Posted by: smirkdirk | February 23, 2011

Oh no – Banned From Huff-Po!~

This morning Google News aggregator led me to this article by George Lakoff – What Conservatives Really Want. In it, Mr. Lakoff, a professor of linguistics at UC Berkeley tells us exactly what “conservatives” really want, just like Rush Limbaugh tells you exactly what “liberals” want.

You can go ahead and read the article if you like, but to boil it down, Lakoff’s thesis is that the conservative theology is a patriarchal dominated one that sees the male as the head decision maker. All other strands of the conservative philosophy exist only to reinforce this male-centric point of view. He uses the term “strict father” several times in the article – so many times in fact that , for me anyway, his points were eclipsed by his obsession with the disciplinary father as a mode of metaphor.

I completely disagreed not only with his article, and his stereotyping of conservatives, but his black-and-whiting of complex issues. For an apparently smart guy considering his academic pedigree, his need to dumb down complicated issues with us vs. them mongering – no doubt the same two-sided, stacked mentality that he probably criticizes FOX News for – seems beneath someone employed by UC Berkeley.

I wanted to comment how simple-minded I found the article and logged in with my Smirkdirk Twitter account and posted the following: “Sounds like someone has some Daddy issues. I can’t believe that people are paid to write such drivel. I bet Mr. Laskoff never met a conservative that didn’t beat his wife. Nice stereotyping, Pal.”

My comment was never posted, and within a minute, my HuffPo account was deleted. Was this really that incendiary? I’m asking this of you, Dear Reader. Comment below.

Huffington Post can do what it wants, and remove the comments it deems offensive, and I am in in no way sitting here and crying censorship – however, considering how loose their editorial policy is in regards to their content, – let’s get down to brass tacks, Laskoff is certainly no Hitchens, and neither is HuffPo a Slate or Salon – its telling how tight it is when it comes to criticism of that content.

For an amazingly thorough deconstruction on Lakoff’s article, check out Tritonthink’s post.



  1. Banned? That is stupid in the extreme.

    I read the same article. I didn’t quite take it the same way. I understand what you are saying. But I don’t think he’s painting all conservatives with that brush. To me, he’s talking about the extreme elements that have become more mainstream. The ones who bring religion to the table. The religious right. All those descriptions you referred to make sense under those conditions. Patriarchal.

    I could have it all wrong. But I don’t think that the author is as much a moron as he might appear to you. I felt the article was painting a far more specific group. My two cents!

  2. Well now look what you’ve done, Larry. Now I”m going to have to delete your comment. I still have to disagree with you. Lakoff’s tone is just like that of Limbaugh, just on the other side, and is the exact reason we’re on the verge of a government shutdown in this country; the insistence on seeing your political opposition as “the other”, with not just a differing opinion, but truly evil intent. Whether you agree with a politician or not, with a few exceptions, I believe most politicians, misguided as they may be, really do feel they have the best interest of their country at hearts. Call me naive, but most people that I meet in my day to day life – liberal and conservative, right or left, (or for that matter, right or wrong) – are good people.

    Just like filling one’s head with Limbaugh all day – filling one’s head with writings such as Laskoff’s or dozens of other “writers” at the Huffington Post, is going to give you a skewed view of the world – and if you are pre-disposed – probably a heart attack or stroke.

    My own comment was pretty snarky and throw-away and it was one of, I believe, over 2000 at the time I posted it a few days ago, so I really don’t care at this point – and maybe I did cross a line. Was it contributing to the conversation in an intelligent way – perhaps not.

  3. Just took a shower and thought about this some more and wanted to add:

    Lakoff dedicates the article to the protesters in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin fight, underneath all the rancor and hyperbole is a fiscal fight. How much should teacher’s be paid, and how much of their benefits should be covered.

    Morals? Yes there are morals. These people teach our children, so how could we not compensate them fairly and genorously? But then, define fair and generous. From the stats I have come across the WI teachers get something like 92% of their benefits paid for. This is pretty much unheard of in the private sector. Is if fair for public employees to have a better benefits than private employees who are actually footing the bill for them through their taxes? That’s a moral question.

    I’m really actually undecided on this whole thing since the teacher’s have one important FACT on their side; They rank #2 in the nation in the highest SAT scores. These are not lazy union people sucking off a government tit. These people do in fact do their jobs, and do them exceedingly well.

    Either way, what Lakoff brings to the table is not a discussion, very few facts, very few mathematics, and from what I can see, very little experience except his linguistic classes which taught him how to write very one-sided essays, while surrounded by other UC Berkley professors, the majority of whom I bet agree with him. So much for diversity. No wonder it is so easy to paint those he disagrees with with such a broad brush. They are the other. He doesn’t know them, doesn’t interact with them, and his knowledge of them comes from other biased, negative articles by his own cohort on the HuffPo.

    For a different tack, watch this video of an interview on the topic with the Governor of NJ who actually tackled this exact same issue in his state with the “liberal” NBC Today show.

    Neat, right? There is an actual conversation going on there, and nobody’s evil, people just disagree.

    Like a Limbaugh, a Hannity, or an O’Rielly – Lakoff and people like him bring nothing to the table except venom.

    Here’s a song for them all.

    Shit, I gotta go to work! (posted completely unedited)

  4. Thank you for the link and kind words. I have a strong interest in political language and Lakoff especially irks me with his crude stereotyping and daft condescension. He willingly and consciously sacrifices substance and accuracy for digestibility and confirmation of what individuals on the left want to hear. Very annoying.
    While recognizing the right of a private enterprise to control speech within its own domain, HuffPo showed some real cowardice in dealing with your comment. It’s like a little snarky jab never helped keep anyone grounded.

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