Monday, January 31, 2005

I'm as mad as hell (but I can't be bothered to open the window).

One of the popular topics among liberal bloggers last year was "astroturf" campaigns conducted by conservative websites. Specifically, these sites would allow users to easily submit a form letter to newspapers parroting the latest GOP party line. Numerous times, there would be three or four newspapers across the country printing very well written "Letters to the Editor" that were exactly alike, but attributed to different people. Two of many examples here and here. Also, this is one site dedicated to keeping an eye out for such tactics.

What's wrong with this? Well, there's something to be said for using your own words. I'm not the most eloquent of men, but I try my best to impart my arguments the best way I can. Then there's the issue of being able to write to newspapers you may have never even seen before. After all, the "Letters to the Editor" section is supposed to reflect the varied views of the community, not some lazy nutjob in some other state who's never even heard of your burg.

But most of all, it's rather pathetic that people that are supposedly so passionate about a subject can't even be bothered to take the normal steps to make their views known.

All of this is background to this story. Being one person and not a newspaper, Ken Olbermann has some fun at the expense of those who feigned some very half-hearted outrage at Olbermann's coverage of the Spongebob Squarepants Brouhaha. In his original post, he describes some of the "angry" e-mail he has gotten:

"Something approaching 20 percent of them were simply blank. Others began with, or consisted entirely of, the preamble "(Please delete these words and type your own message here.)" Others referred to Dr. Dobson as Dr. Dobsin, Dr. Dobsen, or Mr. Dobbins. Many were cut-and-paste repetitions of one another, and about 20 percent were from false e-mail addresses."
There were more comments, such as the great many different way people chose to spell "sponge", but I'm not going to criticize people who don't know enough to use spell check. I will criticize those that think we should give a toss to what they think when all they're doing is clicking a few buttons that some conservative blowhard told them to.

Although it's certainly not to be taken seriously, George Carlin's gets to the heart of my basic gripe with this thought about anti-abortion protesters:

"And you won't see a lot of these pro-life people dousing themselves in kerosene and lighting themselves on fire. You know, morally committed religious people in South Vietnam knew how to stage a g*dd*mn demonstration, didn't they? They knew how to put on a f*ck*n' protest! Light yourself on FIRE! Come on, you moral crusaders, let's see a little smoke to match that fire in your belly!"

Hundreds of thousands Iraqis risked their very lives to vote in their election yesterday. Americans are able to risk far, far less in order to make their opinions known. The least they can do is put forth some effort.

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