kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Well, a week of this and not one comment. Have I said how much I really, really, love llamas?

I generally don't have all that much to say, and usually if I do, I say it to my pals at AnnCoulter.com. (or is it .org?) As my non-readers (gentle and otherwise) know, one of my hobbies is to spend far too much time at this chatroom, arguing with people who range from utter Neanderthals (and that may be an insult to the cranial capacity of that proud but extinct race) to well-informed, intelligent, and humorous folks who disagree with everything I say (except possibly the latter claim itself).

Personally, I find it a lot more fun talking--in this way--to people with whom I disagree than with those with whom I agree. The latter is boring, quick: "Yes, you're right. Fabulous. You're a genius [and since you agree with me, I'm a genius too!]." How much of that can keep one's attention? (To be sure, "mega dittoes" has a number of possible interpretations, in spite of Rushbo's own tendentious one.)

On the other hand, death threats, offers to meet for a fight "at any gym or dojo in the US," and being called "the stupidest person in the history of the planet" focus one's mind a bit more, and is, again to my perverse mind, simply more fun. You do need a certain approach, of course; you can't take things too personally, you need a pretty thick skin, and you need to maintain perspective and a sense of humor.

La Coultera--Ann Coulter--herself is a pretty interesting piece of work, getting quite wealthy by serving up carne rojo to her profoundly carnivorous customers. She seems bright enough, and definitely has the rhetorical schtick down; she is also bright enough not to engage in very many serious legal or historical debates with someone--say a good lawyer, legal scholar, or historian--who would be a relevant debating partner. I saw her once on C-SPAN, and Alan Dershowitiz--indeed!--asked her a couple of pointed legal questions about cases and constitutional interpretation. She got that "deer in the headlights" look and was obviously out of her league. I would love to see her debate someone who knew a lot about the history of McCarthyism, or Viet Nam, or original intent and strict constructionism. Perhaps this is mere Schadenfreude or a desire to see her get her comeuppance; more likely, I'd like to see the spin her acolytes would give when it was relatively clear she was getting trounced.

My favorite moment at the Coulter site is when I made an offhand comment about David Horowitz, who is seen by many or most at the Coulter site as some kind of amazing genius. My comment was forwarded to him, and he showed up to debate me. From my perspective, I was nice, and deferential, and simply kept showing why my claim--that, more or less, he was regarded as kind of a joke on the left when he was there, and that I saw no particular reason to change my evaluation simply because he has gone to the (far) right--was the case. He mostly employed the standard equipment from the Horowitz arsenal: invective, irrelevant points, ad hominem arguments, and changing the subject. Somehow the fact that some conservatives view his books as absolutely crucial to their self-conception was a knockdown blow, relative to my original claim. Perhaps he should check out Susan Haack's Deviant Logic, where he might find an approach that could show such an inference to be valid.

What was telling was that after he signed off, having really not addressed any point I made or having offered a particularly coherent one of his own, the Coulter acolytes said he destroyed me, and now, if I threaten to get the better of one in an argument (as if that could happen), his name is trotted out. Evidently, I'm supposed to be quite embarrassed, even though a few people have read through this exchange and scratched their heads, wondering why anyone would view Horowitz as having carried the day. Particularly since the only other point I made: that Horowitz was wrong in claiming--as his column did--that Valerie Plame "sent" Joseph Wilson on his trip to Nigeria--was fixed in the wording, without any indication that he had been wrong (this kind of indication is not in his job description). Of course, if Chomsky had changed "sent" to "involved in sending" or "recommended" in something he wrote, Horowitz would use this as evidence that Chomsky remains on Stalin's payroll.

Knowing my luck, ol' Dave will be my first reader, and then I'll get an earful. At that point, I'll have to 'fess up and tell him that I was the one who wrote the letter suggesting he had very little idea of what goes on in the trenches of academia. He wrote a column about it on his website, and kept addressing me by name. It was only after he posted the column that his readers informed him that my name probably wasn't really Julius Hibbert, given that that is the name of the Simpsons' family doctor. Insert mindless giggle here.


Blogger Bobcat said...

"offers to meet for a fight 'at any gym or dojo in the US'" is priceless.

Could you post a link to your debate with Horowitz (or the debate itself) on your site? 100% of your readership wants to see it!

3:39 AM  
Blogger kmosser said...

Done. See the blog an sich.

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Blogger Bazarov said...

Nice...very nice. I once saw Ann Coulter on a Canadian News show that was asking about all the anti-Canadian rhetoric coming from the right wing in America and she responds with something like, "Well, you guys aren't too bad. You went to Vietnam with us." He informed her that, no, Canada did not go to Vietnam. She had that deer in the headlights look, and said, "I'm pretty sure they did." Here she is arguing with a Canadian journalist about whether or not Canada went to Vietnam. "I'll have to get back to you on that," she finally says...of course, she never did. While I'm here, whenever you get the time, come check out the blog my friend and I have started. I'm the only one who contributes so far, but he set it up as I'm website illiterate. I doubt you'd learn anything from it, but it gives me a place to practice writing and a chance to vent some on the target of choice...

8:04 PM  
Blogger Bazarov said...

oh yeah, i guess it would help if i gave you the blog address huh? http://www.post-theism.blogspot.com

The pseudonym should be a dead give-a-way as far as who this is. Unfortunately one's needed for me to say the things I really wanna say and not worry about bad things, like meeting the wrong guy in a dojo. If they'll shoot Larry Flynnt for porn...yeah, enough on that. Hope you keep up with the posting, i'm terrible at it.

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