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Which members here best represent their opinions for each political group?
July 19, 2006 4:36 PM   Subscribe

Which members here do you think best represent their opinions (1) for the right/Republican side, (2) for the left/Democrat side, and (3) absent recognizable or predictable side/party affiliation? [more inside]
posted by troybob to Bugs at 4:36 PM (178 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I am an intermittent member here these days; on the days I have time, I will tend to follow one or two topics and will speak up now and then. Nonetheless, I learn a good deal here. As I don’t read everything, I find it harder these days to get a grip on the personalities of the site, to know who consistently makes good arguments and who just tries to stir up a mess, etc.

It’s generally acknowledged that we lean to the left around here, as do I, but often I am disappointed in what seems to be a dearth of opinions from the right that are well-considered and address the topic at hand. [Not to say the more left-leaning members are saints—I’m certainly not—but (perhaps due to volume alone) I generally don’t have a hard time finding reasonable arguments on that side—and I would hope that is not simply because I agree with them.]

Of course there are intelligent people who are Republicans, and often I want to hear from them to challenge my own assumptions and beliefs. Perhaps it is because I’m more drawn to the hot-button topics that I don’t have a good handle on who they are. Hopefully it is not, as I’ve read before, that they have been driven away from here. And I’m not saying that there are not Republicans here whose opinions I would listen to and respect; it’s just that the ones I encounter or notice more often aren’t particularly good representatives of their side of the issue. Some might find comfort or superiority in that, but I think I’m missing out. So I ask:

(1) Which of our right-leaning members do you feel well represent their side of an issue, offering well-considered opinions and viewpoints yet eschewing rote propaganda, snark, insult, and demonification?

(2) Which of our left-leaning members do you think best do this?

(3) Which of our members do you feel are good about avoiding the left/right dynamic, offering well-considered opinions that could go either way?

Really, this is not an invitation to trade insults. If you want to start a MeTa topic on whose opinion is crap and should be ignored, go right ahead, but don’t pee all over my topic. I’d love to keep it on the positive side here, if we can.
posted by troybob at 4:36 PM on July 19, 2006


oops...i started off selecting 'metafilter-related' as the tag, but somewhere it got changed to 'bugs'...maybe our most-respected admin could fix it..sorry
posted by troybob at 4:37 PM on July 19, 2006


deleted.
posted by bigmusic at 4:38 PM on July 19, 2006


He does not represent my opinion (that would be more like orthogonality, y2karl and ericb among others) but I dearly miss dios. His intellect helps keep us open minded left leaners honest.
posted by caddis at 4:49 PM on July 19, 2006


Discussing other members is double-double not nice.
posted by mischief at 4:51 PM on July 19, 2006


I think this is the sort of thing you're better off figuring out for yourself in your own head without discussion amongst the members here.

Just a thought. Also, what mischief said.
posted by routergirl at 4:58 PM on July 19, 2006


Vote for It's Raining Florence Henderson. Vote early and often.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:03 PM on July 19, 2006


yo
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:07 PM on July 19, 2006


I think I'm best and represent the jonmc position.

(seriously, troybob, I usually dig your funky vibe, but that's kind of a vague question)
posted by jonmc at 5:08 PM on July 19, 2006


ok, sorry...i guess i'll get deleted away then...i was kinda thinking that, having read all kinds of negative stuff about members in MeTa, it might be okay to ask simply who is generally respected (or should be) for making conscientious posts...but maybe it was a bit optimistic...
posted by troybob at 5:14 PM on July 19, 2006


I am proud of my platform of incosistency.
posted by yerfatma at 5:16 PM on July 19, 2006


if elected, i promise meat in every wife, pot in every house, and two kids under every car.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:22 PM on July 19, 2006


troybob writes: "Really, this is not an invitation to trade insults."

Just wanted that to be repeated. Cuz it's fucking funny.

In all sincerity, russilwvong is someone I really appreciate in political debates on the blue, both for his FPP's and his comments. I'd say he's a centrist on most issues, and by current American standards that would make him center-far left, but he's always backing his statements up with facts and analysis from others.
posted by bardic at 5:22 PM on July 19, 2006


*and by others, I mean non-mefites. Although there are plenty of other mefites who manage to articulate things better than I ever could.
posted by bardic at 5:24 PM on July 19, 2006


I fucking hate all of you.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:30 PM on July 19, 2006


I'm pro-gun and anti-stupid wars.
posted by Balisong at 5:31 PM on July 19, 2006


I like my music by Hasselhoff and my art by Hitler. Pigeonhole me if you must.
posted by found missing at 5:35 PM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, we had a few articulate and civil right-leaning posters bacj in the day, like unclefes and davidmsc, but they we're hardly tyical neocons either of them. When a site leans so overwhelmingly in one direction, those who dare to espouse an opposing opinion are going to tend to be trollish, simply to want to deal with the reaction.
posted by jonmc at 5:37 PM on July 19, 2006


My opinion is the opposite of eyeballkid's.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:40 PM on July 19, 2006 [2 favorites]


Speaking of conservatives, did anyone else enjoy reading the column where George Will rips Bill Kristol and other neo-cons a new one? Compares them to Buddy Bell and the freakin' Kansas City Royals! That's good.
posted by bardic at 5:44 PM on July 19, 2006


Thanks for the kind words, bardic.

I really like the fact that comments appear before the author's name, so that when you start reading a long comment you don't know who wrote it. It reduces somewhat the tendency to react to the person, instead of paying attention to what they're saying.

That said, to answer troybob's question, loquax comes to mind. I disagree with him strongly on Iraq, for example, but we've been able to have at least one good discussion which didn't degenerate into a flamewar.
posted by russilwvong at 5:45 PM on July 19, 2006


What happened to dios? Please don't tell me I missed a flameout.
posted by languagehat at 5:49 PM on July 19, 2006


Of course there are intelligent people who are Republicans, and often I want to hear from them to challenge my own assumptions and beliefs.

Huh? Wanting to hear from Republicans on MeFi is like wanting to learn skiing in the Congo.

Try NRO or The Weekly Standard; blogwise, PowerLine usually reflects the (R) party line. For libertarian thought, try Reason. Good libertarian blogs: Jane Galt and Marginal Revolution.

As others have said, the interesting non-lefty commentators, like UncleFes or evanizer, tend to burn out, leaving only the cranks and trolls. HTuttle will be here forever.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 5:50 PM on July 19, 2006


What happened to dios?

Like a holy diver, he is now a rainbow in the dark or at least the last in line.
posted by jonmc at 5:50 PM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


languagehat: dios, after being exceptionally fussy, and insulting No. 1's admin skills on the blue*, got a time out, and hasn't been back.

* IIRC. The inciting comment was deleted.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 5:52 PM on July 19, 2006


he's the man on the silver milkcrate!
posted by Hat Maui at 5:52 PM on July 19, 2006


maybe we'll see him at the Carolina County Ball.

*wins obscurity pissing contest*
posted by jonmc at 5:56 PM on July 19, 2006


It's too bad that it's not considered in good taste to compliment other members. (I do understand, though, that this thread could mean dragging them into a firefight they want no part of.)

If troybob asked for favorite comments that consisted especially good arguments from the left, the right, and the center, I think it probably would have been OK and could have amounted to the same thing. It's too late now though -- doing so would clearly be a veiled way of indicating commenters, whereas before it could have been indirect and tacit.
posted by painquale at 5:57 PM on July 19, 2006



It's too bad that it's not considered in good taste to compliment other members.


Oh, go ahead, compliment me all you want! I can take it!
posted by jonmc at 5:59 PM on July 19, 2006


if elected, i promise meat in every wife, pot in every house, and two kids under every car.

You had my vote until the two kids thing. My car has a low ground clearance and I can't have little limbs fucking up my drive train.

"i promise meat in every wife, pot in every house, and two kids sent spinning wildly into the curb with a glancing blow from the front bumper," and you have my vote.
posted by Cyrano at 6:01 PM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


yes, that was great hat maui
posted by caddis at 6:06 PM on July 19, 2006


i promise meat in every wife,

*coughs, points out the extreme heteronormativity of that statement, thereby disqualifying them from being eligible to win anything* ; >
posted by amberglow at 6:09 PM on July 19, 2006


you can include manwives in that formulation, amber.
posted by Hat Maui at 6:12 PM on July 19, 2006


*volunteers as meat
posted by caddis at 6:20 PM on July 19, 2006


My opinion is contrary to both eyeballkid's and jessamyn's.
posted by crunchland at 6:22 PM on July 19, 2006


My favorite users tend not to be those who "best represent their opinions." I like users who say funny and interesting things. These categories sometimes overlap, but sometimes do not.
posted by brain_drain at 6:22 PM on July 19, 2006


you can include manwives in that formulation, amber.

vote whore ;)
posted by jonmc at 6:23 PM on July 19, 2006


All the republicans either got banned or left after being shouted-down and/or temp-banned.
posted by bob sarabia at 6:25 PM on July 19, 2006


BAHLEEETED
posted by fire&wings at 6:53 PM on July 19, 2006


I thought MetaTalk was for real concerns, like site down, running to matt for intervention due to some nasty comments or even my personal favourite, questions of etiquette.

I must have missed a Meta talking points memo somewhere.

*ruffles through emails*
posted by Funmonkey1 at 7:04 PM on July 19, 2006


He does not represent my opinion (that would be more like orthogonality, y2karl and ericb among others)

ericb? Dude's a bot. Honestly.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:06 PM on July 19, 2006


Oh God, we ran the few conservatives out of here years ago. Then we turned on the moderates--killed them all and ate their livers. The pro-lifers, global warming doubters, and other reactionary scum have long since been dealt with. There are still a few libertarians around though.

And they must be destroyed.
posted by LarryC at 7:07 PM on July 19, 2006


There are plenty of Republicans about on MeFi; they just tend to be non-stereotypical ones.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:08 PM on July 19, 2006


maybe we'll see him at the Carolina County Ball.
posted by jonmc at 8:56 PM EST on July 19 [+fave] [!]


