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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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44 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Let’s say that I wanted to call the example you used a bunch of quotes taken out of context.

    Would that be fair?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        I will say this: I have never watched Beck on television. The one time I saw him was on Fox’s Red Eye. He didn’t strike me as crazier than Gutfeld.

        I’ve listened to him on various youtubes that folks have foisted upon me and my take is generally a variant of “he seems entertaining enough” or “he’s pretty excitable”.

        Now, I know that I am one of the libertarian nutballs on this site and your “inflammatory” and my “inflammatory” Venn Diagram probably has a lot of stuff not overlapping than overlapping. And that’s fair enough.

        But I’ve heard far more about how awful he is in theory than given examples that result in me saying “he’s awful”.

        Hell, I understand that he played a “prank” when he was just a regular old DJ on one of his competitors and mocked him after his wife had a miscarriage. *THAT* pisses me off. *THAT* is something worth bashing the guy with, if you ask me.

        But the stuff I’ve seen on youtube? He’s an opinion commentator on Fox.Report

        • Avatar ppnl in reply to Jaybird says:

          Stop watching Glen Beck and watch Jon Stewart’s take down of Beck. Far more entertaining.

          In a sane world Glen Beck wouldn’t be a problem for republicans because they would pretty much ignore him. In the world we live in the John Birch society was a cosponsor for CPAC.

          Glen Beck is mostly harmless crazy but he is a symptom of the deeper problem that conservatives have totally lost the ability to filter out crazy.Report

        • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Jaybird says:

          I’ve watched a lot of Glen Beck (my friends and I have some interesting drinking games) and you’re pretty much right on – there’s very little of Beck that could be captured in a YouTube clip and be both blatantly offensive and in-context. In other words, he’s not an idiot. He does play loose with facts though (he had me believing that Van Jones was a convicted felon for quite some time – and I was watching the show ironically).

          Anyway, the one episode that I would recommend watching to get the gist (closely eeking out his foray into Degenerate Art, and the mother’s day anti-vaccine extravaganza) is the recent Soros/Puppet Master special. It exhibits Beck’s whole technique: lie by omission (about Soros’ funding of anti-communist revolutions), and then use that foundation to build up a conspiracy based on association and innuendo. I don’t think it was anti-Semitic, and certainly not “violent rhetoric”; but the way he used Soros’ holocaust experiences to position him as a self-hating Jew bent on world domination was creepy as hell.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to trizzlor says:

            This makes sense to me. Fair enough.Report

            • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Jaybird says:

              Jaybird:

              Now, I know that I am one of the libertarian nutballs on this site and your “inflammatory” and my “inflammatory” Venn Diagram probably has a lot of stuff not overlapping than overlapping. And that’s fair enough.

              But I’ve heard far more about how awful he is in theory than given examples that result in me saying “he’s awful”.

              I don’t know, I think you and I actually agree on quite a lot. And I’m not so sure what you or I define as ‘inflammatory’ is what matters. Beck is an opinionator on Fox News, ergo he is somewhat inflammatory. They want ratings. They don’t hire boring, uncontroversial people to host their shows – that’s why they’re doing so well.

              And like I said in the post, Beck and the other pundits don’t bother me so much. Yes, I do think that when you have enough people saying that we should be afraid and that the new administration is hell bent on destroying America, you do run the risk of inciting some crazy people to commit violent acts that they may not otherwise commit. I think it is hugely unlikely and rare no matter what, but I think it’s possible. I don’t think Beck or any other talking head wants that, and I don’t think that’s their intention at all.

              I actually used to watch Beck back when he was on CNN while I was at the gym, and I liked him. I thought he was interesting and entertaining. The maudlin Beck of Fox News is another story. He’s way too over the top, melodramatic, etc. Is he dangerous? I don’t think so. I used to think so much more than I do now.

              I personally don’t really enjoy that kind of punditry. I don’t like playing on peoples’ fears and emotions so much. I like reasonable, amicable discussion with people I would enjoy hanging out with, having a beer with, etc. But is the political discourse in this country so terrible? It could be much worse. Should we be a little uneasy when there’s so much gun imagery in our political ads and especially when tensions are so high and unemployment and resentment are so high? I think so.

