Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023

by Ken Carman
 Facebook posters on the Hartmann and Miller pages are probably familiar with my occasional use of the terms “sock puppets” Inspectionand “troll.” Generally I try to never actually call any specific person either term because, well, I don’t live in their heads. I have no real idea if they are, or aren’t.
 That’s a lot more respect than too many posters seem to have these days, and I’m not referring to just posters on the right.
 Ad hominem attacks are far too plentiful. Too many Facebook threads have become more dick offs than anything approaching actual discussion. The worst among these posters often remind me of Trump, even when the poster claims to be a “progressive.”
 Facebook isn’t a great venue for political discussions. It favors short, quick, snark over actual content, “You’re an idiot,” or, “ANY FOOL KNOWS THE MOON LANDING WAS FAKED, F-IN GOOGLE IT,” over actual civil discussion. Facebook is a bully’s paradise where circular reasoning-based smugness is too often used to shut down conversation.
 You know, like most talk shows and talking head programs? I must admit sometimes I really do feel like a “pinhead” when I tolerate this kind of shout over, yell at, pot down, insult-based drivel, even when I agree with the host.
 I have no doubt there’s an ebb and flow across the partisan divide when it comes to outright nasty, boorish behavior. I think the closest I ever came to doing such myself was posting a self made meme that said, “If you accuse others of what you do you could be a troll.” It was in response to a poster who seemed to be doing exactly that. But I usually avoid coming even that close to calling someone a troll, sock puppet, idiot, squirrel vomit or vampire puke, even though the last two are kind of funny, depending on the context and if you get any on you. For some reason I still can’t get my glasses clean after one early morning when the vampires and squirrels ganged up on me.
 There are mixed feelings regarding all of this, as I will soon explain. I have no use for sock puppets. It’s not just paying people for political acts, which is an old practice, yes. In the 80s my wife and I were paid advocates here in Nashville, mostly seeking donations via the phone from rich folks. We needed the money, the candidates needed the money, so we did it, despite neither of us being all that excited by the candidates. Well, maybe one excited us as far as a source for comedic gold. I mean how many jokes can be told by a guy named Boner who advertised with his name inside a big bone? Almost as many when the same pol was then discovered cheating on his wife of many years: caught boning a stripper.
 So in regards to people paid to pretend they’re a Sanders or Clinton supporters, paid to cause trouble, paid to encourage inner party animosity? Such folks are boning America in the worst ways, in my opinion. Their goal is to prevent honest, civil, discussion, to turn honest disagreement dishonest, and to create as much hatred and animosity as possible. Other goals dangerous to the body politic are to encourage anyone they might disagree with not to vote, or to vote for the worst of the worst.
 If you hate Hillary, or are mad at Bernie, vote as you wish, or don’t vote. But stop trying to humiliate or digitally shout and shame others into goosestepping behind you. If for for no other reason than because that’s the opposite of “progressive,” and more akin to being infected with extreme Brownshirt-itis.
 As much as I dislike folks who do these things, most of the time it’s their right: threatening others with violence obviously one of the exceptions. But I consider the people who pay others to do these things to be the rhetorical terrorists attacking the body politic.
 But let’s move forward to those who truly do back Hillary, or Bernie, with passion so extreme it includes all or nothing rhetoric, includes the nastiest of ad hominem-based comments.
 Increasingly, I find some of the Sanders advocates as aggressive, as in your face, as right wing nuts who truck in such. Most of that observation had been gathered from Mr, Hartmann’s (blogger) page. But more recently, over on Stephanie Miller’s fan FB page, I have started to see some supposed Hillary supporters using similar ad hominem-based tactics. Some posts could have been written by the same person, just fill in different names.
 Oh, joy. Meaningless, vitriol-based, bipartisan BS. Kind of like walking between cow corpses and stepping in all that’s left behind: deep piles of po.
 Yet, again, I have mixed feelings here. For those who aren’t faking it, or playing games, I am happy to see all the passion. I became politically active in the mid 60s and I don’t think I’ve seen this intense level since Lyndon talked to reporters from his toilet throne. True story.
