The Difference Between Us And Them

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33 Responses

  1. TJIC says:

    That was masterful.

    Damn you for that.

  2. David says:

    There's objective evidence that they're bankrolling you so you'll provide them cover by shutting down analysis and preventing the truth from getting out. How can you be such a sell-out?

  3. VPJ says:

    Very well-written. I sure am glad you're on Our side.

  4. Dan says:

    They control the media

  5. Landru says:

    I'd take this post a lot more seriously if you weren't one of Them, Ken.

  6. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Now, a question for the student; How is this different from politics as practiced throughout 90% of human history?

    When I hear somebody talking about how politics used to be more civil, I know I'm dealing with an historical illiterate. There have been periods when one faction or another had so much influence that they, briefly, effectively controlled the terms of debate. At all other times all involved factions have slanged each-other without reserve, often going to lengths that make the current ;level of 'incivility' look like a tiff at a sunday-school picnic.

  7. Oh fer chrissakes… you're right.

    Now I gotta go think about how to be a better person and stop doing this shit… now that you make it seem so silly in so few words.

  8. @ Landru – True, Ken may be guilty too (although I tend to see him as seeing the humanity of the other side better than many) but the first step in redemption is identifying the problem.

  9. John says:

    Thanks, Ken.

    With your permission, I'd like to recycle your wisdom — with attribution, of course.

  10. EH says:

    CSP: Sturgeon's Law

  11. Gail says:

    Also, when They are not living in festering shitholes, They live in gold-plated mansions built by slaves and powered by the tears of children. And They won't let Us live there!

  12. DL says:

    Great post and it really captures how tiresome it's all become.

    To @Dan's comment – For a while now, I have told friends I feel like we're living the movie "Wag the Dog" and it's getting old.

  13. mendel says:

    Reminds me of the Fitgerald quote about a first rate intelligence being able to hold two opposing ideas in mind and retaining the ability to function.

  14. John David Galt says:

    This amounts to a denial of any difference between right and wrong. I am very disappointed that you are so shallow.

  15. G Thompson says:

    Brilliant post Ken nearly as good as "FUNKSHUNEL ILLITERIT by the Dark Horde ;)

    Though for me, Us and Them can do their own thing… as long as no one calls me normal!

  16. gclason says:

    to C. S. P. Schofield: Well said. Some of the greatest statesmen in history have been thoroughly condemned by political opponents.

  17. Landru says:

    @Marc Randazza: I was just flinging poo, actually. Ken's inherent Themness is really quite limited, in my humble but no doubt vital opinion.

  18. GDad says:

    You didn't call out Their grooming, although that might be part of "decorum."

  19. Mark says:


  20. C. S. P. Schofield says:


    Indeed, it might be said of politicians in general that if you aren't inspiring SOMEBODY to slang you in public, you aren't doing your job.

  21. Ken says:

    Oh, JDG. I can always count on you.

  22. Slow Learner says:

    It was quite blatant in I believe 17th and 18th Century Great Britain – the gradually forming Tory and Whig parties each referred to themselves as "the Party", and the other as "the Faction".
    Because of course the Party was based upon the sober consideration of the common weal, whereas the Faction was purely self-aggrandisement.

  23. mojo says:

    "They. You know, them…"
    "Giant nine-foot ants? Seriously?"

  24. BCP says:

    Ken? . . . No, Ken, sit down for a minute. I know it’s strange seeing your friends and supporters gathered here in the comments section, seemingly poised to attack, but we are here because we want to help you.

    It’s like this, Ken: we think you are spending too much time reading anonymous comments on the Internet. I know it can be addictive, Ken. We have all been there. We all stop to gawk at a train wreck and we all rubberneck in traffic. There is no shame in that. But these Internet discussions are different, Ken. They change you. Most people who intake the volume of Internet discussions you do end up conforming, eventually, and becoming a part of the sounding board. You may think that because you are still able to separate the specious arguments from the rest, it’s not hurting you. You’re wrong.

    We all see it, Ken. Why can’t you? Does it make you happy, consuming this drivel? Do you think participating in anonymous discussions with the type of people who choose to argue over the Internet is going to benefit you? Do you think it benefits reason? Look at the facts, Ken. Internet commenters learn, adapt, and conform to the style of rhetoric already in play when they join a social networking site. The monster grows. It must.

    We all started the same way, Ken. The allure of the Internet political discussion is strong, and the unintentional comedy is, at first, irresistible. But the comedy gives way to tragedy as soon as you begin to contemplate the sheer numbers that make up the beast, and realize they cannot all be trolling; when you start to develop the ability to discern between those having fun and the true believers; when you do some back-of-the-envelope extrapolation; when you realize the true believers are numerous; when you determine reason holds no sway in this land. Here be dragons.

    Ken, you might think you are immune to the beast, and it is true you probably will never conform to its particular style of illogic, but the beast is still hurting you. It’s destroying your psyche. We care about you, Ken and we want you to be healthy. You don’t have to stop cold turkey. Spend a few bucks to get behind a paywall of a reputable journal or social network and interact for a time with people who have paid for the privilege (but remember the economic incentive makes them only very slightly better), look at pictures of cats with adorable misspelled captions, hang out and relax at Leave the lifestyle slowly if you must.

    But you must, Ken. Don’t do it for us. Do it for yourself.

  25. Ken says:

    That intervention would be terribly effective, BCP, except for the fact that you can find every one of these rhetorical techniques used by non-anonymous prominent political commentators.

  26. Smock Puppet, Lawyer Without Pants says:

    >>> For a while now, I have told friends I feel like we're living the movie "Wag the Dog" and it's getting old.

    Sirrah, you have ALWAYS lived in the movie "Wag the Dog".

    You're just removing the scales from your eyes.

    In the immortal (ironic, yes) words of Socrates,
    "I drank what?"

    Real Genius.

  27. Smock Puppet, Lawyer Without Pants says:

    THIS would be the distinction between "US" (The Right) and "THEM" (The Left):

    Two Cheers for Double Standards

    While The Right is sometimes guilty of being hypocritical, they have the sense and the moral compass that leads them to be ashamed of it.

    Not to exclaim, openly, "It's OK because we're Better Than You."

    Stanley Fish is the epitome of postmodern liberals, by virtue of being a scum-sucking, hypocritical POS thug without the slightest sense of morality or decency.

    If the above seems harsh, it's appropriately so. Fish made it unquestionably true with this statement:

    It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.

  28. Eric Wilner says:

    And (impudent heathen!) They look upon We
    As a quite impossible They!

    – Kipling, "We and They"

    OK, so Kipling was writing of cultures foreign and domestic, rather than domestic factions. Sounds remarkably similar, though.
    Looking at specimens of the political left and the religious right serves to remind me that the early-20th-century "left" and "right" were just different factions of the same mass movement, and to a large extent they still are.
    Never been much of an Us or Them, myself. I always seem to end up being one of Those.

  29. Xenocles says:

    Thank you belatedly for this, Ken. It's the perfect response to a "TEAM X GOOD, TEAM Y BAD" post anywhere online. I just post the URL by itself.

  30. Ken says:

    Do I have you to thank for posting it at Volokh?

  31. Xenocles says:

    That was me, yes.

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