First off I'll deal with the tail end:
BTW, you really ought to have more confidence in your argument. It can speak for itself without requiring that you give a low moderation to the person you are arguing against.
My confidence in my argument is not the issue: my rating the comment negatively was a sign of my opinion of the comment itself (e.g. the fact that it glossed over a number of important facts and such). In fact, I rated it first and then followed up with a reply, which is something I tend to do. If I rate somebody down, I figure I owe them an explanation.
You seem to confuse the concepts of "understandable" and "excusable". To "understand" a person's choice is to understand where they are coming from and why they did what they did. To "excuse" a person is to say that they were not capable of making a better choice. You can understand a person without excusing them.
Clever way to avoid the crux of the issue, and that is the fact that Rush neither excused nor understood other drug users. As my hypothetical example went, I very much doubt Rush would be terribly understanding if Hillary Clinton or some other icon of the left came out as a drug addict. In fact, he'd likely use it as yet another reason why the entire left is flawed, as we all know from reading his site that any single sin of any single left-leaning individual reflects the entirety of liberalism (e.g. he generalizes, a lot, if I may be ironically general about it).
Now, returning to the quotes above. You think that the point he was making in the quotes above was that drug users are evil and thus should be punished, when what he really was saying was that drug use is evil and should not be tolerated. Whether it is ended by rehab or by jail is not as important as that the drug use not be tolerated.
Mmhmm, so "sending somebody up the river" can be interpreted as rehab? I must call bull on that, I'm afraid. I'm sorry, Rush has been consistently anti-drug and pro-severe punishments. After all, that is the standard conservative stance, and Rush is nothing if not conservative. And now, in asking for people to be "understanding" and to even "pray for him" (and even though he's not just asking for an excuse he is essentially being excused by all his "dittoheads"... I even heard one propose an argument that Rush's coming out like this apparently shows his strength of character or something), he is definitely being hypocritical. Period.
Even if the "excusable" issue is dropped entirely and we are left with "understanding" he is still being hypocritical, because he certainly never advocated "understanding" drug use before he came out as an addict. He advocated quite the opposite, in fact.
Thus, if, say, he were presented with another person who was going into rehab to kick a drug habit, I bet his first reaction would be "I hope he makes it", not, "Not good enough!!!! Punish him some more!"
Mmmhmm, sure. This is the same caring and understanding Rush Limbaugh who thinks that cigarete smokers are just weak-willed, right?
You're right, he has condemned drug use, and it is likely he is very disappointed in himself. He has not asked to be excused from the consequences of this choice, nor will he. In this way, he is not being hypocritical at all. I'm sure he would very much like to be understood, but as I discussed earlier that is a very different beast from being excused.
You're right, it is a very different beast, but it is still hypocritical of him. As I have explained, he has always stood on this perfect pedestal of morality, and has certainly not been terribly understanding of the transgressions of those he condemns (be they drug users or whoever else). Now he asks the world to understand him: that is hypocrisy, the "excusing" issue aside. I would argue that he's also likely hoping that we excuse him, although he's smart enough to not say it in those words exactly.
Okay, you've made you're point: you don't think he's funny. Admittedly, Rush Limbaugh is something of an acquired taste so even though I think he's amusing to listen to I don't expect everyone to agree with me on that. Oh, and I agree that he often uses humour and caricatures to get his points across -- especially when criticizing other people. On the other hand, though, other people do the same to him, so I figure it all cancels out in the long run. ;-)
No, that's not my point at all, although your responsible is wonderfully typical.
His humor is not "acquired": it is something that is only funny if you dogmatically agree with him (which most of his listeners do, of course, so they find him hilarious). As I explained, it is an incredibly smug and self-serving variety of humor. It's not that it's "unfunny": it's that he uses it both as a sort of dirty weapon and a shield, and I think that's dangerous as people really do take him seriously, even if he's also an "entertainer".
I compared him to denizens of online forums who act like assholes but then say they were "just kidding" when people get upset. I still think that's a quite apt comparison, and I encourage you to think about it a bit more to see if you get what I'm getting at. I'm neither saying he's unfunny, and I'm not even saying he's wrong (that comes later in my argument): I'm simply saying that his "humor" is just a barely disguised tool he uses to manipulate and persuade. He tells many many half-truths while "joking", because after all he's "being funny". Of course, the "dittoheads" laugh and think he's uproarious, but at the same time they take him seriously, and therein lies the danger...
