If there seems to be a large number of right wing troublemakers out there who take great pleasure in creating blog after blog full of misinformation and outright BS, and who seem hell-bent on trying to pick fights with us, you're not mistaken. There are a lot of them. They operate in swarms, and they're annoying. But they're only dangerous if we enable them. So stop enabling them.
There are two major reasons for the swarm, and they're both somewhat related. The main reason is what I've been telling you all along; the Republican Party has been taken over by a psychotic fringe, and they only way they can win elections now is to depress turnout. The other is, well, money.
There are more of them out there, and you can blame Bush for screwing up the economy. All of these little gnat-like creatures are competing for a chance to be paid by the fat cats who fund this crap. They share a delusion that, by successfully smearing liberals on the 'Net, and by pushing the most ridiculous misinformation they can think of, they can out-crazy all of the other nut-bags for a chance at a piece of the purse that low-lifes like the Koch Brothers dangle in front of them, and by getting in their good graces, they'll be able to move out of that single-wide and they won't have to eat ramen noodles for dinner.
In other words, a bunch of broke ne'er-do-wells have taken to Twitter, Facebook and the comment sections of a number of web sites and blogs, to either spread Republican talking points far and wide, or, more commonly, to smear anyone with a liberal viewpoint, based on their perceived popularity. If you only have a few hundred Twitter followers and no blog or Facebook page, they won't care how liberal you are, but as your popularity rises, so does their tendency to mess with you, and try to smear you with anything they can find.
It's gotten so bad lately, that a a couple of these idiot right wing bloggers have chosen to break the law, in order to "report" on "a story" that some liberal broke the law. I wish I was kidding. They accused this particular liberal of breakng the law on their ersatz blogs for a couple of weeks, and one of them proceeded to gleefully post the "evidence" on their blog, which is, in and of itself, against the law. What makes the situation funnier is that both of these bloggers have actually been fighting with each other over who gets to break the law in order to "prove" someone else broke the law. Right now, one of them is mad at the other one for not breaking enough of the law.
We know that two wrongs don't make a right, but these folks are not about right and wrong, anyway. They are less interested in what the people they smear actually do. They're simply looking for a takedown; they want a pelt to show to the tribal elders so they can afford a new big screen TV, or to step up to Campbell's soup. They claim they want to be "journalists," but they really couldn't care less about facts or maintaining ethical standards of any kind.
Most of these come to blogging, because they failed at other professions. Of the two bloggers mentioned above, Tweedle-dumb is a former "filmmaker" who apparently specialized in porn, and whose multiple blogs read like one of those still-black-and-white tabloids you see in the grocery store lines -- you know, the ones with lower standards than the color ones. The other, Tweedle-dumber, is a failed guitarist who uses several different names online to escape he fact that his real name is tainted. He goes through blogs like I go through socks, and you can ask my son how often I change socks. Both are hack writers, and none of their blogs is seen by very many people at all. The only reason I know about these two misguided morons, by the way, is because some liberals told me about them.
And that points to the real problem; a problem we have to deal with; WE are culpable in making dimwits like these propagate. Whether we're talking about Tweedles Dumb and Dumber above, or relative heavyweights like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, we are the ones who make them popular. There is only one way to make them less powerful, if not make them go away altogether.
People like these are like The Blob; they gain energy from attention. The more attention we pay them, the more they like it, and the bigger they become. With rigt wingers, their level of popularity is directly related to how much we openly hate them. The more they can piss us off and get us fighting, the more popular they become. Therefore, if we make it a point of not fighting with them, they losepower. We used to laugh at, and then ignore, extremist clowns. We need to go back to that practice.
Ignoring the tiny little blogs shouldn't be a problem, anyway, since everyone else does so. I block all of the right wing (and some left wing) clowns reflexively on Twitter, and even in the comment section of this blog. We have a progressive message for the American people (at least I hope we should), and they're trying to distract us from doing that. They WANT us to fight with them, because it drives down turnout. They gain street cred among the other right wing losers, or "base," as the Republicans like to call them, every time they goad us into a fight with them. Stop it, and they go away.
If something they say actually seems to catch on, of course we should refute it. But stop doing so by personalizing it and fighting with those who say it. Instead of "refuting" a statement by repeating it back to them and contradicting it, which essentially amplifies their garbage, try forming an opposite, true statement, and magnifying that instead.
Here are some basic tips:
- Ignore people who are goading you, baiting you, or who are otherwise trying to start a fight with you. The fighting helps them, hurts progressives.
- Approach everyone on the 'Net with the same caution that you would use in real life. It's far too easy for people to create a fake persona on the Internet these days. Feel free to Google them; if there is no history, or the history only goes back a few weeks or months, add a bit of extra caution to the mix. Instead of "exposing" them later, ignoring them now is a much more rational policy that will lead to more peace of mind.
- That does not mean being paranoid. Our two biggest downfalls are paranoia and arrogance. In fact, arrogance breeds paranoia. Arrogance and paranoia both cause us to do stupid things, and it's those stupid things that get us in trouble. Think Clinton and Lewinsky for a clue as to what I mean.
- When someone says something about you personally, and it doesn't reach the level of defamation, ignore it, and NEVER retaliate. Retaliation will cause the situation to escalate, and escalation only serves their nefarious purposes, which is to keep you too distracted to bother people with the truth. The old "sticks and stones" adage comes to mind. Besides, retaliation isn't always a rational act, and often leads us to do or say stupid things, that can actually do more harm than good.
- As with anything, step back, and look at the situation from a wide perspective. Don't blow it up into something it's not. Think about the worst thing that can happen if the people who target you, and it's probably not so bad. But what you do in retaliation might possibly end up worse. It's always a smart idea to take a deep breath, count to ten, and consider the consequences of what you would like to do. And then move on, because it's not worth it.
- Most importantly, focus on what we have to do, and what we have to accomplish. It's not just about electing President Obama for a second term, or getting a Democratic Congress. It's also not about vanquishing the right wing, except at the ballot box. It's about getting our message out. We can't play offense, and get the message out, if we're obsessed with playing defense against people who don't even know where the ball is.
- Stop worrying about what THEY do, and start paying greater attention to what YOU are doing as an individual, and what WE are doing, as a movement.
The bottom line on all of this is simple. There are troublemakers out there, and there are gobs of people who love to spread misinformation far and wide. But they're like flies. And if we scoop up the BS, we can clean up the discourse. But stepping in it simply helps them spread it far and wide. Please stop stepping in it.