How to Tell Constructive Writing from Diatribe

Alright friends, I’m going to ask you to compare two blog posts. After that we’€™ll discuss the differences, just like you used to do in school! The first one is at Russia Blog: “Slander” — The Wall Street Journal Misinforms on Extremism Legislation.

The second is at La Russophobe (a name which, by the way, means The Russia-fearer (probably feminine, too, because of the “la”€™ definite article)): Yuri Mamchur: Neo-Soviet Con Man

What’s your impression? The Russia Blog article was written to persuade (mostly Western) readers that the Wall Street Journal’€™s interpretation of Russia’€™s new anti-extremism legislation is incorrect. Russia Blog gives its opposing interpretation that the law Putin signed was not a crackdown on political dissidents or journalists, but rather on Neo-Nazi and Neo-Fascist and threats to that nation’€™s stability. This is achieved through quotes both from the WSJ article and also from the text of the new law, as well as historical comparisons.

Russophobe, on the other hand, writes to provoke through ad-hominem attacks, attempting to prove the rising specter of the “Neo-Soviet Union.” In fairness, La Russophobe is not the work of a single blogger, but is rather a meta-blog of sorts. (Another note: one of this particular author’s targets, Konstantin at Russian Blog has an interesting response addressing that attack. I only link that scuffle because it helps clarify the situation.)

I noticed that the Russophobe post uses a very provocative vocabulary, and decided to do a little informal analysis comparing it to Russia Blog’€™s post:

Russophobe
word count: 2575 (561 were the big block quote in the middle, leaving 2014)
count of adjectives:
insane: 4
crazed: 3
outrageous[ly]: 3
wacko: 2
extreme (not “extremism”€™): 1

Russia Blog
word count: 1855
count of adjectives:
insane/insanity: 0
crazed/crazy: 0
outrageous[ly]: 0
wacko: 0
extreme (not “extremism”€™): 0

My real point here is that if you want to persuade and be the one who leads a debate to the conclusion that you support, you can be much more influential by being reasonable than be labeling yourself as a reactionary through attack and vitriol. I’m certainly not perfect and have my moments of more extreme thought (see an example here). But please, if your argument has any merit, that merit will be intrinsic to the argument itself and not dependent on the words you use or who else believes the same thing. Truth stands independent of—but not inaccessible to—perception.

Also interesting reading:
U.S. Suffers Winner’s Complex — Gorbachev
UN lowers risk level for Chechnya — This is added support to Russia Blog’€™s assertion that Chechnya has stabilized significantly in the last 6 months. I don’€™t know what’€™s really going on there, but here’€™s a piece of evidence to consider.

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