Wednesday, 25 January 2012

My critique of the Daily Kos' Kommentors

"Me?  You talkin to me?..."
The other day I stumbled into a Frat house, Alpha Beta Beta [*], and found a food fight in progress.  Cup cakes being thrown at one poor sod, hotdogs splattered on him.  It was a wild, screaming orgy of anger, a victual lynching.  “What’s going on here?” I asked.  “That guy said our Frat house has a hole in the roof”, said one, munching on a waffle, while lining up for another strike at this dissenter.  I looked up and saw a hole in the roof.  “But, there is a hole….” I said, but was interrupted….
… by reality. Because that’s not what happened at all.  It’s just what it felt like when I visited the virtual Frat house, the comments section of the Daily Kos.  A bunch of unruly youngsters letting loose on one of their members who’d merely stated the truth in one of his posts (articles on Kos, by the way, have a cutesy name: a “diary”.  You need to know this to understand the comments).
So I thought I’d do a critique of the comments for you.
First, I suspect they’re young.  They strike me as being undergraduate.  That would account for the short, sharp and direct comments, allowing no room for doubt.  They have the surety and brevity of youth.  I suspect they’re undergrads for that would account for their views about Islam.  Since the imbibing of the “Orientalism” lore of Edward Said by academe, any criticism of Islam has been taboo, and it’s accepted wisdom of the Academy that it’s the “religion of peace”, with any violence done in its name only by those who have “hijacked” it.  Poor dears, they can’t be held accountable for their baleful ignorance for it was foisted on them.  They need only to keep their minds open and read and they’ll eventually come out of their fug. Maybe.
They are also all of a type. There is hardly a dissenting word in all 270 of them. Anyone who does dissent is rapidly dealt with, showered with an avalanche of virtual victuals, the food fight farrago.
The comments are almost all, almost each and every one, ad hominem. That is, they criticise the Diarist, not the contents of his post. 
But they don’t know the meaning of ad hominem, it seems. There’s one comment that actually does make a substantive point – that the commentors should focus on the content of the article, not simply blast the writer as “bigot”, “Islamophobe”, etc.  That one, rare, substantive comment is dealt with how?  By being called ad hominem! Or, in the cutesy-speak of the Kos, it’s called “ad-hom”.
I’ve done some heavy lifting here on these comments and counted the number of times they use ad hominem comments themselves.  Here are the results:
They call Eric Allen Bell the following:
Sockpuppet: 24 times
Bigot: 20 times
Troll: 17 times
Islamophobe: 4 times
The terms “sockpuppet” and “troll” are particularly beloved of Leftist sites.  What happens is this: if someone agrees with an article that the regular residents of the site find offensive, they will label that person a “sockpuppet”.  In other words, they are saying that the commentor is in fact the writer of the article posing as a commentor in another guise. 
That’s an extraordinary assumption, but it achieves the aim of alienating the article’s writer as being one who cannot possibly have anyone else supporting him, only himself in disguise.  I’ve had experience of this myself: I’ve been on another Leftist site supporting an unpopular post, and have been labelled a sockpuppet of the writer, when it’s been just little ol’ me, folks.
And the other one they love to toss around is “Troll”.  If they’re not a sockpuppet, then they’re a Troll.  A “troll” is:
an internet user who sends inflammatory or provocative messages designed to elicit negative responses or start a flame-war
Why can’t someone have a view, and express that view, without being labelled a Troll?  That, I don’t get.
As for “bigot”, consider the meaning of the word:
a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
In the case of EAB, the way in which he presents his argument is the opposite of bigotry.  He clearly sets out his argument and allows for, indeed invites, opposite views and efforts to refute.  What he does not ask for, or deserve, is simply to be heaped with contumely, while his argument, the substance of his article, is ignored.  Indeed, looking again at the definition of “bigot”, doesn’t it seem that the commentors on Kos are rather themselves deserving of the label, not EAB? Are they not “intolerant of any differing… opinion”?
Moreover note this: that EAB does not put forward his argument as a long-held view.  It’s a conclusion he’s come to recently, as a result of reading and analysis.  That, by itself, argues against bigotry, for he has changed his world view, in other words not at all “utterly intolerant of any differing…opinion”.
Mind you, not all Leftist sites are as intolerant, closed-minded, herd-instincted, not all are swarms of hive-minded bigots. … Take the recent post in The Guardian, a certainly Left-of-centre publication. On 21 January they published a piece by Karen Armstrong (h/t BCF), a very Islam-apologist piece.  The hundreds of comments bore two characteristics, so different from those on the Kos: First, they were argued at some length, more than the usual one or two smart-arsed words of a typical KosKommenter.  Two, they eviscerate the lazy, sloppy and plain wrong statements of Armstrong.  And that’s despite the fact that Armstrong pushes a line that’s usually swallowed whole by the Left: Islam as the tolerant “religion of peace”.  In other words, the commentors at the Guardian have some knowledge and some integrity.  Those at the Kos are a bunch of – ad hominem warning! – ignorant swarming bigots.

