Bill O’Reily uses the term, ‘insanity on the net.” He is mad because of criticism that he cannot pinpoint so he casts his blanket curse. Shawn Hannity refers to Congressman Murtha as being insane. He is mad because a respected congressman does not agree with him. Are these guys nuts or something? If we disagree with someone, or we set ourselves up to be attacked, and then someone takes us up on it, we can just dismiss them as being insane. The strategy of dismissiveness is extremely offensive! But it is their American given right.
To be dismissed is to be brushed aside, as if other’s opinions are merely flies or mosquitoes, is to totally disregard other people. I don’t like it when I am on the receiving end – but I am quick to dismiss Pat Robertson and his cronies as being wacko.
To be dismissed is the ultimate insult – it says ‘not only are you wrong, you are so wrong that you are not worth talking about or thinking about.’ Most of us who are dismissed as being insane or wacko have some qualities that justify the label. Make one crazy statement and that statement will be used forever to discredit anything you say in the future.
But O’Reilly has a point. It is lost because of his continual rants about anyone or anything that opposes him – but there is some real insanity on the internet. This whole blog phenomenon has proliferated the crazies. People like us can get on here and write anything we want – there is presumably no accountability – no feet-to-the-fire moment. That is not exactly true – it is just not obvious.
This is America. The market decides. Does Rush Limbaugh have a following? Does Bill O’Reilly have a following? Do companies pay to advertise on their programs? Historically our country has tolerated any position that sells. If it sells then we presume that large numbers of people agree – the test of reason.
It seems the winner will be the person who can execute the most creative name calling. But historically reason has prevailed. Reason has prevailed in the political arena, in the media, and in churches. There are the occasional flare-ups of nuttyness – but these flare-ups generally do not last longer than a generation or two.
We use the term insanity and wacko loosely, but there can be real consequences. If the insanity gets too far out of control, like the Third Reich or Al Qaeda, then reason will raise a big hammer and smash the culprit. 20,000,000 people may have to die first – but reason will ultimately prevail.
The market will ultimately regulate the internet. There will always be niche markets of wackoism. There will always be O’Reillys, Hannitys, Robertsons, and Pelosis. There will always be some form of an internet. The jury of the market is still out.
See Also: On Writing, Blogging, Journalism