Friday, February 16, 2007

First week's results from the Maledictometer

Okay, the first readings are in from the Maledictometer (ma' luh dik tah' mih ter), the device that measures hate speech and the hypocrisy that sometimes accompanies it (see previous post for details on this incredible new invention). These are from the debate over Senate Bill 152, barring domestic partner benefits at state universities, which passed the State Senate on Thursday by a vote of 27-8-1.

These readings are based on comments by people on both sides, and are rated on the "Keeling Scale" of vindictiveness. Here are some things we picked up, who they came from, and where they were detected. Note that the particular terms that set off the Maledictometer are in italics:
  • 9 State Sen. Ernesto Scorsone: "It's bigotry. That's what's driving the force to get this body to do this." (The Louisville-Courier, "House backs ban on insurance for unmarried partners," February 16, 2007 also reported in the Lexington Herald-Leader, "Bill banning benefits easily passes Senate," February 16, 2007). This one is from the openly gay Senator's floor speech against SB 152, which also included remarks which seemed to indicate that he believed gays were smarter than straight people. Now this was a really stupid idea coming from a gay person, indicating that it is probably not true. But so far, the Maledictometer cannot detect simple stupidity, so the remark just received a 6 on a scale of 10 for hate with a 1.5 hypocrisy factor.
  • 9 State Sen. Ernesto Scorsone: "It's clear that it's another act of bigotry toward gays..." (Kentucky Kernel, "Senate passes bill to prohibit domestic partner benefits," February 16, 2007). This one again received a 6 on a scale of 10 for hate with a 1.5 hypocrisy factor based on Sen. Scorsone's past record of condemning other people for the very thing he does in this comment.
  • 3 Larry Dale Keeling: "The measure is the latest effort by right-wing Republicans to subject gays and lesbians to special discrimination." (KyKurmudgeon, "Feel the Hate," February 16, 2007) This is a fairly mild comment from Keeling, from whose name the "Keeling Scale" is derived. Keeling fashions himself a curmudgeon, but he is really a misanthrope. The term "right-wing" as used by the left-wing Keeling (oh there goes the meter, I better watch what I say) as a pejorative term meaning "ignorant, heartless, despotic, or just generally distasteful." This received a 3 on a scale of 10 based on hate. No hypocrisy factor here, since the Maledictometer detected only vitriol, but no hypocrisy.
  • 12 Larry Dale Keeling: for the term "hate" in the headline of the post for the previous comment. 6 on a scale of 10 for acrimony and a hypocrisy factor of 2.
  • 10 Larry Dale Keeling: "Although SB 152 obviously targets U of L and sends a message to UK and other public colleges and universities, its hateful effects could be more widespread because it applies to '(a)ny institution subject to the provisions of KRS Chapter 164.'" (KyKurmudgeon, "Feel the Hate," February 16, 2007) Yes, Keeling's really lighting up this week's results. This gets a lower score than the previous remark because he's using an adjective rather than a noun, making it just a little less personal. It's 5 for odium with a hypocrisy factor of 2.
  • 10 Larry Dale Keeling: "On a day devoted to love, the Senate State and Local Government Committee approved a bill dripping with hate. (KyKurmudgeon, "A Valentine Rasberry," February 15, 2007)
  • 12 Mark Nicholas: "Larry Dale Keeling has an update on the short-sighted hate legislation making its way through the Kentucky General Assembly..." He also lists the Democratic senators who "voted for further hate" by voting for SB 152. (, "Update on the State Senate's Hate Legislation", February 16, 2007). This gets a 6, with a hypocrisy factor of 2. Any remark that accuses someone else of hate for simply taking a position based on political or moral principle without any apparent evidence of hatefulness is itself hateful and automatically receives a hypocrisy factor of 2. We could give Nicholas more points for the headline of his article, which also contains this term, but we'll be generous this time, knowing that his comments are likely to be detected by the Maledictometer many times in the future.
Now in order to show I'm fair, I'm going to take my lumps. I called Larry Dale Keeling "left-wing" in one of the above comments. I'll give myself the same number of points I gave him for his "right-wing" remark. I gave him 3 points for using "right-wing" as a pejorative. I used the term "left-wing" in the same way. My bad.

So here's our score:

Liberal Enemies of Intolerance and Hate Speech: 65 on the Keeling Scale
Alleged Friends of Intolerance and Hate Speech: 3 on the Keeling Scale

Strangely enough, the people who are supposed to be so hateful and intolerant have scored very low, while those who love mankind and are tolerant of everyone and everything (except, apparently, those with whom they disagree) are looking pretty sorry. So far, then, my thesis has proven correct: those who most make an issue of hatefulness are themselves most guilty of it.

We'll take another look at things next week, as these debates heat up.

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