Pizza from Scratch presents Purple Prose, 109

1 November, 2007

Dueling political extremes

© Bill Lemmond (Actually, you're welcome to download and share these web-resolution images, and you probably won't be happy with printing them.)

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In Richmond, the dominant AM radio station switched years ago to a format dominated by right-wing talk shows. In recent years, a low-power FM station has been broadcasting what its people seem to think is an antidote to cranky right-wing radio. The latter are more likely to speak in a conversational tone, but their political programming (with the exception of the moderate "Tell Me More") is only the opposite extreme. Rather than an antidote to each other, they only act as something for each other to point at and say "Listen to those AWFUL people!"

The left side of the panel is a synopsis of topics and themes from the political left. And of course the stuff on the right is a similar synopsis of right-wing content.

The left is against the Republicans, the right against the Democrats. They both despise moderates.

The left hates gas-guzzling SUVs, the right despises "tall bikes." (I don't get tall bikes. How do you start? How do you stop? There's at least one video on YouTube of a tall bike falling over, with bad results to an innocent party.)

The left I hear says nuclear power is evil, the right I hear warns of the evil of illegal immigrants.

For strange,differing reasons, both extremes think fluoridating water is an evil plot. Never mind that there are places with naturally fluoridated water, which is how dentistry found out it inhibits tooth decay. Is your bottled water fluoridated?

I listen to both sides, so no matter what, any assumptions I have are challenged. And I find that listening to both helps me detect when either engages in cherry-picking only the "facts" that support their arguments. I'm more likely to notice "issue framing." (Think of "The Wizard of Oz," and the giant face, especially when it says "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.")

Both sides tend to sit around and tell each other they're right about everything, and that everyone else is wrong. This means their presentations have not faced genuine critiques, and tend to be weaker. The weaknesses of both are easier to detect when I listen to both.

It seems to me that much of the right wing thinks it can substitute wisdom for intelligence, and much of the left wing thinks it can substitute intelligence for wisdom, and each thinks less of the other, because of that. Neither substitution is really practical.

Unfortunately, we didn't have a paper coming out just before Halloween, and I didn't have this ready in time, so the Halloween wish was belated.