20 August 2009

Speech Acts & Politics (2) - How to Respond to the Persistence of Right Wing Lunacy

First of all, the lunacy persists, and apparently is growing more common. Men showing up with firearms to public discussions of health care reform. You can read a report here at The Washington Post.

Hey guys! Just what is the point of such idiotic behavior? Do we need proof that you cannot formulate an argument and defend it against those who disagree with you? Sure, you guys have a "right" to carry a gun in compliance with local laws. And we have a right to point and laugh and make fun of you for being morons. Do you plan to shoot something or someone? If not, bringing your gun to a public meeting makes as much sense as bringing your lawn mower. After all you have a right to do that too. Silly little men.

In this now well-traveled clip Barney Frank demonstrates how to deal with the nutters:

The problem, as was made clear in this segment from the Bill Moyers show recently, is that the "story" now is the crazies. To repeat myself, the story should be insuring that everyone - yes everyone - has access to decent health care. And simply being dismissive of the Obama=Hitler, gun toting crowd is unlikely to be effective as a long term strategy. It will simply confirm for them that they are oppressed.

In his insightful little book How to Cure a Fanatic Israeli writer Amos Oz, points out that among the problems with fanatics is that they lack a sense of humor. Hence their inability to chuckle when someone like Barney Frank makes fun of them. But, as Oz also points out, fanatics lack imagination and, in the longer term, cultivating that faculty might be a useful anti-fanatic strategy.
"... there is something in the nature of a fanatic that ... lacks imagination. And this gives me hope, albeit a very limited hope, that injecting some imagination into people may help cause the fanatic to feel uneasy. This is not a quick remedy, this is not a quick cure, but it may help."
Oz warns against getting carried away with our anti-fanaticism, lest we succumb to the malady ourselves. But he is, I think, correct to suggest that the task enhancing our ability to imagine things being different is an important step in the right direction. It is also a task, as I've noted here before, for which photography may prove especially useful.

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Blogger Keith Dannemiller said...

Wasn't it not so long ago that folks who displayed anti-Bush slogans on t-shirts or placards at his rallies were summarily hustled away and arrested. And these morons are allowed to carry semi-automatics and nothing happens. Who are the real fascists?

20 August, 2009 16:30  

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