Your Turn

Posted: Aug 12, 2005 12:00 AM

Sometimes it’s unfair to be a columnist. I get all this space every week to share my views, and readers are limited in their ability to respond. That’s the only reason I can think of for a recent missive, whose entire text consisted of, “[expletive] idiot.”

 So: Your turn. All comments are actual e-mails, recreated here with spelling, grammatical and typographical errors faithfully retained.

 In a recent column I noted, “By the time you read this, the author may be out of a job. You see, I’m writing this while wearing an Atlanta Braves cap. And not just any cap. One with the smiling Indian logo.”

 Several readers took exception.

“The Braves have never had a smiling Indian logo. So you must be lying about the supposed cap you were wearing while writing your column,” one wrote. “It is a small detail, I know. But facts are inportant (sic), and lies hurt the credibility of all your details, small or not. Once again you have exhibited the disturbingly common conservative tendency to simply make up facts to support the worldview you so desperately cling to. You shouldn’t lie.”

 Strong words. Lying? Hardly. I think I know what’s on my lucky Braves hat. It features this logo. In my original piece, the hyperlink was removed. Yes, it’s not the hat the Braves wear on the field. But it is an Atlanta Braves hat.

This reader also attacks what he calls a conservative tendency to “make up facts.” However, it’s really liberals who tend to be guilty of making stuff up. These days, all the ideas are on the right and all the facts seem to support the conservative viewpoint. So liberals seldom bother to attempt to marshal arguments. Instead they resort to launching personal attacks and changing the subject. Sometimes both in the same e-mail.

One shining example is a liberal thinker who was angry about my column on liberal framing. That’s the hot new idea on the left: using words to block ideas. As I wrote recently, “On the left, the rhetoric actually creates the policy. And since the rhetoric is designed to do nothing, the policy is to do nothing. No wonder they have no solutions to offer.”

“Dick, I was just wondering,” one response began, “when you say that cons like yourself have a plan while liberals (or more acuratly (sic), 49% of the nation) can only offer empty framing, then how do you account for the utter lack of planing (sic) for Iraq? Or is that the fault of the 49 also?”

Just to make sure there wasn’t any understanding, I let the writer know I prefer not to be called Dick. It’s my Dad’s name. I also pointed out that the F7 key was a useful tool for catching spelling errors. “Interesting that you can’t seem to look past the unfortunate name your parents gave you or spelling errors,” he replied. “But this is typical bait and switch tactics that cons like yourself use to squirm out of answering uncomfortable questions.”

Ah, what a lovely little game. When a liberal is reminded that his side has no plan to reform Social Security, he launches insults and changes the subject. And then accuses the conservative of having done those exact things.

Of course, the conservative plan for Iraq was -- and is -- to export democracy. A free and democratic Iraq will help transform the Middle East. But this letter writer isn’t interested in the plan. He’s just interested in changing the subject. If one were to lay out the conservative plan for Iraq, he’d claim, “but you’ve got no plan for reforming the space program,” or “you’ve got no plan to eradicate ants in Texas,” until, eventually, he’d hit on something for which conservatives actually don’t have a plan. There must be something out there we haven’t thought of.

Finally, on July 8 I wrote that the previous day’s attacks on the London subway showed the weakness of Islamic terrorists, not their strength. “The West is winning, and will win. It’s merely a matter of time,” I wrote.

But one writer questioned which religion the attackers really followed. “I have a small suspicion that the recent bombings in London may have been done by Israel citizens (sic) or other Jews that may be doing what they consider ‘helping fellow Jews’ by blowing up what are normally Muslim dominated mass transit points,” he wrote.

When events proved him wrong, he wasn’t ready to back down. “I do not actually care to learn who did the bombings,” he later responded. “I have opened the minds of many people. Try to close them, you bigot.”

Will do. Oh, and please, keep those e-mails coming.