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Responding to Free Republic

On Dec. 11, ConWebWatch was discovered by a member of the conservative chat board Free Republic, who posted a link there. In addition to the comments posted on that thread, I received a number of e-mails from FReepers. Here is a representative sampling of their e-mail comments:

"Dear Craps, You ain't seen nothing yet!!!! And you've been FREEPED!"

"Your writing---the shocked tone, the condescension, the simplistic reductionism, the phony piety---is a bore."

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"Yes, the country would have been better off if the "stupid voters" had stayed home on election
day, and the results of the election known four weeks ago. When you attack Weyrich for his prescient recommendation, you reveal your own biases. It appears that in your attempt to highlight the absurdities of conservatives, you become absurd yourself."

"You really have it all wrong. We don't actually despise people who don't despise Gore. After all, many of them are our neighbors, family, coworkers, etc.... We just feel a duty to protect those people and our nation from the path of destructive socialism that the present day Democratic party is leading us into. Sure, none of us is perfect and the last few weeks have actually created a sort of hysteria, but thats all part of human nature. I DON'T want any more freedoms taken from me! Check your premises. You most likely could use an epistomological housecleaning. Then you will see clearly."

"Strange and interesting site but what is it's purpose? Who are you guys?"

"Just the fact that you hypocrites feel we "ought to be watched" is proof positive of what wehave been saying all along . . . "everyone has a right to his own opinion . . . provided it is also the "liberal" viewpoint as well! All others you discredit by ridicule and personal attacks, because you cananot possibly win an argument on the facts or the ethics . . . you are simple-minded and pathetic . . . if you were a true liberal, you would welcome free exchange of vigorous, fact-supported debate."

"Mostly, people like you are just ignorant. Ran across site by accident. Won't make same mistake twice. You believe gov should take from people and give to others. I believe gov should not. But, you would not understand."

"What is this? Are you just a 'relay station' picking up some of the giblets that MaxNews drop along their daily run? Get a life! Regards. Allen, from the red zone."

Terry Krepel responds:

This day was going to come eventually, when Free Republic members would find I'd been trolling for quotes on their site. And I'd been a little fearful of what the reaction might be. Ultimately, it was not as bad as I may have thought.

On the other hand, there was the irony of painting Democrats as "if ve find out vere you lif, you vill be in BIG trouble" Nazis where FReepers took the trouble to dig up a home address and employer for me. And the various insults derived from my last name, which most everyone else got out of their system, oh, around fourth grade or so.

While there seem to be some serious-minded conservatives at Free Republic, there also seem to be a lot of knee-jerk, frothing-at-the-mouth types as well, and when you operate a bulletin board that's open to the public, you run the risk of people like me plucking outrageous quotes and reposting them to a different audience. I believe the best way to curb vicious rhetoric (from either side) is to give them the widest possible exposure.

Those I "discredit by ridicule and personal attacks" on ConWebWatch (to the extent that this site does that) already live by discrediting through ridicule and personal attacks, and I have no problem with exposing that and using it against them. Questioning conservatives does not automatically make me a liberal.

And I do welcome "free exchange of vigorous, fact-supported debate." I have never told anyone they have no right to express an opinion or demanded that NewsMax, et al., be run out of business. I believe that as long as NewsMax, et al., claim to be news organizations, they should be held to the standards of news organizations. That's my job. Brent Bozell does the "liberal" TV networks, I do conservative web sites. Attacking without evidence, however, is a typical operating procedure of the ConWeb, and you fight that with "fact-supported debate." I invite anyone to do the same with me, but if you look at the Free Republic thread, there is very little of that to be found.

Remember, you always have the option of proving me wrong. I respect that much more than name-calling based on false assumptions.

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Posted 12/14/2000

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