheist before my senior year. Also, it might sound silly, but taking econ 101 made a big difference to my worldview.

Posted by: SeanH at March 13, 2008 7:36 AM

> Mamet never really
> was a liberal

Is there any better evidence of an ethos in decline then quibbling about authenticity? People do that with everything... Car parts, rock and roll records, race relations, everything.

Consider this passage from Shinobi's link:

> No! Really? You mean people
> aren't perfect yet life goes
> on? Do continue!

What makes this feel teenaged is that's it's entirely sarcastic but not at all funny. It doesn't really fault the author being discussed in any specific, useful way, it just reassures the faithful that they're smarter than that. It offers no evidence that they are. The older I get the more certain I am that liberals are humorless.

> I think a lot of people are
> unaware of what the political
> parties ACTUALLY stand for.

They mean whatever voters say they mean. There are no exceptions. You, on an individual basis, are not smart enough to do an end run around their intentions.

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 8:45 AM

Ah, here 'tis... humorless liberalism.

Whatever happened to Air America, anyway?

Also, during my first visit to the World Trade Center in 1978, I ran into Al Franken near the PATH station in the basement. I tried to feel good about this Celebrity Encounter, but then remembered that he had never, ever said anything that actually made someone laugh out loud. He just got to be on a TV show with Ackroyd and Belushi and Murray, people who actually were funny, so viewers were confused. Did Al Franken ever say anything funny?

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 9:05 AM

Franken is hilarious, and I'm serious about that, but it may be a shared culture sort of thing.

Shakespeare's sister as usual, is well, typical. Anyone they disagree with becomes "anti-" or as Crid identifies it more accurately a fight over authenticity. They cannot conceive of someone changing their mind away from their own particular mindset, so it's time to write him out of the group, and to write him out of the group from the very beginning, in much the same way that Soviet pictures were altered.

I might just be an optimist, but I don't see Mamet as saying he is a conservative or even saying he is not a liberal. I hear him saying he is no longer "brain dead". As Robert says, "trust but verify". As I learned "question authority" especially my own group and thought leaders.

Posted by: jerry at March 13, 2008 9:31 AM

"They cannot conceive" should ALSO be "they cannot permit" -- it's really important for them since they feel they are in some revolutionary fight against teh evil patriarchy that they cannot permit anyone in their group to think different and leave their group, so it's really important for them to ostracize and excommunicate.

You didn't quit, YOU WERE FIRED!!!!

Posted by: jerry at March 13, 2008 9:33 AM

Crid,
I don't really see how you can differentiate between the people discussing what a certain political affiliation represents and voters, as voters are those same people. If we have to wait for voters to decide what liberal means then we'll all have to wait until after november when the voters have decided what the democrats stand for to decide if we agree with the democrats? So then we can vote for them?

I mean yes, to a certain extent the base of the party or ideology is what defines that party. But I think to another extent the actions of the politicians who represent that party or ideology also define it. And the fact is, they don't always go together, and people aren't always aware of the differences between what is voted for and what actually happens.

I mean, I just think at some point a word like liberal needs to have a definition beyond "The people conservatives don't like" or "people with no sense of humor." Otherwise people are just defining themselves based on how their parents define themselves and which one of the words has more appealing connotations.

Right now I don't think there is a clear definition of liberal vs. conservative. There are just so many kinds of both that I don't think the words liberal or conservative really mean anything anymore beyond words used to evoke an us v. them mentality. (That frankly I find tiresome.)

Posted by: Shinobi at March 13, 2008 9:37 AM

"Who who's reading here has changed their worldview, and why, and how?"

I used to be anarchist in my student days. (We produced one dreary handbill full of Bakunin and Proudhon quotes, signed "Anarchist Federation and Norman ---" because I refused to join. It only had two members. Happy days...)

Now I think that the mass of people, if given a chance, will loot, burn and rape. Evidence: New Orleans after Katrina, Baghdad after fall of Hussein. I conclude that public order must be maintained by force. Perhaps brutish behaviour is a product of high population density; I have often thought that people are more sociable when they're thinner on the ground.

Posted by: Norman at March 13, 2008 9:52 AM

I used to identify myself as a liberal. And actually I still am, but only in the 19th century meaning of the word. The root of the word means "freedom", something modern liberal mostly seem to be against. And they ARE nuts about economics. I can't believe anyone still argues that socialism can work (an argument I had recently with a co-worker). Come on, it's the 21st century, we've learned a thing or two by now.

