The Skipper has been criticized by a few under the Godwin's Law argument, but I agree with him and with Welsh that we too often fall into the trap of reasonableness, that by going along to get along we too often normalize extremist opinion and outrageous attitudes by our tacit acceptance.
We grossly overvalue civility when we condemn people for using strong language to describe reprehensible actions and attitudes. Right-wing radio hosts and tea party activists make horribly racist statements on a regular basis, but somehow calling them racists is verboten. The American and Canadian government now routinely step all over basic human rights and openly embrace plutocracy, but to call them fascists is somehow considered beyond the pale. Somehow, somewhere along the line it became unacceptable in the mass media to declare the emperor is stark naked.
We, as a society, need to start calling people out and making them take responsibility for the things they say. I'm all for free speech. When someone starts casually talking about murdering people, about 'bombing them back to the stone age," I think everyone else should be free to to call them a monster without being lectured about how its impolite to do so.
Lindorff's example is a classic:
I brought my son and a friend last year to the notorious Army Experience Center, a multi-million state-of-the-art virtual war recruiting wonderland located in a mall in working-class Northeast Philadelphia. Filled with an array of very fast computers and video screens on which kids as young as 14 could blast away in realistic war scenarios, and featuring two darkened rooms that had the real bodies of an armored Humvee and a Blackhawk helicopter where kids could man the guns and operate in a 3-D video environment with surround sound so that you felt like you were moving through hostile territory and had to “take out” the “bad guys” while quickly identifying innocent civilians and avoiding shooting them. My son, his friend and I tried the Humvee out, and at the end of our “mission,” the recruiter, an Iraq vet, congratulated us, saying we were “the best gunners all day!” and that our error rate had been “only 30%.”I asked him what “error rate” meant, and he said, “Collateral damage--civilians killed.”“Thirty percent of the peope we just killed were civilians?” I asked, aghast.“Oh yeah,” he said matter-of-factly. “Don’t feel bad. That’s not a bad percentage.”
When did it become okay for soldiers to murder civilians? Why is torture, murder and repression any more acceptable when embraced by Barak Obama than it was when it was done by George W. Bush, or for that matter Stalin, Hitler or Pol Pot. How can we as a society decry the use of gangs of armed thugs and secret police to suppress dissent in Iran, while applauding the same tactics in Toronto?