Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Explanation for Two Ambitious Men

I didn't have to wait long. Even Xoff was put off by the juxtapositioning of the pictures of Scott Walker and Adolph Hitler. Unsettling, huh?

Of course I was not really comparing the two. For as much as I dislike Scott Walker's politics, I suspect down deep he is a decent person, loves his family, etc. But the reaction was interesting. Nothing was said. I merely stated that both men were ambitious. What is not true about that statement?

And yet, the contrast of the two pictures elicited in a very short time visceral reactions. Tell me that the Gableman campaign did not know exactly what they were doing when they juxtaposed a picture of Justice Butler next to that of a sex offender who also happened to be the same race as Butler?

Apologies to anyone offended. However, apologies from every single conservative blogger, lawmakers and quasi-journalists who ignored the real fact that race did play a role in that ad should be forthcoming as well.


  1. OK, points for this not being as stupid as I would have guessed, but it's still not cool man. The problem with using Hitler, even for this type of "guilt by association" analysis is that what Hitler did is way way worse than anything that some sex offender, or anyone else, for that matter, did.

    You get a reaction for Hitler because HE'S FUCKING HITLER! HE KILLED 6 MILLION JEWS!

    It's like comparing a lost election to the eventual heat death of the known universe. It's not even on the same planet. The emotions tied up in Hitler are so much different from anything else that you will put up, that it becomes useless.

    Being in Chicago, I was not subject to any of this advertising, but I can think of another difference as well. Presumably, some ruling that Butler made did in fact release this sex offender? Without regard to whether the ruling was right or wrong (I have no reason to doubt that Butler did the right thing in said case), it would be factually accurate to say that Butler -> free sex offender. There was a causal relationship. The fact that two men are ambitious says nothing about either of them. It's not the same function.

    So your analogy fails on two counts. The syllogism is different in the actual case than it is in the Hitler/Walker case, and the subjest you chose are too dissimilar to make for a meaningful analogy.

    Friends don't let friends compare things to Hitler.

  2. I hear what you are saying, Paul. It was a coarse analogy. I admit it. However, the point is still accurate.

    You don't think emotions everywhere are pretty high strung regarding sex offenders and, given that black on black crime is a favorite topic of the mass media, that just maybe the two were easily gobbled up by the "good" people of Wisconsin, as Gableman called them.

    The intent was to garner a reaction. If you can tell me truthfully that the pictures of Butler and the grainy, seedy and somewhat threatening picture of a black sex offender might not have garnered a similar reaction to my juxtapositioning of Walker and Hitler ... well, then I will go eat a piece of string cheese (sorry, I'm trying to lose weight, and I suspect hats have too many calories).

  3. Just to clear up, no ruling or efforts by Butler lead to the release of the sex offender. In fact, he served his sentence, was released, and then re-offended.

  4. I have to hand it to you Tim. You swing for the fences with your posts.

    You made a good point with your analogy, but the "Big H" is out of bounds. You succeeded in bringing the crowd to their feet. You had the distance, but your shot veered to the wrong side of the foul pole. It is good to see you back out here taking swings.

  5. Thank you for clarifying Emily. That certainly makes the commercial worse.

  6. Thanks, Emily. I did not have the exact facts of that case and had to step away for a moment.

    Thx, 3rd Way. I understand the emotions at play with Adolph Hitler. Using his picture was an extreme example, but I wanted the point to be crystal clear and immediate.

  7. Other Side, did they really garner a similar reaction?

    Most people, upon seeing your "comparison" reacted with revulsion. If anything, it probably caused them to like Scott Walker a bit more. Even Xoff reacted that way.

    Yet you imply that putting Butler's face next to some seedy sex offender will make people positively associate the two.

    Your thought experiment directly contradicts the point that you were trying to make.

    If people do associate Butler and said sex offender, it would have to be because of the causal linkage which I described in my first comment (thruthful or not) or due to some existing racism in that person (in which case the ad would not be changing anyone's opinion).

    Just "getting a reaction" is pointless. For something like this to be of value, there has to be some logical consistency.

  8. Well Paul ... When I saw the ad the first time my first reaction was Willie Horton. A fairly revolting picture. No, the reaction was not akin to concentration camps and the horrors of the Nazi regime, but it was a reaction with revulsion at its core.