Of course conservatives can be downright icky - witness the post about the nutter from Oklahoma the other day - so I don't like to be associated with them much either.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher at March 13, 2008 10:11 AM

> I'm serious about
> that

Dude, share! Tell us the _joke_, the thing that Franken said that was simply funny... Not apropos, or cleverly contrary, or convincingly cynical or righteously backhanded... What was funny? Cite any sources you like, including the Saturday Night Live stuff: Back in those weekend dope-smoking party days around the Trinitron during the Ford administration, we knew when they'd put up the Franken and Davis title card that we had time to go get a sandwich before anything funny was going to happen again.

> as voters are those
> same people.

Okey-fine, have at it. But people will think you're an old crank: 'These kids today don't know what real communism/conservatism/liberalism means! Our movement has been hijacked by punks, I tell ya....'

> a word like liberal
> needs to have a
> definition beyond

Absolutely, and it does. But humorlessness is just an important tell for me personally. The best people in every realm, including brain surgery, have made the point that people without a sense of humor are dangerous.

I'm a smirking bastard, which is obviously not the same thing as being funny. Part of this is our American bonhomie. They say there's one punch line that always gets a laugh in America: "Get it?" But I aspire to be truly funny some day. And after all these years it's still amazing how many people find humor to be a waste of time, and try to extinguish it in the hearts of others.... "Guys, this is serious!"

They say Hitler was a funny guy. The only things he wouldn't make jokes about were sex and politics.

> If we have to wait for
> voters to decide what
> liberal means then we'll
> all have to wait until
> after november

Until November precisely: Voters are running the show, always.

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 10:45 AM

I am a conservative libertarian. Republaterian as Larry Elder says.
Amy for pres!!

Posted by: rusty wilson at March 13, 2008 10:53 AM

"They say Hitler was a funny guy."

Dude, share! Tell us the _joke_, the thing that Hitler said that was simply funny... Not apropos, or cleverly contrary, or convincingly cynical or righteously backhanded... What was funny? Cite any sources you like...

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 13, 2008 11:48 AM

I read it in a book once thirty years ago. Unsurprisingly, Jody, you're being exactly the sort of witless putz under discussion. But let's see what a brief Google can bring...

-- The book, which supports much of what is already known about Hitler, his odd sense of humour and his relationship with Eva Braun, quotes from written reports by Linge and Günsche.

-- Hitler's sense of humor is often displayed in such moments.

-- Albert Speer described Adolf Hitler's sense of humor as almost entirely based upon schadenfreude.


Presumably, you hoped to convey your majestic superiority by saying there some things that humor simply does not touch... Just like those little darlings on Air America. Comedy based on shared preciousness is a doomed enterprise: If you can share it readily, it ain't precious.

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 12:28 PM

I read it in a book once thirty years ago. Unsurprisingly, Jody, you're being exactly the sort of witless putz under discussion. But let's see what a brief Google can bring...

Here's one

-- The book, which supports much of what is already known about Hitler, his odd sense of humour and his relationship with Eva Braun, quotes from written reports by Linge and Günsche.

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 12:58 PM

Another

-- Hitler's sense of humor is often displayed in such moments.

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 12:58 PM

Ah, the book discussed here may have been the source:

-- Spitzy: Hitler was charming, humoristic and a very good mimic
Reinhard Spitzy, who deserted the Nazis to become a member of the German resistance, worked with Hitler in Austria. "Nobody is bad all their life. Hitler was charming, humoristic, and a very good mimic." Hitler enjoyed telling jokes about the British. "He particularly liked Colonel Blimp jokes, not sex or political ones. He always talked nicely about England - he never wanted to endanger it." Hitler was handsome, particularly in the morning. "In the morning his eyes were big and wonderful deep blue." Before the war Spitzy was right-hand man to the Reich's foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and during it worked for the head of the Abwehr, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. [ telegraph :: 1996-06-18 :: Adolf Hitler: Dictator, Fuhrer, Biography ]


Presumably, you hoped to convey your majestic superiority by saying there some things that humor simply does not touch... Just like those little darlings on Air America. Comedy based on shared preciousness is a doomed enterprise: If you can share it readily, it ain't precious.

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 1:02 PM

I can't stop!

-- Hitler enjoyed playing practical jokes on his staff:
One of his favorite targets was his foreign minister.

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 1:05 PM

Aw shit... Sorry about that Amy! Clean it up however you want

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 1:06 PM

No, I love it...have to wait till I come home from a meeting to read all the links, unfortunately.