              Do I believe in censorship of any kind – or hate speech laws or any of that? Absolutely not. People should be free to be outrageous or vile or whatever they like and we should be free to criticize them if we so choose.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                I recall that we hammered out most of this stuff almost two years ago (!!).

                ordinary-gentlemen.com/blog/2009/04/23/glenn-beck-and-the-red-knight/

                People should be free to be outrageous or vile or whatever they like and we should be free to criticize them if we so choose.

                In my opinion, this is the only way to *WIN*. It’s not the only way to fight, of course… but it’s the only way to win against outrageous or vile or whatever people.Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Jaybird says:

                That’s exactly right. And that’s the link I was thinking of when I said “I used to think so much more than I do now.”

                Honestly, I think people are simply torn. Something animal and fierce is stirred up by fierce, passionate, emotive over-the-top punditry. The riling up of the base and the baser parts of ourselves. And people are at the same time turned off by all this and want a ‘return to sanity’ – to a sanity which I don’t think ever truly existed. Politics has always been dirty business.Report

  2. Monday, September 22. 2008
    Sullivan: ‘Destruction of Republican Party Essential for US, World Recovery’
    The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan:
    “… the current GOP is contemptible in all its permutations – from the base to the intelligentsia…. my political judgment, honestly held, proudly expressed, is that destroying this Republican party is essential if this country and the world are going to recover from our current morass.”

    So, like, whatever.

    [Some on] the left politicized this tragedy to slime the right, including CNN, which I heard for myself. That’s the “other issue” here besides the tragedy itself. The real “other issue.”

    But the onus comes back on Glenn Beck and Coulter, etc. The argument is that although they had nothing to do with this psychotic tragedy, the right is wrong anyway.

    The left screws up, but the right’s at fault.

    All I can say is there’s a whole rightosphere out there—and one could start with Instapundit—documenting chapter and verse on the left behaving equally badly.

    Indeed, Beck and Coulter aren’t quoted by the right-wingers around here, but Andrew Sullivan is often quoted approvingly by commenters and management alike. There is a certain perspective missing here.Report

  3. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    E.D., thank you for the effort. Alas, not only is my land line experiencing a problem AT&T ignores, dial-up ain’t gonna let me see the you tube thingy, at least not this century.
    My fear for this cite is that you guys are equivocating on speech, and as far as I’m concerned that dog don’t hunt. Either YOU seek to curtail speech, and I’m looking forward to you explaining to your commentors where you place the League Hate Speech Line, or you hold to the quaint idea of free political speech, as the founders anticipated. My goodness League guys read Voegelin’s essay on the German people prior to the rise of the Nazis!
    For the record, I can handle my bros here putting the ‘political’ mouth on me…it’s all good. And, in the same spirit of vigorous exchange that I may drop a ‘commie-Dem,’ ‘Kenyan-Marxist’ or ‘gnostic Muslim’ on my politically correct and addlepated socialist friends from time to time. If not, E. D., just kick me off.
    This whole thing is about the Democrat’s fear of debating the conservatives following an election where, it appears, the American voter has determined that voting Democrat is a form of national suicide.
    BTW, bro Limbaugh spent this afternoon blasting audio of sundry Democrats and their ‘hate speech!’Report

    • Bob:

      Either YOU seek to curtail speech, and I’m looking forward to you explaining to your commentors where you place the League Hate Speech Line, or you hold to the quaint idea of free political speech, as the founders anticipated.

      Well two things.

      First, I don’t support any laws regulating the freedom of speech whatsoever. Any cautionary words I may have about the discourse amongst Happy Meal Conservatives is cautionary alone.

      Second, we have a commenting policy which simply asks that people treat one another with respect, don’t flame people for no good reason, and engage one another in honest – if at times forceful – conversation. This is a matter of tone and style. It is the point of the site – to constantly push conversation forward. Not to whine or flame or bait or troll or preach or whatever. To converse. You are an old-timer and I have no intention of ‘kicking you off’ the site. Stick around. Engage all us Voegelin-illiterates.Report

    • Er, Bob, isn’t it possible to agree that speech ought to be unfettered by law, but still be disapproving of the exercise of that right in certain contexts?

      I mean, I really don’t care if someone says “fuck” on the radio, but at the same time, I don’t really think it is appropriate to do so within hearing range of the 2-5 year old play structure at the park. Can’t I say, “that’s wildly inappropriate and you’re an asshole” without “seeking to curtail speech”?Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        Yes Pat, I think you’re right. I was referring to the Left’s apparent attempt to quiet the conservatives criticisms of Barry’s policies by using this current act of violence.
        I think that’s about as low as you can get, politically.
        But, perhaps you don’t see it that way?Report

        • I think it’s pretty low, too, Bob.Report

        • Avatar ppnl in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

          Seems like pretty standard op by both sides to me. Anyway referring to anything other than an actual law against certain types of speech as censorship is just wrong.

