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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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38 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    One of the things that I try (and often fail) to do is comment in such a way that I, Jay, am talking to you (whomever you are) as if we were actually talking and knew each other fairly well.

    In most cases, this will result in me doing stuff like not automatically assuming that you hate minorities, hate the poor, hate women, hate the uneducated, or hate animals.

    Dude. It’s me, Jay. Dude. You’re Erik.

    The problem comes up when you stop seeing the other person as “Erik” (to use an example) and start seeing them as a representative of the side that exists in opposition to your side.

    So when you say that you’re not a fan of, say, mandating those calorie posters next to the menus at Burger King, I don’t have to say “what? why?”, I can move straight to “well, obviously, you’re on the side of the corporations who have been exploiting the poor and framing the issue as easy food for those too lazy or too stupid to cook for themselves when not everybody lives in whiteworld with staff dedicated to instilling a work ethic and with the parenting skills to teach a child how to scramble an egg, you over-privileged neo-racist!”

    Rants like that have nothing to do with you (and I mean *YOU*, Erik).

    They all have to do with some weird shadowy conspiracy out there of which you are merely a representative. Your (hypothetical) arguments against those Calorie posters are irrelevant. You provide a handy face/target at which I can throw my proverbial shoes.

    At that point, it ain’t about you. It’s about me.

    Put crudely, we’re no longer making love. I’m jerkin’ it.

    Now, of course, I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for such things. But if one is expecting the former and, instead, gets the latter…

    Well, it can be an eyefull.Report

  2. Avatar Will says:

    Suggestion: You should put the post in question below the fold or something.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to Will says:

      @Will, Good call. I don’t see what was so inappropriate about the first post to begin with. The man’s entitled to his opinion. It’s a blog; it’s not like he’s writing a Gospel or something. I think he would be required to get special approval for that.
      And I understand his point entirely.
      I don’t frequent Lefty blogs and I don’t care to discuss matters with such people, because I have come to the understanding that their vision of ‘Tolerance’ entails complete uniformity of thought. “Think, say, and do everything exactly like I do, and then maybe I can tolerate you.”
      There’s a New Right type of website that I frequent which has acquired a particularly vocal Tea Partier. Just last night, I was explaining the formula for calculating GDP, and that any positive growth in GDP means no recession. I also noted that it’s somewhat embarrassing to be ideologically aligned with complete idiots.
      Of course, I was accused of being Joe Biden; and I responded by accusing this person of attempting to turn people away from conservatism by giving them the impression that everyone on the Right is incredibly stupid. And I included a Bill O’Reilly quote to make my point.

      It reminds me of this sci-fi paperback I read some years ago (can’t remember the name of it).
      The protagonist was an advertising executive in a world dominated by huge corporations. The people were being brainwashed through advertising campaigns to like the products of one corporation and hate the products of their competitors.
      The guy falls off of a train and is taken in by a subterranean group of deprogrammers. At the end, he is on the train again and smells the cigarette smoke from a brand which his old company markets. He hates the smell of it, thinks it’s cheap, and has a low opinion of the person smoking it. He had unwittingly been brainwashed by their competitor, and loves all of their products, while he abhors every product marketed by his old company.

      In the end, people are people all over the world.
      Some are capable of approaching matters in a fair-minded fashion, while others will always approach things with an angle.
      Other peoples’ delusions will always be easier to see.Report

  3. Avatar Maxwell James says:

    One thing to note about rudeness on comment boards is that it increases with size – larger, more active boards are almost intrinsically more rude than small ones. But it’s often the same group of a few dozen idiots who are responsible for most of the rude posts. You just have to learn to tune them out.Report

  4. Avatar gregiank says:

    I have to agree with what Maxwell said. Boards with a lot of people posting in large numbers are usually poor. There is no room or time for conversation. It amazes me that the posts at BJ get 30-40 responses in what seems like 30 minutes of a post and often end up with 150 or so comments. That does not lead to long thoughtful responses or give and take. It is what it is. Focus on the good comments, which there are plenty of. Hell its not like there isn’t namecalling and people saying the same thing over and over here either.Report

  5. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    WTF, get over it.
    Balloon Juice commentors are bottom feeders, probably Ivy Leauge graduates.Report

    • Avatar dexter45 in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      @Robert Cheeks, Is the Ivy Leauge near Princeton or Yale? Sorry about that, but I really couldn’t resist, especially since I seem to make at least three typos per post that I don’t notice until after I submit. As for the replies, the reason I come here is for the give and take and because people rarely scream “Idiot”. I am sure they think it but are way to civil to say it.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to dexter45 says:

