In which Ashley Miller and I exchange email on the matter. She responded to my email thusly:
Thank you for your very polite e-mail.
The point of my article was to say for that people like me — people for whom secular values, gay rights, and abortion are important issues – Ron Paul is a bad choice.
For people like you, who believe the country is going to implode economically and therefore, relatively reasonably, don’t care so much about the other issues, Ron Paul may well be an excellent choice. And I agree that it isn’t a Democrat or Republican thing, I have no respect for either party.
It’s just that I don’t think that the country is going to implode. And I don’t think a man who thinks it’s OK for states to take away my rights so long as the federal government doesn’t is libertarian or worth supporting.
In response to which, I wrote the following:
Dear Miss Miller,
I completely agree with you. If you don’t think the country is in any significant economic peril, and most people admittedly don’t, then there is no reason you should support Ron Paul if you disagree strongly with his social positions. I would simply encourage you to keep an open mind about him if your perception of the economic situation changes.
Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter if you favor government support for the poor or for foreign invasions, if the government has no money, it can’t do anything at all.
Now, contrast with this the barrage of pointless venting she received in response to her original piece. While I don’t agree with her posting the contact information and IP addresses of those who attacked her, I don’t agree with the over-the-top vituperation either.* It’s neither necessary nor productive; if one recalls that the woman isn’t even aware that the US and global economies are in a frighteningly parlous state, then what are the chances that she has correctly analyzed other socio-political issues, or is even capable of doing so?
I treat the likes of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and PZ Myers harshly because they claim to be intellectually and academically superior, when it is readily apparent and easily demonstrable that they are not. I treat the various anklebiters harshly because their aggressive behavior and incivility demand it. But someone who is a graduate student, who is doing no more than expressing her opinion, however ignorant, fallacious, and stupid it might be, on her own blog is not simply not acting in an offensive manner.
I know I’m not going to convince someone like Miss Miller that a libertarian like Ron Paul merits support from those who disagree with him on social grounds because she is not going to be able to recognize that her concerns about Paul enforcing his own social perspective in an authoritarian manner stems from her own psychological projection. Nor do I have any interest in repeating myself and attempting to convince her of the current economic state, not when I have already published a book on the subject. But it is quite possible to convince her that IF her perception of the economy is incorrect, THEN Paul merits not only another look, but outright support since in that case Paul would be correct and her position would clearly have been shown to be false. Catastrophe is clarifying, and some will never see clearly until forced to do so by events.
This isn’t about being patient, it is about being civil and understanding that even the strongest, most thoughtless brick wall has cracks that the reality of nature can eventually exploit and utilize to bring down.
As for those who think a few nasty emails prove anything at all about Ron Paul or his supporters, I have more than one hundred times that many that would suffice to “prove” the same thing about Obama supporters, Bush supporters, atheists, Muslims, scientists, feminists, and so forth.
*I would encourage Miss Miller to remove the contact information. I’ve received hundreds of threats like those and worse for more than 10 years of writing op/ed and have never seen any benefit to me or anyone else in publicizing the personal information of those attacking me. Once you start writing on controversial topics in public, you can expect to be targeted by those who disagree with you and there is nothing to be gained from exacerbating the situation.