Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Gilliard Doctrine

The late Steve Gillard.

A friend of mine is currently entangled in a debate over NPR funding with, among other people and believe it or not, good 'ol Box Turtle Ben "The Plagiarist" Domenech who, being a reliable Conservative tool, will inevitably keep cropping up over and over again no matter how many times he shits himself in public.

My friend is under the misapprehension that if one is sufficiently measured and factual with Conservatives, eventually the light of collegial citizenry will spark to life in their dead Golem eyes at which point we can all sit and reason together as the heirs, stewards and infinitely lucky beneficiaries of this fine democracy of ours.

My friend is, of course, mistaken.

Consider that it has been almost a full year since "American Dad" (Russell King) opened the bomb-bay doors and cut loose with the single greatest post of 2010 --
An open letter to conservatives

March 22, 2010, 3:16PM

Dear Conservative Americans,

The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now. You've lost me and you've lost most of America. Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I'd like to give you some advice and an invitation.

First, the invitation: Come back to us.

Now the advice. You're going to have to come up with a platform that isn't built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more. But you have work to do even before you take on that task.

Your party -- the GOP -- and the conservative end of the American political spectrum have become irresponsible and irrational. Worse, it's tolerating, promoting and celebrating prejudice and hatred. Let me provide some examples -- by no means an exhaustive list -- of where the Right as gotten itself stuck in a swamp of hypocrisy, hyperbole, historical inaccuracy and hatred.
-- and ask yourself a question: do you know of any Conservative/Republican anywhere who has changed their minds on any substantive issue one iota? And, no, going the wrong way twice as fast by wading from knee-deep to chin-deep into the Randite/Libertarian/corporatist sewer doesn't count as "changing your mind" any more than switching from a fifth of gin a day to a fifth of vodka and a fat sack of crank a day constitutes "changing your drinking habits".

Read though the 1000s of comments on the original American Dad post...or any of the sites that mirrored or linked to it...or any of the hundreds of posts on dozens of Liberal sites that make the same point on a smaller scale every day, and you know what you will hear from Conservatives?

1. Yadda yadda yadda...Liberal press.

2. I have no time to waste on this Liberal claptrap.

3. This post is so mean and rude I cannot read it.

4. Al Gore is fat...and some Liberal once said "fuck... which means that all Liberal critiques are invalid forever.

5. I am absolutely certain that equally bad examples of Liberal excesses of equal political/cultural significance can be found in equal numbers (this is invariably stated as a universally known fact which requires no supporting evidence whatsoever...and is inevitably followed by Liberals literally begging the commenter to prove it...which is inevitably followed by Excuse #2.)

Debate and reason do not work, because Conservatism is no longer operationally a political philosophy, and the GOP is no longer a political party. They are cults, and no self-respecting cult junior assistant copy-boy who is gunning for a promotion to the Cult Home Office ever made it into cult middle management by saying, "Whoopsie! Looks like we got this one wrong! Maybe the infidels are right this time and we need to rethink the Glorious and Infallible words of our Foundational Dogma."

Never, ever gonna happen, which is why most of us on the Left gave up trying to reason with crazy people long ago and instead adopted what has come to be known as the Gilliard Doctrine (from the late Steven Gilliard in January, 2005):

...There's a tendency for liberals to try and be fair, to consider other viewpoints, so we get baited by them in debates on terms that they set. I'm going to act on the following: I don't care what conservatives think. The NRO Corner thinks I'm a racist, I don't care, their opinions on race are meaningless.

Instacracker doesn't like what I say?

That's the purpose of the exercise.

I want conservatives to read this site and come away steaming. I don't want them to think they will like a word I will say here. I don't want them to think I will consider their opinions or viewpoints. I want them to think: boy he doesn't like conservatives and really, really doesn't care what we say.

I'm tired of people acting like these people can be reasoned with or talked to. They don't want to talk, they want to drive us away into a corner and ridicule our ideas.

I'm not writing to make conservatives happy. I want them to hate my opinions.

I'm not interested in debating them.

I want to stop them.

I am not interested in the opinions of Conservatives.

I am interested in seeing how far into the political desert they and their Centrist enablers can be driven.

More like this please:

UPDATE: Welcome Vanity Fair readers and many thanks to prose chef James "The Hitman" Wolcott for pointing you in my direction.


darkblack said...

'I am interested in seeing how far into the political desert they and their Centrist enablers can be driven.'

Replace 'into' with 'under', and you have my sentiments.


Anna Tarkov said...

My only problem with this approach is how can you tell a "beyond help" right-wing type from someone who can yet be saved? I feel like the latter are worth talking to so how can one differentiate them from the zombies?

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I don't think I have ever heard the word 'kudos' said with so much sarcasm.

Malacandr said...

God, I miss Steve.

Denny Smith said...

I dunno'.

Cut everything loose south of the Mason/Dixon? (virtually have with Faux News).

Mock them into oblivion? (Doesn't seem to be working too well...)

