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"Conservatives": Shy or Tricksy? - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Nov. 24th, 2004

11:23 am - "Conservatives": Shy or Tricksy?

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So I'm looking at sorryeverybody.com and the European response site apologiesaccepted.com. And then I'm looking at the bizarro conservative response site yourewelcomeeverybody.com .

And sure, everyone has been laughing or crying about these sites for days now but something just struck me about tactics and truth and spin and attitude on these sites.

On the two "liberal" sites the theme is generally that someone holds up a hand written sign and takes a picture of themselves with it. There are hundreds and hundreds of pages of such pictures, about 9 to a page. These pictures don't just show a message, they show a face, that face shows identity and emotion.

On the "conservative" reactionary site, the idea is to do the same thing but the follow through is not there. I mean first of all there are only 5 per page and only 32 pages. But the much more interesting thing is that the vast majority of pictures do not feature a handwritten sign or the face of the author. They almost all have computer written text overlayed onto an image. Sometimes the image appears to be of the author of the message but how are we to know that it isn't a stock photo? How are we to know that there aren't a few random self-appointed spinsters out there taking random images from google or wherever and sticking these slogans on them and posting them? How are we to feel that this is a genuine outpouring of conservative feeling from a vast array of real people?

It hadn't occurred to me until I noticed this just how powerful the format of the "liberal" sites is. Associating the image with the handwritten message provides a level of validation, of identity authentication. These images are (mostly) clearly not farked, photoshopped, or otherwise faked. They aren't centrally generated spin. The site creates a real image of what a subsection of "liberal" america looks like.

The "conservative" site doesn't show many pictures of people that we actually know are conservatives. Not only does it fail to establish trust through the authentication method of associating faces with handwritten messages, it also fails to portray an image of a cross section of "conservative" America.

While many people get angry and sad when they see all the hurtful and hateful and ignorant messages on that site, I get happy. Because it is so pathetic. I mean is this the best astroturf they can come up with? I mean can Bush supporters on the net not even PRETEND to be sincere in their gloating? This is like the opposite end of the spectrum of typical astroturf which reveals itself by being TOO polished and consistent. This stuff is too consistently inconsistent. Sincere gloating would have been so much more powerful, and they had a chance to do it, but only a handful of them took up that chance. I wonder why these "conservatives" are so completely unwilling to show their faces. Are they shy?

(Note: I tried to put "conservative" and "liberal" in quotes throughout this because I don't generally like the generalizations that those labels and their associations with political parties creates....but for the purposes of this post that debate is irrelevant and I didn't want to get bogged down in defining terms. The sites themselves set up a conversation in terms of these diametric polar terms, I don't see the world in those strict "us" and "them" terms but if I'm talking about these sites, I might as well pick an "us" and a "them" for the duration of the talk. FWIW I didn't post a picture to any of these sites and don't plan to, because I didn't vote for Bush or Kerry.)

Comments:

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From:tugena13
Date:November 24th, 2004 05:30 pm (UTC)
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very interesting post! i hadn't even heard of the yourwelcomeeverybody.com site... for the record, isn't it "you're," as in "you are welcome," not the posessive "your"?
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From:tugena13
Date:November 24th, 2004 05:32 pm (UTC)
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my bad, they spelled it right... the "losers" thing strikes me as immature and insulting though.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 24th, 2004 05:37 pm (UTC)
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Which "losers" thing?
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From:the_sween
Date:November 24th, 2004 06:18 pm (UTC)
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In the opening paragraph of the yourwelcomeeverybody.com site: This site is a direct response/spoof of another site out there that lets losers post pictures of themselves apologizing for George Bush's victory in the recent presidential election.

It feels like picking teams for high school sports on a national level.
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From:ddbrown
Date:November 24th, 2004 06:41 pm (UTC)
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Let them be insulting. The more obnoxious the vocal Republicans are, the better. I'd be happier if they were cussing us out.

In a lot of ways, this is the Republicans' chance to fall on their faces, and the more egotistical the "die hard core" is, the better. Let them explain to the undecideds, the independents, and the true conservatives within their own party why things have gone to hell in a handbasket. Or, as I find more likely, let them bark at each other and call the dissenters traitors, and tear their own party apart from the inside out.
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From:tugena13
Date:November 24th, 2004 08:23 pm (UTC)
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yup, that's what i was about to quote as well.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 24th, 2004 05:37 pm (UTC)
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Totally my typo. Fixed it.
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From:skywind8
Date:November 24th, 2004 06:01 pm (UTC)
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I also notice that the yourewelcome site is largely focused on rude or offensive pictures (gestures, exposed bodies, photoshopped comics, etc.) rather than support. Rather inane, really.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 24th, 2004 09:08 pm (UTC)
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Exactly. So cliche. That's the level of discourse that seems to pervade "conservative" responses to any kind of non-conservative content online. I mean here's all these open forums for these folks to really espouse their views on why "we" are wrong and they just use them to be childish and agressive.

