Rules of conservative discourse

The following is a fragment of a preliminary draft of a document in progress that has been passed on to me by a confidential source. The fragment, incomplete though it is, demonstrates that certain sectors of the conservative movement have rejected the basis of rational discussion.



Cult leader: If a person has a point of view about politics and culture that is distinct from the prevailing view within the conservative and anti-jihad blogosphere, and if he brings it into play with regard to a wide variety of issues, and if he forthrightly explains it and expands upon it when people challenge and question him on it, and if some people agree with his ideas and find them refreshing and useful, he is a cult leader.

Thin-skinned tyrant, Excommunication: If people insult a person whose view on key issues is different from the prevailing view, and if they persist in doing so after he asks them to desist, and if he then stops speaking to them, he is a thin-skinned tyrant who excommunicates people for asking questions.

Character assassination, Immorality: If a person consistently points out certain contradictions and fallacies in the writings of a prominent anti-jihad writer, he is the lowest form of character assassin. At best, he is immoral and unethical.

Sycophant: If commenters at such a person’s website agree with his point of view, and disagree with those who have made false charges against him, they are vile sycophants.

* * *

[Here is another fragment from the draft, dealing with the rules governing permissible and impermissible argument.]

Personal insult is the lingua franca of today’s intellectual culture, and is not to be seen as offensive. Everyone is expected to accept insults when directed at oneself. Not to accept them is to be a tyrant.

At the same time, to demonstrate through impersonal argumentation the falsity or lack of logical coherence in another person’s argument is to attack and humiliate that person in his very being, and thus is a form of character assassination.

Summing up the rule: personal smear and argumentum ad hominem are permitted and encouraged; intellectual refutation of a person’s argument (especially if the person is a prominent conservative) is a vile offense.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 16, 2008 12:27 AM | Send

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