Patterico's Pontifications

1/22/2005

More Links

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 9:24 pm

I’ve been busy, so I have no time for long posts. I can pass along some interesting links, some old and some new:

The folks at The Diplomad pass along their top ten lies.

Brian O’Connell wants Fox News to get to the bottom of the story about whether Michael Moore really employed an armed bodyguard. I agree. Questions have been raised about the story, and Fox has not responded. (By the way, Brian runs an excellent blog and you should be reading it.)

Speaking of Michael Moore, Clint Eastwood doesn’t like him much, says Tim Blair.

Dean Esmay’s baby has been born, and Dean tells you about it — in graphic detail. You might skip the post and just look at the pictures.

UPDATE: I just watched Michael Williams and Ken Reich on a television program called “Full Disclosure.” You can watch it here.

Taking Assertions in an L.A. Times Editorial as Gospel

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 1:21 pm

Jeff Jarvis has a post criticizing James Dobson for comments Dobson allegedly made about SpongeBob SquarePants. His entire post is based on a characterization of Dobson’s remarks as set forth in an L.A. Times editorial. I thought an exchange between Jeff and myself in his comments was worth discussing here.

I have watched SpongeBob a few times and think it’s mildly amusing; I have never watched James Dobson. But I criticized Jeff for taking statements in an L.A. Times editorial as gospel. I said to Jeff, in an admittedly snarky tone:

Well, if an LA Times editorial says it, it *must* be true!

Jarvis responded:

Patterico: Are you really that obsessed with the LATimes? I could have picked a summary from a score of papers, happened to pick that one. Or perhaps you have stumbled upon the vast mainstream religious conspiracy….

I responded:

Jeff,

Just so you know where I’m coming from, I am not religious and I don’t care a whit for James Dobson. I hardly know anything about him.

But I do know something about the L.A. Times. And knowing The Times as I do, I would be very reluctant to use an editorial of theirs as a source of fact — particularly relating to a hot-button “culture war” issue such as this. The paper simply has too checkered a history of misstating the facts on “culture war” issues like gun control, abortion, and criminal justice.

By the way, I doubt that the L.A. Times is unique in this failing. It just happens to be the paper I read most closely. I am not impressed that you could provide summaries from scores of papers, because I have seen scores of papers get the same basic facts wrong — especially when targeting a popular villain such as Justice Scalia or James Dobson.

On an issue like this, until I saw a full transcript of Dobson’s remarks, I would assume that there is a chance the guy is being smeared — no matter how many papers summarize his remarks. I don’t mean to defend Dobson, or even to affirmatively claim that the papers got it wrong. I’m just saying that I’d be very wary about accepting their characterizations at face value on something like this.

That’s not love of James Dobson speaking, and it’s not religious belief speaking. It’s a fundamental distrust of the media’s ability to fairly portray any bitterly divisive social issue with a convenient conservative villain.

Unrelated aside: I get annoyed when people characterize me as “obsessed” with the L.A. Times. That strikes me as a cheap way to devalue and marginalize my criticisms. If someone asserts bias on such issues, but doesn’t document it, they are told they lack the evidence. If a critic does painstakingly document it, as I do, people who disagree with the critic will portray him as a crazed obsessive.

I think your crusade against the FCC is admirable, and I’d call your attitude “dogged.” But then, I agree with you. I’ll bet those who don’t — those who want the government to control broadcast speech in this country — would call your posts about the FCC “obsessive.” Wouldn’t you rather have such people engage you on the issues, rather than attempt to marginalize you with rhetoric about your “obsessiveness”?

For what it’s worth, there appear to be several other people in Jeff’s comments who agree with me that an L.A. Times editorial is not the best source for the facts on an issue like this.

UPDATE: Instapundit provides a link to this enlightening editorial in Toon Zone News. I almost never follow silly kerfuffles like this, but after doing a little reading, it appears the whole “controversy” was manufactured by this New York Times story, which contains a single quote from Dobson: “Does anybody here know SpongeBob?”

As for the rest of what Dobson supposedly said, we get to trust the NYT reporter.

How the L.A. Times knows that Dobson said this “darkly,” as their editorial claims, I have no idea.

Also via Instapundit is Dobson’s statement on the controversy. His assertion that the organization in question is pursuing an agenda of tolerance of homosexuality is correct, as this link shows.

I am for tolerance of homosexuality, myself. But those who feel differently because of their religious views are not evil, in my view. I just disagree.

Freedom and Democracy: Not Just Our Way — The Only Way

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 12:01 am

There is plenty of nonsense in yesterday’s L.A. Times editorial about the inaugural speech, but I want to focus on one particular statement that, I think, reveals much about how some leftists think:

Bush’s rhetoric Thursday chased itself around in circles, declaring that America’s goal — freedom and democracy, so that people can choose their own way — is not forcing people to adopt our way, which happens to be freedom and democracy.

Under this view, freedom and democracy are not necessarily the best way to run things — they just happen to be “our way.” People should be — you’ll pardon the expression — “free” to choose another way if they like.

One problem: without freedom and democracy, people can’t choose anything for themselves. Freedom and democracy are not just another “way” — they are the only mechanism by which people may truly “choose their own way.” A tyrant may choose dictatorship as a form of government — but his subjects do not. And if people truly have freedom and democracy, it can’t be forced on them. By definition, they are free to choose.

The self-anointed elite need to shake off this nutty idea that freedom and democracy are quaint Western concepts that aren’t necessarily right for others. Freedom, and the right of the people to choose their own government, are universal concepts. It is always a hard struggle for those concepts to take hold, because there are always those who will fight against them. But if people are truly going to choose for themselves, freedom and democracy are not just our way — they are the only way.


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