"Generally I agree with your assessments in these matters. Your conclusion about Pat Buchanan is spot on. The analogy of watching a car wreck is funny and appropriate. Although...
I have to say that your premise isn't logical. 'There aren't always two sides to an argument.' There HAS to be at least two sides to every argument. Otherwise it wouldn't be an argument! Insanity, hate, and ignorance, whether we like it or not, does exist as an opposition to logic, love and enlightenment.
Writing off the opposition in this manner makes our position just as ignorant as theirs. If we're so sure that our position is correct, then we shouldn't have any trouble proving that with logic and a respectful discourse. If in the end we provide a respectful discourse and they don't then it's simply up to the public to decide for themselves. (That's the Buddhist way.) :-)
If you believe in the premise that every soul on the planet has the potential for enlightenment, you have to look at the prospect that the souls that spew insanity, hate and ignorance (or more appropriately the readers of your blog who potentially buy into that) are simply not well enough educated in logic, love and enlightenment. We would do better to stop labeling people as insane, hateful and ignorant and start finding a way to better educate the world directly in logic, love and enlightenment. Let them decide for themselves. The best we can do is consistently and perpetually provide the best truth possible. Wasting time on labels and tearing down our opposition doesn't add anything to our argument. It's like saying: 'I'm right and you're wrong.' Ok. So what?
In the end I believe people are more interested in why you think you're right than they do about why you think they're wrong."
Here's the thing, L56, and it's something that many people searching for the "middle way" of Buddhism - or even true Christianity - misunderstand: there is Truth and there is Right, and Buddha and Jesus say it often. But that truth and right isn't dogmatic or part of an institutionalized philosophy or creed, it is what every person truly conducting the search for one's own soul eventually finds out to simply be so.
I mean, come on, L56, you're playing semantics a bit with me when you say things like "There HAS to be at least two sides to every argument. Otherwise it wouldn't be an argument!" I think (hope?) that you know that what I'm saying is that not all positions are valid and that not all positions are even positions. Some "positions" are simply primal expressions of raw, unexamined, untamed impulses.
Furthermore, in true Buddhist practice, yes, all are invited to the path of enlightenment, as they are in any spiritual practice, but the first step towards the truth is always identifying what is false. To give credibility to distortions, lies, fear-based hate and deliberate ignorance posing as ideology doesn't serve to help the person in question to ever want to seek enlightenment. You are imagining something, idealizing at best, that is not based on how human beings actually grow. We need to experience the pain of ostracism and rejection at times to know that we are on a dead end turn in our path to enlightenment.
You can't "reach out" to the likes of a Pat Buchanan with the kind of guidance you talk about until he has fully felt the karmic pain of his own willfulness and bile.
Again - Come on, L56. I love that you are seeking that loving, open-minded place where we all must arrive to eventually, but part of true love, as I've said before to you and Rick, is kicking ass where there is ass that needs to be kicked!
Here's LOFF56's comeback:
"Well, I agree with your first paragraph.
However I don't believe that the point I'm making is semantic. I think it's deeply philosophical. If there truly is just one valid truth, which you say Christianity, Buddhism etc. suggests, than the concept of having a debate at all is logically flawed. For there truly is nothing to debate against, and any 'ass kicking' that we do can only be done in a hypocritical way for we'd be debating against a position that we can only justify by stepping around our belief in an absolute truth. If we concede that a debate must indeed happen in order to help people become enlightened than we must accept the fact that there has to be two sides to the debate. (Two valid sides). I don't think you can have your cake and eat it two in this regard. Either you accept 100% that there is only one truth and therefore any debating of the truth is hypocritical, or you pragmatically accept a second (valid, despite how despicable) position in order to achieve a debate.
I hope I'm not sounding semantic here again, but I believe you can give credibility to a person's position without giving credibility to their argument. The fact of the matter is that they believe what they believe. You can't say that that whole person has no credibility because they believe something that's false. You're throwing the baby out with the bath water. And again this is not about semantics this about finding the good in everyone and working WITH that, not AGAINST the bad.
Constantly highlighting the bad qualities as you have a tendency to do with many of the republicans that repulse us all doesn't help us find the overall humanity in the world. Instead it reminds us that there are a lot of unenlightened people out there that are ready to stab us in the back at any moment. I know this is not your intention at all, but the fact is, pointing it out can only have the potential of creating more fear in us than anything else. If you and your readers have achieved a level of enlightenment that can see through their BS, why not just ignore them then?
You are correct, you can't 'reach out' to people like Pat Buchanan. They don't want to be reached out to. At the same time 'kicking their ass' as you say, is equally ineffective if they're not willing to accept the benefit of an 'ass kicking.' This is equally true for any of your readers who still follow those guys. I understand the benefits of your 'ass kickings,' I just think it's being done in a bit of a vacuum. People need to be simply reminded of the good truth and reminded that they should simply ignore the ramblings of the lunatic fringe. After all, if we all learned to just ignore them, after a while they wouldn't be on TV. It's the constant acknowledgment of their stupidity that as you say, 'makes us want to watch the car accident' over and over again. And that I don't think puts us on the path to enlightenment."