Selected posts and PF comments thereon: [the heading of each post is in bold in the original and is labelled with orange figures in brackets, the number of positive or neg ticks that it gets.  In some cases there's bold in the body, which is bolded by me, PF]

He's not replying because he's a fraud and (11+ / 0-)
a fucking coward [here]
PF: in what sense can EAB be considered a “coward” when he’s posted something he knows will bring the wrath of the wrighteous on him?
Religion or people, the world is complicated. (21+ / 0-)
Wasn't long ago, certainly in my lifetime, that blacks were second class citizens, which some could argue is still so.  Same with women and other minorities.  
Thinking that the Islamists are trying to spread Sharia Law all over the world does sound kind of like Islamophobia. [here]
PF: where to begin here?  There is an embarasse of richesse of Islamists who are trying to spread Sharia law: from those in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya to those in the west such as the various Sharia4UK, Sharia4Germany, Sharia4[xx] and the Muslim Brotherhood and its fronts in the west, which have as their clear and unambiguous aim the imposition of Sharia law.  The majority of Muslims in Muslim countries want Sharia law and a large minority, sometimes a majority, of Muslims in the west want Sharia law as well.  What’s “Islamophobic” about pointing that out, unless you simply don’t know that that’s the case.
Needlessly inflammatory (20+ / 0-)
This diary serves no useful purpose and should be deleted. [here]
PF: shut down debate. That’s the way.
you might want to take a look (28+ / 0-)
at the history of some other major religions. then maybe you wouldn't come off as such a bigot. or maybe you still would. [here]
PF: the old “all religions are the same, all equally violent” argument.  We don’t deny the violence of Christianity, etc, just that it’s largely historical. The violent religion of today is Islam.  There’s no other like it.
A similar list could be made for (21+ / 0-)
Christianity, at least since it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Religions don't like competition, and get nasty when challenged, even in small ways. Even Hinduism has violent extremist adherents. Be thankful for the American 'tradition' started by Roger Williams, of separation of church and state, and freedom of belief, it is battered but still standing. [here]
PF: the old “all religions are the same, all equally violent” argument.  We don’t deny the violence of Christianity, etc, just that it’s largely historical. The violent religion of today is Islam.  There’s no other like it.
Hinduism? When was the last time we had a major Hindu atrocity?
I have done an analysis of religious terrorism and Islam comes out as 98% of violent groups. 
Well, at least you've finally come clean. (20+ / 0-)
You hate just about everybody, don't you?
One day you're accusing each and every single person who ever served in the USMC of being a serial killer, and on the next you're spouting your unreasoning hatred of Muslims.
About time for you to find another site to troll, Bell. [here]
PF: He specifically doesn’t come out as being “spouting ..unreasoning hatred of Muslims.”  He says that most Muslims don’t hew to the violence of Islam. And that’s true. What he says is that Islam is inherently violent. And that’s true too.
You could argue with this one (22+ / 0-)
until you are blue in the face. He wraps himself in a cloak of liberalism to justify freely expounding this bigotry. When confronted, he doubles down and insists this progressive site has it all wrong and that we are lock-step lemmings who are too mired in political correctness to think independently. As Barney Frank said, you may as well argue with a table. [here]
PF: “when confronted”?? He’s not been “confronted”.  No one had challenged him on what he’s said; they’ve only attacked him as being a “bigot”, or “islamophobe”.  There’s not been any real confrontation of the points he makes in his post.
E, without a doubt. (10+ / 0-)

Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my! [here]
PF: by voting “E: this person is admitting to not having read or analysed any of the contents of Bell’s post

A freeper did this? (8+ / 0-)
I vaguely remember, perhaps from Karen Armstrong's book, that Muhammad, the Prophet, held Christianity in high esteem.
When his followers were threatened by the idol-worshipers, he sent them to seek protection from a Christian king.
He also followed some Jewish tradition, like bowing towards Jerusalem, fasting, etc.
Darn, it's late, and I'm too sleepy to think straight.
Anyway, if Islam is the religion of the sword, then Christianity is the religion of the bullet. Neener-neener-neener.
Or something like that. :-)
Hmm, maybe I should've waited until I'm less sleepy before I write a reply. [here]
PF: I’ve read a number of Armstrong’s books. I did so after reading the core documents of Islam: the Koran, the Hadith and the Sirah.  After those and then reading her, I found her books duplicitous, in error either by omission of commission. This poster “vaguely remembers”… who? An Islamopologist who’s duplicitous?. You don’t need to believe my view of Armstrong.  Have a look at the comments on a recent article of hers on the left-of-centre The Guardian here.
Note then the moral equivalence of Islam’s sword and Christianity’s “bullets”.  On 9/11 Osama attacked the US, when the US had not troops in Muslim lands. The US counter attacked.  And that’s “Christianity as the religion of bullets”?
E for sure (10+ / 0-)
This diary should be deleted.[here]
PF: censorship
Hmmm... (15+ / 0-)
Do you have proof for the all of the things you suggest?
And by the way, you can add other religions to the list of those who have murdered, oppressed, and tortured, all in the name of their religion.
As for the question, I think you ARE a Islamophobe who wants to group all Muslims in with a small group of fundamentalist, extremist Muslims. [here]
PF: “proof”? There’s a vast amount of proof of the “things” EAL “suggests”, the clearest being the core documents of Islam: the Koran, the Hadith and the Sirah. Then there’s the practice of Islam and its 14,000 acts of Jihad since 9/11.
“Other religions … who have murdered….[etc]”: of course, but that’s in the past. Today, 94% of terrorist acts are by those adhering to Islam.
If anyone finds the above comment harsh... (16+ / 0-)
please note that I've been calling this diarist out on his Islamophobic rants since Sunday. EAB has proven himself over a series of his diaries, commentary therein and commentary in another Kossack's diary to be little more than an attention-whoring bigot whose relationship to fact and truth is... tenuous. [here]
PF: there is nothing in EAL’s post that can be shown to be untrue. So in what way is his “relationship to fact [sic] and truth.. tenuous”]?
Your diary gets an "F" (14+ / 0-)
but your "poll" gets an "E". [here]
PF: by voting “E: this person is admitting to not having read or analysed any of the contents of Bell’s post
This is bigoted trolling and this user will (17+ / 0-)
not be long for this site.
All human history is a tale of small advances of civility over savagery, and savagery is right near the surface even today in the most advanced societies.
All major religions, even Buddhists and Hindus, even to this day have adherents who engage in savagery for religious reasons.  That's human nature.
The Jewish and Christian scriptures, out of which grew Islam, are certainly filled with savagery, as many here have pointed out.
But religions also do a lot of good, and are generally a force for civility, and the great majority of religious people, in all traditions including Islam, are peaceful.
There is something very ugly about the way this diary attacks a prophet from the Dark Ages and then immediately jumps over 1400 years of history to cherry-picking miscellaneous outrages from some of today's Muslims.
Among other things, this is very unfair to the majority of Muslims who are decent people.  About half of my law clients are Muslims, and in general they are extremely pious, intelligent, decent people.  Troll Islamaphobic diaries like this are a real insult to them.
This user should be banned outright.  He seems incapable of understanding why his approach is so revolting.  And by the way, I'm not speaking here as a "leftist."  I'm speaking here as a human being. [here]
