The Disturbing Trend of Obfuscation Bullying
|September 8, 2012||Posted by Adam T under Debunking, Political News|
I wrote recently on the tactic of using “divisiveness” as a political weapon – to shut the opposition up and make the issue they were talking about seem irrelevant or non-existent. This comes in a long line of disturbing trends from the right, and it has gotten worse.
For a while now, Republicans in office and their supporters have tried to deny science in much the same way as when they use the term “divisive.” They have called Climate Change a hoax. They have called Evolution “junk science.” Science indicates pretty clearly where these two subjects stand, and they are still denied. The intent of denial is to not address the problem. Most of the people who claimed this made it obvious that is what they were doing.
Then things began to follow this trend by expanding on it. Next came the denial of outright facts that everyone accepted from both sides of the aisle. Facts such as the needed upkeep of our roads and bridges, the necessary workplace rules of certain regulations, the obvious biological nature of eggs and sperm, and so on. In each of these cases, it became necessary on the far right to start denying even these facts. And now, the cat is out of the bag that many on the right not only believe that facts such as these are not real, but that they have believed these things for a long time, and anyone who says otherwise is a dirty liberal media sheep.
The next step is to, instead of denying existing facts, make up facts and deny that there are any consequences to lying. The Romney/Ryan campaign has successfully produced ads that show Obama as someone who got rid of the welfare-to-work requirements, and those ads have had an impact. More people now believe that Obama did something to welfare to where now, under new rules by Obama, people on welfare can just sit at home and do nothing, and that Obama will just “send them their welfare check.” Making stuff up in a similar fashion can sometimes get more ridiculous, such as suggesting that government spending on jobs has never worked and that only tax cuts create jobs.
This is all bad enough, and one might think it would end there. But instead, it appears that there is another step in the progression of denial: Pretend that when arguing with someone (a liberal) over facts, that they never presented facts to you in the first place, or at any point along the way, and that you (the conservative) did. This is what can be called “Obfuscation Bullying.”
To put this in the simplest context possible, this is like a schoolyard bully being caught by a teacher. The bully, knowing full well what he was doing, then pipes up before the victim can say anything to accuse the victim of doing exactly what it was the bully was doing. Turns out, it doesn’t take a lot of brass to accuse someone else of what you did. This tactic, of course, angers the victim and confuses the teacher. Not knowing what to do, both or neither of the children are punished, and the bully gets to feel like a winner, and start all over again.
Said bully, in a context of a political argument over the internet, will first pretend that the liberal never called him or her out. Let’s imagine the liberal says something and the conservative denies it, then the liberal provides a link that proves the liberal’s claim. Instead of the old tactic of saying “oh yeah, well your side does that too!” or something similar, this newer, more experienced bully decides to instead pretend no link was ever offered. He or she will claim “I am still waiting for your PROOF!” and after successive attempts to show that person the proof, continues to insist there is no proof, sometimes in direct response.
It would be nice if it were possible to simply laugh at such stupidity and let that be the end of it. After all, a person that invested in denial will not like facts no matter what. However this newer, more experienced bully may then call on several friends to back him up through private messages. Other bullies will pile on, claiming they have found proof that the liberal was wrong and if they “just Google” they will find out how wrong the liberal is. Even if the liberal Googles exactly what is suggested to be Googled, no evidence is found of the type suggested. Others will say they found the proof on another website that the liberal was wrong, but will not mention what site.
In the end, a cabal of experienced bullies have come out to shut down the conversation by frustrating the liberal by basically making stuff up and pretending that proof doesn’t exist of the liberal’s claim, sometimes also claiming proof exists of the opposite without providing it. And this will likely influence many others to take their side, and believe their nonsense.
It is tempting to say this means it is time to give up, but the entire point of this tactic is to get the opposition to give up. That’s why it’s called bullying.
If this continues, there may be an even further, more disturbing step to the process. That next step will be very, very ugly.