March 3, 2012

The Bright Part of Breitbart

Hatched by Dafydd

It's tough to write a memorial about someone you've never met, never spoken to or spoken about, and never even heard in an interview until after his death, when Hugh Hewitt played one he had recorded just the day before Andrew Breitbart died. I can only write about what others have said about the man and what he himself has written; which, lacking the personal touch, can seem cold, sterile, Kubrickian.

But I believe he and I were kindred spirits in one sense, and it explains why people like us become the most hated souls in any group that has been infiltrated, possessed, and transubstantiated by the twin demons of liberalism and Progressivism.

Breitbart and I share a characteristic: Neither of us backs down or backs away. We cannot be silenced by special pleading, threats, bullying, bribery, sexual enticements, pity, namecalling, snubbing, exiling, or faux shaming. (Gosh, I feel like Patrick McGoohan.) We can of course be moved by logical argument, by evidence, by some new information that shows we are actually wrong about something we have said or argued; we are not irrational or fanatical. (I speak of Breitbart in the present tense because to split tenses between us is rhetorically awkward.) But you cannot swerve us by irrelevant or immaterial denunciations, demands, or diversionary tactics.

This trait has gotten me into trouble on many occasions. I don't try to pick verbal fights -- not since I was a teenager, anyway; and in my late dotage, I have even started letting stupidities lie where the speaker dropped them, choosing not to take up the smart man's burden, as Isaac Asimov called it, to rush over and show that so and so why he's wrong. (From what I have read, Breitbart was more prone to do so than I; but of course, he was a lot slightly younger than I.)

But when the fight is brought to me, I am relentless in pursuit of the truth as I see it, even when the discussion has turned stale and pointless, and the other guy become so emotionally invested that he will not even grant me the premise that A=A, if that might further my own nefarious argument. I bore in like an earwig into the victim's brain, finding every hidden assumption and slipshod argument and revealing them, naked and bleeding, to the surrounding mob.

And I rarely care whether that mob is on my side or on the war path against me. I don't rest until I have discovered where the logic actually leads; and on those occasions where it leads against me, I own up promptly. Well, reasonably promptly!

I don't argue that this would be a good trait for everyone to have; but it's vital that some people have it. For the rest will generally back away, anxious not to be "the most hated" person in any group, wanting to go with the flow, to get along by going along, feeling sorry for the other bloke, hoping not to talk the lefty hot chick out of the mood, or any of a number of other reasons to drop an argument that you're clearly winning -- even for the sake of simple politeness.

And the Left depends upon that exact tendency, using its own weakness as a weapon: They know that if they chant their mantras long enough ("mike check, mike check!" "four legs good, two legs bad!"), the other side (that's our side) will say, "oh great leaping horny toads, fine, Capitalism really is unfair and we should try to come up with something better; now will you please tell everyone I'm not a horrible person after all?"

So without a few freaks like me and my never-met soulmate Andrew Brietbart, the world would go to heck in a hamfist; the bleeding hearts and artists, or the arts and farces, as Benny Hill enjoyed putting it, would win even more battles than they already do, by dirty tricks and corrupt practice. And that would be a shame.

It takes a personal toll, though; when the Progressivist Left is thwarted in its preferred tactics, it demands vengeance and bears a grudge to the grave and beyond. On such instances of victimization, I can only fall back on my natural contempt for those who cannot debate but only demonize. I suspect, but will never know for sure, that Breitbart lacked that healthy contempt; he may have cared more, fumed more, empathized more, or agonized more about why these lemmings cannot follow a simple syllogism. He may have split himself into too many different directions -- each of great value but totalling more than he could chew -- and taken too much incoming from each. And that may have hastened his very, very untimely demise.

Don't know.

I do know that, because I care only about the point and not the pointer, I generally don't get swept up in the emotional whirlwind: I have a magic charm of indifference to paralogia, intimidation, and argument by incessant and ever-louder assertion. An argumentary epicure, I sample the world; but I suspect Andrew Breitbart tried to swallow it whole; and it's a ghastly great wad to choke down.

I never met the man, so I'm not conversant with his many virtues; but this is what I glean from reading his Bigs, and reading what others who did know him have writ large.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 3, 2012, at the time of 2:15 AM

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