I missed his little elfin self there, but I think he's on his way. Is that the devil's rumble I hear?
posted by marxchivist at 7:20 PM on July 19, 2006


eyeballkid.
posted by quonsar at 7:36 PM on July 19, 2006


What's he building in there?
posted by marxchivist at 7:41 PM on July 19, 2006


I wholeheartedly disagree with crunchland.
posted by dg at 7:46 PM on July 19, 2006


koeselitz (sp?) is still around and pops up from time to time in political threads. He argues rightish positions as well as anyone around here has, even UncleFes. loquax does a pretty good job as well.
posted by furiousthought at 7:48 PM on July 19, 2006


I still think Kucinich had some good ideas.
posted by cortex at 7:55 PM on July 19, 2006


y2karl, for repeatedly linking to cogent, serious commentary that challenges all of us to think, despite way too many complaints about font sizes and hard thinking not being fun;
amberglow, for important, human, and humane posts I wouldn't otherwise have seen;
troutfishing, for provocative, well put together gadflying;
caddis for afflicting the comfortable.

monju_bosatsu and, yes, dios, for the posts on law;
Asparagirl, for defending her views without attacking others';
dhartung, for cogent, informative comments.


And of course quonsar, for speaking truth mockery to power.

(And one more thing: ParisParamus, while I can't call his comments thoughtful, when I encountered him (briefly) in IRC, he really seemed a decent and perhaps lonely guy. I'd like to see him here again; his comments, eh, not so much. Liberate Paris!)


I'm sure I've missed mentioning a number of people, and I apologize; after some personal attacks here a few months ago, I've been following the personalities on MetaFilter a whole lot less (and haven't commented in the blue at all).

Prior to that time, while I didn't always remember to do it, if I linked to you from my profile it was because I thought you'd made a great and lasting comment (or post). (Since I've absented myself, I no longer link to anyone, so don't take the absence of a link to mean you haven't moved me with your writing.)
posted by orthogonality at 8:05 PM on July 19, 2006


the left/Democrat side
Democratic side, please.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:06 PM on July 19, 2006


I wholeheartedly disagree with crunchland.

If we could just figure out who we need to duct tape some butter-side-up toast to now, we'd have this whole oil dependancy thing licked.
posted by Cyrano at 8:11 PM on July 19, 2006


I don't think it's reasonable to ask this question; about half the political comments I've posted to the blue have been promptly deleted, introducing something of a selection bias. I presume the same thing has happened to others.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:22 PM on July 19, 2006


I miss ParisParamus!
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:24 PM on July 19, 2006


But really I think the best thinker Metafilter's ever known is Pretty_Generic.

ParisParamus second.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:26 PM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Every time I read a political discussion here, I find myself hoping 99% of the parties involved do not accurately represent the Republicans or Democrats.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:28 PM on July 19, 2006


son_of_minya had greater insight into both the right and the left and a better understanding of the way the world worked far better than any who remain at this failure of a community.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:37 PM on July 19, 2006


I like Cribcage, Dios, Kwantsar, Smedleyman, Loquax, sonofsamiam (I think that's his name), Monju and Carbolic for political discussion, but none of them are anywhere near my point of view. I like Bardic, Nixerman, OmieWise and a few others whose names escape me for general lefty views.

I tend to think that though the aggrogate skews left here, it's just a collection of individual views that happen to coincide. There are also plenty of people here who I consider experts and incredibly intelligent on some issues and total fucking morons on other issues.
posted by klangklangston at 8:38 PM on July 19, 2006


Golly, I thought things had been less dios-y since I came back from vacation. Unfortunate.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:42 PM on July 19, 2006


the left/Democrat side

Which side is that yer talkin' bout, sonny?
posted by scarabic at 8:56 PM on July 19, 2006


I find that jessamyn represents the zoophile side admirably.
posted by gsteff at 9:30 PM on July 19, 2006


OFFICIAL MONSTER RAVING LOONY PARTY 4 EVAH BITCHES!!!!
posted by hangashore at 10:14 PM on July 19, 2006


i appreciate the thoughtful answers to my misguided and potentially disastrous post...you've been way kind...there are some deluxe-quality people hanging out here, and it's nice to have a few more names to pay extra attention to...and, of course, to try to better emulate...it may take a long while, but you guys might make a decent virtual conversationalist of me yet...

and yeah, the loquax/russilwvong series is indeed a thing of beauty

and, uh, the Democrat/Democratic thing...i'm way left, seriously, and I'd never in my life heard about this apparently huge usage fox-pass until now...
posted by troybob at 11:32 PM on July 19, 2006


You know America really doesn't have a left don't you? Maybe in theory there is a left; but a cursory look around the planet shows that in politics, in actual voting outcomes...there is no left in America.
posted by peacay at 11:45 PM on July 19, 2006


I think the reason you don't see more like me, a not-as-left-as-everyone-more-like-a-whacko-libertarian is...

a) The sheer numbers -- I'm outnumbered like 1,000 to one here.
b) The ease of taking an extreme position that's akin to a black hole from which no nuance can escape. For example, I think it's more appropriate to refer to a Republican as a "idiot" than a "jackbooted thug."
c) The irony of the open-minded who insist that by the sheer force of their liberal qualities, they have uncovered the One True Knowledge. The doors of their minds are so far open that they've swung all the way around and closed again.
posted by frogan at 11:53 PM on July 19, 2006


Oh, and then there's this. I fucking hate this.
posted by frogan at 11:57 PM on July 19, 2006


Maybe more of the ring-wing folks will join here since Michelle Malkin name checked us (along with Slashdot, Digg, Fark and others) as "moonbat" dominanted and suggested her readers participate more...
posted by karmaville at 12:22 AM on July 20, 2006


Naming no names, the folk I find most interesting are the ones who simultaneously express views that, to a European reader, veer from being terrifyingly right wing to being moderately left-wing (eg. they think barely regulated gun ownership is fab, and think gay marriage is just dandy too).
posted by jack_mo at 3:10 AM on July 20, 2006


whacko-libertarian

I think that's the kind of person I'm talking about! We just don't get them over here.

Also, it would be nice if there were some revolutionary Communists, hardline Marxists, Trots and what have you here. It feels pretty right-wing here generally if you grew up with that sort of politics, and usually vote for a party with 'Socialist' in its name. For the record, I'm a confirmed gauche caviar ;-)
posted by jack_mo at 3:19 AM on July 20, 2006


I agree with dg.
posted by crunchland at 4:10 AM on July 20, 2006


If I suck up to people here what do I get?
posted by Meatbomb at 4:21 AM on July 20, 2006


another day older and deeper in debt.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:40 AM on July 20, 2006


i promise meat in every wife,

amberglow : "*coughs, points out the extreme heteronormativity of that statement, thereby disqualifying them from being eligible to win anything* ; >"

Fingers are also meat.
posted by Bugbread at 6:20 AM on July 20, 2006


*toddles off to company store*
posted by jonmc at 6:21 AM on July 20, 2006


Metafilter: Fingers are also meat
posted by found missing at 7:18 AM on July 20, 2006


"fingers are also meat"

How digitally-normative of you to say. What about the thalidomide babies? WHY DO YOU HATE THE FLIPPEREDLY-ABLE?
posted by klangklangston at 7:37 AM on July 20, 2006


Flippers are also meat. Mmm, flippers.
posted by jonmc at 7:40 AM on July 20, 2006


A porpoise in your wife?
posted by NationalKato at 7:58 AM on July 20, 2006


So are stumps. But I, sir, will not countenance stump fucking.
posted by klangklangston at 7:59 AM on July 20, 2006


A porpoise in every wife sounds like a much more reasonable, and much less heteronormative, campaign promise.
posted by klangklangston at 8:00 AM on July 20, 2006


A porpoise in your wife?

I'm thinking of killing myself ... I just feel like my wife has no porpoise anymore.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:00 AM on July 20, 2006 [2 favorites]


*rewrites Dune as a story about anthropomorphic dolphinkin, titles it "A Terrible Porpoise"*
posted by cortex at 8:01 AM on July 20, 2006


jack_mo writes "Also, it would be nice if there were some ... Communists.... what have you here."

We had a (non-revolutionary) Communist here. That user was run off by the "domineering and authoritarian" "mefi consensus". 1

1. Personal communication with author.
posted by orthogonality at 8:01 AM on July 20, 2006


orthogonality says: y2karl, for repeatedly linking to cogent, serious commentary that challenges all of us to think

Agreed, except to the extent that repetitious preaching to the choir starts to put the choir members to sleep.

despite way too many complaints about font sizes

y2karl, to his great credit, has modified his posting style so that it does not detract from his content. Apparently there were exactly the right amount of complaints.

and hard thinking not being fun

Links please?
posted by found missing at 8:22 AM on July 20, 2006


Here you go: Finger Links
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:47 AM on July 20, 2006


painquale writes "It's too bad that it's not considered in good taste to compliment other members. "

It seems to be a side effect of the efficient self policing that we'd much rather rip into someone for a transgression than to point out examples of good behaviour.
posted by Mitheral at 11:30 AM on July 20, 2006


On the other hand, compliments and thanks do happen sometimes. I've seen people praise the resolution of arguments/disagreements; I've seen comments and Metatalk posts made explicitly to thank users for examplary behavior or helpful actions. It may not be Metafilter's favorite pasttime, but it's hardly in bad taste.
posted by cortex at 11:37 AM on July 20, 2006


Apparently there were exactly the right amount of complaints.

