Saturday, June 18, 2005

Summer Reading Update

Just finished the first “new” book of the summer, Brian C. Anderson’s “South Park Conservatives” (Available on Amazon, It’s a good read, but it’s nothing earth shattering.

Obviously, the growth of alternative sources of media has changed the nature of political debate in this country. Today on the left, right, and in other places, people have a wider selection than ever before of sources of information and commentary. But most of this has been covered already, and very little of the book breaks new ground. There has been a great deal written about the growth of conservative talk radio and the liberal trend toward speech codes and group think.

Three chapters in the book really demand more attention than they get, the South Park Chapter, the chapter on the blogosphere, and the chapter on the rise of on-campus conservatism.

In particular, the growth of the blogsphere is a subject that requires a book in and of itself. The nature of journalism is being changed before our eyes. No longer do you need money or have certain acceptable viewpoints to get your voice out there. Not only that, but the blogosphere is revolutionizing the way in which we get our news.

The rise of conservatism among college students and other youth is another fascinating topic that has not been thoroughly examined. Anderson makes some attempt to relate this growth to 9-11, but South Park’s anti-liberal tone was flourishing well before 9-11. And Anderson never really answers the question of whether or not the growth of alternative media was in fact responsible for the growth in numbers of conservative youth, or whether they were merely two related events of an as-yet undiscovered political and sociological shift. Anderson’s writing seems to indicate that he feels that one did cause the other, but he never comes right out and says it.

I think the book struggles a bit with just what its thesis actually is. Is it supposed to be about the proliferation of alternative media, or the rise of a conservative youth subculture? All in all, “South Park Conservatives” makes for a quick, decent read, but it does leave you wondering as to just what Brian Anderson thinks all these changes are indicative of.

Final random note: Some who have heard about this book have criticized it without reading it. These are many of the same people who object to conservative’s claiming South Park as their own. To be fair, much of South Park is more libertarian than it is conservative. But really, the lonely libertarian has found South Park targets three groups, 1) the PC, holier than thou left, 2) monolithic religious institutions, and 3) Hollywood and celebrities (of course).


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