Thanks for that article. Somehow I missed that entire "news" event, but learning about Schattschneider and the tactics you used was fascinating. It's really eye opening that, despite Stephens being a conservative, he doesn't understand this strategy for conflict. However, it seems that conservatives in general have been doing this for four decades now while liberals are the ones trying to win an academic debate that a large swath of the voting public doesn't care about. Or at least doesn't care who has the most thoughtful, rational argument.

Unfortunately, while communication power isn't structural power, it can often lead to structural power. As seen in voting shifts due to this communication strategy that lead to things like the power to gerrymander or change the balance of the supreme court. It's somewhat reductive but there's a certain amount of truth in the fact that, if the Democrats started playing the game like the way you just played it, rather than trying to win a debate club contest, they might lose the moral high ground, but they'd also gain more real power.

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David, as someone that left activism after several similar events (Bill O'Reilly threatening to lead a mob to my house; Fox News corporate counsel writing my law school Dean to suggest I should be expelled for want of character; stunts that got me on Colbert and The Daily Show; countless talk radio exploits that "crossed-over" into blogs and online magazines), I cannot agree more with your close. (Though I did end up with a wikipedia page, and trust me... it's more trouble than it's worth, lol).

Anyway, I've moved on from political activism to criminal defense. I may not be able to change the world in broad strokes, but man... I can do wonders when it comes to making sure none of my clients are ever in the NYT as one of those being released from prison twenty years after being wrongfully convicted.

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ah, thank you for reminding me of better days

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Jan 29, 2022·edited Jan 29, 2022

"I would welcome the opportunity for you to come to my home... and then call me a 'bedbug' to my face."

DK: What, are you gonna punch me in the mouth if I do so?

"Please consider this a standing invitation."


"I promise to be courteous no matter what you have to say."

DK: What, so instead of punching me in the mouth you're going to courteously challenge me to a duel to settle the matter of this grave besmirching of your honor?

"You are more than welcome to bring your significant other."

DK: What, you wanna make sure my wife (and probably your wife and your kids as well) sees you punch me in the mouth or sees you challenge me to a duel?

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Feb 2, 2022·edited Feb 2, 2022

Does any part of you reflect on this and wonder what responsibility we have for mean things we say about people online?

I’m not defending Bret’s overreaction. Emailing someone’s boss like that is way over the line. I have no idea why this one particular tweet triggered Bret, out of the tons of criticism he gets. But for whatever reason, it caused him to spiral a bit and do things that were somewhat self destructive.

But saying a mean thing about a person and being entertained by how hurt they are, seems kind of bad too. A lot of reflection here on how to “win” some conflict, but you’re right to note that it’s a pretty hallow victory. If you actually want to change something, that means convincing people who disagree with you. And to do that, it might help not to present yourself as someone who would laugh at their misfortune.

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This article is delicious. And it's opened me up to thinkers/writers blah blah I've not heard of and look forward to reading. Keep em coming!

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this was such a good day on twitter. i look back on it fondly. good point about the "leaky bucket"!

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"If you want to make real change, you need to study the power structure, find a leverage point, make a plan, and push." Isn't that the Republican playbook? Doesn't that party win by stupefying and polluting public discourse while identifying pressure points in the ostensibly democratic institutions of state and occupying them through blunt procedural/legislative force? I have to believe that there is a duty and possibility still to prevail upon the demos through reason, to explain through discourse the true intent and political objective and secure support to validate the political project. After all, if we can't be forthright about our political platforms and methods we are talking about furtively exploiting the undemocratic seams of the system in rather underhanded, parasitic and ultimately corrosive ways. Red or blue, that makes us all bedbugs doesn't it?

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I guess I look at how the republicans have controlled the messaging in this country for about 40 years using Fox News and I wonder how democrats aren't able to appreciate the above statement and move to control how they are perceived.

They keep responding we couldn't have our own Fox News because it wouldn't work on democrats. This after the tRump presidency, when so many people rejected him but not the power structure that made him possible (note the loss of the presidency but the gains in the house- the senate was a fluke possible in all likelihood because of the work of Staci Abrams).

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"lost his mind"

No. That doesn't really fit the definition of "lost." I am not Pope, but not because I lost the Papacy.

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I never got into the odd little book “Finite and Infinite Games”, but it seems of a feather with conflict expansion.

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