Before I begin, (or..that is, before you begin reading the rest of this article), do read Unordained's article Hate Mail. It is well thought out and discusses the issue of how to think about freedom of speech. His article has me thinking, so in the spirit of freedom of speech here we go.
An ironic thing struck me as I began writing this article. I think it is safe to say that the author of the Propaganda Remix website (a very clever idea by the way)...I think it is safe to say that the hate mail he receives annoys him/her, or at least, that the person doesn't like it. And why not? Before we get to the irony, lets think for a moment about why hate mail is stupid.
It is cowardly. The author cannot possibly respond in reasonable debate to every person spamming him with hate mail any more then I can reason with my dog to get it to stop crapping on the floor. These people do the intellectual equivalent of a hit and run except that it's en masse. I hope I spelled that right!
It is disrespectful. If these people have a point to make, it is lost in their self-created sea of disrespect. This is not a good way to achieve a meeting of the minds...it is more like a meeting of the mindless.
It is unreasonable. Almost every time (every time that I have seen), hate mailers are not trying to be reasonable. It isn't that they are trying to be unreasonable...it just comes so naturally! Why go through the effort of a one-to-three page reasoned argument when you can click a few buttons and then vent directly into someone's email?
So, as is my habit, I apply this person's thoughts to the person to see whether the result is reasonable; self-consistent. Unfortunately, the result is not reasonable. Fortunately, the result is humorous, and in a world where you can almost never change anyone by means of reason, humor is very important. :)
The Irony: I would argue that people like these Propaganda Remix folks are doing nearly the exact same thing that they abhor only worse. The only difference that mitigates is that their targets do not receive this in their personal mail. The difference that annihilates this mitigation is that instead of mailing the "hate" to the man, they simply post it for all to view. Yeah, congratulations. Instead of a personal attack, you've resorted to indirect slander. Yes. Pat yourself on the back.
Consider. Are these posters cowardly? They are in the same sense that their opponent cannot fight back, though the author would have you think he is somehow being oppressed by The Man. He/she doesn't seem too downtrodden and repressed to me.
Are these posters respectful? No, some of them are downright rude though I've seen much worse.
Are these posters reasonable? While I'm sure there is thought behind the posters, there is no attempt at reasoned discourse, merely phrases such as "What is it with George W. & Iraq? Revenge for Daddy?", "Take back your tired, poor and hungry! This is Republican America!", "What happened to the Evangelical Republicans' fear of the Mark of the Beast?", "Our Fearless Monkey Leader separates the two types of posters. Them vs. Us.", this last in reference to Bush...and so on. Now, am I to feel sorry for this person because he's not a public official? Only public officials should be the target of cowardly words of disrespect right? No, this website is worse than hate mail, it is hate propaganda.
This hate propaganda comes from all sides. The purpose of propaganda is to convince stupid people to agree with you even though they don't know why. I believe that, much like advertising, it is reasonable to assume that since both sides use propaganda, that both sides have a horde of idiots behind them. To loosely quote Isaac Asimov "An atomic blaster can point both ways" but "It's a poor atomic blaster that won't point both ways." To keep your horde in line, you've got to turn up the propaganda. We wouldn't want anyone to lose any of our faithful! Yay! The catch-22 of government. If you put a person on the throne, he'll be evil (or become more evil) and use his power for his own good. If you give that power to a vast number of unreasonable people......the resulting government will be one that increasingly panders to unreasonable people. If you give the power to the small number of reasonable people humanity has to offer, you will have dead reasonable people (though, this has not been proven historically, I think it's probably true).
I'm afraid that since my article is now more than a page, any person that I am attempting to convince to stop the spin has already become bored and left and, besides, my article is winding down. My conclusion: do not tolerate stupidity. If you have idiot neighbors, you don't try to make them less idiotic. You build a wall or a fence and appeal to a higher authority if necessary. The most we can do is attempt reasoned discourse, even if the conversation must occur in a room filled with noise pollution.
Freedom of speech is a right. In a world where words have power, we muse use it like we use the right to bear arms. If you are incapable of reason, at least do everyone a favor and shut up. If you are capable of reason, do everyone a favor and use it.
~Ensis, a Reasonable Evangelical Republican
(A quick point regarding the classic "Do you have any suggestions?" argument. This is usually made when a person successfully delivers a scathing assault on an idea, but frequently cannot come up with anything better. The point that I would like to make is that in my experience, idiots do a marvelous job of two things: being stupid, and making fun of each other for being stupid. The "do you have any better ideas" argument does not prove that any thought is reasonable, but it may prove that a person has nothing reasonable to add, like the person who has all sorts of reasons to disagree with you but cannot back his own beliefs at all.)