Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Thank You Tom

Dear Tom Rathke,

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my ideas and the trouble to comment on them. Your courage, passion, and cunning made for a very enjoyable evening. I hope you are reading this letter even after the "spirited defense" of my honor your first venture into the Agora stirred up. The majority of those who gather here are my former students. It's a bit ironic that, having spent most of their years with me pointing out what a narrow minded ideologue I am, they would chasten you for saying the same thing. That irony turned bitter-sweet when you (Tom) had the kindness to call my anonymous rantings "eloquent", and my good friend Bryan pointed out that there are only nine people in the world who care to read them. Tom, thank you for being number ten.

My defenders, to whom I am most greatful, have made a good point - you need to attack my arguments and ideas, not me. (I hope I taught them that!) Tom, you need to point out why I am so misguided. You need to answer the questions. We learn by throwing out ideas, taking positions, and then challenging them. The clash of ideas purges out the truth. You begin this process when you claim President Bush can't be trusted on the draft by saying he lied about Iraq. But you don't give any evidence to support your claim. I argue that President Bush has remained true to his original claim, that Saddam's regime had to be removed because it was a danger. Mass graves, gigantic abuses of the Oil for Food Program, clear intentions to subvert U. N. sanctions and develop WMD's, and the active support of terrorism; all have supported the President's postion. A position he has not changed. Kerry, on the other hand, supported the war on the same evidence and criteria that Bush did, then refused to fund it when shilling for votes during the Democratic primary. After claiming that anyone who didn't think removing Saddam was worth it was not fit to be President; Kerry now says that removing Saddam wasn't worth it. Kerry has openly longed for the "stable days of dictatorship". I claim, on these arguments, that it is John Kerry whom we cannot trust. Tom, it is your job to deal with these "facts." Explain them away with logic or refute them with evidence. The size or shape of my mind has nothing to do with it, nor does my name.

There is a good chance we will have to spend the next four years dealing with "President Kerry"; maybe you can make me feel good about it.

I eagerly await your comments. You are always welcome in the Agora and I believe that if you stick around and engage us, you will find a diversity of opinion that you can greatly enrich and benefit from.


P. S. Tom - I tried to vist "splatrabbit". Loved the graphic!!! It says your "COMMING SOON". I look forward to that.


RealFruitBeverage said...

Well well seems like I take a little break from posting comments at this blog and everything goes to a whirlwind of ranting and raving. I want everyone to take a step back, take a deep breath, and realize both sides (right and left) want one thing in common. That common thing (well it’s actually three things) is an open discussion about the issues, hopefully a little progression towards the truth, and finding the best way to run this country. I had originally intended this comment for the previous post, but I feel it will do here in a pinch.

First let me state that I think Tom Rathke is not representative of the left. I think Mr. Rathke does the left a disservice by his post. Readers please do not allow Mr. Rathke's posts to stop you from considering the positions held by the left. I also consider his argumentation style weak at best, and hypocritical at worst. I would like to point out a couple of things that I consider contradictory about Mr. Rathke’s attack on Lysis’ blog post. (When quoting Mr. Rathke I have modified the quote for spelling and grammatical errors for clarity sake.) Mr. Rathke stated, “Your writing, no matter how eloquent, is so intolerant of anyone with diverse opinions . . .” The main thrust of the point is the presentation of Lysis’ position as intolerant of other opinions. A conclusion that can be drawn form that (and I think implied by Mr. Rathke) is that Lysis is afraid of any other opinion. I would like to point out to Mr. Rathke that when one makes a personal attack of such a nature one better have a consistent standard of judgment. In other words if you say such and such is bad because he’s a coward of other opinions, then you better not be a coward of other opinions as well. I would like to point out to Mr. Rathke that in your own blog, which I have read from top to bottom, your posts do not allow for your readers to write comments. Now posting a strongly left or right wing position is one thing, but not allowing anyone to respond to your position seems to be the highest form of fear or intolerance available.

