Still, I have to admit to finding the whole experience of trying to engage the people there incredibly strange. I've read lots of debate with right-wing loons, and I've engaged in the odd real life discussion, but never to any great depth. I'm not a veteran of getting into tussles with people in their blogs' comments. The closest I've come is in the sometimes surreal discussion it's possible to have with evangelical and fundamentalist Christians. The same deliberate ignoring of arguments is there. The same insistence on arguing against what the person would like to have been said rather than what actually has been said is there. A similar number of logical fallacies are thrown around too, especially the trusty ad-hominem and strawman. (Sounds like the makings of a decent Comic-Book, that). The creation of a weird fantasy world pops up as well.
I can't help but be interested by this. Especially since I started this blog as a kind of space for me to say what I would to tabloid readers if I had the chance.
Of course, I don't actually think I'll change any of the regular posters' minds. Maybe the odd person who stumbles across an article who hasn't made their mind up, but more likely nobody at all. That's not really the point though. It's interesting to see the reaction of people to being told that a story they've just posted an outraged comment about is distorted, or even a lie. Or, at least I thought it would be before I found out that it normally amounts to calling someone a PC idiot and refusing to engage with anything they say, or even read what they've written at all. Exactly like your fundamentalist who wants to know why you're so angry at god.
There have been a couple of highlights though. Steveg has been particularly good value in introducing the techniques of the playground to discussions, refusing first to actually address any of my points because 'they bored him', through calling me names and pointing out how sad and lonely I am to finally telling people not to agree with me because I hadn't addressed the point they'd made once. When in fact I had. Takes you back, eh?
Beyond that, I (among others) managed to get the Online Editor to chip into the discussion on 'Is Islam taking over Europe' after pointing out the shonky propaganda technique of illustrating so many articles on a similar theme with a veiled woman - and using one lit from the bottom like a scary horror film monster in this one.
Bizarrely, he argued that he had originally thought using that picture might:
fuel hatred, distrust and narrow-minded suspicion of Muslims.He was then won over by the contrary argument that:
that within the context of Georg Gaenswein's warning of "European identity" being at risk from Islam, we needed a strong image - immediately recognisable as Muslim and associated with the loss of identity - to illustrate his, admittedly controversial, point.So, he decided that it was okay to use the picture even though it might fuel hatred and stuff because it also illustrated European identity being at risk from Islam. Get your head around that one. The reason why the picture might cause hatred and mistrust is the argument that shows why using it is okay. Brainaches!
Of course, this is just the Online Editor showing that he's used a picture that conveys the negative view on purpose. But we knew that anyway.
Another great bit from that discussion is Maggie asking if her comment wasn't PC enough to be printed in a discussion thread where people have called Muslims 'vermin', 'terrorists and scrounging scumbags', say 'Definitely NO NO NO it is not taking over Europe.
IT IS TAKING OVER THE WHOLE WORLD AND FAST' and argue that 'When they walk down our streets they should be shown they are not welcome even if it means us showing our feelings of revulsion'.
Makes you wonder what Maggie must have said if it really wasn't PC enough.
Finally, probably the most bizarre thing is the sight of steveg (again) using the familiar old Islamophibic construct of resisting Muslims being the same as resisting the Nazis:
An example of this scenario happened in Germany before the war. The majority of Germans were decent ordinary people, just like the British at the time. The problem was, when Hitler and the Nazis rose to power and carried out many atrocities to get there, most of the German public remained silent.This is in a thread on an article using similar propaganda techniques to demonise Muslims that the Nazi press used to demonise Jews (although the Nazi press were far more up front and less subtle, it must be said). Oh the irony!
The fact is, these so called silent majority, are repeating how the German population reacted before the war when the Nazi extremist carried out their reign of terror.
Surprisingly, we now have a so called Muslim extremist reign of terror, yet the majority of Muslims remain silent!
Anyway, that's where I've been. My last post there is on an article about a poll that shows the majority of British Asians feel British, which uses the headline 'We don't feel British, say Asians'. I realised after posting that that it's the sort of thing I'd usually post here, and the blog is languishing with only my last not-half-as-good-as-I-intended-it-to-be post up top, so I'll endeavour to look at the other papers now.