Discourse is dead.
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From:ddbrown
Date:November 24th, 2004 11:24 pm (UTC)
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You make the mistake of assuming that "they" ever wanted to have discourse with you. This behavior is closer to that of a primate pack having a territorial dispute with another primate pack than reasonable discourse. With that logic, the group that is the loudest, scariest, and basically throws the most feces wins. Trying to have "discourse" with people operating in this mindset is gauranteed to lose - you aren't screaming, you aren't threatening, and you aren't throwing feces, thus you must be the loser. That GWB was re-elected simply confirms this, and any noise made by "the losers" is on par to the small monkey screaming at the large monkey from a safe distance. This behavior isn't restricted to "the conservatives" by any means, though in my personal experience, it is considerably more prevalent there.

This is why I don't even get involved in discussions with conservatives of this stripe, I don't visit their websites, and aside from taking what steps I can to counter, bypass, or otherwise negate them, I tend to ignore their existence.

Or, to put it another way: With the people you're talking about, discourse isn't dead - it was never born.

Instead, I worry about working with the conservatives who are willing to talk. There are a lot of true conservatives out there (Bush and his hard core supporters don't qualify IMHO, they've abandoned too many conservative principles), and a fair number of edge sitters. These are the people to whom I talk, and usually enjoy the conversation - even when we walk away still disagreeing with each other. As for the feces flingers - the stupider they look, the better.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 25th, 2004 07:38 am (UTC)
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My understanding is actually that in (at least some) primate societies the alphas rarely throw feces. The betas do it as they fight for status, but the truly dominant ones sit quietly, their authority unshakable.

Luckily, we're not primates though.
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From:skywind8
Date:November 25th, 2004 04:17 pm (UTC)
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Wikipedia disagrees. "A primate is any member of the biological order Primates, the group that contains all lemurs, monkeys, and apes, including humans." (primate entry)

"Humans may be have been extremely successful due to their high intelligence, but they also have their share of physical complications. Humans are prone to suffer from obesity more so than other primates. This is largely due to the fact that humans are capable of producing more body fat than their primate relatives." (human entry)

I will agree that people generally don't like to admit that humans frequently behave like apes. :)
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 25th, 2004 05:14 pm (UTC)
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Yah, I was a-technical when I spoke.

Luckily, humans, due to their intelligence, are not bound by the instinctual behavior which defines low-intelligence primate societies.
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From:the_sween
Date:November 24th, 2004 06:57 pm (UTC)
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Your post was the first I had heard of these sites. After some review of them, it was not unexpected to see what was there. The sorryeverybody.com site was definitely apologetic while the yourewelcomeeverybody.com pics were generally just plain mean or degrading with few actual people with signs saying they weren't sorry.

I'm just going to add this crap to my already huge list of why we need multiple parties and why my votes and efforts will go to the Greens. There's just way to much of this "us vs. them" crap.

Then again, who is to say that if the election hadn't gone the other way that these sites wouldn't be reversed? I would hope not since I identify more with the Dems than the GOP, but there are still assbags on both sides willing to do such things.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 24th, 2004 09:06 pm (UTC)
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I can actually understand some of the anger coming from the Bush-supporter site, given that many of the folks on the apology site used their signs to call Bush supporters stupid or ignorant or otherwise suggest low IQs. This has been a common internet sentiment since the election. It's a meme that plays well among "us" but is the last possible thing you want to ever say to "them" if you want to have any hope of someday winning "them" over.

This could have been a great opportunity for the Bush supporters to show some sincerity, to explain why they were proud that Bush got elected, to show that Republicans came from all walks of life. Bush supporters could have turned this sign-holding meme into a powerful response to the Apologies site. But instead they're just using it to give a big old macho dick waving "Suck It" to their adversaries.

I think part of being a Green is that that debate between liberal-snobs and conservative-pricks isn't one that I want to be a part of. I want to talk about democratic values and real issues of social change.

But I do find it fun to point and laugh when I see the Liberal-Conservative exchange happening in such a cliche way.

And I am still really just centrally impressed (regardless of politics) with just how powerful the sign holding thing is as a simple means of establishing trust about the unique origins of a large collection of messages.
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From:the_sween
Date:November 24th, 2004 09:21 pm (UTC)
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It's really just sad that the two major sides have been opposed for so long that they really don't feel that they can change and that they feel any change would be a sign of weakness certain to be exploited by the others. I'm actually in my own little microcosm of that here at my workplace. It's really quite analogous: the side that's been doing it the same way for 25 years doesn't want to change even if the method is somewhat archaic, the supposedly progressive side wants to change it all without listening or taking advice from the former and they end at conflict every time. My job is to mediate it for the best of the company. It's a great reflection of the national problem in content and proportion.
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From:boannan
Date:November 27th, 2004 05:56 am (UTC)
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you should totally go to grad school one of these days. This is a total thesis-type observation. or at least semester paper. :)
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