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Author Topic: The Quality of Political Writing
Jim Rodger
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posted 23 February 2006 01:30 PM      Profile for Jim Rodger     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I have lately been distressed by the quality of much progessive political writing. Clearly the immediacy of the internet has not been good for language. "Rabble" is no exception. I imagine similar deterioration can be found on conservative sources, but I cannot say as I do not troll them. Then a few days ago I ran across this thought in an editorial written by Albert Camus for the Resistance newspaper "Combat" (which continued publishing for a few years after the end of WW II):

"In the age of lies, even the clumsiest frankness is preferable to the best-orchestrated ruse."
-Albert Camus, "The Choice", editorial in "Combat", 22 April 1947. Cited in "Camus at Combat: Writing 1944-1947", Jacqueline Lévi-Valensi, ed., Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2006.

That thought does not make me any more optimistic about our times, but it does lead me to view progressive writing more tolerantly. Having said that, though, it must be noted that eloquent frankness is preferable to, and more persuavsive than, clumsy frankness.

[ 24 February 2006: Message edited by: Jim Rodger ]


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Cueball
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posted 23 February 2006 01:47 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Perhaps you should go "troll" those right wing boards, just to compare.
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skdadl
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posted 23 February 2006 01:52 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It is always so inspiring to be told that one is being tolerated.
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Hephaestion
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posted 23 February 2006 02:07 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Rodger:

Having said that, though, it must be noted that eloquent frankness is preferable to, and more persuavsive than, clumsy frankness.



Okay, here goes...

Jim Rodger, if you are the same fellow who attended Brandon University in the 1980s, and whose mother was a museum curator there, your comments here don't surprise me one bit. You never had any tact back then, either.

How's that?

ETA: I just read your profile; I guess you are some OTHER Jim Rodger who is completely lacking in grace or tact. Huh! Small world!

[ 23 February 2006: Message edited by: Hephaestion ]


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NWOntarian
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posted 23 February 2006 02:22 PM      Profile for NWOntarian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Rodger:
Having said that, though, it must be noted that eloquent frankness is preferable to, and more persuavsive than, clumsy frankness.

The key is the frankness, not the eloquence. You can use all the flowery language that you like, but if your point is lost, then you may as well have just said nothing. Remember John Kerry?

Politics and the English Language - George Orwell


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Jim Rodger
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posted 23 February 2006 02:23 PM      Profile for Jim Rodger     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I seem to have inadvertently struck a cord! Actually, I had no one particularly in mind, merely making the obsevation that much contemporary progressive political writing would be more persuasive if it were more eloquent. That applies to some, not all contemporary political writing and some, not all writing on "Rabble". I can't imagine how one can take exception to that general observation, but clearly some have found a way to take personal offense, if not exception.
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Jim Rodger
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posted 23 February 2006 02:27 PM      Profile for Jim Rodger     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by NWOntarian:

The key is the frankness, not the eloquence. You can use all the flowery language that you like, but if your point is lost, then you may as well have just said nothing. Remember John Kerry?


Absolutely true. It is, however, an error to equate eloquence with "floweriness". Orwell was supremely eloquent and not a flower in sight in anything he ever wrote!


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lagatta
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posted 23 February 2006 02:28 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You've struck a cord, eh?
From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Jim Rodger
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posted 23 February 2006 02:37 PM      Profile for Jim Rodger     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Hephaestion:

Okay, here goes...

Jim Rodger, if you are the same fellow who attended Brandon University in the 1980s, and whose mother was a museum curator there, your comments here don't surprise me one bit. You never had any tact back then, either.

How's that?

ETA: I just read your profile; I guess you are some OTHER Jim Rodger who is completely lacking in grace or tact. Huh! Small world!

[ 23 February 2006: Message edited by: Hephaestion ]



Often it is a good idea to do one's homework BEFORE making comments. That would also help the quality of progressive political discussion, wouldn't you agree?


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Mr. Magoo
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posted 23 February 2006 02:40 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I seem to have inadvertently struck a cord!

Surely you meant a "chord".

Well, no worries. We'll tolerate it.


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 23 February 2006 02:49 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
NWOntarian
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posted 23 February 2006 02:56 PM      Profile for NWOntarian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Personal offense aside, I think this thread is a worthwhile topic, but I'd expand it from 'political language' to language in general.

What really bothers me about language these days is the way that it's being corrupted by the media -- specifically with the insatiable demand for soundbytes. And I find right-wingers to be far worse for it than anyone on the left.

Hands up anyone who cringes when they hear the phrases "hate us for our freedoms" or "defending our freedoms". Or "spreading democracy"?

Bush's most recent State of the Union really got to me when he said:

quote:
Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbours, and join the fight against terror.