 I believe those who take no guff, won’t shrink from a fight, won’t just go silent, a welcome change… to a certain extent. I’m was a fan of the since sadly passed Bartcop of Bartcop.com fame. Bart, having named himself after one of my own fictional heroes from Blazing Saddles, used to lament about how he had become part of a party of weaklings who seemed to want to lose, couldn’t argue their way out of a thin sheen of toilet paper placed over their face, and would rather keep losing than confront, or even contradict, others.
 Bart and I used to trade Es back and forth and my column, Inspection appeared on his page from time to time. We had a similar policy when it came to the bullies. When confronting them you don’t back down. You may need to out bully them. Any boy who has had a gang of violent bullies chase them day after day know it’s true. They will never respect you otherwise. The bullying will just get worse, more violent.
 As I stated, I love the passion, the take it to the streets and to the convention tude. This “in your face” response is something the party with a back bone made of soggy toast has been lacking for a long time.
 Many of the Bernie folks feel the system screwed Bernie, and I think they’re right, though I don’t truck in Hillary Clinton fixed the voting machines-like theories. Bernie is getting screwed because the system was screwy to begin with. This is not some supposed it’s “all Hillary’s doing,” or “all Bernie” situation. I know all too well our system has been under the thumb of oligarchs and the very powerful at least since the stolen election of 2000 when the Supremes decided counting the votes should matter little, immediacy far more. “Immediate” especially when it suits certain justice’s corrupt, mutual, political agenda.
 But let’s get beyond the Bernie/Hillary vitriol because this column is about bigger issues. If all we have left is the loudest portion of both wings what of the rest of us? Who are we to trust for honest discussion? Caught between the histrionics, the hyperbole and the melodrama of the passionate, and political con artists wearing masks: pretending to be part of the crowd, who can we trust?
 No one.
  Calling someone an idiot, a thief, corrupt, a war witch, a bitch, nasty, evil, untrustworthy, without lots of context, really proves nothing. When examination of specifics, true give and take civil discussion, are mostly absent it’s like debating a golem blown into existence using a blowhard’s hot air. Even the most civil discussion becomes little more than, “Yes, she is,” “No, she isn’t,” “Well then you must be a hillbot,” “Yes, berniebro…”
 There! Now we’ve proved… nothing, except how to insult each other like kids on a playground. It has all the validity of Trump.
 My “favorite” blowhard-like tactic is when the those who pretty much just make accusations resort to using the ultimate non-proof: “Just Google it.”
 Yes, you made an assertion so it becomes my responsibility to prove you right? Uh… no. If it’s so damn obvious you provide proof. And the few times I have followed those marching orders and seen said “proof,” I find page after page of partisan conspiracy sites, editorials, or articles promoted as “analysis,” but written by those who could easily be dismissed as partisan hacks. Even “better:” sometimes it’s “proof” provided by that always reliable guy, “Anonymous,” who just happens to have been a former Clinton or Sanders campaign worker… or so they claim. Sometimes such assertions are easily proven wrong, like the claim Linda Tripp was immediately fired by Bill Clinton when he came into office.
 I can also see all this leading to increased violence, as it has in the past. Especially when we mix in the already way ahead on the violence side of this curve right wing. The ghost of Timothy McVeigh must have a hard on.
 I don’t see this ending well. Once you combine the left and the right it seems like it would eventually result in a revolution more French or Russian- like than American. He who has the most weapons wins. The way this is heading is more “off with their heads” than “let’s use our heads.”
 Gee, wonder which side of the political divide that might be most like? I’ll ask George Zimmerman: he might have an “objective” opinion.
 I am beginning to think Bart and I were wrong. Nasty met with bigger nasty seems to create even more potent nasty. Lies seem to create more lies, trolls more trolls, sock puppets inspire people to become sock puppets. Creating an environment where “off with his rhetorical head” passes for rational discourse in the body politic.
 No matter who becomes president, movements like Bernie’s will continue to grow. Hillary won’t just “go away.” Reaction and counter reaction will increase. It will prove interesting how getting what Bart and I wished for pans out. But there’s every reason to be leery as well.
 Thus the very appropriate curse certainly applies: may you live in interesting times.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
©Copyright 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

By Ken Carman

Entertainer, provider of educational services, columnist, homebrewer, collie lover, writer of songs, poetry and prose... humorist, mediocre motorcyclist, very bad carpenter, horrid handyman and quirky eccentric deluxe.

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