When Straw Men Don’t Even Have Straw

I was idly puttering around this morning on the internet, as one does of a morning over toast and a cup of coffee, and came across a blog written by some guy called John Hawkins, who – according to the rather breathless bio accompanying what looks like his high school yearbook photo – runs Right Wing News, purportedly “one of the premier conservative blogs on the internet.” He also does “weekly appearances on the #1 in it’s [sic] market, the Jaz McKay show, which I had to look up to discover it’s on a conservative talk radio station in Bakersfield. Not being sure just how expansive the field actually is for conservative talk radio shows in Bakersfield, I’m still trying to figure out how impressed I should be. He’s also apparently very proud of something he wrote that was circulated on the internet as a hoax, and debunked by Snopes.com. Again, rather puzzling.

John Hawkins likes numbers. He’s got a lot of columns that start with a number, 20 things about the Republican Party, 20 things about the Democrat [again, sic] Party, 15 things Americans shouldn’t take for granted, 15 things about liberals, or guns, or political debates, 40 things about Winston Churchill, 25 things about black conservatives, blah blah blah, you get the idea. That's his shtick.

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But when I saw, “25 Examples of What America Would Be Like If Everyone Was a Liberal,” my curiosity was piqued. According to Mr Hawkins, if everyone was a liberal, no one would recite the Pledge of Allegiance, sing the Star Spangled Banner or celebrate the 4th of July. I’m not sure why, because Mr Hawkins doesn’t give any particularly persuasive argument or rationale for this scenario – or any argument whatsoever, for that matter. For some of his hyperbolic assertions he does use links to substantiate, such as gas at $9 a gallon, seven year olds being allowed to vote, crime would be rampant and police wouldn’t bother locking up burglars, massive shortages of electricity and petrol, Christianity and 32 ounce sodas would be banned while crack and meth would be legal, and houseplants would have civil rights in courts. But when you start looking at the references, every single link is back to yet another of his own articles on Right Wing News.

I think it’s supposed to be satire. Maybe, it’s hard to tell. It’s certainly not news, or bears even a passing resemblance to journalism. Why, exactly, liberals would advocate allowing seven year olds the vote or defend the rights of your average potted Dieffenbachia in a court of law isn’t fleshed out with any biting irony to put this into some sort of context. Satire, as I understand it, is when shortcomings and vices are ridiculed as a form of constructive social criticism. There’s a lot of ridicule in this article, but precious little social criticism, constructive or otherwise. Or logic. Or even wit.

Mr Hawkins has managed to pull off something truly mind-boggling, however; he’s built a strawman construction so thin there’s not even any straw in it. He’s making fun of imaginary people that exist nowhere on the planet outside his own mind.

So I can’t help but question, if Mr Hawkins’s blog is one of the “premier conservative blogs on the internet”... just how ludicrous are the rest?

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