    The Horton ad and its child succeeded, but at least I saw it for what it was. Unfortunately, others were not able to grasp the nuance and instead saw black men and sex offenders and their worst fears were ignited.

    It's interesting that both liberals and conservatives (and libertarians) are jumping in on this. Not one conservative condemned the ads (well, except for a solitary DA).

    You are welcome to comment on this all you want (I do respect your opinions), but why not have a discussion about the issue it was meant to highlight?

  9. The Willie Horton comparison is better. In fact, had you gone with that you could also have made the point that unlike the Dukakis/Horton thing, this had the added tinge of racist appeal.

    Anyway, I haven't talked much about the issue you were attempting to highlight because of the way you structured these posts, first leaving everyone guessing about the Hitler thing, and then only subsequently adding the explanatory post. By doing so you invited analysis of your method.

    As for the substantive issue, also remember that I have not seen it, so I'm going only off of descriptions, and I am skeptical of all such things.

    So, based on what I know I would say that the ad sounds fairly sleazy. However, I would add that I doubt it was very effective.

    In judicial races the candidate who portrays him/herself as a more "tough-on-crime" candidate usually wins, and that factor often trumps all else. Fairly or not, it seems that Gableman did this. And remember, I literally have not seen a single ad for either candidate. Almost my entire knowledge of this race comes from IT and Shark, and it is IT's pro-Butler posts that led me to this conclusion.

    I have very little respect for the electorate. The issues in a judicial race are very nuanced, however your average goober doesn't care about such things. An average voter can be swayed on crime because it's easy to process, and they relate crime with judges.

    So yes, the ad was dirty, but I don't think it had much to do with Gableman winning.

  10. PaulNoonan:

    It, and the barrage of similar ads by WMC, had everything to do with Gableman winning. Remember, it was 51-49.

    (And the Hitler photo did not make me like Scott Walker any better, by the way.)

  11. If advertisements have no effect on you, then why would you expect them to have an effect on anyone else?

  12. This may be a difficult concept, but as someone who's been heavily involved in politics for 20 years I know at the start of the race who I'll be supporting. I am almost never an undecided or persuadable voter, as many people are.

    I have seen enough polling over the years to be able to say without reservation that political commercials on TV are the primary way most people get their information about candidates and make their decisions.

    If you have evidence that voters don't pay attention to commercials, you should make it public right away. That would be remarkable -- kind of like discovering the sun rose in the west this morning.

  13. I just lost a long comment to my firewall, and I'm not in the mood to retype it.

    In short:

    1. I explained before what I thought of the ad. I doubt it had more than a marginal effect.

    2. Just because your overwhelmingly biased against a candidate does not mean that ads have no effect on you. Political ads are like McDonald's ads, they do not work on the intellectual part of the brain. You have no more ability to screen them out than anyone else.

  14. If political ads can be lumped into the larger subset of all advertising, then Paul, according to your thesis why advertise at all and why do companies bother to pay big bucks for marketing departments?

    There must be something to it.

  15. Bingo to the last point.

    Fascinating to watch all of this. The most perceptive social science research makes people the most twitchy.


    -Mein Kampf

    Social research my ass. Tim, you made an idiotic mistake here. Fess up here and move on.

  17. Nope, Dave. It was my intent to write that follow up. Tough if you don't believe me.

    If I remember, you didn't think the ad had any racist overtones either. A shame you are so blind.

  18. Actually, Dave, OS is telling the truth. He emailed me early in the day to say what he was going to do, and he wanted to see what kind of reaction that he would get.

    I find it interesting that most conservatives are linking, or copying and pasting, but won't comment. Most of the condemnations came from the left.

    Any hypothesis on why that would be? I have mine, but I want to see what others are thinking.

  19. What a load of crap.

    The Gableman ad did not merely put two photos next to each other. It clearly stated that Butler once worked for Mitchell and tried to get him off.

    Your post had no context.


  20. The weakest two things I've seen today is a cup of old coffee and Fraley's attempts at rebuttal.

  21. Tim something you will never understand is the majority of people probably did not even know that Butler was black.

    Race is only an issue in that it gives people like you an excuse, nothing more.

    Quit playing the race card where it does not exist.

    I;ve said it a million times, if we are ever to move beyond race we must stop ignoring racism.

    Like you, and your pal Capper here who love to throw that card if it is deserved or not.

