Patterico's Pontifications

9/5/2010

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Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:25 pm

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Glenn Reynolds on Eliminationist Rhetoric: Is He Serious or Not?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:31 am

I honestly can’t tell.

Reynolds’s latest Examiner column is titled Who is responsible for Warmabomber’s violent agenda? To me, the answer is obvious: the person responsible for the Discovery Channel gunman’s agenda is the gunman himself: James Lee. But Reynolds argues that some responsibility lies with environmentalists, for their “eliminationist rhetoric.”

I want to believe that Professor Reynolds’s column is a grand piece of ironic performance art, in which he turns “eliminationist rhetoric” arguments on the the left, by holding the left to its own standards.

I want to believe it, and I think I do. But I just can’t tell for sure:

In contemporary America, no respectable person would advocate, say, the involuntary sterilization of blacks or Jews. Why, then, should it be any more respectable to advocate the involuntary sterilization of everyone? Or even of those who cause “social deterioration?”

Likewise, references to particular ethnic or religious groups as “viruses” or “cancers” in need of extirpation are socially unacceptable, triggering immediate thoughts of genocide and mass murder.

Why, then, should it be acceptable to refer to all humanity in this fashion? Does widening the circle of eliminationist rhetoric somehow make it better?

I don’t see why it should, and I don’t see why we should pretend — or allow others to pretend — that hate-filled rhetoric is somehow more acceptable when it’s delivered by those wearing green shirts instead of brown.

If Reynolds is being serious — and again, I can’t tell if he is — he is saying that we should declare a particular set of environmentalist arguments as taboo. According to this argument, we should treat environmentalists making the “humanity is a cancer” argument just as we treat people who advocate Nazi policies. Let’s read on:

Our leftist friends have told us for years that right-leaning public speakers must watch their language with exquisite care, or be held responsible for any violence that occurs. This degree of responsibility has had its effect — virtually all of the violence associated with the Tea Party movement, for example, has been perpetrated by leftists, while Tea Partiers have been remarkably restrained — but now it’s time to recognize that responsibility cuts both ways.

The environmental movement needs to bring its hate-filled rhetoric under control, before it’s too late. There are too many potential James Lees out there, and some of them may be more competent than Lee was. Don’t encourage them through over the top rhetoric.

I would say “it’s for the children,” but I’m afraid they’d hear “the children” as “the filthy human babies.”

If he is serious, Reynolds is buying into the leftist theory that strong rhetoric is (at least partially) responsible for the actions of nuts. Even though we might feel a certain satisfaction in sticking the other side with their own argument, the gratification we receive is short-sighted. Because making such an argument is a concession that speakers can be responsible for the actions of lone crazies. And in the end, accepting that argument is a loser for free and unfettered speech.

I think Prof. Reynolds is smart enough to realize that. So yeah, he’s gotta be kidding.

Good one, Glenn!

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn for the link. He has started a READER POLL! about whether he was kidding.

Given the options he presented, I pick “kidding on the square.” Which I think accepts a flawed leftist meme as its underlying premise.

Note that, in the poll, most of his readers (69% currently) think he was “deadly serious.”

A Quote for the Ages

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:48 am

“All you guys were doing and talking were beheadings, beheadings, beheadings,” the governor said. “That is something that has stuck with you all for so long, and I just felt we needed to move on.”


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