And you're right, people use similar tactics against him, and I'm not justifying them in the least. I'll be the first to admit there are ignorant and dogmatic assholes of all ideologies. Limbaugh is a terrific example of a rightist like that, and in the world of radio at least the "right" tends to have more sway than other ideologies. Still, certainly there are Limbaugh critics who have flaws just like Limbaugh himself, but that is not what I am arguing. My main point in all of this is that Limbaugh is most definitely being hypocritical in asking to be "understood" in his drug addiction.
Hmm... I agree it is true that he often generalizes people into groups such as "liberals" and "environmentalist wackos" and the like, and in so doing often misattributes motivation, such as claiming that all "liberals" are really acting out of a desire for power, as are all "environmentalist wackos", etc.
I'd just like to point out here that you seem to be conceding my point exactly here (that is, Rush is guilty of generalizing a lot) yet then moving on as if it doesn't matter at all. Honestly, even if this was the only thing wrong with Rush it'd be enough of a reason not to listen to him. Making generalizations like this is one step away from outright bigotry, and at the level of groupthink that it exists in the "dittoheads" it is incredibly scary. It's memes like these that started things like the Holocaust.
As for the other flaws in his logic, I simply don't see a lot of what you are listing. When he calls someone a "liberal", he does so because he sees in that person behaviours that matches a certain pattern. You might look at the same person and say, "I do not see such a pattern", and you may be right, but that does not mean that Rush has fallen into a logical fallacy.
Generalizing is a huge logical fallacy. I won't instruct you on logic here, suffice it to say that it's not that Rush calls single people "liberals": it's that he blames all of liberalism for all sins of any purported liberal anywhere ever, as if "liberalism" is some coherent, cohesive, rational and thoroughly evil thing that acts as a single unit. That is generalizing, and that is definitely a logical fallacy. In fact, I'd say it's the most common and severe logical fallacy of Rush and folks like him (on all "sides").
An "ad hominem" line of argument is, essentially, I'm right because he's disagreeing with me and he's the kind of person who gets this kind of thing wrong. I won't claim that he never does this, but I will say that if you think that a significant portion of his arguments rest on an "ad hominem" then I believe you are extremely ignorant.
You're welcome to entertain that belief, as my ego thankfully doesn't depend on the opinions of pseudonymous folks I meet online. I must admit it's somewhat ironic that you feel it is necessary to accuse me of being ignorant when we are arguing about "ad hominem", though.
Anyway, perhaps it isn't in all of his arguments, but "ad hominem" features pretty prominently in Rush's logic, at least whenever he deigns to talk about "liberals". He refers to all of the Democratic presidential candidates as "dwarves" and has derogatory nicknames for all of them. He has similar derogatory nicknames for pretty much every prominent "liberal" out there, a particularly famous one being Algore (e.g. "he's a robot"). Whenever he talks about "the other side" he depends very heavily on negatively characterizing them, but when one actually looks for substance in his arguments against them it is often hard to find.
At least, that is what I've noticed, and I have certainly read my share of Rush. You're welcome to still think me ignorant, though, ironic as that is.
As for misunderstanding the difference between causation and correlation... I believe he has criticized other people for making this mistake (though not exactly in those words), such as scientists whose conclusions he disagrees with, so it is likely he does understand the concept. What I presume you mean, though, is that he looks at historical trends and from them reads causes that may not actually exist. All I have to say is that anyone who attempts to use history to make a point will be forced to do the same, so in that sense he is no different from anyone else who quotes historical trends or examples to make their argument; often these people can make quite convincing arguments, in fact, so it can presumably be done well. If this is not what you meant then perhaps you might like to clarify with examples--perhaps ones you have come up with yourself rather than those pulled from someone else's book.
Getting a bit snippy, eh? I linked to that book just because I thought it was amusing, I never actually read the thing. Anyway, I'm not going to dig for an example right now because his site is member-only during this period it appears, and as such I can't pore through "Rush's stack of stuff". Oh well, I'll survive, and you seem to agree that Rush is somewhat guilty of this even without me having to dig for an example.
Anyway, I actually largely agree with you on this one: he does notice correlation-causation in the opinions of others (e.g. those he disagrees with), but then he proceeds to make similar errors himself whenever he tries to infer a "historical trend". And really, that's exactly the issue and you hit it right on the nose: both Rush and many of his opponents are guilty of this error, and I'm not saying that the "left" is right and the "right" is wrong.
But Rush and his followers are apt to forgive, overlook, or generally gloss over flaws like this in their own reasoning (that is, if a historical trend supports their stance they'll buy into it even if they can't show a strict causal relationship), and vice-versa for the "other side". In fact, this is remarkably similar to the issue of Rush's drug use (e.g. Rush and his followers severely condemn drug use, unless of course it's Rush in which case it's something that we should understand him about and support him through).
