But there is nothing new here. These are the folks who use dismissal as a form of argumentation. Dismissing the other's arguments as stupid, ignorant, mean spirited, war-mongering, selfish, greedy, hateful, nativist, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, bigoted, intolerant, fascist, misogynistic and hypocritical is thought to be sophisticated. And sophisticates are not required to have meaningful and thought-provoking discussions with the preceding list of reprobates. One just dismisses them with a pejorative and moves on.
The knuckle draggers who have the temerity to question the enlightened are likened to holocaust deniers or racists and dismissed as ignorant fools. There is no need to discuss details with a lout. Those that disagree with the stated opinion are to be marginalized. Only the enlightened position should be pondered. There is no room or need for debate because the issue has been settled.
You win the conversation by disallowing a conversation in the first place.
The insidious part of this is the unspoken accusation that must be accepted in order to feel comfortable dismissing those you disagree with as holocaust deniers. The metaphor suggests that anthropogenic global warming skeptics have taken up a position that is so extreme and evil that it is comparable to taking up the case for Hitler's final solution. So just as one does not need to have a serious conversation with a Hitler sympathizer, so one should not even dignify the opinions of those who disagree with the popular ethos.
This subtle, yet effective, debating technique questions the motives of those on the other side, and then sets up a caricature, rather than the actual argument, to be attacked. Can anyone say straw man?
Another recent example of Al Gore's "I don't debate evil idiots" non-debating technique occurred when John Kerry admonished the press for even covering ideas he doesn't agree with. Apparently freedom of the press is not to be made available to those with opposing views. So now, not only should opposition ideas not be debated, they should not even be covered by the press lest these dark, frenetic, maniacal ideas be seen by the great unwashed and believed. (Pertinent comments begin at about 2:13)
And if that weren't enough, Paul Krugman informs that Republicans are anti-science and anti-knowledge. In his article he exposes Republicans who wonder if money might influence some scientists as "vile." I suppose Mr. Krugman would use this adjective for this observation:
To see what’s really going on, follow the money. Wall Street used to favor Democrats, perhaps because financiers tend to be liberal on social issues. But greed trumps gay rights, and financial industry contributions swung sharply toward the Republicans in the 2010 elections. Apparently Wall Street, unlike the voters, had no trouble divining the party’s real intentions.Well, maybe not. These are his words from May 1, 2011. (link) Either he believes that it is okay for Democrats to question the effect that filthy lucre has on Republicans while labeling that questioning as "vile" when turned to Democrats, or he changed his mind during the four months that transpired between these articles. Or maybe he is a partisan "charlatan" or a "crank"?
But Krugman has provided a service. He has packed so many liberal talking points into one article that it saves the reader a lot of time. Instead of reading a tome of articles to discover how wonderful Democrats are and how mean and ugly Republicans are, the reader can just review the highlights in this one article:
- Republicans can never have honorable motives while Democrats do.
- Republicans are malevolent and manipulate to get their way while Democrats present truth.
- Republicans are against facts, science and common sense while Democrats have all three.
- Republicans often, if not always, are moved by greed and corruption while Democrats aren't.
- When Republicans dare to wonder whether money may have motivated the manipulation of data in favor of global warming theories, it is vile. When Democrats opine about greed and avarice driving much of the decision-making of Republicans, it is revered.
- When Republicans reference experts who question anthropogenic global warming, it is a crazy conspiracy theory. When Democrats find experts who agree with their position, it is merely consensus.
- When Republicans judge their candidates based on their positions on specific issues it is willful ignorance becoming a litmus test for candidates. When Democrats do this it is intelligent vetting.
- When Republican candidates have similar beliefs as their constituency it is the result of cynical power mongers pandering to the ignorant. When Democrat candidates share the beliefs of their constituency it is the beautiful symbiosis of intelligent voters and their caring public servants.
- Republican economic ideas are the gut feelings of charlatans and cranks while Democrat economic ideas are the hard thinking about matters economic.
And this from those who are often self-congratulatory about their penchant for nuance.