Second by your profile and blog posts I gathered you, Mr. Rathke are an educator. Of all people you should know that there might be some benefit to using an anonymous name of sorts. As a teacher one should and often does have a great deal of respect from their students. This respect translates into a great power. The power to shape young minds is one of the most awesome things to behold. Now I will show my geekness by quoting my favorite line from the Spider-Man comics, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Students will respect you as a teacher and often times adopt your position just because of who you are. I know Lysis personally (though I don’t know if Lysis knows who RealFruitBeverage is). I also know that a lot of young people (and even some old people) would be swayed by knowing who Lysis is. Now if the argument carries the day just because of personality then I think there has been a disservice to the seeking of truth. Your post “They Want You to Stop Thinking for Yourself” in particular alarmed me. Your methodology, while probably good intentioned, showed a lack of responsibility of the huge amount of power given to you as an educator. When the students asked you a question you did a good job showing that the premise might not be sound and a credibility check was in order. However you then proceeded to make an evaluation of Bush without adequate reasoning to support the position. Even worse you answered the students question. When a student asks a teacher a question, the teacher shouldn’t seek to answer the question, but rather he/she should seek to give the student the tools by which to discover truth on his or her own. When the question was asked you were given a golden opportunity to educate the students on rhetorical tools, methodologies of examining creditability, multi levels of linguistic evaluation, and the rules of deductive reasoning. You did none of these things. Instead you attacked one position with the most powerful argument by the other side. You didn’t give your students any of the tools necessary to evaluate the position you held. Instead of teaching your students how to evaluate both sides and empower them with the tools to do so, you simply pushed a point of view and hoped for the best. I personally feel you did a disservice to your students. I personally do not allow my “real” identity to enter into a discussion because I want only my arguments to be looked at. Granted a lot of my readers know who I really am, but I think concealing my identity does in a limited way focus the attention on the power of the arguments at hand. I think Lysis is probably of a similar disposition.

Third I think Mr. Rathke (and others with a similar style) need to reevaluate your strategy regarding making head way in the political debate. By using a response style that at best resembles a flame (internet geek lingo), you effectively shut down any discussion on an issue that is important. Sometimes we adults have to restrain our emotions so that what we feel doesn’t interfere with the presentation of what we think. Just look at the responses generated to your comment so far, nothing really in depth has been said. Bryan made a token argument to your argument about the draft but he did none of the things he usually does, like research and post direct quotes of the documents in question.

Fourth I would like to address the questions asked by Lysis. Question one; I think it is irrelevant who introduced the legislation. It becomes a question of who would support it in the case that the issue is brought back to the table. Would Kerry institute a draft, unlikely, I don’t think Bush will either. Now where will Kerry get the extra manpower? People like me. If a call is made to have more people join the armed forces I will gladly bleed and die for the cause of liberty everywhere that people may live free and be blessed with the truth. I know there are many more young men and women that know my mind and agree with it. If the call is given I have no doubt that the people will answer without a need for a draft. I know I will. Question two; look to the plan he enumerated. Just look at your question one. Kerry is seeking to expand the forces necessary to fight terrorism. Additionally the language implies that Kerry sees the war on terror as more than a war. Just like crime, the war on terror is affected by non-war factors such as economic globalization. Question three; look at Kerry’s record and how he voted in the senate. Simply put when Bill was in charge Kerry voted very fiscally conservative. It’s just a fact that the Republicans will still hold the house and senate after the elections. It won’t matter what you believe, it will be a political reality that Kerry will have to prioritize his laundry list of issues and be forced to pay as you go, just like Bill did when the republicans took the congress. I personally am very comfortable with that set up. Question four; that argument is a question to ask Republicans. Republicans want Hillary not to run even more than Democrats want Hillary to run. So by your logic Republicans that don’t want Hillary to run for office should vote for Kerry

me said...

With trepidation, I have decided to respond. Once in a while, I have to get drunk and go to a biker bar. There I pick the biggest, meanest-looking dude and insult his Harley. The ensuing fight is refreshing and a reminder of life far more than sitting in front of a computer writing blog entries all with the same unimaginative title or waiting for gratification from virtual babes in a chat room because I have decided to remain anonymous on the Internet. Getting beat up is also a great way to release tension and remind myself I am not the only person on the planet.

