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« More on Specialization | Main | NASCAR For Nerds »

A Question For Kevin Drum

...whom I've met and, despite our many political differences, usually seems a sensible individual.

What is a "wingnut"? Everyone at his site seems to toss the term around as though it's obvious that some is and some ain't, and who they are (sort of like "neocon").

And what criteria were used to relegate the blogger nominees in this post to that category? For instance, how does Glenn Reynolds make the cut?

Am I one? If so, why?

Posted by Rand Simberg at November 05, 2007 12:50 PM
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I seem to recall that a few years ago it came to pass that wingnuts and moonbats were considered - perhaps not entirely jokingly - to be right and left equivalent terms.

That is, someone rightward might call a particularly raving lefty a moonbat. Someone leftward might call a particularly raving righty a wingnut. Same idea, philosophically mirrored.

Given that, you would in no way be a wingnut, so it's probably just lax usage. Nor would Kevin be properly called a moonbat.

All of which begs the question of what you'd call a raving libertarian. I mean, besides "on the right track." Heh.

Posted by Jay at November 5, 2007 01:30 PM

I agree with Jay's definitions. And in general I find that those who use the term "wingnut" too loosely are in fact themselves "moonbats", and vice versa.

Posted by Cecil Trotter at November 5, 2007 02:03 PM

what you'd call a raving libertarian

a Ron Paul supporter

Posted by Leland at November 5, 2007 02:59 PM

... And in general I find that those who use the term "wingnut" too loosely are in fact themselves "moonbats", and vice versa.

Well put. Labels such as these describe the author as accurately as they describe the target.

Posted by Stephen Kohls at November 5, 2007 04:02 PM

"Wingnut" derives from "winger," which derives from "right-winger." So it's just a jokey term for conservative, pro-war bloggers, and not one that's really meant to be very precise. As Jay says, I'm a moonbat as much as Glenn R. is a wingnut.

Some enterprising conservative is certainly welcome to create a Golden Moonbat Award to complement my Golden Wingnut Award. It's fun for the whole family!

Posted by Kevin Drum at November 5, 2007 04:16 PM

Nothing nutty about what Derb posted. He demonstrates a basic knowledge of the limitations of handgun technology. Handguns aren't death rays, especially in the hands of an untrained individual like Cho. If they had done as he suggested, the death toll would have been lower, proabally much lower.

The problem is not his technical assessment but the cower and dont fight back mindset being drilled into the current generation. It was a variation on the prisoners delemmia played out in real life.

Something the washington press corp is universal for in its absence. I have yet to see a moonbat who would know a slide from a cylinder or a clip from a magazine.

By making sport of Mr. Derbyshire, all Mr. Drum is doing is showing us in the know that you don't know what you don't know and you don't let ignorance get in the way of forming (and offering) an opinion.

Posted by Mike Puckett at November 5, 2007 05:28 PM

"Wingnut" derives from "winger," which derives from "right-winger."

So, there's no such thing as a "left-winger"? Why aren't they "wingnuts"?

Anyway, thanks for the (failed) attempt to clear it up, Kevin.

Posted by Rand Simberg at November 5, 2007 06:09 PM

A wingnut is anyone to the right of the moonbat using the term.

Posted by Jim C. at November 5, 2007 07:56 PM

So, there's no such thing as a "left-winger"? Why aren't they "wingnuts"?

In common usage -- particularly in news reports of radicals of left and right, the "-winger" suffix has, actually, been applied almost exclusively to the right. Their counterparts have tended to be labeled "leftists."

It's possible the discrepancy comes from the way in which "right-winger" first came to currency. I don't know the story so I couldn't say, but perhaps some ultraconservative spoke of the clout of the "right wing" of American politics or some such.

Posted by McGehee at November 5, 2007 08:09 PM

To expand further, the use of "right-wing" in the media as an adjective has been deprecated in recent years, and "rightist" has tended to take its place.

Posted by McGehee at November 5, 2007 08:11 PM

What is a neocon?