        @dexter45, well, I had a hddrive hernia and lost my spellcheck and consequently don’t bother which has resulted in the mandatory one or two or three misspellings per comment…which works for me, but thanks for pointing it out in such a polite way..I should take lessons and YOU are not an idiot…at times in error, but no idiot!Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      Bottom feeders yes, Ivy League graduates no.Report

  6. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    The comment system at True/Slant discouraged me, at least, from ever commenting there. The whole thing where, if your comment was favored, people could read it without clicking another box made some sense, if the goal is to keep out trolls. But, mostly, it seemed like I’d have to get past the bouncer to be admitted to the club and prove that I’m not riff raff first. For the most part, I just thought, “Ah, screw it! I’m going to walk down the street to that Ordinary Gentlemen Pub and catch up with everybody there!”Report

  7. It’s still mild compared to the old AOL message boards and forums. That was the wild west, and it is when I realized “liberals” are vicious when you present a challenge to their most precious issues. So, I’m not surprised at Balloon Juice, and I commented to Julian when he posted his epistemic closure post that he was overlooking the problem on the left. Having said that, we also don’t need to react everytime the word “statism” is used as if it doesn’t have a definition that is pertinent to many people who promote government intevention in all areas of the economy. Many times the user of the word is not using it as an attack, merely a description of a position 00 it’s the position that is being criticized, not the person — — and to be honest, anyone who believes government should be managing the economy as the Obama adminsitration is attempting to, ought to not react to the word statist — they are statist in their political beliefs, and if they believe it’s right to be so, then there is no problem, just a disagreement in political philosophy. To compare “glibertarian,” which really says nothing, to “statist” is misleading, because the term “statist” does say something that everyone should understand. Much of the criticism coming from the left is similar to “glibertarian” — it doesn’t address the issues — it makes me wonder if libertarians know the flaws of statism but are stuck in their support.Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to Mike Farmer says:

      “That was the wild west, and it is when I realized “liberals” are vicious when you present a challenge to their most precious issues.”

      Yeah, come to think of it, it seems odd how the idea of epistemic closure as a problem for the Right ever got any oxygen in the first place, at least post-Bush.Report

  8. Avatar Randy J. says:

    I think we really need to repurpose the word “glibertarian” so it actually means something. I always took it as having a focus on the “glib.” The poster boy for this would be Glenn Reynolds, a public employee who is utterly, immovably convinced that if government just got out of the way, he and his guns and his high tech toys and his smarts would survive what followed. Glibertarians don’t think that they would ever need safety net programs and they consider themselves too savvy to need consumer protections. From a generational perspective, they are the anti-Rawls.

    Do all libertarians fit this mold? Of course not. But some do, and those are the ones we should call glibertarians.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Randy J. says:

      @Randy J., Additional fun terms to keep around:

      gliberal: It’s someone who automatically thinks that the government can take care of stuff.

      glibrary: a collection of superficial books that were purchased to look good to visitors but were never even cracked

      GLIBOR: a superficial rate of interest for loans between financial institutionsReport

      • Avatar Randy J. in reply to Jaybird says:

        @Jaybird,

        For a liberal, I really do enjoy a good interbank lending joke. Kudos.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

        @Jaybird, A women’s glibber? Glay gliberation?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        @Jaybird,
        GLIBT: A person whose sexuality differs from the norm in superficial ways.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

        @Jaybird, I am totally in favor of other applications of the ‘glib’ epithet, to the extent it’s even an epithet, anywhere someone feels it applies. I think it is a very useful shorthand for a particular impression one may get from a style of argumentation. I seriously don’t get what’s up with the extraordinary offense libertarians have teken from ‘glibertarian.’ If libertarians or conservatives had felt that liberals tended to act/argue glibly, they were in a very good idiomatic position to beat liberals to the punch and invent and deploy ‘gliberal.’ This is well within the bounds of fairness and even decent taste. You think a libertarian is acting glibly, so you call him a glibertarian. My stars, where’s the fainting couch? To the extent you apply it indiscriminately or to non-glib argumentation, the joke os plainly on you. My reaction had ‘gliberal’ taken hold rather than glibertarian, I really think honestly, would have been, “Okay, they think we (or some of us) are glib and they invented a semi-clever way to express that, and it’s not really dirty or insulting so fair enough. Do they have a point? Is this detracting from my persuasiveness? Should I rethink how I argue?” I don’t see why the reaction to glibertarian should be different.

