December 13, 2009

How to Win a Political Argument Without Really Trying

Hatched by Dafydd

Liberals and "Progressives" have always had a media advantage in pitching their sundry causes to the American people: They have controlled the major entertainment media (print, radio, television, and movies) for many decades; so when they're losing the argument on points in news and discussion shows, they can always sneak their agit-prop across in fiction dramas and comedies instead.

But rarely has this tactic been used more blatantly than in this week's episode of Law & Order: SVU:

This week's episode of "Law & Order: SVU" featured a character played by John Larroquette talking to a detective and saying, "Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, all of 'em, they are like a cancer spreading ignorance and hate...They've convinced folks that immigrants are the problem, not corporations that fail to pay a living wage or a broken health care system..."

Why do they do this? Does it work? I'm afraid it probably does; a well-written show, as I'm informed Law & Order is (I've never watched it), grabs the viewer by the throat and drags him into that world. Once there, characters become real people; evil characters become actual bad guys subject to hisses and hurled tomatoes; and it's absurdly easy to gin up real anger at the villain of the piece. When that "villain" is a real person in the real world, fiction slops over into reality, and a real person becomes subject to attacks based upon scenarios in a fictional parallel universe.

A screenwriter needn't prove his case using evidence and analysis; he simply creates a storyline in which his personal political and ideological opinions all turn out to be true. Mirabile dictu! As I've said since paleozoic times, it's child's play to win an argument when you get to script both sides.

To many people, television is more real than the real world, because it's difficult to grasp the underlying "plot" in reality; things seem just to happen. In the real world, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Bill O'Reilly have complex, nuanced, fact-based, and articulable opinions on a variety of subjects. They don't always agree with each other and often take surprising twists, to the befuddlement of liberals and the consternation of conservatives. To evaluate any of them, you must at least listen to his show for a few weeks to understand the areas where he is brilliant, note his blind spots, and learn his prejudices (we all have them), thus to compile a (reasonably) complete picture of his worldview.

But in the TV realm, all nuance is squashed flat, shades of gray become black or white, and transitional colors morph into uncompromising primaries. These three real human beings become simply cartoonish villains -- and I mean DC comics from the 1940s; today's comic books have more character depth than conservatives are ever allowed to display on the great glass teat!

How long before somebody on Law & Order gets the bright idea to similarly attack Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 80%), Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ, 96%), and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%)? The writer can argue the case for ObamaCare in a universe in which it actually works the way Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 75%) claims it will... relying upon the inability of many Americans, especially liberals, to distinguish between real life and a tendentiously concocted piece of fiction.

It's a hoot: Liberals constantly whine that we should resurrect the putative "Fairness Doctrine;" but it we ever did (may God forbid, if He exists), and if it was applied fairly and consistently, broadcast television would take a much greater punch in the mouth than would even talk radio, because these fiction shows almost never give "equal time" to the Right.

So why do they support the doctrine? Because they know it would in fact be administered corruptly, only being used against conservative messaging, not liberal. Just as when liberals voted for Barack H. Obama, knowing (nudge, wink) that his frequent denunciations of partisanship, demagoguery, corruption, profligate spending, and his support for unbiased science and for our two wars, were never intended to be taken seriously or pursued even-handedly.

To some extent, one can trace "progressive" fury at Obama to the inconvenient reality that the fiery, left-wing candidate, when he became president, was willy-nilly forced by circumstances actually to fulfill a couple of his campaign promises. Outrageous!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 13, 2009, at the time of 6:56 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Karl

Similarly, utopian social plans are very popular in fiction, especially fantasy and SF, because you can make any social experiment succeed if you have the author on your side.

The above hissed in response by: Karl [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 13, 2009 7:18 PM

The following hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel

Remember the John Ziegler post election poll that showed that people who voted for Obama identified what was said in the Tina Fey spoofs of Sarah Palin as actual statements by Sarah Palin. The "media" emphasized Sarah Palin's "lack of experience while hiding Barack Obama's actual lack of experience (no scare quotes).

I remember a medical show in which a patient tried to avoid getting a heart valve replacement from a pig because she was a "religious" Jew. The show used a nonreligious Jew as the character to "explain" why this is wrong and convince her to go ahead with the operation. They carefully avoided any hint that Islam would object to this.

The above hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 14, 2009 6:42 AM

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