          It is reasonable to criticize people for over the top symbolism including guns. It is reasonable to object to over the top criticism for using those symbols. None of this is censorship. It is free speech in action.

          Until someone proposes a law, talk of curtailing free speech is nonsense. If you want to argue that liberals want to use this shooting to control the debate then yes that’s true. But that is a use of free speech and all sides of just about any debate use it.Report

        • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

          Greetings, Comrade Bob! I just love to see the left-wing jackals get so upset. May it never end! It doesn’t really take much to see these seriously mentally unbalanced freaks driven to a hysterical hissy. I mean, does any reasonably intelligent, sane, person not believe that 99.99999% of all domestic, political violence in the United States is committed by the Looney Lefties? Here’s a very small sample–I could, quite easily, get at least 200 more instances of their violent fascist craziness. Please let me know if you need more. In the meantime, enjoy!

          (Chris–were you kidding about the Ashcroft testimony accusing the opposition of “treasonous” behavior? I’ve read the whole thing and haven’t a clue what you might be talking about. But thanks so much for the laughs! Although it’s extremely rare that you ever demonstrate the slightest bit of humor, you can be quite funny, and that was just hilarious.

          •It was not the fear of conservative violence that caused Ann Coulter’s speech to be cancelled this week.
          •It was a liberal who bit the finger off a man who disagreed with him on health care.
          •It was Obama-loving Amy Bishop who took a gun to work and murdered co-workers.
          •Joseph Stack flew his plane into the IRS building after writing an anti-conservative manifesto.
          •It was liberals who destroyed AM radio towers outside of Seattle.
          •It’s liberals who burn down Hummer dealerships.
          •It was progressive SEIU union thugs who beat a black conservative man who spoke his mind.
          •It’s doubtful that a conservative fired shots into a GOP campaign headquarters.
          •In fact, Democrats have no monopoly on having their offices vandalized.
          •Don’t forget it was Obama’s friend Bill Ayers who used terrorism as a tool for political change. SDS is still radical, with arrests in 2007 and the storming of the CATO Institute in July 2008.
          •It was a liberal who was sentenced to two years for bringing bombs and riot shields to the Republican National Convention in 2008.
          •It was a liberal who threatened to kill a government informant who infiltrated her Austin-based group that planned to bomb the RNC.
          •It was liberals who assaulted police in Berkeley.
          •It was liberals who intimidated and threw rocks through the windows of researchers.
          •The two Black Panthers who stood outside polls intimidating people with nightsticks were probably not right-wingers.
          •Every time the G20 gets together, it’s not conservatives who destroy property and cause chaos.Report

          • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Heidegger says:

            Ann Coulter’s speech was canceled this week? No news on Google about that. Is this a form comment?

            Amy Bishop was a person with serious mental problems. I don’t think her political persuasion is even remotely related to her having a batshit freakout over failure to get tenure.

            Dude, the people who protest the G20 and burn down Hummer dealerships are no more representative of “liberals” than I am of the American Nazi Party. They’re pissed off, they’re usually teenagers or in their early twenties, and they have the political sophistication of my six year-old (about as much temper control as well).

            Joseph Stack was not “a liberal”. I think he qualifies as an anti-corporate nut, but he was also clearly an anti-government nut. By a premise stated in your own comments here, you have to be big government if you’re a leftie, so Mr. Stack can’t count. Note: his political persuasion is probably not relevant in the context of the whole “nut” aspect.

            The anti-medical research crowd is more generally liberal than conservative, sure, but they also target more generally liberal than conservative targets, so I think the right thing to worry about is whether or not you’re a animal researcher, not whether or not you’re a conservative.

            The black panther escapade I’ve heard very little real detail about, the rest of your citations are vague and lack references.

            Not that I’m claiming that no actual real politically aware people who self-identify as liberals aren’t capable of violence. That would be plainly ridiculous. People who come unhinged are of all political walks of life.