Wrong. The default position of just about anyone is Don't tell me what to do. I am no different than the next person in this regard. Bees, honey, vinegar, outwit, outplay, outlast: when most people gave up, then I changed the way I formatted my posts. Even so, quite a few clueless doofi kept complaining about the small fonts months after I stopped using them.
posted by y2karl at 2:21 PM on July 20, 2006


It feels pretty right-wing here generally if you grew up with that sort of politics, and usually vote for a party with 'Socialist' in its name.

indeed
posted by mr.marx at 2:41 PM on July 20, 2006


What y2karl is trying to say is that he's a completely stubborn bastard, immune to all pleas, regardless of logic or merit.
posted by crunchland at 2:49 PM on July 20, 2006


Describes me to a t.

what the hell does that saying actually mean, anyway?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:51 PM on July 20, 2006


OED:
[The original sense of T here has not been ascertained. Suggestions that it was the tee at Curling, or at Golf, or a T square, appear on investigation to be untenable; it has also been suggested that it referred to the proper completion of a t by crossing it (see [phrase to cross the t's]); or that it was the initial of a word; in reference to this it is notable that to a tittle (i.e. to a prick, dot, jot) was in use nearly a century before ‘to a T’, and in exactly the same constructions: see TITTLE.]

First citation:
1693 Humours Town 102 All the under Villages and Towns-men come to him for Redress; which he does to a T.

posted by languagehat at 3:04 PM on July 20, 2006


jack_mo writes "Also, it would be nice if there were some revolutionary Communists, hardline Marxists, Trots and what have you here. "

Here's the thing. I'm a Trotskyist. (Seriously.) I don't do serious political posting on MeFi; I've done more posting probably on Esperanto and various pop culture things that interest me, because adequately representing Trotskyism on a forum like MeFi means that I'd be constantly forced to defend my basic assumptions and risk derailing a thread just by posting any kind of in depth analysis on a political thread. If people would really be interested in a Trotskyist view, I'd be happy to post more; but I can't spend all my time defending basic viewpoints.
posted by graymouser at 4:15 PM on July 20, 2006


I think the best thinker drinker Metafilter's ever known is Pretty_Generic.

Fixed that for ya.
posted by Gator at 4:26 PM on July 20, 2006


I tend to avoid the names on posts unless they said something interesting, and then I check. A few names keep popping up. So I guess it's not what you say, it's how you say it.

For example:

I'm thinking of killing myself ... I just feel like my wife has no porpoise anymore.


This struck me as being incredibly clever.
posted by hoborg at 4:51 PM on July 20, 2006


There are no deft partisans, here. There are lots of really convincing pragmatists. And a few noisy politicians like myself who make a mess of everything. Leftist echo chamber? I hope we've put that myth to rest.
posted by scarabic at 7:20 PM on July 20, 2006


Leftist echo chamber? I hope we've put that myth to rest.
posted by brain_drain at 7:48 PM on July 20, 2006


Thanks, hoborg. I was actually chagrined that I had screwed it up -- I think it would have sounded much better as "I just feel like my wife no longer has any porpoise." One of those times where I wish Matt implemented the "timed edit" feature.

By the way, I agree with your point. I tend to gravitate towards those users who write well and make logical comments without resorting to hyperbole -- regardless of their left/right orientation.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:57 PM on July 20, 2006


Lots of pragmatists, left leaning pragmatists, but pragmatic, that really does define the political temperament here. We sometimes bitch and moan that political discussions turn toxic, but compared to most places on the net they are downright civil here. Politics is dirty business. The pragmatic streak I think helps reduce the mindless partisan flame wars. Even when people agree with you, if you are not making sense you will get shouted down here. You have to move beyond mere talking points. Politics is still messy here, but its done as well here as anywhere on the net.
posted by caddis at 8:03 PM on July 20, 2006


"Leftist echo chamber? I hope we've put that myth to rest."

As are so many things, that's relative. I do think that MeFi, though quite definitely politifcally left-of-center (US), is more pragmatic and reasonable than other left-of-center (US) sites and that left-of-center (US) sites are, generally, more pragmatic and reasonable than right-of-center sites. But I don't really believe that the variance is that great, overall.

That is to say, I strongly doubt that almost no community is as politically pragmatic and reasonable as it thinks it is, especially on the web. And I certainly don't think that our self-congratulations are either deserved or helpful because I strongly believe that this sort of intellectual smugness is corrosive to habitual reasonable and pragmatic thought. Self-criticism is, or should be, paramount. I don't see a sufficiency of that here—not even close.

"...to a European reader, veer from being terrifyingly right wing to being moderately left-wing (eg. they think barely regulated gun ownership is fab, and think gay marriage is just dandy too)."

Many will disagree, but I believe that the linear left/right relationship is less accurate the less specific the cultural context. I can't tell if you meant "to a European reader" to relativize "interesting" or "right-wing/left-wing", or both. But if you intended it only to apply "interesting" and meant your political characterizations to be absolute, I think you're making a mistake. As a parallel example, I think that most Americans would now think of permissive smoking regulation (or, rather, non-regulation) to be "right-wing". Would you agree that, overall, Europeans are strongly "right-wing" in this way?

I honestly don't believe that the US gun-culture can be fairly characterized, in worldwide terms, as being either right-wing or left-wing. Aside from a very generalized and often incorrect generalized worldwide leftist disdain for personal violence, I don't really see how gun ownership can be left or right wing in cultural terms. I'm not as familiar with gun-control in Europe as I should be to be making such guesses, but I wouldn't be surprised if actual public opinion on gun control in Europe is less—even much less—left-right partisan than it is in the US. (And, by the way, I favor gun-control.)

The more general problem in trying to make absolute characterizations about left-right affiliations in the US is that even the general notion of leftism/rightism is quite strongly different in the US and Europe. For whatever reasons, European and (less so) worldwide notions of left/right in politics is very economics-specific, the cultural component carries less weight. My strong impression is that for these groups, and also for American leftists/progressives (though less so), the absolute litmus test is economic. By that test, then, Americans in a world-relative comparison are certainly not left-of-center. Americans are in these terms outliers, pretty far to the right.

But partly because American political opinion with regard to economics is largely uniform (in comparison to world opinion), then much more emphasis is placed on the cultural differences. Most Americans, when they think of right/left, think of cultural differences. Europeans, for example, first and foremost think of economic differences.

And then, as in the case of (arguably) gun-control and smoking, the funny thing about cultural differences is that the left/right distinction is built upon two seperate (though often related) things: historical cultural norms and liberal humanist ideology. Usually the left is associated with "progressing" away from historical cultural norms, the right is traditional (thus "conservative"). But, also, usually the left is associated with liberal humanist ideology. Because these two things are not necessarily politically identical to each other, then you'll always find, here and there, examples where one culture's left-right in cultural terms to be greatly at odds with another's.

So all this is to say that we should be careful about glib left-right generalizations, especially when we appear to be making (or actually are making!) absolutist statements (or, more likele, statements normalized to the world population).
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:17 PM on July 20, 2006


Americans are (economically) pretty far to the right.

Hrm. I know that this seems right, but is it really true? As you imply, leftism/rightism isn't really a clean axis, and maybe I've lived in a Blue State for too long, but I just don't see it. Is the Australian superannuation scheme rightist, or leftist? Are airline bailouts rightist, or leftist? Is the (faltering) tax simplification drive rightist, or leftist? When labor unions and struggling automakers push for state-run healthcare, are they being rightist, or leftist? Or are they using different philosophies to reach the same ends?

I'm not being a smartass.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:32 PM on July 20, 2006


What Ethereal Bligh said. I didn't really read it, kinda skimmed actually, but I'm willing to stand by it.

Not fight to the death to defend it, mind you, I'm a little too apathetic for that.

I mean I still hate all of you, don't think that's changed.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:44 PM on July 20, 2006


The healthcare is unambiguously leftist. I realize your point is the corporate sponsorship—but when a right-wing group (or associated) group takes up a left-wing position, that doesn't make the position right-wing. The primary economic left-right distinction is the distinction between socialism and capitalism. On that basis, the position of supporting state-run healthcare is leftist.

Looking at your other examples, the airline bailout is ambiguous because the interests of the corporation and its workers are both involved. Then you have the problem that both the interests of the corporation and the state/general public are served by (some) bailouts. How you breakdown the interests and how well each are served in a particular bailout plan will determine where it lies, on average, along the left-right spectrum. In general, airline bailouts like we see here in the US are in my opinion right-wing because the interests of the corporations and its investors are in the long run primarily served (as opposed to the workers or the general public) by these bailouts.

The one thing that confuses very simple analysis of left-right analysis of economic policies is fascism. The general rule of leftist/socialist economic thought is government economic control; but fascism, of course, features government economic control prominently.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:49 PM on July 20, 2006


The general rule of leftist/socialist economic thought is government economic control; but fascism, of course, features government economic control prominently.

That's exactly what I was getting at with the "mind so wide open that it closed again" comment.

"We must cast off our corporate shackles. So, first thing, let's have a lot more rules."
"Wha..? A second ago, you were talking about freedom...?"
"You can't doubt me -- I'm too open-minded to be wrong! To the gulag with you!"
posted by frogan at 9:25 PM on July 20, 2006


people like the trains running on time
posted by caddis at 9:31 PM on July 20, 2006


Kwantsar and Ethereal Bligh are right correct in pointing out the inadequacies of the left-right descriptors. EB relies upon a definition from an economic backbone and although I suppose I don't disagree particularly, when I consider leftist or rightist policies or politics I usually think of left as being a style that has a more flattened benefit for a larger slice of the population and right as being somehow being more beneficial for individuals.

It is by these vague definitions that I regard America as rightist as compared to other western countries. When I think of left/right, I think of social welfare and healthcare availability and public transport and other policies that have, in one way or another, been instituted more fairly or in a wider sense in not-America --- aiming to help the greatest number of people (throught govt. revenue).*

So perhaps that makes me more of a socialist than a capitalist. That's a good thing.

*Yeah, that's a big generalization and if we got down to microassessments such as NYC subway and the like, then the description isn't at all tidy.
posted by peacay at 10:22 PM on July 20, 2006


orthogonality said 'We had a (non-revolutionary) Communist here. That user was run off by the "domineering and authoritarian" "mefi consensus".'

Interesting, I must've missed him or her.

graymouser said 'If people would really be interested in a Trotskyist view, I'd be happy to post more; but I can't spend all my time defending basic viewpoints.'

I certainly would be interested, but I take your point - I don't often participate in political threads, because, on a lot of American issues, I'd have to preface every comment with, as you say, a defence of basic points, or an explanation of where I'm coming from politically.