As if there's a list of things that democracies just do, and joining in ill-defined, open-ended fights is one of them. And the statement about democracies replacing resentment with hope is ironic coming at this particular time. I recall seeing a few surveys (sorry, I don't have links) that say the majority of people in the US, and possibly Canada, don't even expect to make out as well as their parents did for the first time since they've been asking the question.

But the constant and relentless repetition of soundbytes is killing me inside.


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Hephaestion
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posted 23 February 2006 02:56 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Rodger:

Often it is a good idea to do one's homework BEFORE making comments. That would also help the quality of progressive political discussion, wouldn't you agree?



Well, I could've just edited it out, but you share the same crass qualities as the other Jim, and I thought it was such a statistical oddity that I'd leave it the way it was. Who'd'a thought there'd be two like you with the same name?

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Jim Rodger
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posted 23 February 2006 02:57 PM      Profile for Jim Rodger     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:

Surely you meant a "chord".

Well, no worries. We'll tolerate it.


You are entirely correct. All I can offer by way of excuse is that we heat with wood and I tend to think in "cords" rather than "chords". Thank you for your tolerance!


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thwap
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posted 23 February 2006 03:13 PM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ahem!

lagatta cot it furst!

fukkin' firn hill wuz rite!

fukkin-fuk-fukkity-fuck!!!


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Hephaestion
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posted 23 February 2006 03:17 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
*juvenile laughter @ thwap*
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Cueball
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posted 23 February 2006 03:22 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Rodger:


Often it is a good idea to do one's homework BEFORE making comments. That would also help the quality of progressive political discussion, wouldn't you agree?


Well that brings me back to you going to some of the right wing blogs and checking out if the "tone" of the commentary is any better, just to compare.


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writer
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posted 23 February 2006 03:28 PM      Profile for writer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The criticism was of rabble, not babble. Was that reference made with accuracy and care?
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RP.
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posted 23 February 2006 03:44 PM      Profile for RP.     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Is your argument with quality of writing, or rigour of argument?
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Jim Rodger
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posted 23 February 2006 04:18 PM      Profile for Jim Rodger     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by writer:
The criticism was of rabble, not babble. Was that reference made with accuracy and care?

Yes.


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writer
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posted 23 February 2006 04:25 PM      Profile for writer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So the thread is about the rabble.ca site in general, not the discussion board in particular. And comparisons should be made with right-wing news and information sites, not stand-alone blogs and discussion boards.
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Jim Rodger
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posted 23 February 2006 04:25 PM      Profile for Jim Rodger     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by RP.:
Is your argument with quality of writing, or rigour of argument?

Both, actually, but I believe that quality of writing is necessary to rigour of argument. The point is that we who consider ourselves progressive can advance the cause better through writing more thoughtfully and carefully than we sometimes do.

I don't care much what the conservative blogs are doing, whether they are better or worse than ours in terms of language usage. My interest is in seeing the progressive cause advanced. Language, well used, can help us do that.


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writer
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posted 23 February 2006 04:31 PM      Profile for writer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I believe that quality of writing is necessary to rigour of argument.

Excellent! With that in mind, could you please provide links to a few of the specific rabble items you object to?


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thwap
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posted 23 February 2006 04:49 PM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Rodger:

Both, actually, but I believe that quality of writing is necessary to rigour of argument. The point is that we who consider ourselves progressive can advance the cause better through writing more thoughtfully and carefully than we sometimes do.

I don't care much what the conservative blogs are doing, whether they are better or worse than ours in terms of language usage. My interest is in seeing the progressive cause advanced. Language, well used, can help us do that.


... ain't it the trooth.


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writer
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posted 23 February 2006 04:52 PM      Profile for writer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
thwap, you are such a chard!
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thwap
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posted 23 February 2006 05:09 PM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Credit where credit is due: I stole that from "Barney Miller." (That's the thing with good writing though, it's timeless.)


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writer
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posted 23 February 2006 05:28 PM      Profile for writer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Whereas haircuts and ties are not.
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skdadl
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posted 23 February 2006 05:31 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I miss those guys.
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rasmus
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posted 23 February 2006 05:33 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Det. Sgt. Harris is great in Firefly.
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Cueball
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posted 23 February 2006 05:43 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by writer:
Whereas haircuts and ties are not.

What?!


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unionist
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posted 23 February 2006 07:49 PM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Rodger:
I have lately been distressed by the quality of much progessive political writing.

I have rather been dismayed by the absence thereof.


From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 23 February 2006 08:07 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Speaking of the quality of politcal discourse, this, article Lance posted on another thread:

quote:
After Amnesty International compared American treatment of Afghan and Iraqi prisoners to the Gulag, I heard the President say: ‘It’s an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world. It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of, and the allegations by, people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble – that means not tell the truth.’