        “Gliberal” didn’t take hold — not only that, to my knowledge no one ever even floated it. Is there any reason to think this isn’t just because, whatever people think about the arguments of liberals — they’re unprincipled, ad hoc, outcome-oriented, unvirtuous, unrigorous with fact, whatever — glibness just wasn’t much of a problem in how liberals have been perceived? On the other hand, ‘glibertarian’ took hold when’gliberal’ didn’t. Is there any reason to think this was for any other reason than that, actually, people actually do think that libertarians come off as though they have pat answers — nay, one single pat answer to every problem? (Not saying that they do, but just that they [you all?] come off that way over time? [Do you really think they (y’all) don’t???])

        You know, on reflection, yeah, there is one other reason beyond real perceptions that we might think ‘glibertarian’ resonated when ‘gliberal’ was never even attempted: as compared to the kinds of names and attitudes that have come liberals’ way from conservatives and, yes, some libertarians, over the years, ‘gliberal’ is, like, mega-ultra-infra-weaksauce as an epithet, and would be laughed out of any self-respecting liberal-basher’s lexicon at first public airing (cite: Bob Cheeks and what he gets away with around here).

        So Cowboy up, you rugged individualists. Calling someone glib isn’t even saying he’re wrong. In the world of today’s public discourse (and that of late Eighteenth-Century America) it’s practically kissing his ass. In most cases, this term is an expression of exasperation with the confidence with which you hold your ideas, and in the worst case it’s just an expression of unwillingness to engage with people with who differ from oneself. The former is not something to take any offense at (that I can see), and the latter is an attitude you ought to just take as reason not to care what the person thinks anyways. If you think the term accomplishes something I’m not seeing (that isn’t a legitimate observation about libertarian argumentation*), please enlighten me.

        * But(!): The mere fact that not all libertarians argue glibly all the time is not a compelling case that it is illegitimate for non-libertarians to perceive and observe upon the tendency — even coining a term for it — if it is in fact relatively common. And glibness, I think, is itself a quality defined by perception (is there an objective standard for whether an argument is glib?), so if the perception is commonly experienced, then the glibness is by definition real. The question in my view, then, is just whether the people who (at times) embrace ‘glibertarian’ have honestly experienced enough libertarian arguments as glib to fairly use the term. Again I would ask, does anyone really argue that they haven’t?Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to Randy J. says:

      I don’t get it. It’s a little out of my bailiwick but it seems that you want to think that Reynolds is a glibertarian exactly as that word is commonly used.Report

      • Avatar Randy J. in reply to Koz says:

        @Koz,

        To the extent that it is used to mean “glib libertarian,” then yes. To the extent that it’s an all-purpose slam on libertarians, no. Non-glib libertarians do exist. Allegedly.Report

  9. Avatar Randy J. says:

    For a liberal, I really do enjoy a good interbank lending joke. Kudos.Report

  10. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    While I enjoy Balloon Juice, and occasionally even comment there (not often, though — what’s the point of being #113 of 250?), it doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, Erik. The posts generally point out how boneheaded someone or something is and the commenters pile on. That’s not either a liberal or conservative stance; it comes from John Cole’s personality and style, and only the targets have changed since he was a Republican. In other words, it’s a place where someone who tries to be earnest and thoughtful will get eaten alive.Report

  11. Avatar NoPublic says:

    In the words of Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word (epistemic closure). I do not think it means what you think it means”.

    The BJ commentariat have a very specific set of expectations for their front pagers which has nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with interaction style.

    Lobbing a post in and then ignoring the comments and questions which follow is derided.

    As far as “being #113 of #250”, that’s what happens when you actually have back-and-forth. Yes, there are snipers and point-scorers and every other species of annoying internet personality. But there are also folks who honestly are trying to develop a rational and cogent world view and who could benefit from your viewpoint if it was clearly presented and well defended and explained.

    Tolerance doesn’t mean anything but just that. “I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it” is tolerance. Although nowhere in there does it say “And I reserve the equivalent right to ridicule you when I think you’ve stepped in it” but I think it’s pretty clearly implied.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NoPublic says:

      @NoPublic, I suppose that that is fair enough, but do you need the person who wrote the post to defend it?

      Surely you have enough folks with views similar to the poster who can run with it, or defend the parts that they agree with, or, at least, the one single point that they agree with… no?

      Perhaps even someone who enjoys the whole “Devil’s Advocate” role who wants to strengthen his own viewpoints by exploring the strongest/best arguments of the opposition?

      Do you have one of those?Report