Ethereal Bligh said 'I can't tell if you meant "to a European reader" to relativize "interesting" or "right-wing/left-wing", or both.'

Both, really. I didn't express myself clearly: the fact that 'the linear left/right relationship is less accurate the less specific the cultural context' is exactly what I find interesting. Coming from a place where left and right wings are divided along social and economic lines (though you're probably right that economics is the litmus test), the fact that someone who holds what looks to me a culturally left-wing view can also hold an economically right-wing view never ceases to be surprising. (Seriously, I do double takes here all the time, and have formed very skewed impressions of certain posters due to only seeing them make 'right-wing' comments for a while, then being stunned to see them make 'left-wing' comments.)

I think authoritarianism and views on the role of the state are probably key here - eg., I've argued here in favour of limiting free speech, from a left-wing position, and any limit on that freedom seems to be anathema to folk on all points of the US political spectrum.

As a parallel example, I think that most Americans would now think of permissive smoking regulation (or, rather, non-regulation) to be "right-wing". Would you agree that, overall, Europeans are strongly "right-wing" in this way?

I'm not sure what you mean there - surely the only people anywhere who argue against smoking bans are right wing? The increasingly strict anti-smoking legislation (I'm not allowed to smoke in any enclosed public space) over here comes from the left.
posted by jack_mo at 3:00 AM on July 21, 2006


surely the only people anywhere who argue against smoking bans are right wing?

Surely not, unless you equate "right-wing" with "in favor of freedom," which would be a seriously loony (and self-defeating) attitude. I am against both smoking bans and the right wing (as I understand it, which primarily involves privileging the military-industrial complex over the citizenry).
posted by languagehat at 6:38 AM on July 21, 2006


Y'know, it's almost like most political positions could better be charted by an axis of economic control and an axis of individual control, thus making smoking bans orthagonal to social security...
If only someone would come up with a site that reflected that...
posted by klangklangston at 7:26 AM on July 21, 2006


surely the only people anywhere who argue against smoking bans are right wing?


Are you kidding? I am no right winger and I think smoking bans are stupid. If someone wants to kill themselves with cigarettes who are we to stop them. Read the site klangklangston linked if you fail to understand where I am coming from.
posted by caddis at 7:32 AM on July 21, 2006


IT'S A TWO PARTY SYSTEM GODDAMMIT
posted by cortex at 7:34 AM on July 21, 2006


I prefer not to limit my thinking to ideological cliches and random accidents of cartology. Therefore, I consider myself neither liberal nor conservative, nor left, right, or upside down. Instead, I define my personal philosophy in terms of cartoon genres. Are you Hanna Barbera, Warner Brothers, Disney, Anime? I, myself, am Loonie Toons. Or so I've been told.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:47 AM on July 21, 2006


Remember that Hi and Lois where Chip was sitting naked on the floor of the laundry room, talking to his mother?

That is my political philosophy.
posted by cortex at 7:51 AM on July 21, 2006


My manifesto:

Little Billy Has A Big Accident

"You people are sick!"
The detective declares.
"For now, everyone's a suspect!" Barfy dodges a swift kick,

returns to lapping up the red ink
pooled on Mother's linoleum.
"That's going to leave a stain,"
Dolly murmurs. Mother agrees, I think,

but she's oddly quiet and holds her peace.
The killer's bloody tracks run out
the kitchen door, twice around
the swing-set, up the neighbor's tree,

across the street and back again,
finally disappearing in the damp grass
by the blue plastic swimming pool.
It could have been any one of them,

really. Daddy has his career to think of,
what with Billy's guest panels
cutting into his action. The son
eclipsing the father. Jeffy has the motive

of Cain. Forever trapped in his brother's shadow.
And Dolly: Now there's a princess!
Not a shred of conscience.
Pure sociopath.

And does anyone know where PJ has got to?
Strange, he'd turn up missing at a time like this.
Not Me pokes his invisible head out, shouts,
"No way, I'm taking the rap for this one!"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:08 AM on July 21, 2006


I don't know how you come up with these, you son of a bitch.
posted by cortex at 8:22 AM on July 21, 2006


Heh. I wrote that one years ago. Just seemed appropriately inappropriate today. Plus, I never could get the damned thing published. Maybe it's cheating to plagerize myself, I dunno - I feel like I'm about one bitchslap shy of cogency this morning.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:30 AM on July 21, 2006


I need to pitch you my concept for a graphic novel psychological drama set in the Family Circus setting, twentyfive years later. Billy has a psychotic breakdown whilst (erstwhile successfully) running for a US Senate seat, Dolly has burnt out, dropped out, and plays in a shitty punk band, Jeffy is a gay-rights activist, PJ is the freako darling of the underground comix world, Dad is dead, Mom lives in Florida, Grandma is still clinging to life in a nursing home, and Grandpa's ghost is by and large responsible for Billy's crumbling sanity.

It's hot stuff.

posted by cortex at 8:47 AM on July 21, 2006


Family Circus via Frank Miller? I love it!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:07 AM on July 21, 2006


Silly me, we're right back to right and left wing meaning different things depending on where you're from:

If someone wants to kill themselves with cigarettes who are we to stop them.

That is the right wing argument, to my eyes, whereas a left-wing person would argue that it is the state's resposibility to protect its citizens from the health risks of smoking, or somesuch.

Read the site klangklangston linked if you fail to understand where I am coming from.

I do, this is what I've been saying is interesting about seeing the varying nature of the left/right thing in action on MetaFilter - unfortunately, being pissed when I last commented, I was referring to the smoking argument in the UK, and being ingrained with a particular kind of left/right opposition, I completely forgot about these nuances while actually discussing them!

If only someone would come up with a site that reflected that...

Can't believe I Googled for that test when making my last comment using increasingly arcane terms, and the site is bloody called Political Compass. Duh. Just took their test, and I'm apparently almost as far left as you can go, and dead on the line in the middle of Authoritarian and Libertarian (I thought I'd be further right and more authoritarian, but can't complain about being closer to Ghandi than Stalin.).
posted by jack_mo at 1:16 PM on July 21, 2006


That is the right wing argument, to my eyes

If you continue using words in ways that make sense only to you, you're not going to communicate very effectively. I don't know anyone else who would call opposition to smoking regulations "right-wing."
posted by languagehat at 1:28 PM on July 21, 2006


Culturally, smoking/tobacco in America is related, nominally, to the "right-wing" in the sense that the stuff is still grown in many southern "red states."

But along with languagehat, I'm nonplussed by the argument as well. Maybe by "right-wing" you mean libertarian? I dunno.

Seriously, it's been downhill since "liberal" was turned into the "L-word" during the 90's. And now, what the hell does "conservatism" mean? I'd say it lost semantic coherence sometime during Reagan's second term when he raised taxes.
posted by bardic at 1:44 PM on July 21, 2006


I don't know anyone else who would call opposition to smoking regulations "right-wing."

Perhaps I'm lost, but if we can analogize "opposition to smoking regulations" to "opposition to gun control," then the smoking issue is terribly right-wing, IMO, in that it's a bristling against government control in general over issues that are viewed as being related to personal behavior and personal freedom. "You namby-pamby-limp-wristed-elitist-liberals can't tell me what to do!"

Which is also terribly ironic, because the right-wing view IS associated with government control over people's lives in many other areas -- gay rights, sodomy laws, Ten Commandments in the courthouses, etc. It's the whole "freedom everywhere except in your bedroom" stance.

So it's really a question of control. The traditional left-wing view would like to control people's behavior in areas X, Y and Z. The traditional right-wing view wants control over areas A, B and C.

And then there's me, the whacko libertarian that wants everyone to shut the fuck up and mind their own goddam business.
posted by frogan at 2:17 PM on July 21, 2006


The traditional left-wing view would like to control people's behavior in areas X, Y and Z. The traditional right-wing view wants control over areas A, B and C.

I don't think that's true, and it's especially not true nowadays, with the government explicitly acting as moral Nanny and arbiter of what's permissable, while acting incredibly amorally in most other ways. Don't forget that what's considered "left" nowadays still carries within a lot of "do your own thing" and "free to be you and me".

I'm leftwing, but very protectionist, jobwise, and against smoking restrictions, and for very strict gun control, and more and more isolationist (except for relief and humanitarian and joint peacekeeping efforts). Adults should be able to do legal things like smoking--if people don't like that, then those things shouldn't be legal. Drinking needs to be restricted because of driving, but smoking?
posted by amberglow at 4:40 PM on July 21, 2006


There's often not enough rhyme or reason to generalize, i think.
posted by amberglow at 4:41 PM on July 21, 2006


To be fair, Amberglow, you often seem to choose your convictions based on your position, not the other way around.

(And the "traditional" left wing is the bourgoise set against the traditional right wing of the aristocracy).
posted by klangklangston at 4:52 PM on July 21, 2006


tradition is dead
posted by caddis at 5:24 PM on July 21, 2006


Yeah, but listen to yourself, amberglow ... you say that "left" is "do your own thing." And while you describe yourself as left wing, therefore, you desire freedom to do your own thing. But you are counter-intuitively FOR restrictions on certain behaviors.

Now, here, I'm not arguing the points of gun control, just pointing out that traditional notions of left-wing-right-wing boil down to specifically what gets controlled vs. what doesn't.

Right wing: Loose gun restrictions, but no access to abortions.
Left wing: Tight gun restrictions, but access to abortions.

So, you're really just taking your pick of what you like vs. what you don't like.
posted by frogan at 5:39 PM on July 21, 2006


frogan : "you say that 'left' is 'do your own thing.'...But you are counter-intuitively FOR restrictions on certain behaviors."

No, he said it "carries a lot of it". If, for example, position A supports freedom for 10 things and restrictions for 3, and position B supports freedom for 3 and restrictions for 10, then position A carries a lot of freedom, but that doesn't imply that it is all freedom. Saying that it carries a lot of freedom is not counter-intuitive or contradictory.

