I don't want to put too fine a point on this because, frankly, I have better things to do. But I wanted to add a couple of thoughts to what Drew and I have said earlier on this subject. The first has to do with Drew's point about childishness.
Drew sent me a link to this review by Susie Currie from The Weekly Standard of Christopher Noxon's book, Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes, and the Reinvention of the American Grownup. The "rejuvenile" - someone who cultivates the tastes and mindsets of a much younger person - is the coming thing: according to Noxon, "[t]he most watched cable station among 18-to-34 year olds isn't CNN--it's CN, as in Cartoon Network." Skateboards, stickball, video games; they're all trademarks of behavior by those of whom we once would have said, "they're old enough to know better."
Remember when you used to tell someone to "act their age"? They used to get mad at you, it being considered an insult to accuse a person of childishness. Now, I suppose they'd laugh about it - they might even be proud. So I guess we shouldn't be surprised when we read juvenile tripe from writers like William K. Wolfrum. (I've read some of Wolfrum's other columns by the way, like the one wondering who was more dominating - Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, or a woman who's apparently a known dominatrix. I'd guess his column on Limbaugh is pretty typical of what he's capable of.) As I've said before, I'm sure these guys think they're being very clever.
And now a thought of my own. We had dinner with some friends over the weekend and I asked the husband, who's a pretty knowledgeable guy about these sorts of things, why it was that so many people, especially on the left, seemed to be obsessed with writing such vituperative stuff, even when it was self-defeating to their own cause. He thought there were a couple of reasons; first, that they're mostly preaching to the lefty choir, who feeds on this kind of thing like sharks at a blood bank. They love this red meat talk, and they just pass it around among themseves, to keep their spirits up I suppose. They're almost cannibals of civility.
For the rest of the explanation he cited Arthur Brooks' new book, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism. Brooks' thesis is that social conservatives really do give more than liberals. According to Brooks, in this review by Frank Brieaddy of Religion News Service,
The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.
Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone's tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don't provide them with enough money.
My friend's conclusion: it's just possible that liberals write and talk the way they do simply because they're nastier people, and this kind of thing comes more naturally to them. Without the moral foundation that grounds social conservatives, liberals have fewer restraints, less of a sense of civility or charity towards others.
I should add here, in the interests of full disclosure, that I know some very liberal people who are the nicest, most generous people you could imagine; I also know some conservatives, religious people even, who can be very uncharitable. (Read the combox at any major Catholic blog site for evidence of that.) But as a broad generalization I think there's a lot to what my friend is saying.
And so perhaps we know more about why things are they way they are, even if we're not sure what to do about it. It may be wrong to stereotype, but we can only know someone by what they show us in public. As the old saying goes, "if the shoe fits,"...