  22. Fred must not actually listen to the crap he and his ilk spews forth to taint the world.

    A) Every talk show host made a point that Butler is black.

    B) No one denies Mitchell was black. Just like the Willie Horton ads.

    C) Even most people on the right, including Sykes, said the ad was a poor showing.

    So why does Fred have a problem with the truth?

    And where is my apology, mother-hater?

  23. Fred, that most people didn't know Butler was black refrain is just a lame attempt to cover up for the fact that the ad was indeed a race-baiter. I've seen it circulating around. Who needs flypaper when you've got the conservative blogosphere.

    You want people to stop ignoring racism? Perhaps a good start would be by admitting the obvious concerning the ad.

    And, Fred ... no need to get personal. I think you don't realize sometimes how confrontational your writings can be.

    I'm trying.

  24. Tim you throw Hitler into this and call me confrontational....

    I don't care how much back peddling you do, that was over the line.

    Please think about that, I'd be happy to discuss this with you personally as we have on various issues in the past.

    Capps, no apology forthcoming. I never insulted your mother, I insulted you. You twisted that into an effort to attack me and your buddies all dutifully jumped on board. You deserved it for labeling people racist just because they wrote a couple of posts on persons of color? That's bad behavior.

    If you would stop and think about that for a moment I would be happy to apologize for your misconception.

    Let me make this clear one more time.

    I never intended any ill will towards you mother, only against you for your bad behavior which you still refuse to acknowledge. In fact, you continue to perpetuate that same behavior even on this post throwing around the race card at will.

    Let me repeat that again, I never intended any ill will towards your mother, that is about the 7th time I've said that. If you do not get that, you never will.

    When shall you be apologizing for dishonestly throwing around the race card? Oh yeah, never.

  25. Fred, it is so laughable that you would even think anyone should apologize to you. You need to look inward.

  26. Fred ... it was a post. It was not directed at you. I can't help it if you make it personal.

    And I'm not backpedaling on anything. I made a point. Some people did not like it. So be it. Note that included lefties as well.

    I could have done better in explaining what I was trying to do. Last I'll say on this unless someone wants to discuss it in a meaningful way.

    And, while I appreciate our backdoor communications, I really see no need to expand on this.

  27. Fair play, I suggested Capper should apologize for his behavior in labeling people as racists without cause....

    I'm not asking for any apology personally.

    The fact that you don't get it does not surprise in the least.

  28. Again, Fred, you are not the judge and jury on what capper (or anyone else) finds to be racist (or sexist). I have read what kind of comments you (and the like) allow on RDW (and other "conservative" blogs) without challenging them, so you are once again showing your hypocrisy by harassing capper. It doesn't surprise me in the least that you don't understand that not everyone lives by your standards or lack thereof.

    Isn't it nice though that YOU are still free to express your feeling on Whallah! and other "liberal" blogs. The same blogs that you take such great pleasure in belittling and disrespecting the contributors/commenters in their "homes". Hypocrite.

  29. Clue in Fair Play I addressed Tim, not Capper.

    I replied to Capper after he addressed me.

    I replied to you after you dug in your claws. I'm not harrassing Capper at all, I'm simply clarifying his spin. His half of the story like he usually tells.

  30. Clue yourself in Fred. You did address capper and that is what I was addressing.

    Interesting that you would say " dug in your claws". I don't have claws, Fred. Why would you characterize my comment to you like that? Do you have issues with women that don't agree with you?

    Once again, isn't it nice that YOU are able to express your opinions (however warped) on Whallah! after being so rude to capper in his "home" (and elsewhere for that matter)?

  31. I come back from a twelve hour day, and what do I find?

    Dooley almost offering a half-assed apology. I was inclined to let it go with that, but no, he can't leave well enough alone. He makes his first act of hypocrisy, by accusing me of "spinning" things. Sort of like Dooley "spun" an alleged insult from Jay.

    Then he insults me again. No big deal there. That's what bullies do. They huff and puff and try to intimidate people. But then he makes misogynist comments to my friend, FP.

    What is wrong with you, Dooley? Do you have an issue with women? Or are you just like to try to intimidate and bully people around?

    Now, be an adult, and apologize. To me and to Fair Play. Then, if you wish to debate, I'll be glad to. If you wish to be insultive, stay home. Got it?