I'm not actually addressing whether or not the left wing supports more freedom or less (I know people on the four points of the spectrum: "The government should leave us alone" leftists, "The government needs to protect us...with laws!" leftists, "The government should leave us alone" rightists, and "The government needs to protect us...with laws!" rightists), just pointing out that what amberglow said is not necessarily counter-intuitive or contradictory.
posted by Bugbread at 6:06 PM on July 21, 2006


bugbread, i think you managed to mis-characterize both our posts. Whatever. Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to.
posted by frogan at 6:26 PM on July 21, 2006


Amerbglow is completely wrong, you cannot equate left with "do your own thing" and right with authoritarianism. As it happens, speaking very generally, both extremes of leftism and rightism are very authoritarianism. Maybe one thing that both leftism and rightism, as it is crudely understood worldwise, have in common in contrast to the other beliefs which remain is the primary focus on political organization as the means for most social organization. If that's the case, then it makes sense that the extreme versions of both would be authoritarianism.

Otherwise, though, if we look at the middle, excluding totalitarian leftist and rightist regimes, then we find that what frogan says is the case. It's a question of what types of things the government controls, and what types of things it does not.

Languagehat is pretty much completly wrong, other than in the case of his statement of his personal experience ("I don't know anyone who..."). Gun control and smoking are precisely analogous. Neither is directly related to economic activity qua economic activity. Both are restricted for the greater interests of the polis because they directly affect more than just the specific gun-owner or smoker. In that limited context, then, these can be seen as leftist policies in that they favor the polis over the individual. Also, these are matters of social convention. As a general rule, contravening social convention and mandating some new behavior is associated with leftism (remember "progressivism"?). In both cases, then, these are also left-leaning positions. However, it should be noted, and this is why I used "smoking" as an example with Europe (where smoking has been much less regulated than in the US) that cultural traditions, if they're not in question, are neither leftist nor rightist. This is my point about both gun-control and smoking and relative political values: if you're observing a culture's attitudes about an unquestioned activity that is questioned in your culture, your judgment about the other culture is going to be falsely skewed by your own context. If nobody is questioning gun-ownership or smoking, then the lack of questioning shouldn't be considered right-wing from the perpective of a culture where they are.

I'd guess that languagehat is plain wrong on the matter of smoking because, I'm guessing and I bet I'm right, he's a smoker. For him, it's a matter of libertarinism. But most anti-smoking regs in the US have been driven by left-wing groups and right-wing groups are associated with its opposition.

Americans tend to think of the left-right political division in cultural terms because, for us, the revolution in political thought of the 19th and early 20th largely swept us by. Or somehow it was eliminated internally by WWII. By that I mean Marxism. In much of the rest of the world, the mantle of political progressivism was taken up by the Marxist, which sees the economic organization as the key to all the rest of social organization and thus for people to become more "free", they must be released from the economic chains which restrain them. Americans don't think like that. Americans still associate liberalism with market economics and capitalism in its most general sense.

In the rest of the world, this is not the case. The rest of the world, having settled upon a conservative:progressive::capitalism:socialism::leftist:rightism paradigm, cultual tradition independent of economic tradition is made mostly irrelevant and that's why countries are referred to as leftist or rightist primarily according to their economic policies and not so much according to their cultural policies. There are so-called "left-wing" governments that are cultural very traditionalist.

So we're back to what jack_mo said. From a European's perspective, America is an overwhelmingly right-wing nation (capitalism and market economics are almost completely unquestioned here) that harbors seemingly out-of-place manifestations of left-wing thought. But those examples of left-wing thought are always cultural. The best way for a foreigner to understand the American political climate is to see the US as a resolutely right-wing nation in terms of economics, but relentlessly left-wing culturally to the point that it's often on the leading edge in worldwide terms and also to the point that there's a permanent and furious backlash against it. Europeans, looking at the US and expecting to see all things right-wing, will tend to see those backlash reactionaries as representative because it fits their expectations. People like amberglow have skewed perspectives, too, and they will look at the resistance in the US to gay rights and particulars like gay marriage as examples of how the US is dangerously regressive. But a survey of worldwide and particularly European nations and their a) public policies regarding gays and gay marriage, and b) their polled attitudes about gays and gay marriage, will prove, I think, that the US is closer to the vanguard of change on this matter than it is reactionary.

And this brings me to how Americans tend to view Europeans and how this view is skewed from our own context.

In short, while the economics question is seen as largely settled in the US, there is still the perception that anything appearing remotely socialist is extreme left-wing. Thus, Americans tend to view European nations as extreme left-wing. Given that in the US the primary concept of left-right involves cultural values, then the result of this is that Americans expect Europeans to always be far to the left on every cultural matter and all conservative cultural thought, by our standards, to be extinct. And, of course, this isn't the case. We're surprised and confounded to hear of neo-Nazis in Europe, for example.

And then let's talk about the perceptions and experiences of, say, Latin Americans or Africans or some Asians. Those that will travel to the US are usualy quite familiar with Marxism, and are also quite familiar with US anti-Marxist policy. In that sense, then, they expect (and find) that the US is right-wing. But their cultures are typically, especially when compared to the US or Europe, pretty culturally conservative and so they find the US to be, culturally, extremely liberal to the point of libertine or worse. (And thus, if Marxist and culturally conservative, find that the US is the worst of all possible worlds, dangerously "corrupt".)

All these people wouldn't be having this cognitive dissonance if it were the case that the left-right distinction is as simple, linear, and predictable worldwide as some people are suggesting it is.

Finally, that so many people are relatively ignorant about these vartiations, even on MeFi, explains why seeing the world in simplistic Manichean terms is so easy for so many people. For them, there are the good guys and the bad guys. More importantly, for them, the good guys and the bad guys conveniently label themselves consistently: they're left-wing or right-wing.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:24 PM on July 21, 2006


I somehow doubt you are right about languagehat being a smoker. I have similar feelings to his and I have never been a smoker. I think you can have libertarian sympathies without being either rabidly liberal or conservative. Whether languagehat's feelings toward smoking arise out of this is for him to answer, but mine do. I think libertarianism and authoritarianism are separate and distinct from liberalism and conservatism. See the link klangklangston refers to here. As I remember, when this was originally posted on MeFi we as a group came out as left leaning, somewhat libertarian.
posted by caddis at 7:42 PM on July 21, 2006


"In that limited context, then, these can be seen as leftist policies in that they favor the polis over the individual. Also, these are matters of social convention."

Or you can see them as rightist in that they impose a moral judgment about individual activities. Or you can realize that in this case, the liberal position IS the conservative position and the "progressive" position IS the authoritarian position, and realize that "leftist" and "rightist" are pretty useless when applied to individual positions.
posted by klangklangston at 8:00 PM on July 21, 2006


I'm leftwing, but very protectionist, jobwise

Oh shit, seriously? Some call Bill Buckley. EB, thanks for the pixels, but no one read them. Me personally, I luuuuvs to scroll.
posted by yerfatma at 8:04 PM on July 21, 2006


klangklangston, I don't have much use for US libertarians so your rhetoric is not going to be very persuasive. US libertarians are the dumbest people I know who think they're smart. If libertarians truly believed in their anti-authoritarian rhetoric, they'd be anarchists. But US libertarians don't have the balls to be anarchists, they're more comparable to spoiled middle-class teenagers.

Or, put more politely, the US libertarian context in which government authoritarianism is evaluated is so constrained, so specific to the limited US context, and so particulary specific to the US conservative schools of thought which gave it birth, that the sort of absolutist, all-inclusive claims made by libertarians about political ideology are childish.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:12 PM on July 21, 2006


Jeez, you really can be an arrogant bastard EB.
posted by caddis at 8:22 PM on July 21, 2006


I guess. I can't disagree with EB on that. I think Libertarianism is an attractive idea, but the people who self-identify as such in this country tend to be douchebags. Bill Maher is forever calling himself a Libertarian when what he actually means is a Smarter-Than-the-Hoi-Polloi. Which isn't very Libertarian at all.
posted by yerfatma at 8:25 PM on July 21, 2006


Caddis: you and I largely agree about authoritarianism being seperate from left-right distinctions. But languagehat specifically denied that anti-smoking regs were leftist. My argument was that in left-right terms, anti-smoking regs are indisuptably leftist in that they privilege the entire society over the individual. Note that there are other rationales for devaluing the individual. It is a sign of the impoverishment of so-called libertarian thought that it cannot differentiate between those various rationales. In combination with an individual's seperate personal feelings of affiliation with either leftism or rightism, if they have such libertarian inclinations then they will tend to conflate anti-libertarianism with whichever side, left or right, they otherwise tend to think they oppose.

I've known and know people who think of themselves as libertarians but also (in seperate cases) think of themselves as most liberal or conservative. In every instance they associate all anti-libertarian impulses with their left-wing or right-wing enemies, as the case may be. Thus such people who identify as conservative will complain about the left-wing "nanny-state" while such people who identify as liberal will complain about the right-wing "moralist state".

At root, the problem here is that the US libertarian re-imagining of the political terrain as authoritarian versus libertarianism is just as simplistic and one-dimensional as the left versus right spectrum they are criticizing. Seeing the world primarily in their Manichean terms, then they conflate all other qualities which don't fit along their spectrum.

Also, you equate "liberal" with "leftist" which is no longer correct. In fact, the liberal-leftist distinction is exactly the US-European distinction and the 18th-19th century distinction. Liberalism is relatively anti-statist while leftism certain is not. Worldwide, liberalism became leftism but the situation in the US is more confused. Because socialism and its political analysis is largely ignored in the US, then most everything on the left has remained under the umbrella of "liberalism". However, to the degree that liberalism has always largely validated the status quo of market economics and ignored a marxist analysis, there is an increasing desire on the left in the US among those who are sympathetic to more marxist-style analysis to refuse the label "liberal" in favor of "leftist" or "progressive". Americans who are unaware of these divisions in left-of-center thought remain completely bewildered but such semantic distinctions.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:48 PM on July 21, 2006


Also, you equate "liberal" with "leftist" which is no longer correct.

