One of my friends (whose heart’s still in San Francisco, and whose politics follow directly from that) recently asked if I actually hang with anyone who shares my conservative (right-wing? free-market? Austrian school?) political views. To some point I do, but aside from a backlink from the Gnu Hunter, pretty much all the folks I have anything to do with have a decidedly liberal bent. Which is fair enough, since, heck, I don’t score all that far right on most political tests anyway.

While googling for something unrelated, I stumbled upon an interesting page about consensus. One of the criticisms it raises goes like this:

Consensus decision-making can also lead to some pathological group dynamics. For example, people may be discouraged from expressing dissenting views out of concern that this would break consensus. This can lead to a situation known as groupthink in which each person in the group believes a strategy to be flawed, but no one is willing to express this idea because they are under the mistaken impression that everyone else in the group supports the strategy.

There’s a longer exposition on the same site about groupthink too, of course.

Reagan’s death happened while I was down in Canberra visiting friends and watching ski movies, so I missed the blogosphere’s reaction ’til I got back. There was lots of interesting tributes from various right-wing fanboy type blogs I read, and there was this gem from a guy I’ve known for years now, and whose blog I host on my server:

Ronald Reagan, noted liar and imperialist, that scourge of the Left and champion of military Keynesianism, kicks the bucket.

It’s not good to speak ill of the dead, but dying a drooling vegetable was better than he deserved. Too bad about the thousands dead and millions in poverty thanks to events he helped set in motion.

Joh Bjelke-Petersen, you’re next.

I’d like to have said “friend” instead of “guy” above, but since I happen to admire Ronald Reagan and, at least in some ways, think he set an example worth emulating, the above seems really close to a death threat. Or if not a threat per se, “I’d like to see your role models die disgustingly, painfully, but most of all soon” at least has to make you question either your choice in role models or your choice in acquaintances.

Well, fair enough, Ben’s a forthright kinda guy and often says things before thinking them through. Ranting‘s not a crime, and certainly not when you do it on your own damn blog. Another post I cam across when I got back from Canberra was this one, from Daniel Stone, via Planet Debian:

goddamnit, shut up

Doesn’t he ever shut up? Play School ‘foolish’: PM.

The ABC was foolish to introduce the issue of lesbian parents into the children’s program Play School, Prime Minister John Howard said today. […] ”This is an example of the ABC running an agenda in a children’s program. If people want to debate that issue, do it on a program like Lateline, but not on Play School. […] You’re talking about a very, very small number and to intrude that into a children’s program is just being politically correct and I think is an example of the ABC running an agenda.”

Good god. When I was a kid, my favourite presenter was — I forget her name, maybe Monique? — black. Not Asian or Aboriginal, but of African descent (via England, I believe). Now, Mr. Howard, what percentage of Australians are of African descent? The reality is that there are lesbian mothers out there, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Deal. The kids are coping just fine; I’m sure there won’t be an orgy in the MLC (all-girls school) prep room just because there was a story about a girl with two mums. Even if it did influence more girls to become lesbian or bisexual in the long term, so what? Should the ABC have never shown Monique because it might have made people stop planting burning crosses? Jesus.

I’ve been raised on being told that free speech is great, and that diversity of opinions is wonderful, and that tolerance for people who think or live differently from you is to be not merely encouraged, but expected and required. It comes as a bit of a shock to find that friends of mine don’t even think the Prime Minister of the country should be allowed to speak his mind if he holds views similar to mine.

(For what it’s worth, I think there are two differences between Trisha‘s performance on Play School and the “my two mums” incidence: one is that race issues really weren’t all that controversial in the 90’s in Australia — for better or worse, raising kids without a mother and a father still is; and the other is that race issues are reasonable ones for young children to be dealing with, sexuality issues really aren’t. Sure, sometimes life forces you to deal with things that’re difficult, but PlaySchool shouldn’t. YMMV, sure, whatever — but discussing these things is how you deal with them, not by saying “goddammit, shut up” to whoever disagrees)

Another post from Daniel a week later ends like so:

I was going to implore the Liberals to reconsider this, if they had a conscience, But then I realised the gutless bastards never had one.

So, as well as being a gutless bastard, I apparently don’t have a conscience either. The added gem there is that “gutless bastards”, “had” and “one” are links to other friends, pointing out, eg, that I’m clueless, unheedful, disgusting and undemocratic as well.


Peer pressure sucked enough in high school, it can damn well stay there, thanks all the same.

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