A small mind, indeed

Glenn Reynolds warns against the use of personal insults in intra-party politics, 60 seconds after referring to Mike Castle as a “loser” and quoting various of his readers sneering at Castle’s manhood and questioning his sexual orientation.

Glenn Reynolds, at 8:58 this morning, writing about the aftermath of the Delaware Republican Senate primary, in which his preferred candidate, Christine O’Donnell, questioned the masculinity of her opponent, Mike Castle. (She called him “un-manly” and told him to “get your man-pants on” while a team of her former campaign consultants invented a rumor that he was “cheating on his wife with a man.”)

Try to avoid the personal infighting. People forgive disagreements, but they never forget personal insults, and it makes it harder to work together in the future, even on things where you agree. That’s quite damaging to a party or movement over time.

Glenn Reynolds at 8:57 yesterday:

LOSER: Castle Will Not Endorse O’Donnell. See, everyone said the Tea Party folks would be the angry spoilers, but again and again its the insider GOP types who are taking their balls and going home.

UPDATE: “What balls?” write a whole bunch of readers. And one adds: “Sorry. Low hanging fruit, I know. Oops. Did it again. I better stop!”

This sort of stuff always puzzles me. One day before his lecture on civility, Reynolds calls Castle a “loser.” Shortly thereafter, he decides to quote reader comments mocking Castle (who is married and apparently straight) as a eunuch and a “fruit.”

All I can think of is that someone told Reynolds that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, and he’s trying to provide a counter-example. But he can’t really think that gay-baiting is funny.  Can he?

Update Post corrected per reader comment to fix an error about timing.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

6 thoughts on “A small mind, indeed”

  1. Not that it voids your thesis – the "Loser" post was on 9/15, a full day before the lecture post, not just a minute.

  2. In all fairness to Reynolds, the "take their balls and go home" reference is an entirely different metaphor, having nothing to do with male sex organs. And calling Castle a "loser"–which technically he is, since he lost the primary–isn't nearly on the same level of personal insult as the O'Donnell comment.

  3. "All I can think of is that someone told Reynolds that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds . . ."

    People almost always seem to forget the word "foolish" when invoking that saying, which is a problem, because consistency is not generally, in-and-of-itself, foolish. We should, of course, learn from our mistakes and thereby change, but you can't ever genuinely learn from a mistake if you can't recognize what's right and stick with it in the future.

    As for The Putz, he exhibits rampant hypocrisy and malevolent stupidity, not inconsistency. He's as predictable as the sun rising in the east. Demanding that the concept of respect be reserved solely for exhibition towards completely insane "conservatives" is just part of what he is. There's nothing inconsistent about it.

  4. the “take their balls and go home” reference is an entirely different metaphor, having nothing to do with male sex organs

    Uh, right, but Mark's not complaining about Reynolds's metaphor; he's complaining that in his Update, Reynolds quoted reader comments that turned it into a male-sex-organ metaphor, which he apparently thought was humorous; and he highlighted one comment that pulled off a triple play: in this context, the non-male-sex-organ metaphor "low-hanging fruit" becomes a reference not just to testicles but to the testicles of a gay man. (Meant as an insult, to be sure, but it's a very clever one.)

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could stop taking the suggestion that a person is gay as an insult, even if it's meant as one?

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