Well, if one believes that the cost of government should be distributed so that everyone pays about an equal share, then really that extra information you've provided is irrelevant since how much a person makes should not impact how much they contribute. This seems very obvious to me, so since you didn't mention it as a possibility I can only conclude that you are deliberatly providing only a "partial picture" of the situation.
Heh, nice try. Too bad a pure flat tax (e.g. everybody just pays $X/year) just doesn't work, as the limit would have to be set by the poorest and as such it would be extremely low and the government just wouldn't have enough money to function. It's not practical, period: look at history, look at the US pre-income tax and study about how and why it was instituted.
Anyway, I believe that a flat percentage tax (e.g. everybody pays %10 or something) could be both fair and feasible, assuming the current loopholes and such in the tax system could be gotten rid of. And under such a system the amount that the top 1% make is certainly significant: that is, if they make 34% of the money then it makes sense for them to pay 34% of the taxes. And such a flat tax, as I am proposing, makes much more practical sense than your plan, and illustrates how Rush is being deceptive in his use of tax statistics.
Erm, you've made the point that you don't think he's funny and that furthermore you think he is wrong. You seem to believe that this latest point should follow somehow in an obvious manner, but I don't see how it does. All I can say is that I disagree with your supposed conspiracy theory. He does have opinions which he believes are right and he does try to spread them. But his job, first and foremost, is to entertain, because it is what he loves to do, and it is what he had dreamed of doing his whole life. I simply do not see the malice that you do.
As I explained earlier, you've misunderstood my point. Scroll up and reread as necessary.
I am not accusing him of malice, though: I am accusing him of advancing an agenda. He seems to honestly buy into it, of course, and think that what he is doing is for the best, so he's not being malicious. He is definitely doing more than just being "funny", though.
And the fact that large numbers of people apparantly wanted to listen to his show had nothing to do with it at all, did it?
Straw man. Thank you. Certainly he succeeds because people want to listen to him, but that doesn't change the simple fact I stated: his success started only after the FCC lifted their rebuttal time rule.
Good thing, too. The show would be so much less interesting to his audience if he were forced to do something silly like that. There are talk shows which are designed to be forums like that, but his is not one of them.
Which is part of the danger I'm trying to illustrate: it is sold as "entertainment" but has a much more serious agenda. Yes, I know that "academic" and "fair" debates are "boring" to most people, but perhaps that's because they actually give serious and open inquiry to issues rather than depending on bravado.
Anyway, I'm a supporter of free speech and am not saying that Rush should be censored, and in fact I agree with the FCC repealing that rule. I'm simply pointing out that it has been a critical element of his success.
Your reply hasn't suggested that you have tried particularly hard to understand his views or where they come from.
Again, my ego does not depend on pseudonymous online individuals. I assure you that I have spent a fair amount of time reading his writings and even talking to some "dittoheads". I suppose you'll have to take my word for it if you feel my comments here aren't adequate evidence for it, although I have tried to sprinkle in specific references here and there to illustrate that I'm really not making this stuff up. Still, if you think I am, so be it.
Again, there is a difference between "understanding" and "excusing". He would not excuse her in the least, but nor does he ask to be excused himself. I'm getting tired so I'm not going to go into more detail. :-)
Again, I already dealt with this: even excusing the excusing issue, Rush wouldn't even be understanding if somebody like Hillary Clinton came out for the very same thing he did. And that is hypocrisy, to the letter.
It would be really sad if the only way to bring balence to talk radio were if Rush Limbaugh were to fall, because that would imply that there was no one on the left capable of doing talk as good as he does. C'mon, isn't there a left-winger out there who can manage to be more entertaining than he? I'd welcome it! :-) That would provide balence.
That's the problem, I think, but I've dealt with it pretty voluminously already. Limbaugh sells himself as an "entertainer", and really the only left-winger who is that similar to that is Al Franken (who is pretty successful, although not as a radio host).
To my understanding, part of the reason radio shows tend to be right leaning is just because of the political demeanor of the companies that dominate radio. Other mediums tend to be more balanced or even left-leaning (although I do believe that the whole "liberal media" thing is largely a myth, most major US media is just sensationalist and talk about what sells, not partisan).
Anyway, I will make it clear that I am in no way trying to defend or vindicate the "left" here. I think you're jumping to a bit of a conclusion by suggesting that the reason there isn't balance in talk radio is because there simply aren't leftists who are as capable as Rush (there are other factors, such as who owns the networks as I mentioned), but I would definitely agree that there are plenty of leftists guilty of all of the same logical fallacies and so forth of Rush and his "dittoheads".
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
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