Political Rage

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Megan McArdle reads an article about — well, it doesn’t really matter what it’s about. Here’s what she says in response:

This resonates with my growing disgust at the level of anger in the blogosphere. I don’t mean irritation, pointed jibes, or even spirited discussion; I mean an aggressive revelling in rage. I notice it much more on left wing sites, but that’s because I basically refuse to read angry right-wing sites, so I don’t know what’s going on there.

Two things here. First, I’m pretty sure that right-wing rage continues to outpace left-wing rage fairly substantially — though, like Megan, I don’t really spend too much time reading rage-filled sites on either side of the aisle. But the conventional wisdom is that righties are all fired up this election season over Barack Obama’s attempts to destroy the America we love, while we lefties are dispirited and depressed. You can probably guess which emotion produces more rage.

Second, I think the blogosphere fools us about this stuff. In the past, I imagine there’s been every bit as much rage as there is today. It’s just that the mainstream media was all dressed up in suits and ties and most of us ordinary citizens didn’t really have a way to channel our rage. But it was still there. The big difference isn’t that we’re any more filled with rage than we’ve ever been, it’s just that it’s all so public now. This might very well be a bad thing on its own (or not — who knows, really?), but it’s not because tea partiers are any angrier at Obama than they were at FDR or Bill Clinton. We just have a better view of it these days.

That said, though, I too was pretty disgusted by the blogospheric treatment of Todd Henderson a few weeks ago, which was so wildly blown out of proportion that it reminded me more of a rabid mob than anything else. That kind of freeding frenzy has become all too common. On the other hand, “curb stomping” is just routine trash talk. I wouldn’t read too much into it.

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