Posted by: Amy Alkon Author Profile Page at March 13, 2008 1:50 PM

"Unsurprisingly, Jody, you're being exactly the sort of witless putz under discussion...Presumably, you hoped to convey your majestic superiority by saying there some things that humor simply does not touch.."

Don't play the pompous twit, Crid.

None of your cites remotely support Hitler being known as "a funny guy".

He (very) occasionally demonstrated some (in a very limited capacity) sense of (leaden) humor, sure. And so what?

(Oswald Mosley on the other hand - now that guy could be witty!)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 13, 2008 1:56 PM

> And so what?

So, ye shall be known by the things ye can't snicker about. Jody, reread the fucking thread. This is exactly, precisely the humorlessness that was under discussion. Could you truly be this blind to irony?


(Amy, I feel real bad about all that debris)

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 5:25 PM

More!

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2008 5:28 PM

They say Hitler was a funny guy. The only things he wouldn't make jokes about were sex and politics."

He didn't like tequila. Said it made him mean...

Everybody wants to distance themselves from the very definition of evil, so they must claim they have nothing in common with him.

And smirking bastards have a fine role to play in making us watch them. They also serve who only stand and bitch.

Posted by: Radwaste at March 13, 2008 6:30 PM

"He didn't like tequila. Said it made him mean..."

David Niven said almost the same thing about himself, Radwaste. Except it was gin, not tequilla.
(And the context was a lot funnier).

And, no, I don't refuse to see any traces of run-of-the-mill traits in Hitler. But it's mildly nuts to comb through his biography for proof that he was a "funny guy".

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 14, 2008 5:59 AM

Everybody knows Adolf was a real utup.

Posted by: Crid at March 14, 2008 6:19 AM

Whoops, Cutup... Sorry.

Also, Niven's autobiography (Balloon Something) sucked. The weekends at Hearst Castle barely rate two sentences.

Posted by: Crid at March 14, 2008 6:50 AM

"The weekends at Hearst Castle barely rate two sentences."

I loved the way Niven was so damn cool about the Hearst Castle experience - I think he rather got its gloriously tacky measure. (And you probably wouldn't enjoy "Bring On the Empty Horses" either - the second volume of Niven's memoirs.)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 14, 2008 7:15 AM

Those most influential on my world view, would be those I read when I was a preteen into my teen years. I have to admit that much of it came from fiction, most of that scifi. The first author's who really made me rethink my world, were Orwell and Huxley. Then The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers interviewing Joseph Campbell, absolutely blew my mind (keeping in mind I also got to see Carl Sagan when I was eleven and he really got me thinking when he took the time after the Q&A to let me ask a few more questions). Frank Herbert also, ultimately had a fairly profound impact. Piers Anthony and Heinlein, well there are really quite a few of them. Dennett also had significant impact, as have many philosophers. I'm also rather keen on Jung.

The how is rather complicated. I was raised by a fundamentalist mother and an atheist father. I started out a rather earnest fundy boy. As I read people who were not and watched people who were not, it made me question the possibility that my religious beliefs might either be wrong or shortsighted and incomplete. Keeping in mind that religion was a pervasive, all encompassing aspect of my life back then.

Too, I had very naive notions about human sexuality and marriage. Through misunderstanding my mother's rather piss-poor explanations, I had the mistaken impression that sex outside marriage was akin to mental illness. Reading several authors with very different ideas about sexuality made a huge difference in my world view.

Finally, I realized that my parent's political views need not be my own. I read authors who's own views were markedly different and who also made a lot of sense. I read Marx and Engels, as well as several libertarian thinkers. I was fifteen when it occurred to me that pure ideology was a ridiculous fallacy. That neither pure socialism, nor pure capitalism could ever actually be functional, outside some form of totalitarian state.

Crid -

Ideological extremists are a humorless bunch, whether they be liberals/conservatives, either brand of republicrat, socialist/libertarian, fascist/communist etc. It has nothing to do with what the ideology actually encompasses, makes no difference whatsoever. When people embrace an ideology so strongly that they believe it can function in vacuum, they become voracious defenders of a philosophy that cannot be wrong, so everything else is inherently wrong.

I think that really all that is happening here, is the perpetuation of absurdly simplistic dichotomies. I keep meaning to write about this at my own blog, as it is a topic that has been driving me insane.

Love or hate Shinobi, be s/he? is dead on with the us/them dichotomy. The only value that a liberals are stoopid/conservatives rool!?!, is to perpetuate the us v them.

