Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Online, attacks on groups of people are treated differently than attacks on individuals. Granting that there are not always clear distinctions, and that sometimes a criticism of a group can be somewhat disguised, how do we think the main figures in political and social debate divide on this? Does Donald Trump criticise groups, or focus on individuals? Lots of individuals, or a few key ones?  What about Obama and Hillary Clinton? What does the conservative press tend to do?  CNN and the Washington Post?

I don't want to prejudice the discussion, but I think tendencies online descend from the conventions of writing for some people and the conventions of speech for others. 


Christopher B said...

My first thought is that this is similar to the speech/violence dichotomy.

Those on the left perceive negative generalizations about groups as an attack on all individuals in that group but see nothing wrong with attacking individuals for membership in groups they find distasteful.

The right flips that, seeing little wrong with making (accurate) generalizations about groups but generalizing attacks on individuals for their group associations as attacks on the group.

Aggie said...
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Aggie said...

"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)"
Saul Alinsky

I think it's more like conventions of thought: The party ideology of the day drives much of it. The left tends toward mob psychology, to personalize the attack on individual leaders in order to weaken their position as a holder of power; to terrorize their victims. The right tends to generalize their attack to groups, because organized groups represent the accumulated power. Both see a bigger picture. Conservatives are historically less willing to be confrontational, seeing it as de-constructional to good society, and this is sometimes interpreted as being 'too nice'.