Educate 'em? (gimme' a break).

Depower their Hoverarounds? (uh, nah..)

The only hint of an answer that I've seen lately, and just a hint, mind you, is what happened on the streets of Madison, WI.
It's time...

David in NYC said...

In the plus ça change, plus c'est le même chose category...

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.

John Stuart Mill, March, 1866

moorespeed said...


It's a mistake to engage these people one-on-one. They are for the most part, disingenuous; both in intent and argument. Their goal is not to engage you in an honest exchange of ideas, but rather to tie you up in a skirmish with the individual, thereby removing you from the larger, broader fight for the betterment of the whole.

This is their tactic; it always has been.

And because you have a good heart, Anna, and because you truly do want to help others, you become a prime target for their tactics. They are literally using your own sense of decency and humanity against you in an effort to further their own vile ends.

You see, Anna, while it's true that one can run into a burning building and save another, there is no ideological equivalent of that act. Situationally, people can be helped and saved, but at a fundamental level, the only one who can truly save them is themselves.

All that we can really do is lead by example: Try and do the right thing, as often as possible and in the best way that we know how. Some will take notice; most won't. That's just the reality of the human condition.

I think that's what both Steve and drifty are trying to tell us here.

Oh...I almost forgot...eff the effen Yankees!

Anonymous said...


Drifty, that's the point/voice for which I am most grateful to you. I first noticed you hitting this nail on the head with the 27% problem.

In this spirit, I stopped referring to these authoritarian radicals as that c word that carries a positive connotation with being safe & careful. They are anything but & it is a mind-frak.

Its easy & fun shift to something more effective & accurate:
"radical" or "authoritarian" often apply.
Probably the simplest solution is

The conversation/debate might improve with this mind-frak removed. Language is powerful.

Anonymous said...

"I want them to hate my opinions."

Steve became a hero of mine with that very sentence.

StringonaStick said...

There really is no reason to engage these people; they have their own Faux-supplied reality and allowing any of that carefully constructed reality to be altered is a direct threat to their entire world view and sense of self. Therefore change to POV's do not and will not happen with the average conservatron.

The thing is, they see themselves as reasoned and cogent in their thoughts. My father, the uber conservative who has always spouted Bircher talking points, keeps telling me he's "not a partisan" and "not out of the mainstream".

As long as you look extra sharp wrapped in that flag, how could you be anything less than the perfect patriot who knows exactly what's best for 'Murika, and who to blame/marginalize/kill for opposing you?

The Ex-Wiz said...


(an atheist "Amen" but an "amen" just the same)

From the South,


I am interested in seeing how far into the political desert they and their Centrist enablers can be driven.

jim said...

The Gilliard Doctrine has been empirically vindicated - by none other than the GOP, perhaps most emphatically on the first day they opted to morph 9/11 First Responders into political poker-chips (& I suspect they quite relished the pure cartoonish evil of doing so right before Xmas).

Compromises made with such people are like trying for a "Middle Way" between heliocentrism & geocentrism - perhaps by way of a model invoking helpful agencies such as Gamera or the restless ghost of Soupy Sales in order to smooth over the rough patches.

My only problem with this approach is how can you tell a "beyond help" right-wing type from someone who can yet be saved?

If you intend to save people, you should expect a lousy rate of interest, & gratuitously nasty service charges as a reward. If you still want to go down that long road anyway?

Pay attention & think through what you are looking for, & soon you should be able to find essential tells in people's behavior as to whether or not they possess & practice ethical adulthood - or have sufficiently promising latent signs of heading toward it to make them worth your time & effort.

WARNING: you WILL find a hell of a lot fewer of them than you'd like to, & if you stay at it long enough you WILL very likely eventually get chumped by someone adept at faking it.

Happy hunting!

karen marie said...

Unfortunately, at this rate, rather than being driven into the desert, "conservatives" are going to bury us under it.

Anna Tarkov said...

If the only way people can be helped is for them to help themselves, then how can we aid in that process perhaps? For example drug addicts must, in the end, help themselves but they are often assisted by family members or friends who are concerned for them. Any ideological equivalent for that?

Casimir said...

Oh dear, Ms. Tarkov. Anyone who identifies with the Right at this late date cannot be "saved" absent an intensive, probably in-patient, therapeutic approach. The only explanation for how such folks see the world is a self-loathing so intense that the correlative psychological projection is to lash out violently at the concept of human dignity and plunge into nihilism (for this is the platform of the Right). Devote that time instead to helping undereducated and marginalized people of good faith engage civically enough at least to vote. You'll get 100 of these before you'll cure a single person on the Right.

Retired Patriot said...

If the only way people can be helped is for them to help themselves, then how can we aid in that process perhaps?

Maybe the fastest and most effective way is to take out the transmitters atop the Fox Gnews Tower a la They Live.

Until then, hunker down, find the ethical but undereducated (h/t jim and casimir) in your local area and start there. And if Madison happens in your area -- help!