Saturday, March 12, 2011

A List - Fact v. Distortions

For many years I have noticed that the Liberals are very adept at muddling and blending seemingly separate issues into one overreaching argument (for or against) that if they keep repeating often enough, it will somehow become the whole "truth".

Case in point - During the early 1990's, a debate was raging about National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and who should and shouldn't receive grants and whether we needed an NEA at all. The debate centered around a $15,000 grant awarded to controversial artist Andres Serrano. With that grant, he produced the now infamous "Pissed Christ". Serrano was also known for using other bodily fluids on the American Flag, but that's a whole other issue. Certain more conservative Members of Congress like Henry Hyde took umbrage that the federal government was funding someone pissing in a jar, sticking a crucifix in that jar, and calling it "art" worth $15,000 of tax-payer money. So what ensued was the universal and unanswerable question of "What is Art" and more importantly, what "art" should the government be funding.

At the same time the NEA funding debate was making the rounds in the artistic community, an exhibit of the late Robert Mapplethorpe's controversial photographs was making the rounds too. As you may or may not remember, in 1990, the director of the Cincinnati Arts Center was arrested, and subsequently acquitted, on obscenity charges for defying a city ordinance that banned the public display of "art" that the city deemed "pornographic" and, more specifically six of the Mapplethorpe photos. Moreover, the city banned any public display of these six photographs anywhere in the city included privately funded art galleries. This was a clear case of censorship and the City of Cincinnati denying an artist the right to have his work publicly displayed.

Okay, I know, you thinking, get to the point!

Well, here is where the issues gets a little murky. Somewhere along the line, the two issues got muddled and blended as it wound its way through the various liberal arts community. So, instead of being able to see a very bright line that separated the NEA/Serrano funding issue and the obvious Mapplethorpe censorship issue, the argument became blended together and distorted into one overreaching and wildly inaccurate argument that the Government was now CENSORING artists and BANNING certain kinds of art by DENYING NEA FUNDING to all those who deem themselves artists.

As hard as I tried to convince my friends otherwise, the fix was in. From that point on, if any artist was denied a grant from any city, state, or federal government body, then it was understood that the State was actively censoring that artist by denying that artist the Constitutional right to "freedom of expression" and attacking our most basic freedoms as American Citizens! Yipes! We must stop Henry Hyde and his ilk at all costs. Quick, everyone strip naked for the sake of artists everywhere! Apparently, stripping naked is the Art World's cure for all of ills and injustices in the world.

If this distortion tactic sounds vaguely familiar, you don't have to look very far to see other issues where this blending and distorting is being played out. Just off the top of my head, there are three blindingly obvious ones right now - our "Immigration v. Illegal Immigration" debate, the "Illegal Immigration Laws as Racism" debate, and the "Public Employee Union v. Private Industry Union" debate. This is not a simple Conservative/Liberal disagreement on the issues. This is a conscious effort to muddle the issues to the point of distorting the facts.

So, my learned Commentarama-ians, let put our collective* heads together and make a list:

Can you find any other areas where the Left or Right** are trying to "blend" two separate issues into one giant distortion?


*as long as we aren't bargaining, I guess we can do this collectively!
**Let's be fair. Conservatives do it too.


9 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, This is a combination of weak thinking and intentional hyperbole. It's weak thinking because people who buy into it don't have a clue that their argument makes no sense, i.e. it defies the realities of cause and effect.

It's intentional hyperbole because the people making these arguments know they aren't true. But they also know that no one cares about what is happening to them. Thus, they try to pull others into the consequences in the hopes of getting people worked up. This is how people who have no argument that would appeal to anyone try to make their argument sound more important.

Thus, an attempt to cut union pay or impose reforms, which will affect only 7 million union employees, becomes an assault on the 100 million middle class -- because if it doesn't, then no one cares.

By the same token anything that affects black becomes an attempt to reimpose slavery. Anything big business doesn't like becomes a socialist attempt to destroy capitalism. Anything environmentalists don't like becomes the end of life on the planet and so on.

The most obvious one I can think of from conservatives is the idea that allowing gay marriage would "destroy marriage." And of the course the constant screams of "socialism."

But that said, I find that conservatives do this much less often than liberals, who do it in every single argument they make.

Tennessee Jed said...

Bev - the one that comes to mind is affirmative action. Affirmative action, by it;s very nature goes against equal opportunity. It remains social engineering. If anyone points this out, they are racist.
Another one that comes to mind is the NYC ground zero mosque. Pointing out that owners have a right to build a mosque (freedom of religion) gets muddle with arguments that it is not a good idea and anyone who opposes it gets labled an islamaphobe.

The biggest "conservative" example is abortion opponents who justify killing abortion doctors and trying to justify murder. That isn't quite the same, but best I can come up with off top of my head

Ed said...

I think the big one both sides use is combining patriotism with anything, like how it's patriotic to pay taxes or it's unpatriotic to oppose some military action.

ScottDS said...

Hmm... assuming I read the question correctly:

From the left, I'm against affirmative action, so I must be racist. I wasn't the biggest George W. Bush fan but I like this one thing he said, where he described affirmative action as the "soft bigotry of low expectations."

And I'm against illegal immigration, therefore I must be against all immigration.

From the right, I'm pro-gay marriage so I must be rooting for the breakdown of the nuclear family. Uh, no. In fact, I'm more freaked out when it comes to divorce (but that might be because my folks are still married, thus providing me with an example to follow).

And I'm pro-choice so I must be pro-death. I'm simply pro-choice. Sarah Palin didn't abort her Down Syndrome baby? Good for her - she made a choice.

Oh and Bev, I sent you a reply e-mail. :-)

T_Rav said...

Bev, remember Joey Goebbels' dictum: It's always easier to make the public believe a big lie than a small lie.

Examples...Oh, I just read that some liberals are trying to blame the Japanese quake on global warming. Really. Because melting polar ice takes weight off the tectonic plates and causes them to shift accordingly, or something. Note to LawHawk and all others living in California: You need to freeze in place until further notice. Nobody moves, nobody dies.

LawHawkRFD said...

My favorite Cuisinart logic in the past couple days was when a Democratic Congressman being interviewed about the budget balancing and collective-bargaining issues said: Putting good teachers out of work won't solve the serious deficit problems caused by the housing market crash. Of course it won't, you idiot! It will solve the problem of overpaid, undereducated, unionized teachers and their bloated unsustainable pensions. Getting rid of Barney Frank, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will solve the housing economic bust.

BevfromNYC said...

Sorry guys and gals, I was out of pocket yesterday after this went up and couldn't respond. I will throughout the day.

AndrewPrice said...

A likely excuse Bev! ;-)

StanH said...

The redefinition of what a conservative is. After Reagan, the Beltway has worked tirelessly to convince America that Republicans (RINOs) like the Bush’s are conservative. Their intent is to keep the gravy-train running, giving America the choice of a liberal to liberal light. My two cents.

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