/scrolls happily
posted by yerfatma at 8:59 PM on July 21, 2006


The real reason we're having so much argument about all this is because almost all real people in the real word are not, in practice, the political ideologues of the ideologies they self-indentify with. All these ideologies are simplistic (that's the chief function of an ideology, after all) and they each claim to lay out what amount to epistemologies that are both simple and practically workable. But they aren't. For almost anything, there's a million different arguments as to why it's right or wrong, should be governmently regular or not, or whatever. Each person has their own complex rationale for supporting some policy or opposing another and those rationales rarely conform very well to an ideology.

What is actually going on is that these political ideologies are actually labels we apply broadly to groups of living, breathing people we identify with, or against. We are not primarily in allegiance to the ideology, we're in allegiance to the group of people who share that self-identification with that ideology. Because that's the case, then two distinct groups who each claim to adhere to a particular ideology may in fact be very different from each other. They may, in fact, find themselves in opposition from time to time.

What people actually do is start with people and social units first, and then build from there, applying labels ad hoc as needed.

If, instead, you try to start with the ideology first, and then try to seperate people according to how well their specific beliefs fit with that ideology, then you'll very often find people objecting to how you classify them.

yerfatma, in case you're confused about this, it doesn't matter to me that you're not reading what I write. Just as it is not everybody's responsibility to read what I write because I'm not more important than they are, it's not my responsibility to write according to the preferences of any particular reader, because he/she is not more important than me. I'm perfectly happy that you're ignoring me, but your insistence on repeatedly saying that you are makes it seems that you're not happy that I'm ignoring you.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:10 PM on July 21, 2006


You are way too caught up in semantics tonight. That, and dropping people into your semantic boxes rather than listening to what they said. Have fun, the whole thing has gotten too tedious for me.
posted by caddis at 9:19 PM on July 21, 2006


"klangklangston, I don't have much use for US libertarians so your rhetoric is not going to be very persuasive. "

I don't have much use for blathering blowhards, so your rhetoric is wasted. How about you go back and read what I wrote before getting logorrhea all over your shorts?
posted by klangklangston at 9:21 PM on July 21, 2006


(Or, for a faster self-critique, you can wade through your automatic writing and see what questions you're begging.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:23 PM on July 21, 2006


klangklangston, I was just noticing the other day about how you usually shoot from the hip and are basically an insulting putz, so it's amusing that you'd have a thin skin.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:30 PM on July 21, 2006


So... not even you can stomach reading your spew again?
posted by klangklangston at 9:58 PM on July 21, 2006


(Notes de Cliff version— I'm not a libertarian; the argument I was making was not a libertarian one; definitions of leftist are not absolute nor self-evident, and treating them as if they are is petitio principii.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:03 PM on July 21, 2006


So many attempts to intimidate, so little actual substance.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:12 PM on July 21, 2006


Wait, was that intentionally self-referential or was that accidental irony?
posted by klangklangston at 10:38 PM on July 21, 2006


"My argument was that in left-right terms, anti-smoking regs are indisuptably leftist in that they privilege the entire society over the individual."

This is the central turd of your ripening pile— Anti-smoking regulations are only indisputable leftist if you accept the definition of leftist that you favor. In many, many contexts (historical American, historical French, liberal "leftism") anti-smoking regulations would be "rightist." In your later ramble you hit upon why this is true, that "leftist" is (just like "rightist") a clouded construction of group loyalties but is not an essential and unchanging essence. Therefore anything constructed as "inarguably leftist" is bullshit.
What annoys me is that while we have fairly similar positions, your initial lack of comprehension has left me having to point out, again and again, that your faulty assumptions have led you to both attack me and miss the point.
So siddown, EB, and shaddup.
Unless, of course, you wish to apologize for mischaracterizing both me and my comments.
posted by klangklangston at 10:52 PM on July 21, 2006


First, I was primarily responding to languagehat's contention that in the comtemporary American context anti-smoking regulation is "right-wing" and that "right-wing" groups are most (or universally, as lh seemed to imply!) identified with it.

The contemporary American context isn't historical American, nor is it historical French. And the notion that contemporary American liberal leftism is the equivalent of either of those two, or of libertarianism, is also false.

Given the context in which languagehat was speaking and I was responding, then, yes, anti-smoking legislation is definitely leftist. It is a statist authoritarian position motivated by the interests of the larger group over the interests of the individual, and contrary to your assertion, it is not primarily a moral argument, it is pragmatic and driven by the second-hand smoke issue, secondarily by the public health issue, both of which are pragmatic. If it had a moral impetus behind it, as you imagine it does, then it likely would be a right-wing movement originating in absolute notions of morality and probably be related to traditionalism. But it's not.

Furthermore, implicit in lh's and amberglow's argument is that there's some sort of large identification between anti-authoritarianism and leftism, which simply isn't true worldwide at all and not very true even in the US. Just because anti-smoking iniatives are authortarian certainly doesn't imply that they are right-wing, as lh asserts. My response was that accepting lh's US context for this, if anything the anti-smoking initiatives are left-wing. I never made a claim as to what they necessarily worldwide. Why do you think I did?

I think I made it clear that both the variables of what is traditional and what is not, and what the motivations are behind such a movement as anti-smoking reveal whether or not, by any particular definition, it could be characterized as leftist or rightist. My larger argument is that the local sensibilities about what is generally leftist or rightist also vary greatly, as well.

To the degree that I am making more generalized arguments, I've been arguing that the US is exceptional and to most of the rest of the world the left versus right spectrum is dominated by the notion of state economic control of a particular kind, which has come to define "leftism". Anything not in agreement with it tends to be seen as "rightist", including examples spanning the range between anarchist and authoritarian thought. And while socialism is primarily concerned with economic organization, it adjunctly is concerned with mandated social organization that is in the ultimate best interests of the group.

It is important to understand that both the liberalism tradition and the socialist tradition are concerned with organizing society in such a way that is optimal for the happiness of most people. In this, they are kin and in opposition to previous political organization which unapologetically benefited the few at the expense of the many. Historically, insofar as the left-right opposition mirrored the conservative-proggressive opposition, then both these movements are "leftist" in that they are anti-traditional, anti the status-quo. While they are opposed in terms of authoritarianism, they are in alignment in being egaliatarian.

This is all why bringing in the matter of authoritarianism is a red herring. It confuses the issue. Sure, the American libertarians claim it clarifies the issue, and it would if it weren't for the facts that a) they still tend to talk in left-right terms because, as I wrote earlier, they tend to have general left or right identifications (and thus, probably unconsciously, try to conflate anti-libertarianism with whatever their opposition is perceived to be on the left-right axis), and b) the cluster of anti-statist issues around which US libertarianism arranges itself tend to be heavily US-specific and not very concerned with absolutist notions of anti-authoritarianism. Therefore, being as steeped both in conventional notions of left-versus-right and the American political context, American libertarianism simply is not the clearer perspective it imagines itself to be. It could be, but it's not.

And it is this particular group which is most likely to attempt to inject notions of authoritarianism as simplifying into discussions such as this one.

The authoritarian-anarchist axis is no more universally definitive with regard to the left-right axis than is the cultural traditional-progressive or economic statist-individualist axes are. I do think, however, that in the pool of all limited contexts it is less useful than are the other two for defining what "left" and "right" mean.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:54 PM on July 21, 2006


there may be a point up there ^^^ but god knows i'm not wading into that blizzard of verbiage.
posted by Hat Maui at 1:14 AM on July 22, 2006


One of mefi's great strength's is that it got over the write a lot=write well thing pretty quickly.

Jesus EB, I hope you're not this painful to listen to in real life.
posted by bardic at 2:52 AM on July 22, 2006


If you continue using words in ways that make sense only to you, you're not going to communicate very effectively.

Quite so, but they would mean the same to many non-American readers (which takes us back to my original offhand observation that to a British/European/non-American reader, there are interesting aspects to the debates on MetaFilter born of differing concepts of right and left, and to greymouser's points above about needing to explain the basics of his views).

I don't know anyone else who would call opposition to smoking regulations "right-wing."

I don't know anyone who wouldn't! Well, I do now, obviously, but in the UK that debate was conducted by anti-regulation people on the right, pro-regulation on the left. As we in the UK understand those terms ;-) (a phrase I will be adding to any comments made involving right/left distinctions from now on).
posted by jack_mo at 6:18 AM on July 22, 2006


"One of mefi's great strength's is that it got over the write a lot=write well thing pretty quickly."

I didn't know there was a "write a lot=write well" thing. Most people I know consider good writing to be generally independent of length. No one I know thinks that good writing must be lengthy. However, everyone I know believes that complicated subjects often require length.

Specifically, I don't think my writing, particularly in this thread, is very good, and I certainly don't think, ever, that my writing is good because it's lengthy. So perhaps you might ought to work on your mind-reading skills. They suck.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:28 AM on July 22, 2006


People like amberglow have skewed perspectives, too, and they will look at the resistance in the US to gay rights and particulars like gay marriage as examples of how the US is dangerously regressive. But a survey of worldwide and particularly European nations and their a) public policies regarding gays and gay marriage, and b) their polled attitudes about gays and gay marriage, will prove, I think, that the US is closer to the vanguard of change on this matter than it is reactionary.
particularly European nations? Like the ones that actually allow same-sex marriage already, you mean? Like the entire EU is already on track for mandating, along with other anti-discriminatory rules and laws? Latvia is now the only EU member state without legislation specifically outlawing discrimination at work on the grounds of sexual orientation. We don't even have that much for most of this country, let alone marriage.

and stop insulting everyone. how many times do we have to tell you?
posted by amberglow at 9:31 AM on July 22, 2006


"Like the ones that actually allow same-sex marriage already, you mean?"

Let me see if I have enough room to list them. Hmm, okay, let's start: Netherlands, Belgium, Spain...

...oh. I guess not the other 23. "On track for mandating" counts for next-to-nothing. Wake me up if it happens and has the force of law in every member country.