Since I don't drink or fight, I happen to stumble into the intellectual equivalent with a chip on my shoulder. Perhaps it's because of the whole silly Michael Moore thing at UVSC. The constant battle in Utah to prevent diversity can wear on you. Not that I'm a big fan, but somehow I can't fathom why Sean Hannity must be brought to this state for balance when he was just here for Stadium of Fire. Unless the balance thing is about weight, and I don't believe that Michael Moore weighs twice as much as Hannity.

Maybe it's the John Swallow ads that only attack Jim Matheson but don't say anything constructive or offer any real solutions to issues in Utah such as education, jobs or waste storage. Perhaps it's the predominant religion in the state making a statement in support of the marriage amendment but Utah County residents whine that a visit by Michael Moore is too close to the election. The double-standards in this state can be overwhelming. And maybe I'm just over worked and under paid.

Whatever the reasons, I decided to place a comment. Usually, I get the crap that floats around in my mind out on paper and then draft something more rational. That is what I was attempting with the second comment after I realized that my temper-induced rant was actually published when I thought I had clicked on "Preview." Oh well, I guess it was time for a reminder of humility. And a reminder that I need to go back to writing drafts in Microsoft Word rather than a web interface.

As far as the spelling error on my web page is concerned, I tried to find it. I checked the two servers and three computers that have versions of that page and all were spelled correctly. I decided to redirect the site to something more amusing to you and your followers just in case I missed something. Now that the DSL is up again after the storm, I decided to respond to your post and say I won't bother you again.

Dan Simpson said...

Now here are some arguments that can be responded to.

First, Michael Moore at UVSC. Moore's rant yesterday about Utah showed another good reason why he was the wrong person to come and speak. He spent a lot of time telling us that Utahns obviously don't believe in the First Amendment. There are two major problems with bringing Michael Moore. One, Moore tells lies. I don't have a problem with a political person coming to speak. I also don't care how left they are politically. Moore supporters were correct that college should be a real marketplace of ideas, but Moore was the wrong way to go. This, however, pales in comparison to the second reason. Fiscally stupid. UVSC made a colossal error in bringing Moore. UVSC knows who their benefactors are and whether you like it or not, administrations need to work their schools through funding. Know, no one needs to go down any slippery slope arguments about rich people dictating curriculum, it hasn't happened. But to alienate donors that give millions of dollars, that just isn't smart.

Second, the predominant religion. This is a ridiculously repeated argument. Did the announcement yesterday surprise anyone? The Church's stance has been consistent forever on this one. Even the Amendment fighters that they interviewed on the news didn't have a problem with the statement, because it didn't say anything new.

I always love hearing about the "lack of diversity" in Utah. An intersting thing about diversity, you must have homogenous populations in order to have diversity. If all cities, or states, in the Country were "diverse" the way some like to define it, then there, in turn, would be no diversity. Diversity is an interesting idea. It is touted as something inherently good. That really is not the case. Take racism for example. Is a diversity of ideas on this issue helpful. Should we strive to have a society where some believe it is okay, and some don't like it, and some hate all other races, etc.. There are many instances when "diversity" is not desirable.

The other problem with the idea of "diversity" how it is commonly used is that it assumes there must be people of different races, religions, etc. in order to have constructive discussion. I would dare to claim that Utah's population has one of the highest percentage of individuals who have been exposed to other cultures, ethnicities, languages, and ideas. If then, the individuals choose to believe a certain way, why is that considered to be inherently bad. Anyway, I have gone on long enough, and I have to leave for law school.

Silver Lining said...

I find it sad that Tom would say he won't be back to "bother" anymore. He misses the point, I think, that debate about the issues is most welcome.

On the concept of being a liberal in Utah. I will say simply that I have lived in Utah, and I think that many who feel choked in Utah for the many reasons listed think they exist in a vacuum. It is a similar feeling I think for any minority thinking person. I now live in the second most liberal area in the United States, and I often feel belittled and condemned generally for having conservative ideas. People don't tend to attack me much personally. I guess what I would suggest is that if you think you are right, keep searching for the truth and keep communicating ideas. I can't imagine anyone being hurt by the free exchange of ideas especially ones that are searched out.

Dr. Health said...

A position he has not changed. Kerry, on the other hand, supported the war on the same evidence and criteria that Bush did, then refused to fund it when shilling for votes during the Democratic primary.