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Monday, 18 April 2005

no THIS is fucking bullshit

In another example, some of Rush Limbaugh’s distortions surrounding the Iraq prison abuse scandal clearly rise to the level of bullshit. Frankfurt writes:

Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. Thus the production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person’s obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic exceed his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic. This discrepancy is common in public life, where people are frequently impelled . . . to speak extensively on matters of which they are to some degree ignorant. (P 63)

Therefore, any circumstance where someone claimed authority on a topic that he or she had not adequately researched, would constitute bullshit. Limbaugh, by virtue of his position as a radio commentator, implicitly claims authority on matters he addresses. He often explicitly claims authority as well. On one of the many occasions he addresses the torture scandal, he claimed authority while making an assertion that was not factually correct, saying

Even this latest picture of a dog and a nude Iraqi . . . the picture caption "Dog attacks Iraqi." No, the dog isn't attacking anyone, the dog's on a leash. The dog is scaring an Iraqi prisoner. . .. The dog didn't attack anybody. The dog's not attacking anybody. The dog's on a leash. Both of them are. I've seen the pictures. ...

(http://mediamatters.org/items/200405110002)

He claims authority with his statement, "I’ve seen the pictures." However, his assertion that the dogs did not attack is incorrect and he was forced to withdraw it later in the program.

Apparently, ladies and gentleman, I need to offer a modification . . .. apparently uh, well, there's another picture later where . . . he's writhing on the floor with a pool of blood. Apparently, the dog did bite his leg, but there's no picture of that. I have just been, uh, informed of this. (Ibid)

If he had really seen all the pictures, he would have known that a subsequent picture in the same series showed that the dogs did indeed attack. He claimed authority without actually doing adequate research. Because the refuting picture was in the same set of photos, he could not claim that the prisoner was actually unhurt and lie (or bluff, or bullshit) his way through. His ignorance of this indicates that he was bluffing his way through the entire segment. When he was informed that he would not be able to get away with his bluff, he was forced to retract it. This bluffing is clearly bullshit.

I would go further to claim that it is not an isolated incident. In Rush Limbaugh’s case, the sheer number of hours he is on the air every day would almost make it impossible for him to avoid bullshit. Having a call-in radio show for five hours a day would be virtually impossible to adequately prepare for unless the conversation were limited to a very specific topic, and even then, it would be a Herculean task to come up with so many hours of insightful and factually correct commentary. Rush Limbaugh’s pattern of bullshit, especially surrounding the prison abuse scandal, is addressed in more detail in a subsequent chapter.


I feel happier about this now. And I want to not write about it so much. For x's sake! This is fucking bullshit. (the irony of this chapter is not lost on me)

I went to Dave Ruder's thesis concert a couple of weeks back and he sung a song which repeated the lyrics over and over again of "This is fucking bullshit. There's a werewolf in the flower bed." It's been stuck in head since, especially as I write about bullshit. He must give me a tape! I'm trying to get it out of my head by listening to my iPod on random. Strangely ecclectic experience. The content is about the percentage of "i'm a composer" as i would have expected. Plus some pop music that I really like. Plus totally generic but still pleasing bland pop like Oasis. Sorry if you really like them. They're very much examples of their genre, which is to say generic.

UPDATE: Hey, with some work, I could automatically generate my thesis! But seriously, this code could be hella useful for fake punditry or real poetry/ text sound/ cut-up applications.

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