Posted by anon at November 5, 2007 08:57 PM

I'm amazed nobody has pointed out what a wingnut really is. Perhaps everyone already knows but I can't resist the opportunity to show what a delightful, beautiful, and cleverly simple thing a wingnut is.

Perhaps a lot of people think of the wingnut as an odd object, but if they do they do so out of ignorance and lack of appreciation. It only seems odd because such an elegant solution isn't all that common.

Using "wingnut" as an intended slur (quote: "It is generally believed to be an attenuation of the description "right-wing nut job" or "right-wing nut".") probably felt real smart to whoever came up with it but ends up nonsensical to anyone familiar with real wingnuts ^_^

Posted by Habitat Hermit at November 5, 2007 11:18 PM

I believe that wingnut came into being to under the usual political typecasting of portraying your opponents as being (somewhat) insane. Wingnut implies that you are nuts.

Similarly: Moonbat originally was coined as "barking moonbat" which implies the image of a crazy man barking at the moon.

Both terms are used to remove the legitimacy of the other sides’ positions and/or ideas. Also useful to let the faithful know which people can be quickly listed as stupid or idiotic where they don't have to be listened to, but are fairgame to poke fun at.

The odd thing about both of these statements is they are some what true. The political class is generally much less grounded in reality than is the general public is. Both sides of the political divide tend to feel they the enlightened ones and the general public is generally a bunch of "noobs" when the public disagrees with them.

Posted by Derek at November 5, 2007 11:21 PM

you forgot one instance when THEY think WE are in the know.

Election Day.

The winner is always thankful and says he / she was elected due to our intelligent vote. The day after that, we return noobism, and must be talked down to and protected from ourselves.

Posted by Steve at November 6, 2007 04:39 AM

Isn't it just moonbatese for "someone who's pro-freedom"? (Or at least, "someone whp's more pro-freedom than me and my collectivist friends"?)

Posted by Bilwick at November 6, 2007 10:22 AM

What the habitat hermit failed to point out is the similarity between a wingnut and a thumbscrew; the distinction being that one is drilled and tapped whereas the other has a threaded shank. In either case, the value of the object is that it can be tightened conveniently.

Posted by triticale at November 6, 2007 10:26 AM

Gee, people, you are so ignorant of the history they taught you in sophomore English when you studied Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities.

In the build up to the French Revolution, the King of France set up a legislature called the Estates General, kind of like Faculty Senate, where folks could blow off steam by debating without really having much an influence on what really goes on. The Wingnut faction sat on the right hand side of the Estates General -- they were called Wingnuts because they were the aspiring bourgoisie who made money running hardware stores where those hand-tighten nuts were a popular item with peasant who lacked the money for simple hand tools; the Moonbat faction sat on the left hand side of the Estates General, but I don't have a good joke for the term Moonbat.

Anyway, a bunch of them got fed up with how much the Estates General was like Faculty Senate and went across the street to the Nielson Tennis Stadium, where they took the Oath of the Tennis Court and divided into factions that thought Serena Williams is a babe as opposed to those who think both of the Williams sisters are too muscular and like that Russian babe better.

Posted by Paul Milenkovic at November 6, 2007 02:33 PM

the Moonbat faction sat on the left hand side of the Estates General, but I don't have a good joke for the term Moonbat.

I thought they took their name from their leader, George Monbiot </joke>, but apparently not </not joke>.

Posted by McGehee at November 6, 2007 07:01 PM

And here are actual photos of Barking Moonbat and Howling Wingnut. ..bruce..

Posted by bfwebster at November 6, 2007 07:39 PM

A wing nut is a guy who really likes working on aircraft, something like a gear head.

Posted by Big Al at November 6, 2007 09:21 PM

It's obvious:

A wingnut describes the guys that hold the world together, and make everything work easily.

A moonbat describes the guys the live by sucking the blood from everyone around them.

(I kid, I kid!)

Posted by David Summers at November 7, 2007 10:03 AM

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