Also, when I say things like "your not knowing that Japan doesn't have the bomb badly damages your credibility on foreign policy", that's not an insult. It's a statement of fact. If I were to call you an ignorant douche, that would be an insult. Or a "libertarian".
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:39 AM on July 22, 2006


Denmark, Germany, Finland, Portugal, France, Hungary, and Great Britain all have some form of countrywide same-sex partnership or marriage laws as well, giving the same or close to the same benefits in-country to same-sex couples. Your information is wrong, and outdated. The EU-wide transportabillity and applicability of same-sex marriages in Netherlands and Belgium have already been made an official law of the EU.
posted by amberglow at 11:13 AM on July 22, 2006


--from The Road to Recognition--A Global Perspective on Gay Marriage (Summer 05, so outdated already)
posted by amberglow at 11:15 AM on July 22, 2006


You were shown in the thread to be wrong about Japan as well. Stop insulting others. You don't have accurate or up-to-date information, which is easily obtained by googling, you know.
posted by amberglow at 11:18 AM on July 22, 2006


here's a full list of all the available things per European country---my list above was incomplete--
Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK all give some form of country-wide partnership, civil union, or marriage law--some exactly like marriage, some more restricted.
posted by amberglow at 11:31 AM on July 22, 2006


In that limited context, then, these can be seen as leftist policies in that they favor the polis over the individual. Also, these are matters of social convention. As a general rule, contravening social convention and mandating some new behavior is associated with leftism (remember "progressivism"?). In both cases, then, these are also left-leaning positions. [Emphasis added.]

I do not think the word "are" means what you think it means. I haven't seen so many qualifications and pseudo-arguments ("Also, these are matters of social convention"—O RLY?) since freshman-year late-night dorm arguments. And you've had a serious relapse into logorrhea, which you seemed to have gotten under control. With the best will in the world, my eyes started glazing over and I couldn't finish the last screed or two, so I'll just make a couple of points:

1) I am not a smoker. See caddis above for elaboration.

2) These are not "matters of social convention" beyond the fact that language is arbitrary. "Leftism" has a meaning, and it does not encompass smoking regulations. You know a great deal about philosophy, but I'm beginning to think you don't know much about politics. Ne ultra crepidam, amice.
posted by languagehat at 11:38 AM on July 22, 2006


Fors fortis, amice.

Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscripti catapultas habebunt .
posted by y2karl at 3:13 PM on July 22, 2006


From amberglow's link:
Gay unions of one form or another have become a reality in a great number of European countries. The first country to allow full gay marriage, meaning no legal distinction between heterosexual and homosexual partners, was the Netherlands in 2001. The government had passed a registered partnership law in 1997, but the new law set forth full marriage rights for same-sex couples. The difference between marriage and partnership is often symbolic, as many registered partnership laws confer all the same rights as marriage. Sometimes, however, the differences mean more, as many countries do not allow same-sex partners to adopt children or receive other benefits reserved for marriage. That was the case in the Netherlands and is also often true in countries with federalist political systems where some regions are more accepting of same-sex partnerships than others, since marriage laws tend to be national while civil union laws are often passed by local governments in more liberal regions. This results in federal marriage rights not being accessible to partners with civil unions, as is the case in the United States.

Other European countries that have recognized either registered partnerships or gay marriages include Germany, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Portugal, France, Hungary, and Great Britain. Some complications have emerged in the European Union both because not all European countries have adopted these laws and because those who have vary so much from one another. Until 2003, married couples from the Netherlands and Belgium could not travel to other European countries and be recognized as couples. It was also very difficult for citizens of two different European countries to become same-sex spouses. In 2003, however, the EU Parliament established a rule that mandated all EU countries pass laws recognizing the same-sex marriages of citizens in Belgium and the Netherlands, so that people traveling abroad did not lose their marriages or face challenges over the custody of their children. Yet, in a strange twist, there is not yet a rule mandating that the civil partnerships that are maintained by a much larger number of EU countries be recognized abroad. Part of the reason for this is that these laws vary widely. Germany’s registered partnerships, for instance, are much more restrictive than those of Holland or Denmark.

Despite their relative success in Europe, gay unions are still not universally approved of on the continent. A 2003 Gallup poll of the then-15 EU countries showed that roughly 57 percent of the citizens supported gay marriage. Excepting Hungary, all of the European countries with any form of gay partnership laws form a continuous mass on the North half of the continent. While in some countries, such as Belgium, their popular support is wide and deep, in more conservative countries such as Italy and Greece legally recognized same-sex partnerships are still a long ways from realization. One interesting development in more moderate countries has been that civil unions become much more popular after they are enacted. For instance, in 1999 only 49 percent of the French public supported a proposed civil unions law. Two years later, after its enactment in 2000, a full 70 percent supported it. Even many conservative politicians in France now express approval of the law largely because it serves as a defense against the further measure of enacting gay marriage. Jacques Chirac, the center-right French President, has even expressed a desire to expand the rights granted by civil union pacts.
From this, it's obvious that you're vastly overstating your case. Secondly, I did not oversate my case, I made a statement specifically about gay marriage, which you attempted to refute by implying that most of the EU has legalized gay marriage. But those three countries are still the only ones legalizing gay marriage. If you meant to talk about the civil partnership laws in some countries (which are not mandated to be recognized EU-wide), then that's what you should have talked about.

Also, this is absurd, "You were shown in the thread to be wrong about Japan as well.", and demonstrates just how dishonest you are willing to be to desperately defend your ignorance. In that thread, I quoted Article 15 to give you a clue why Japan doesn't have the bomb (and it doesn't, in case you're fuzzy on this), but nowhere did I assert that Japan doesn't have any sort of military. If you thought I did, more's the pity. I also agreed with other people that it is widely thought that the Japanese could produce a bomb in a short time if they wanted. That is not equivalent to "having the bomb". More to the point, the real heart of that discussion was your ignorance of Article 15 and Japan's deep pacifism, along with an apparent ignorance of Japan's incredibly deep and universal dislike of nuclear weapons. All these things I pointed out, I am wrong about none of them. In no sense was I proven wrong in that discussion. If you think that Japan's "defense force's" growing indistinction to a modern offensive force, or its deployment overseas in some dubious actions as part of a larger multionatinal force somehow makes my points wrong and your idea that it is conceivable that Japan could have the bomb right, then you have no perspective whatsoever. It's embarassing.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:42 PM on July 22, 2006


Languagehat: on every count you are wrong. Why you insist on it, I don't know. My qualifications are necessary in order to be precise in such a difficult subject. None of what I wrote is a "pseudo-argument", no matter how much you think your labeling them as such makes it so. Specifically, your assertion in #2 and the related accusation of "pseudo-argument": A large component of what pretty much everyone thinks of as the left-right spectrum involves cultural progressivism and traditionalism. Unless you want to argue that, say, cultural acceptance of homosexuality has no place on the spectrum and it's not "lefist". Look at the fucking word: "progressivism". Oh, maybe you'd like to argue that "prgressivism" isn't associated with "leftism"? The acceptance of a particular behavior with regard to where that acceptance is perceived to lie along the left-right axis is greatly dependent upon whether or not that behavior is traditional. The abandonment of traditional behaviors for new behaviors is without question deeply associated with leftism.

In this way, the burgeoning cultural disapproval of smoking for all cultures where smoking has been unversally accecpted for a long period of time (many generations) is leftist in itself.

But furthermore, the rationale for the urging of the disapproval may lie upon the left-right axis. In the case of smoking, where larger issues of public health override individual liberty, that is a leftist rationale.

It is not a liberal rationale. But how can it be possible that I need school you in the distinction between liberal and leftist? I don't. Unlike amberglow, I'm sure you know better.

Assuming you don't, however, then I will point out that the liberal-leftist divergence is the product of the worldwide ascendency of sociaist thought, which itself and everything inflected by it has inherited (or assumed) the mantle of "leftist", and which greatly devalues individual liberties relative to its notion of the greater good. This is less the case in the US, but it is still true. Any number of issues will demonstrate this, such as seat-belt regulation, which was unquestionably a left-wing movement resisted by the right-wing. On every level the US anti-smoking movement parallels the US seat-belt movement—the US anti-smoking movement is leftist. That is by analysis. But it's also true, or especially true, if you look at the interest groups behind anti-smoking initiatives and their affiliations. Those are leftist, too.

Perhaps you have some idiosyncratic view of "leftism" that, perversely, is also absolute and thus allows you to make statements like "'leftism' has a meaning, and it does not encompass smoking regulations". That just makes you foolish, not right. You're wrong.

Putting aside analytical arguments, let's just look at public opinion—which, by the way, you appealed to when you said "I don't know anyone else who would call opposition to smoking regulations 'right-wing.'"

In the American Council on Science and Health (that's a Source Watch link getting to the bottom of ACSH's bias and affiliations) paper "Bridging the Ideological Divide: An Analysis of Views on Tobacco Policy", (see their Appendix B for their sources and quotes) the survey finds a general left-right affiliation with regard to tobacco policy. While emhasizing that the politics are complex and the exceptions numerous, the do find, for example, that with regard to "Restrictions on Smoking in Public Places":
Considering studies that indicate environmental tobacco smoke is harmful to nonsmokers’ health, many on the left support restriction and elimination of smoking in both private and public places where nonsmokers are potentially exposed. The right’s argument is that there is a lack of scientific evidence concerning the adverse health effects associated with environmental tobacco smoke, and that, therefore, such regulations are unduly restrictive of adult smokers’ freedom.
And on "Prohibition of Tobacco":
Many on the right believe that the left’s underlying goal is the prohibition of tobacco. The left continues to deny the right’s accusation and emphasizes that it seeks regulation, education, and public health benefits, not prohibition.
Specifically with regard to politics and the role of government, from "The Role of Federal and State Governments in Addressing Cigarette-Related Morbidity and Mortality"
While the left generally wants government intervention and supports legislative action to combat the tobacco problem, the right tends to oppose almost all government intervention. Right opposition is grounded in the fear that if the government starts to regulate one area, it will eventually expand into other areas. Although the left often emphasizes that the tobacco issue is unique and that government regulation can be contained, the right believes that the issue of tobacco is no exception, claiming government programs regarding tobacco still threaten individual liberties.
Jack_mo's perception is not unique. In both the US and Europe, the majority of opposition to smoking regulation comes from the right. In Scotland, for example, the recent vote in the devolved Scottish Parliament banning smoking in some public places was opposed only by the 17 Conservatives, which does, in spite cross-Atlantic confusions about nomenclature, represent little-c conservative opposition to the ban. This is but one example among far too many to count.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:53 PM on July 22, 2006


I made a statement specifically about gay marriage, which you attempted to refute by implying that most of the EU has legalized gay marriage.