            Actually, it’s probably most accurate to say people who come unhinged are largely apolitical. Because, after all, *most* people are basically apolitical.Report

            • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

              I’m not talking about Liberals, Pat–I’m talking about hard-core Lefties. The Lefties only do and express what the Libs would like to do, but Liberals are just so too chicken little to ever act out their fantasies. Sort of like characterizing the Agnostics as Libs, and the Left as atheists. The entire media coverage has been at least 90% slanted toward making comparisons between this nut job and the “hateful right”, the inflammatory rhetoric of the right, talk radio right wing fascists, lack of “diversity” in right wing talk radio, Sarah Palin inciting violence with her photo op hunting adventures. And it goes on, and on, and on. Oh, that was not a form letter–just copied the list of infamous left-wing acts of violence and craziness. Is that a violation of protocol?Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Heidegger says:

                And for the icing on the cake, just heard Sarah Palin should be charged with murder in the 1st degree for the carnage in AZ. Not kidding.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Heidegger says:

                That needs to be proven with links. Until then its nothing.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Heidegger says:

                > The entire media coverage has been at least 90%
                > slanted toward making comparisons between this
                > nut job and the “hateful right”

                I dunno, dude, most of the references I’ve seen in actual news outlets/Sunday morning political talk shows were rather explicit about pointing out (almost to the point of being pedantic about it) that nothing was known about this guy’s politics, and the fact that he shot a democrat at a political event wasn’t conclusive proof of anything regarding his motives and driving forces.

                Now, in the blogoblog, that might be totally different. Again, I don’t read Daily Kos or the Huffpost, so I can’t say anything about the characterizations or what they’re like. And to be absolutely fair, I’ve been avoiding this story for the large part because when I hear stories about nine year old kids getting shot by assholes it makes me think about what it must be like to be the father/parents of that nine year old child and then I get really depressed that the world can suddenly turn into gut wrenching pain for people for the dumbest fucking reasons. So I freely admit I’m a bad judge as to what 90% of the news stories are like.

                As events turn out, it wouldn’t surprise me for this guy to be compared to the “hateful right” if he turns out to be politically motivated, because he did, after all, shoot a Democrat as his primary target. Again, I think it’d be a foolish characterization, because in the annals of humanity, being a violent nut sort of trumps all your characteristics so political inclinations are only marginally more important than what kind of ice cream the dude likes.

                And really we should talk more about how much it sucks for the victims of events like this than talk at all about the crazy nut and what his motivations were. He was crazy. There aren’t that many super-crazy people out there. Sometimes, one flips out when you’re nearby; it’s a risk we take walking out where other people are. I mean, his motivations might be interesting in the sense of “so that’s how this crazy guy thought” (I read about serial killers because I find their particular brand of insanity an intellectual curiosity), but as I mentioned above, crazy people’s rationales for stuff doesn’t generalize.

                So even *if* this dude was flipped out by anti-government rhetoric in this particular case, it’s more a matter of target selection than prevention. Toning down political rhetoric isn’t going to prevent people who are this unhinged from flying off the handle, it’s just going to move them to a different target space. They’re going to pop anyway.

                Nothing wrong with posting lists from somewhere, provided the list is justifiable. I think there’s some serious stretches in that list. I’ve seen Joseph Stack hauled out as an example of the violent right, too, since he was an anti-government nut (and, for the record, I think that’s a bad equivalence on that side as well).Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                Hey Pat, great to hear from you, and thanks so much for the reply! Actually, come to think of it, that reply might not have been directed to me at all, but thanks anyway in case it was. It looks like we’ll be stuck in a political firestorm for at least the foreseeable future. Sure enough, religion is now being entered into the narrative, saying his “altar” was a homage to Hitler. Whether or not that is true, is it possible for anyone to take a few deep breaths, step back, and realize this guy was a few light years from any coherent sense of reality?Report

          • Avatar Koz in reply to Heidegger says:

            “I just love to see the left-wing jackals get so upset. May it never end!”

            I don’t, at all. In general, it’s much better for the liberals to go away quietly into some productive endeavor than go get agitated over political issues.

            As far as Arizona goes, this is very bad for our political culture besides the tragedy for the people involved. People understand, in their heart of hearts, that the GOP is not playing the business as usual game. If they succeed in limiting the size and scope of government from where it is now, there is going to be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

            The anger is going to be of a much different kind than Jared Lee Loughner, but at a visceral level it all looks the same. The Left is going to play this up as heavily as they can, under the illusion that they can keep everything bourgeois and safe, and everything’s going to be ok.Report

        • Let’s talk context.