PF: The prophet is considered the “perfect man” (Al-Insan al-Kamil).  He is not just some “prophet from the Dark Ages”.  Indeed to say so, as a Muslim, would be considered the worst blasphemy.   As for “cherry picking miscellaneous outrageous”, what’s to cherry pick when the “outrages” are daily, in the Muslim world and beyond?
Again: we get the cal lfor this to be “banned outright”. That is, for censorship.
I don't like people cherrypicking religions: (10+ / 0-)
they are big and complicated and anyone can find a clause from a sacred book from a thousand years ago, a practice that nobody follows nowadays, or a problem with a founder, or a problem with the followers.   And anyone can ignore the fundamental humanity of the adherents, too.
BTW, I don't like to see condemnation of a billion people out of some warped idea of progressive thought.  [here]
PF: again, an argument that “the Bible and the Koran” are equally violent.  But:
(1) The fact that the Bible is violent doesn’t excuse the Koran being violent.
(2) The Bible and the Koran are subject to the principle of abrogation.  The New Testament abrogates the Old Testament of the Bible. Most Christians follow the NT.  In the Koran, the Medinan verses abrogate the Meccan verses.  Medina verses are more violent.  Therefore verses which are more violent abrogate those which are more peaceable. All Muslims follow the Koran and the most recent verses, those that abrogate the earlier verses.
(3) The Bible is descriptive; the Koran is proscriptive. That is, the Bible tells us what’s happening. The Koran tell us what Must happen.  Which leads to the most important difference:
(4): The Bible is written by Man. The Koran is the word of God.  The Bible can be interpreted – and has been consistently subject to exegesis; the Koran cannot be interpreted since it’s the word of Allah.
In their own way (3+ / 0-)
believers who have dropped such ideas are also cherry picking.
But I agree about the blanket condemnation, and HR'ed the diarist for it. If he picked a specific, present-day problem caused by religious extremism, I think he'd find the audience much more receptive. He could be doing that instead of trying to make the entire religion, and all its believers, look dangerous. [here]
PF: where does this comment want us to begin, in picking “specific, present-day problems caused by religioius extremism”?  What about Egypt and the killing of the Coptic Christians?  Or Iran and the repression of its own people? Or Saudi and the repression of its women?  Or, or….
Do you think people here (16+ / 0-)
Are stupid? [referring to this comment] You registered 3 days ago, the only comments you've made have been in EAB's diaries, and you use almost the same language he does about people who disagree with him.
So let's pretend you aren't his sockpuppet, and ask you this- if the "vast majority" of Muslims across the world don't follow the archaic teachings of Muhammed, much like Christians ignore the rape, murder, patricide and genocide in the OT, that would make this and Eric's earlier diaries nothing but the rants of an islamaphobic ignorant fool, correct? [here]
PF: “archaic teachings of Muhhamed”?? That would be enough to get you a death sentence in many Muslim countries; Pakistan for example.  Muhammad is the “perfect man” (Al-Insan al-Kamil).  Muslims cannot “ignore” him, like “Christians ignore the rape, murder…” etc..
No, you are wrong. (11+ / 0-)
From the FAQ:
Do not troll rate people for expressing a contrary opinion, so long as it is expressed in a civilized fashion. The exceptions are for conservative talking points or debunked or false information; this isn’t a site for conservatives, they have entire swaths of the internet in which they can regale each other with their reality-impaired fantasies.
This is not a site for hatemongers or those who prop them up.  If you do not accept that basic premise you are welcome to leave, or you will be shown the door. [here]
PF: this post is quite shocking to me: that you can only be of one thought-type, or you can’t post here.

this is a blog dedicated to (11+ / 0-)
Electing Democrats. One doesn't get in trouble for discussing conservative viewpoints here or for being a conservative. One gets in trouble for pushing bigoted screeds like the diary above or for registering a new account under a different name simply to give support to said bigoted screeds in an attempt to make it seem like there are people on this blog that support you.
People who are trusted users can still see hidden comments, so please don't stop posting! [here]
PF: same as above: shocking that you can’t post here if you’re not of the Hive Mind.

 [*] Alpha Beta Beta: A Bunch of Bigots.