How do you back your ideals?

A number of stories have surfaced that highlight the matter of tactics in ideological debate. Hot Air takes a look at the Townhall article: What really happened in the Franken-Coleman recount, Lorie Byrd says Of Course CBS Knew Bush Volunteered to Fly Combat Missions in Vietnam, and then there’s the CIA interrogation flap.

Gone are the days when Congressional and especially Senate recounts will get conducted as a collegial effort between two candidates who want to act as referees as well as litigants. Both sides had better be prepared for a process that looks a lot more like a lawsuit β€” or maybe a divorce β€” than anything else. … Coleman acted in the spirit of the law while Franken acted to the letter of the law. It’s hard to criticize the former approach, but one has to recognize when the opposition will use the latter approach and adjust accordingly.

This may get into the discussion at Volokh recently about why lawyers have such a bad image. As many comments noted, it isn’t truth and justice that seem to matter to lawyers but rather using the letter of the law to their client’s advantage to the point that the end justifies nearly any means.

In the Senate race recount, it does not appear things went over the edge. In another case it did.

The Rathergate scandal should be taught in journalism schools, if it is not already. What is really scary is that we will never know how many stories have been run in the media that were based on equally flimsy and even fraudulent information.

The issue here is that of creating a story that just happens to align with political ideology despite knowing its basis was false. It may be that the basis of this creation was delusion rather than conspiracy but the end result still stands as a deceitful fraud attempted on the public.

The AG deciding to resurrect an old issue to go after CIA employees also fits this mold. The circumstances had been investigated and appropriate actions taken but are now drug up again for re-examination. As one pundit noted, the AG has decided that Black Panthers intimidating voters with clubs (as seen in video) is OK but CIA interrogators intimidating self proclaimed terrorists with cigar smoke is not. There is a dissonance here.

Similar tactical extremism can be seen in the August 2009 Town Hall brouhaha. Citizens who are attending and speaking out are being accused of all sorts of things and of false organization. Meanwhile, it is the accusers who are implementing large scale organization, attempting to inhibit discussion of ideas, promulgating logical fallacies, and otherwise mirroring the behavior the claim dismays them.

These examples show why those involved in the debate cannot assume “bi-partisan” or collegiality or any shared goal to be sought in a civil fashion. For many it is a blood sport. The end becomes so important that sometimes the means to achieve it exceed civil or ethical or moral or even legal bounds.

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