Heres a mind game; what am I? I believe very strongly in gun rights. I believe in a more comprehensive, but less comfortable welfare state. I am virtually a free-speech absolutist, dead against hate speech/thought laws. I'm also dead against affirmative action, especially the way it is implemented. I am and have been, dead against the Iraq mess. But I'm not against war when necessary. I am a firm believer that ending the prohibitions on illicit drugs, the illegal sex trade and ending the state/native monopolies on legal gambling, would be a profound bonus for our society.

So where do I fit in this dichotomy? Am I a libtard or simian conservative? Where do I fit on the us/them chart? You already know my views on a host of other issues, so that coupled with the short list above should make me easy to peg.

Posted by: DuWayne Author Profile Page at March 14, 2008 8:46 AM

I thought I was a liberal from college until 9/11/2001. I was 34 then. Everyone around me here in Austin said we, meaning Americans, had squarely earned the attack because of "our foreign policy." I believed it, too, until someone asked me what the hell exactly I meant by that. And I didn't have the first idea. So I began to study up on it and realized that nearly everything I thought I believed seemed ridiculous. I'd never questioned my own assumptions and beliefs. This led me to reevaluate almost everything, including my hobbies and tastes in food, music, and movies. Did I really like it, or was I going along with the herd?

I emerged from this introspection a fairly conservative, freedom-loving libertarian. What surprised me, and I'll bet will surprise David Mamet, was the reaction of friends who had known me for years. I had no idea I would be the target of such judgment and intolerance from people who routinely congratulated themselves on their tolerance. I'd willingly left the enlightened herd and placed myself into a category of sub-humans toward whom they felt completely comfortable expressing the most savage hatred. Not the slightest twinge of conscience. Boy was I naive. I certainly found out who my friends were.

Posted by: L at March 14, 2008 10:00 AM

> Ideological extremists are
> a humorless bunch

I see you've met Ms Tressider...

Posted by: Crid at March 14, 2008 12:06 PM

Actually, the first name that popped into my head was Rush Limbaugh. Not that I am arguing Jody isn't. But personally, I imagine that I would prefer her company to that of say, Bobby Kennedy or Bill OReily. Anne Coulter is about as amusing as the black plague running it's course through an orphanage. I would prefer to listen to fingernails raking a chalk board, than listening to Randi Rhodes. Having my fingernails pulled off my fingers, would be preferable to chillin' with PETA cultists, definitely funnier. I would prefer to get beaten, than to spend time with the wife of one of my employees, who decided to put up a picture of Castro in their living room - laugh a minute she's not.

Point being it has nothing to do with the relative ideologies. The humorlessness is a result of the extremist, cultist mentality. People for whom ideology can trump even their deeply held sense of justice. They are only marginally worse than those who root for their ideological bias, like others root for sports teams.

Posted by: DuWayne Author Profile Page at March 14, 2008 3:25 PM

Naw, a lot of those people are fabulous entertainers, Limbaugh especially. You don't get to mean that much to that many people without having some pretty impressive shtick... Whether or not it's to your taste is another question. Take a look at the Sullivan link above.... A lot of his little mannerisms are just winks and nudges to the audience. The fact that lefties get upset just makes it _even better_.

Posted by: Crid at March 14, 2008 3:43 PM

"L", you described my transformation to a T, and the consequences thereof. I turned 56 two days after 9/11. What a journey this has been.

Posted by: Maggie45 at March 15, 2008 9:47 PM

"I thought I was a liberal from college until 9/11/2001. I was 34 then. Everyone around me here in Austin said we, meaning Americans, had squarely earned the attack because of "our foreign policy." I believed it, too, until someone asked me what the hell exactly I meant by that. And I didn't have the first idea. "

You want an example, here's one. In 1953 when we overthrew the elected president of Iran and installed a dictator. So much for freedom and democracy.

Posted by: JoJo at March 16, 2008 8:11 AM

Was Mossadeq elected or appointed? I think he was appointed by the Shah. He was still overthrown by the CIA.

http://www.iranchamber.com/history/coup53/coup53p1.php

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 16, 2008 8:25 AM

"You don't get to mean that much to that many people without having some pretty impressive shtick... Whether or not it's to your taste is another question..."

Thank god for the "taste" loophole.
I agree Limbaugh has some effective shtick but I can't even stomach the man's cadences.

(Maybe that's the hearing loss thing? I'm not aware, though, that this is known to have changed his speech patterns.)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 16, 2008 8:33 AM

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