Mangan has an interesting quote on his blog-
“I ceased in the year 1764 to believe that one can convince one’s opponents with arguments printed in books. It is not to do that, therefore, that I have taken up my pen, but merely so as to annoy them, and to bestow strength and courage on those on our own side, and to make it known to the others that they have not convinced us.” – Lichtenberg
Herr Lichtenberg was a bit of a cynic, although undeniably a realistic one. I can’t even muster his reduced level of hope. Not only can’t we convince our adversaries, we can hardly convince our friends. I would like to find a way to alter the system; I will settle for some useful analysis of it, so that some form of alteration may become apparent later.
And still we must argue, for the reasons Lichtenberg stated. The system works more than anyway else by getting people to shut up. There can be no other explanation for people who offer so many insults and so few arguments. And the system is remarkably effective at this. On some subjects, such as race and public affirmation of homosexuality, they have been so effective they can mostly let the subject drop, with only the occasional maintenance “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” On others, like the current criticism of the Obama administration, more aggressive measures must be taken.
Essentially the degree to which they feel they have matters in hand is directly proportionate to the frequency and hysteria with which they demand that people “SHUT THE FUCK UP!”
It’s important to know they don’t have everybody intimidated. Irritating them keeps them off balance and absorbs some of their resources, although their resources are almost unlimited. And it gives the silent a little bit of strength, to know they are not alone, if only to use the “n” word in a conversation with a friend or vote Republican.
Philadelphia Phil is a character in a movie titled “Big Fan”, directed by the guy who wrote “The Wrestler” and featuring comedian Patton Oswalt as an obsessive New York Giants fan who calls into a sports talk show every night to argue the virtues of his team. Phil is a Philadelphia Eagles fan who calls into the same show for no other reason than to provoke and annoy Giants fans. He succeeds in getting under the man’s skin, a little too well as it turns out. But there is something to be said for just pissing people off.