Friday, August 14, 2009

Casuist and Demagogue: Show me your bona fides

Casuistry: specious, deceptive, or oversubtle reasoning, esp. in questions of morality; fallacious or dishonest application of general principles; sophistry.

That's what is going on over at WhiteCoat's Call Room: A blog from inside the emergency department. This medical blogger recently admonished a reader -- who had him dead to rights on his basic intellectual and political insincerity: "Dis me, but don’t dis the mag."

[He writes for EPMonthly, which calls itself "the independent voice of emergency room physicians."]

Of course! I would never cast a jaundiced eye toward the vehicle for WhiteCoat's demagoguery. I am sure his practiced subtlety has them absolutely hoodwinked.

And I'd never, ever infer that he has a measure of responsibility as a representative of the site.

The sea change of my opinion began on August 3, 2009 with the stupid and disingenuous post entitled Highlights from the health reform bill.

By the time I read the post, what needed to be said in commentary had been said, so I did my usual stutter-fook. What required airing? Well, BK said, for example:


You’ve had some shoddy arguments in the past, but this one takes the cake…by far!

Commentary (from unknown source) is contained below.
This doesn’t worry you at all? In a debate so filled with misinformation, halftruths, and outright lies, you’re posting some unknown partisan hacks interpretation of the bill? (and yes, if you look down the list it is obviously made by a partisan hack).

I wish I could say I was surprised that you posted this.

Nick even wanted to abstract WC out of authorship, saying:

Someone needs to apologize for the brazen dishonesty of this post, especially the completely fictitious assertions about government deciding end of life care.

I am requiring more of myself these days, the product of having spent so much time feeling rotten instead of trying to rise above. Everytime I am angered and offput by Stupid-Unto-Dangerous Politicking, I nevertheless lack the willpower to "unsubscribe" from the blog feed in question. I tell myself the lie that keeping an eye on the "other side" is instructive. I tell myself that it's worth putting up with because of the drole stories intersperced with dyspeptic agenda. I even dare to think that the rationed humor is funny enough. I say, "He challenges me to think in a different way... And it is important to keep an eye on The Loyal Opposition." But in so doing, I overstate the status of bloggers like WhiteCoat, and lower my level of responsibility in thought and discourse.

I also have admonished myself for being overly serious and terribly thinskinned. But I am in a period of accelerated aging, and along with the dearth in time comes an awful lot of additional maturity.

Is it over-the-top to employ terms like demagoguery and casuistry in reference to someone of little fame beyond the rarefied air of the medical blogosphere? Has he earned his bona fides* to the exclusion of all doubt of his good faith?

No, and no.

It saddens me to conclude that WhiteCoat is an insincere sniveler. And so I crowed hooray when Shadowfax took on his lame attempt to disown the disingenuity of More Analysis of the Healthcare Reform Bill:

You also backpedal greatly away from this email, which you claim was only posted to generate discussion. Your language was more approving at the time: “they are generally on point, although some of the commentary isn’t entirely accurate.” Fair enough, you had a disclaimer. My advice: don’t uncritically disseminate half-true stuff. Promote that with which you agree, debunk that which is untrue, but don’t weasel with the “I dunno, looks OK, you decide” approach.

I've canceled my subscription to WhiteCoat's blog. He'll be reeling from my absence for a long time, I know -- inconsolable. For my more progressive take on the issue of health care reform, I prefer the goods over at Movin'Meat.

And so, WhiteCoat (who doesn't know me from Adam), I have followed your advice and not dissed the mag.

*bona fides: Good faith, or in Latin bona fides (bona fide means "in good faith"), is the mental and moral state of honesty, conviction as to the truth or falsehood of a proposition or body of opinion, or as to the rectitude or depravity of a line of conduct.... In contemporary English, "bona fides" is sometimes used as a synonym for credentials, background, or documentation of a person's identity. "Show me your bona fides" can mean: Why should I trust you (your good faith in this matter)? Tell me who you are.

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