          If someone on the Left is using this event to talk about the applicability of background checks for firearms purchase, I think that’s reasonable. It’s certainly germane to this case. It’s a case of one, so weak anecdotal evidence and all that, but at least it’s germane.

          If someone on the Left is using this event to talk about the applicability of other gun laws (e.g., Arizona’s CCW), I think that’s silly, as it’s not germane to the case.

          If someone on the Left is using this event to discard well-thought out opinions on the Right because “all Righties support the violent rhetoric that leads to this sort of thing!” that’s plain foolish, as it overgeneralizes the right and is not a very well supported link (rhetoric == violence).

          If they’re doing it knowing that it’s foolish, they’re trying to snow the easily swayed – which is exactly the motivation they claim Beck has, and thus they’re trapped in a logical cleft from which there is no escape and should kill themselves immediately.

          See what I did there?

          Now, if someone on the Left is using this event as a springboard to decry the use of violence-referencing rhetoric in public discourse, that might be okay if it’s clear that you’re just saying “this reminds me, we ought to tone down our rhetoric because we sound like a collective bunch of assholes when we use war terminology to talk about public policy issues”. Sort of like you might use the occasion of a traffic report about a fatality in a rainstorm to steer a discussion about *that* event into emergency preparedness for hurricanes. Given that everyone’s talking about deaths and the weather, it’s not an unreasonable stretch of the topic (this is what I think most of the posts/comments on this particular site are steering towards, in regards to this particular event).

          Now, if you’re saying that “the Left” is trying, en masse, to quiet all conservative criticism by exploiting this for political gain, I think you’re overgeneralizing a tad the same way that those lefties are overgeneralizing by claiming all righties use violent rhetoric. I don’t read DailyKos, but I imagine there’s a dumb post or two over there. That doesn’t mean all lefties think what the dumb poster thinks.

          I agree, though, with your central premise; it’s crass political pandering, and those lefties that are doing it deserve to be called out for it the same way that righties who claimed anti-war people were anti-American prior to the invasion of Iraq. No problem there. Crass political pandering isn’t a party-specific complaint, though. One cannot reasonably claim that Ann Coulter’s crass political pandering is “misunderstood satire” while demonizing someone on the left for crass political pandering in this particular instance.

          Also, one could be guilty of crass political pandering in a particular incidence without being generally the sort of cat that engages in crass political pandering. Everybody has blind spots. I’m sure out there on the Internet there’s an anti-gun campaigner who had his daughter killed by a runaway round who’s flaming at the mouth over this incident unjustifiably but understandably.Report

  4. Avatar Aaron W says:

    I think the closest anyone has gotten to ‘pinning’ Beck for anything was the crazy guy who had a shoot-out with the CHP on I-580 in Oakland. Of course, that ended up not even really being true either. (link: http://reason.com/blog/2010/10/11/byron-williams-talks ) I find Beck to be too paranoid and quick to hyperbole, honestly, but whatever, I don’t really find him that ‘dangerous’ either.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Aaron W says:

      He’s certainly not dangerous. Honestly, I think he’s a bit of a con-man but he isn’t dangerous.Report

      • Avatar samc in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        What reading the Web these past few days has revealed is just how tribal politics is. Since Beck, Limbaugh and Coulter ect. are part of your team I guess I can understand why (as you noted in an earlier thread) you think they are fun. To each his own as they say. What is really stunning about all of this is that reading through the various comments on multiple posts here there is barely any mention of the 6 people who died and the various wounded including a congresswoman in critical condition. They’re just pawns in a political game. The real victim now is Sarah Palin. One poster earlier in the thread after railing against the democrats for politicizing the tragedy, gleefully proclaims how much this is going to hurt the left. Talk about lack of self-awareness. This whole discussion is completely phony. None of these wannabe politicians or talk jocks believe a word they say. If John McCain were president the economic stimulus would be terrific and deficits wouldn’t matter a bit. And if angry democrats showed up at his events carrying guns, I’ll bet Rush and Beck would be cool with it. Yeah right. I have no doubt that there are sincere people who would like to tone down the rhetoric, but it will never happen. You see political speech isn’t free; it is purchased. The more money the bigger the megaphone. SarahPac will rake in the dough over this as she sets her sites on another fun election in Arizona 8. Meanwhile real people died.Report

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