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thwap
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posted 23 February 2006 08:09 PM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
He's never going to get anywhere with garbled syntax like that!!
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Hephaestion
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posted 23 February 2006 10:32 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by thwap:

He's never going to get anywhere with garbled syntax like that!!



Damn progressives with their lousy discourse!

But hey, thwappie ol' bud, I thought "syntax" was when they made ya pay more fer yer booze and ciggies?!


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'lance
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posted 23 February 2006 10:39 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:

What?!


What, indeed. Wojo's rumpled, "lived-in" hairstyle has aged well, and even wide ties like Barney's wearing have come back.

Ties like Yemana's, though, I dunno...

Meanwhile, Ron Glass and Hal Linden are two of about five men in the world who can truly carry off a mustache, in my opinion.

[ 23 February 2006: Message edited by: 'lance ]


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Hephaestion
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posted 23 February 2006 10:54 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by 'lance:

Wojo's rumpled, "lived-in" hairstyle has aged well...



*ahem*

Max Gail wore a "toop"

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'lance
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posted 23 February 2006 10:58 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well. I was not aware of that, or had forgotten it.

Mind you, for at least the first half of the Barney Miller run, my fambly had only an 18-inch B&W TV. So if it was evident on TV, we couldn't really tell.

(Yes, yes -- while waiting for the tubes to warm up we walked four miles to school and back in the snow, uphill both ways, yada yada yada...).


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rasmus
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posted 24 February 2006 12:24 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Was Harris gay, or metrosexual before his time?
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Cueball
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posted 24 February 2006 12:27 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by thwap:
He's never going to get anywhere with garbled syntax like that!!

To be sure my syntax is as bad, but I do know what the words mean.


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'lance
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posted 24 February 2006 12:27 AM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Was Harris gay, or metrosexual before his time?

A fair question. Recently I saw one or two of the early episodes. Not only were they... well, kind of bad, but Harris came across as just panicky.

[ 24 February 2006: Message edited by: 'lance ]


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rasmus
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posted 24 February 2006 12:32 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wasn't "Fish" among the worst spin-offs ever? Who ever thought of a show with Abe Vigoda playing the lead. God you'd need a lot of drugs for that to seem like a good idea.

[ 24 February 2006: Message edited by: rasmus raven ]


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'lance
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posted 24 February 2006 12:37 AM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I remember "Fish" only very vaguely. I think by that point I'd discovered dope, or something.

Howbeit that much of it was bad Ottawa Valley homegrown, it was still a better use of my time than most of the TV shows on offer.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
thwap
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posted 24 February 2006 12:50 PM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I liked "Fish." But i also liked "Happy Days" at the moment in time.

Ron Glass seemed to be a much more different person than the character he played. I think he's a pretty good actor and I was glad to see him working.

And he looked weird without the moustache. ONe time he had to shave it to go undercover as a target for a purse-snatcher.


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'lance
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posted 24 February 2006 01:48 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by thwap:
I liked "Fish." But i also liked "Happy Days" at the moment in time.

Ron Glass seemed to be a much more different person than the character he played. I think he's a pretty good actor and I was glad to see him working.

And he looked weird without the moustache. ONe time he had to shave it to go undercover as a target for a purse-snatcher.


Some time in the mid-80s, I saw a picture of Hal Linden in the newspaper -- actually a series of three. He was going to be in some Broadway play which required him to lose his mustache.

In the first shot, he looked much as he had in Barney Miller. In the second, half the mustache was shaved off, and in the third, it was all gone.

I've never seen facial hair make such a difference to how a man looked. He was absolutely unrecognizable as the same person. Everyone concerned thought so too, which was why the pictures had been taken and ended up being widely reproduced.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
NWOntarian
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posted 24 February 2006 06:04 PM      Profile for NWOntarian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by rasmus raven:
Wasn't "Fish" among the worst spin-offs ever? Who ever thought of a show with Abe Vigoda playing the lead. God you'd need a lot of drugs for that to seem like a good idea.

Random fact, February 24 -- today -- is Abe Vigoda's birthday.


From: London, ON | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
otter
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posted 24 February 2006 11:55 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
methinks that when it comes any form of discourse, the emphasis belongs on the ability of the sender to convey the thought[s]in such a manner that the receiver is able to interpret the information within in their own pattern of conception. In this case, their own language.

Put another way, when the student fails to grasp the lesson the fault lies with the instructors ability to convery the information in a manner that is readily interpretable.

example. In my first statistics class i was lost within a couple of weeks. I attempted to get clearer direction for the instructor, but to no avail. I dropped it and moved on. The next time i signed up it was a different instructor. This guy could explain a scenario in a multitude of ways. The other instructor was limited in his ability to explain. I ended up with an a+ and enjoyed the class immensely.


From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged

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