No. You didn't. You made (still) wholly unfounded and unproven statements, insultingly to boot: People like amberglow have skewed perspectives, too, and they will look at the resistance in the US to gay rights and particulars like gay marriage as examples of how the US is dangerously regressive. But a survey of worldwide and particularly European nations and their a) public policies regarding gays and gay marriage, and b) their polled attitudes about gays and gay marriage, will prove, I think, that the US is closer to the vanguard of change on this matter than it is reactionary.

The laws in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the UK all give EXACTLY the same rights as marriage, which mean that they are the same, except for the name of the law. It's also for that reason that educated people all over the world (and even fearful and ignorant people) understand that the EU itself will be mandating it soon. The justice minister of the European Union, Franco Frattini, announced this week at the EU parliament in Strasburg that member states which do not eliminate all forms of discrimination against homosexuals, including the refusal to approve “marriage” and unions between same-sex couples, would be subject to sanctions and eventual expulsion from the EU. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:46 PM on July 22, 2006


Where was the insult in your quote of me? That you have a "skewed" view? Please.

"The laws in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the UK all give EXACTLY the same rights as marriage, which mean that they are the same, except for the name of the law."

Ah. If only it were true that the Scandanavian countries were representative of the EU, as you imply. They aren't. And, for example, not even all of the Scandanavian countries you mention provide for the same adoption rights for civil unions as they do marriage.

"It's also for that reason that educated people all over the world (and even fearful and ignorant people) understand that the EU itself will be mandating it soon."

That's fantastical thinking. What will actually happen is that there will be sanctions which the non-complying states (which will surely include Italy and Poland) to name two big examples, will ignore. There will be no expulsions as a result of it. You are greatly overstating the European impetus to favor gay marriage rights.

A good overview of the state of gay marriage and civil union laws in the EU is this Harvard International Review article, "The Road to Recognition: A Global Perspective on Gay Marriage".
Greater Europe

Gay unions of one form or another have become a reality in a great number of European countries. The first country to allow full gay marriage, meaning no legal distinction between heterosexual and homosexual partners, was the Netherlands in 2001. The government had passed a registered partnership law in 1997, but the new law set forth full marriage rights for same-sex couples. The difference between marriage and partnership is often symbolic, as many registered partnership laws confer all the same rights as marriage. Sometimes, however, the differences mean more, as many countries do not allow same-sex partners to adopt children or receive other benefits reserved for marriage. That was the case in the Netherlands and is also often true in countries with federalist political systems where some regions are more accepting of same-sex partnerships than others, since marriage laws tend to be national while civil union laws are often passed by local governments in more liberal regions. This results in federal marriage rights not being accessible to partners with civil unions, as is the case in the United States.

Other European countries that have recognized either registered partnerships or gay marriages include Germany, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Portugal, France, Hungary, and Great Britain. Some complications have emerged in the European Union both because not all European countries have adopted these laws and because those who have vary so much from one another. Until 2003, married couples from the Netherlands and Belgium could not travel to other European countries and be recognized as couples. It was also very difficult for citizens of two different European countries to become same-sex spouses. In 2003, however, the EU Parliament established a rule that mandated all EU countries pass laws recognizing the same-sex marriages of citizens in Belgium and the Netherlands, so that people traveling abroad did not lose their marriages or face challenges over the custody of their children. Yet, in a strange twist, there is not yet a rule mandating that the civil partnerships that are maintained by a much larger number of EU countries be recognized abroad. Part of the reason for this is that these laws vary widely. Germany’s registered partnerships, for instance, are much more restrictive than those of Holland or Denmark.

Despite their relative success in Europe, gay unions are still not universally approved of on the continent. A 2003 Gallup poll of the then-15 EU countries showed that roughly 57 percent of the citizens supported gay marriage. Excepting Hungary, all of the European countries with any form of gay partnership laws form a continuous mass on the North half of the continent. While in some countries, such as Belgium, their popular support is wide and deep, in more conservative countries such as Italy and Greece legally recognized same-sex partnerships are still a long ways from realization.
(Emphasis in the quote is mine.)

Meanwhile, you are ignoring the various intiatives in the US to legalize gay marriage and civil unions, particularly ignoring the case of Vermont, which has civil unions that are as marriage-like as Denmark's. Opinion polling nationwide in the US consistently shows a roughly even division between those who oppose civil unions and those who support them. You are greatly understating the US impetus to favor gay marriage rights.

It will happen in both areas, and hallelujah. But in my opinion it will be universal in the US before it will be universal in the EU, and it will happen by way of nationwide gay-marriage, while the EU struggles with less-than-universal application of civil union laws and their uneven and inconsistent application.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:47 PM on July 22, 2006


I originaly posted that link, above. And the key words there are "not yet".
posted by amberglow at 6:59 PM on July 22, 2006


it doesn't matter to me that you're not reading what I write. Just as it is not everybody's responsibility to read what I write because I'm not more important than they are, it's not my responsibility to write according to the preferences of any particular reader, because he/she is not more important than me

I really don't want to risk dipping a foot in the echo chamber, but here I am. Stop what you're doing, I'm about to ruin, etc. The point isn't what I read or who you do write to; the point is, you aren't writing to anyone but your future self. No one is reading all those words. Not a single solitary soul. "Brevity is the soul of wit" for a reason, all the more so in the land of Short Attention Span Theater (do you remember that? no one does.). If you cared, you'd round around to a point instead of spanking four grafs of sound and fury. Please don't take it as an insult, because I don't mean it as such (and I'd hope my insults are still sharper than that); if you care to affect the thoughts of others, start trying and stop trying.
posted by yerfatma at 7:08 PM on July 22, 2006


(end small for "My Comments" - jeez Matt I thought you fixed this)
posted by caddis at 7:16 PM on July 22, 2006


Pigs wrestling.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:30 PM on July 22, 2006


No one is reading all those words. Not a single solitary soul.

At least one, yes. Next time you might try speaking for yourself, not everyone else on the planet.
posted by smorange at 9:17 PM on July 22, 2006


Just for reference:

amberglow, from what I can remember, EB wasn't wrong about Japan, but he was a bit of a jerk about answering a question with insults.
posted by Bugbread at 10:22 PM on July 22, 2006


I speak for Neptune. Put on a sweater, we're cold.
posted by cortex at 10:23 PM on July 22, 2006


"Please don't take it as an insult, because I don't mean it as such (and I'd hope my insults are still sharper than that); if you care to affect the thoughts of others, start trying and stop trying."

I appreciate that you take pains to assure me that you don't mean to insult me—taking a page from my own book and examples with amberglow, I'd best not have confused criticism for intentional insult in the first place. But it probably helps for you to disavow it anyway. In the future, I'll try to think of you as exemplary.

Of course, also what smorange says. Whenever this argument has come up about my writing here, there's always been someone who's piped up, after assertions to the contrary, that there's at least one person who reads everything I write and appreciates my thoroughness. I've always wondered at why so many people are so quick to assume that their own sensibilities and tolerances as to reading what other people write at places like MeFi are universal. That said, honestly, I don't have a high tolerance for really long comments myself.

The crux of the matter, though, is this: "...if you care to affect the thoughts of others". For the most part, in the context of what I write in comments here in MeFi, I don't. I argue here for the sake of discussion, offering my own contribution as it is. With only a few exceptions, it is not my aim to convince anyone of my own particular point of view; I am content to be persuasive to those who care to read what I write and be ignored by those who do not.

So many people seem to assume that a) in general in places like this, pretty much everyone, in argument, is trying to persuade everyone else of their views, and b) particularly in the case of someone who is prolix and wordy, this must be the case. In the latter case, I suppose the reasoning is something like, "If he is writing at so great a length, then he must think highly of his own words and believe that everyone should pay attention to them". But, this simply isn't correct in my case. This is also why I am so often in strong disgareement with those who use MeFi to proselytize their political positions and whatnot; and it is why my posts certainly don't reflect such ambitions.

In sum, I don't desire any more readers than those who are content to read what I write. Unlike so many others, I don't have an agenda behind my rhetoric and I don't think of MeFi as my opportunity to influence other people's thinking.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:01 AM on July 23, 2006


I don't think it's fair to pick on a guy just because he gets paid by the word.
posted by found missing at 6:38 AM on July 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


For the most part, in the context of what I write in comments here in MeFi, I don't.

Fair enough then, but it feels like turning a conversation into a lecture.

you might try speaking for yourself, not everyone else on the planet.

Is the implication then that you're example does represent the planet in the face of evidence to the contrary?
posted by yerfatma at 5:43 PM on July 23, 2006


"Fair enough then, but it feels like turning a conversation into a lecture."

That's a good point, and I really would like to avoid that.

My assumption has always been that people will scroll if my comments are demanding too much attention from them. Even though there isn't threading, I've always felt, perhaps wrongly, that there's a difference between actual posts and comments in that comments aren't really "on a stage", where there's a presumption that everyone will pay attention. I figure those who are conversing with me, probably those who I've written to directly, are reading and otherwise it's an opt-in sort of deal.

But I do really want to avoid giving the impression that each of my comments are me striding to the lectern, clearing my throat, and then orating to the audience. People have assumed that about me, but that's not my intention, nor my mindset, at all. My comments are long because they reflect the way I think and I type fairly quickly.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:48 AM on July 25, 2006


Is the implication then that you're example does represent the planet in the face of evidence to the contrary?

I offered a counterexample to your absolute statement, which is false. That's it, really.
posted by smorange at 10:48 AM on July 25, 2006


Last post.
posted by dersins at 12:14 PM on August 18, 2006


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