Tag Archives: Rick Perry

A variation on Poe’s Law

Here's Rick Perry:

Remember when you had to show your aunt Snopes.com because she kept emailing you forwards with animated angel GIFs about how drinking Coke can kill you? Someone needs to do that for Rick Perry. In New Hampshire Friday, Perry noted an email forwarded by his son that quoted a 38-year-old Occupy Toronto protester named Jeremy who whined that bankers work so hard he can't wake up early enough to protest them. Perry paraphrased Jeremy's complaints: "We got here at 9 o'clock, and those people … those bankers that we came to insult, they'd already been at work for two hours when we got here at 9 o'clock, and when we get ready to leave, you know, they’re still in there working. I guess greed just makes you work hard." Perry and everyone else laughed. But Jeremy isn't real; he was made up by theToronto Globe and Mail's Mark Schatzker, whose column was clearly labeled "satire."

Conservatives have been mistaking fake Jeremy for a real protester for a week. He just too perfectly fits their idea of an Occupy Wall Street protester not to be real. The power of Jeremy is most evident at The American Specator, where Shawn Macomber quoted it sincerely under the headline "Deep Thoughts from Occupy Wall Street Toronto" on October 24 before updating that it was satire. But the fake quote was so good, The Spectator's J.P. Freire quoted it as real three days later: "Self Parody Alert: Occupy Toronto Doesn't Get It." But alas, it is J.P. Freire who doesn't get it. He quickly updated, "Is this a parody? Maybe?" Not maybe. Actually.
Actually, I think this is a variation on Poe's Law: Poe's Law has it that it is almost impossible to distinguish satire from actual religious fundamentalists (and other similar groups).  This one has it that the excessively ideologically committed cannot identify satire of an opposing view as satire.
But Rick Perry isn't much of a target.  Low-haning fruit I say.  Here's Powerline.com blogger John Hinderacker speaking of the same satirical article:

Via the remarkably good Say Anything, a North Dakota-based blog, a hilarious news story about Occupy Wall Street protesters in Toronto who really want to take a stand against “greed,” only…they’re too lazy:

“It’s weird protesting on Bay Street. You get there at 9 a.m. and the rich bankers who you want to hurl insults at and change their worldview have been at work for two hours already. And then when it’s time to go, they’re still there. I guess that’s why they call them the one per cent. I mean, who wants to work those kinds of hours? That’s the power of greed.” – Jeremy, 38

It probably is news to the occupiers that getting into the 1% actually requires work. So, who is greedy–the guy who works hard and wants to keep most of what he earns, or the guy who wants someone else’s money, but isn’t willing to pay the price to earn it?

UPDATE: Upon further review, prompted by my wife, I think the quotes attributed to occupiers at the linked site are jokes. Pretty funny ones, too. The point, I think, remains valid.

This ought to have been a lesson for Hinderacker about distinguishing his straw man of someone's view from reality.  His consequent insistence on the validity of his critique itself raises just the question Poe's Law does: cannot tell if Hinderacker is troll.  For that, there ought to be an award.  Indeed now there is, courtesy of the students of Phil 210.

The sleep of the just

Over at Fox News, Chris Wallace is complaining about liberal bias.  He does so in a way that reminds one of Steve Colbert's allegation that "reality has a well-known liberal bias."  Here's how Talking Points Memo reports it:

Chris Wallace appeared on Friday's Fox and Friends and assailed NBC's Brian Williams over his question to Rick Perry about whether he ever struggled to sleep at night over the potential innocence of one of his many executed inmates, calling it an example of a "liberal bias."

"Would you ask a liberal politician about sleeping at night if they favored abortion or choice? " Wallace argued. "It is so built into the drinking water, if you will, in some of these liberal outlets that they don't even understand it happens."

To be fair, Wallace was merely agreeing with the even more clownish Bernie Goldberg on the idea of persistent liberal bias in the media; and the video at the link makes this claim even more obviously silly.  The difference, in case you don't just grasp it out of hand, concerned whether Perry worried about the actual non-guitiness of anyone convicted of the death penalty in his death-penalty granting state.  Up or down innocence of an actual convicted criminal can be determined in a rather different manner than whether the fetus has moral personhood.  While the latter might be a true or false question, one must at least admit that it is not super obvious how one might determine that–i.e., in a way strictly analogous to whether someone committed a crime.

Had, of course, Williams asked Perry about whether the death penalty was just, that would have been different.  But he didn't.

Killin’ (clap, clap)

I'm still recovering from the Republican debates this Wednesday.  Another post tomorrow on them.  But a question about how to interpret the response from the audience when Rick Perry mentions his record in Texas on capital punishment.  See the video HERE

Brian WIlliams calls him on it.  To the effect: aren't you playing to the ghouls?   Perry's justification is that:

Americans understand justice. Americans are clearly, in the vast majority of cases, supportive of capital punishment. When you have committed heinous crimes against our citizens, and it is a state-by-state issue, but in the state of Texas our citizens have made that decision, and they made it clear:  they don't want you to commit those crimes against our citizens.  And if you do, you will face the ultimate justice. 

#1: That's no way to justify the policy.  #2: Nor is it any way to justify the response.  #3:  Unless those folks are people bussed in from Texas, they aren't representative of Texans (the debates were held in California).  The most that means is that the policy and the audience's response is justified, because the people of my state think that the policy is justified.  You know what I want? I want people clapping whenever I say something, too!  I expect it in the comments.  That is, unless you don't understand logic.

Ad populum seals it

A good deal has been made about Rick Perry's doubts about evolution and global warming.  And so the concern that we have yet another know-nothing Republican on our hands is pretty popular (though Hitchens has an interesting take, too, namely, that he's cynically just putting on).  Rich Lowry, over at National Review, has seen this game before, and he warns his readers that this is an old familiar canard, the "Anti-Science Smear" on Republicans.  Here's how he responds to the evolution line:

According to Gallup, 40 percent of Americans think God created man in his present form, and 38 percent think man developed over millions of years with God guiding the process. Is three-quarters of the country potentially anti-science?

Seriously. That's the response about evolution. 

The trouble is that I am unsure that those three quarters polled by Gallup that day could answer many detailed questions about evolution.  They may not be anti-science, but they aren't science literate, at least most of them.  That's probably the case about many, many things. (I'd love to see if Gallup could produce a  percentage of people who think that there's a highest number.) Calling people who answer a poll question in a fashion that does not reflect the scientific consensus 'anti-science' is probably too quick, but calling a Presidential candidate who should know better the same is just about right.   Or else, perhaps, Hitchens is right, and he's just putting on for the cameras and the 75% that really think that way.

Unnecessary scarequoting

William Murchison, at the American Spectator, is counting off Rick Perry's virtues as a low-tax, pro-growth Presidential candidate.  One of Murchison's lines is that Perry won't regulate industry, especially with environmental restrictions.

Were Perry to become president, the Environmental Protection Agency could forget about lashing coal producers and automobile manufacturers to lofty standards for "pollution reduction."

I assume he's right about the facts, but what exactly is the point of putting the words 'pollution reduction' in scare quotes?  Is it that he thinks that car exhaust or smoke from coal fires count as pollution in name only?  Is it that he thinks that the EPA's standards don't reduce the pollution?  For the life of me, I can't make out what exactly is being communicated with the quote marks.  I'm assuming they are scarequotes – invoking the terms of the other side of the debate to call attention to the fact that they are wrong about some factual matter.  But what is the matter, here?