Bottom feeding is not an uncommon thing to see (unintentional?) hypocrisy on exhibit on the few (good) liberal blogs I’ve found or have been recommended. I’ve previously criticized Mr. De Long for his blatantly un-collegial (anti-collegial) attitude that he displays and which is repeated here. This horrific meme, which apparently he is fond of enought to repeat. Ed Brayton, blogging here, regularly trawls for what he finds offensive or ridiculous that is on offer from the “other side” and lampoons it. Yet this is exactly the same sort of thing just given a patina of respectibility. Bottom feeding the opposition and representing that as representative of the same is just as bigoted and offensive as the behaviour which they attempt to lampoon. I will give Mr. Brayton his due. He doesn’t represent his blog as anything but what it is: a sort of National Enquirer for the libertarian/atheist reader. Mr. De Long on the other hand, represents his blog as an academic and principled blog. Yet we find him regularly engaging in bottom feeding and maintaining the pretense of the high minded intellectual. If one were to dip to Mr. De Long’s level for a moment, this would mean that if the GOP is the “stupid *and* immoral” party perhaps the Democrats are the “supercilious and immoral” party.
Mr. Niven on occasion will do the same, but here, for example, he seeks out thoughtful discourse and discusses it. The point of this enterprise is that if you want to raise the level of discourse then the way to do that is not to lower yourself to the bottom denominator but to seek out, engage, and elevate the best arguments, individuals, and ideas of the other side. It may be easier to disparage the Moore’s, the Ms Sykes, or political cartoonists similar output. However, this isn’t helpful in the least.
On blogs, in periodicals, and in books good conservative political, economic, theological, and political thought can be found quite easily, unlike it seems thoughtful progressive blogs and thought which are (for me) much harder to locate. If you want to raise the level of discourse this is the course you need to take. If you think discussion and intercourse between the sides of the aisle and between the various divisions in our society is of value, the only way to do that is to find the best of the other side and engage that. As fun as it might be, the sarcasm, humor, belittling and lampooning only serves to widen the divide and lower the tenor of the debate. It is counterproductive.