Friday, May 27, 2005

Hyperbole, Slander and Dehumanization

two things I really dislike...

when a person or group I like and/or respect ventures from their area of competency or expertise to make judgment on someone else's character just to make a point or grandstand (i.e. Sen. McCain and steroids).


when that group or person I like and/or respect makes an egregious over the top statement about someone else which is so out of bounds it causes everything they say to be taken less seriously (see Dobson and Robertson calling judges worse than Nazis or terrorists. see Dobson and Falwell talking about cartoon characters).

Presently I am irked with Amnesty International, an organization I appreciate, applaud and have financially supported because I believe has been of great service to society. Last week in its annual report on Human Rights, most of which I agree with, AI called the military prison in Guantanamo Bay a "gulag for our times." The spokesperson also blamed genocide in Darfur on the US and its foreign policy. Huh?

Understand I am no fan of the present foreign policy of the US. I am also disgusted by the prisoner abuse scandals and strongly disagree with the military and its prison system in Gitmo and the Middle East. I even feel strongly that the US must intervene in Sudan or pressure the government there to quit its ethnic cleansing.

However, to blame the US for Islamic fundamentalists hacking Christian and Animistic Sudanese to death is deranged. To compare the unfortunate and sinful military prisons of the US to Stalin's infamous prison system which was the death of millions is preposterous. Overstatements such as these give ammo to those they should be engaging.

Why must each side take to name calling and hyperbole when highlighting a weakness of those they oppose? Can we point out that we disagree with someone without resorting to dehumanization and slander? Can we stop comparing everything to Holocausts (which is demeaning to Jews who died), Nazis, Gulags, Hitlers, Stalins, Devils, Hells, terrorists and Anti-Christs? George W. Bush is not Hitler, Bill Clinton is not the Anti-Christ, Abortion is not the Holocaust (although horrible), Gitmo is not a gulag, judges are not terrorists, Religious Righters are not Nazis, Michael Schaivo is not the devil, Tom DeLay is not Stalin and Iraq is not hell.

Exaggeration can be helpful when making a point, but to be taken seriously one must reserve extreme characterization or risk becoming the butt of a joke or seen as inconsequential (see Falwell, PETA and Earth First).

For more on the AI remarks click here and here.

For more on a call from a major newspaper for an independent investigation into prisoner abuse, click here.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you. This is always the case whenever you hear a side argued, no matter the side. That is why I, myself, get sick of it all. I think that is why they lose most of Americans. Look at the voting turnouts. This is why reality tv, Desperate Housewives, crap tv, etc. exists. Most of America is seduced into watching all of the nonsense because no one wants to hear the arguing, bickering, accusing of the issues. I am looking for humility and truth not the egos that hop around from network to network. I wish I could remember the man that was speaking on one of the news shows around the time of Mrs. Schiavo's coverage. I think that it was Max Lucado. He was someone that was being interviewed that seemed to have some humility, diplomacy, yet spiritually insightful. Well, that is all I have to say. Take care.

Anonymous said...

good stuff, thanks for writing it

jonathan said...

This is a clear and short commentary on the recent report:,0,2396170.column?coll=la-home-headlines