An invitation to participate in a community of deception

Recently in comments, we were invited to participate in a community of deception. The entry-point was a false statement:

The healthcare mandate that passed and went into effect on August 1st does in fact compel abortion funding.

This is not true.

This is not arguably true. It is not ambiguous. It’s simply a false statement and a false statement that it is easy to confirm as false.

The insurance mandate that went into effect on Aug. 1 covers preventive-care provisions and only preventive-care provisions. Here, yet again, is what it requires insurers to provide:

  • Well-woman visits.
  • Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases.
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling.
  • FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling.
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.
  • HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older.
  • Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women.
  • HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women.

That is from the actual language of the actual mandate. It does not mention compelling abortion funding because it does not compel abortion funding. It does not come anywhere close to doing so. And it cannot in good faith be squinted at in such a way that even someone desperately wishing to interpret it that way could pretend that it “compels abortion funding.”

So why would anyone say such a thing?

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” So perhaps such a thing is being said from a kind of innocent ignorance?

That’s theoretically possible, but highly implausible. The false statement, after all, is not being offered in response to a trivia quiz or to some other unexpected direct question. It was volunteered. And it is not a disinterested statement, but rather the assertion of an activist who insists that both abortion and universal health care are evils that must be opposed by the righteous.

So if we were to accept that this statement reflects simple ignorance — an innocent mistake by someone uninformed — then we would have to accept that the speaker is simultaneously bothered and unbothered. We would have to believe that the speaker is deeply troubled by this alleged compulsory abortion funding, while at the same time she cannot be troubled to do even the cursory research it would take to assuage such alleged fears.

If we accept the claim that this is a matter of grave and serious concern, then how can we account for the lack of any corresponding gravity or seriousness when it comes to learning the facts of the matter?

I don’t think it’s possible to account for that.

If this speaker were arguing in good faith, she would be compelled to investigate the facts of the matter. She would want to do so, because a genuine deep concern entails a desire to learn more about the source of that concern. That this speaker could not be bothered to do any such investigation suggests that her claim of grievous moral outrage is not genuine. It strongly suggests that she is arguing in bad faith.

It strongly suggests that the speaker hasn’t simply neglected such investigation, but resists and rejects it.

But I do not think we can conclude that this speaker is simply “lying,” either, at least not in the usual sense.

Usually when we speak of someone “lying” we mean that they are making a false statement with the intent to deceive.

But deception requires plausibility. The implausible, and easily refuted, claim being made here is not the basis for any potentially successful attempt at deception. It’s not simply a false statement, but an obviously false statement. It is not merely a statement that can be disproved, but one that is easily disproved. It’s too over-the-top, too patently untrue, to be taken seriously as an attempt at deception.

It is an extreme claim — and is thus similar to every other iteration of the Satanic baby-killer myth. Such claims — from the original blood libel to the more recent anti-abortion movement and its close cousins and offshoots such as the Satanic panic or the Procter & Gamble legend — are always too extreme to be plausible.

That is why they are not presented as attempts to deceive, but rather as invitations to participate in deception. Or, more specifically, they are invitations to participate in a mutually reinforcing community of deception.

The statement we’re considering here is just such an invitation. It is an untrue statement, but it has not been stated in an effort to deceive — to convince others that it is true. It has been offered, rather, to invite others to join with the speaker in pretending that it is true.

Such pretense can be emotionally rewarding.

That seems strange, at first glance, when one considers the horrific implications of that pretense. After all, it involves pretending that one lives in a world besieged by superlative evil — by the constant, deliberate, gleeful and wanton slaughter of innocents. It is a world of monsters.

Why would anyone prefer such a world? Isn’t truth always preferable to fantasy? And shouldn’t that be doubly so if the fantasy involves such menacing monsters?

But if we all agree to pretend that Dracula is real, then we can all have a turn at pretending to be Van Helsing. If we join together to pretend we’re fighting Hitler, then we can all get to be Dietrich Bonhoeffer. If we all pretend to be fighting some grand Satanic conspiracy, then we all get to be Jesus — or, at least, Carman.

The reward for joining the community of deception is the reward of playing the hero. Or, rather, of experiencing the closest approximation of the emotional rewards of heroism that one can have without having to encounter the actual dangers and hardships of actual heroism. (The real Bonhoeffer was imprisoned and executed — all you’re being asked to do is vote reflexively, look down on other people, and maybe slap on a bumper sticker or purchase the occasional chicken sandwich.)

In return for being hailed as a hero, you will of course be expected to praise the heroism of the other participants in the deception — commending them for their courageous stand against the Satanic baby-killers as well. But the real cost of such pretense comes from the measures you will have to take to sustain it. That may mean cutting yourself off from everyone and everything that threatens to expose the deception. With a bit of practice, though, and with a solid grounding in the positive emotional feedback from other participants in the community, you can eventually learn to make your way in the real world — carrying your epistemic closure with you everywhere you go.

Some aspects of my description of this community of deception may strike you as familiar. It is a community grounded in an alternate reality, and one that enables its members to be in the world without being of the world.

It sounds, in other words, a lot like the church. That should not be surprising because it’s a counterfeit of the church. It’s such a convincing counterfeit, in fact, that in much of America today it has successfully supplanted the church.

“The truth will set you free,” Jesus told his followers. But in the counterfeit community, the truth isn’t good enough. The truth isn’t exciting enough. It’s disappointing, and thus it needs to be embellished, enhanced, and ultimately replaced with the thrilling prospect of a heroic battle against the superlative evil of the Satanic baby-killers.

The insurance mandate that went into effect on Aug. 1 does not “compel abortion funding.”

That may disappoint you, but your disappointment does not change the fact that it is true.

Your disappointment, however, will change you. That disappointment is the first step in a process that, as C.S. Lewis said, “will make us into devils,” until, “Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it.”

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  • ReverendRef

    That is why they are not presented as attempts to deceive, but rather as
    invitations to participate in deception. Or, more specifically, they
    are invitations to participate in a mutually reinforcing community of deception.

    “So then, putting away all falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.”  Ephesians 4:25

    For people who claim to follow Christ and hold up Paul as the ultimate example of a good Christian, they sure do manage to mangle things up pretty good.

  • AnonymousSam

    As this came from a specific visitor who may or may not be following with future posts, I linked this in the comments section from which it originated. Perhaps, coming from a fellow Christian, zie will believe it from you.

  • Green Eggs and Ham

    I think it is also an invitation to participate in self-deception, which allows you to ignore the deceptive nature of the whole enterprise, thus maintaining, to yourself,  your own innocence and truthfulness.

  • Sepulveda87
  • http://twitter.com/Opisthokont Aaron Heiss

    Well, the mandate *does* require contraception coverage, and if one insists on equating contraception with abortion, then yes, the mandate requires covering abortion. Now, that conflation is another case of wilful isolation from reality, but still….

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    So, I’ve read this post a few times now, and I can’t get around the implication that a hypothetical health-care mandate that did require insurers to fund abortions would imply the world was full of monsters, and that no decent person would prefer to live in such a world.

    If someone can offer me a reading that doesn’t lead pretty much directly to this conclusion, I would appreciate it.

    Conversely, if that implication is intended, I… well, I’m not sure what to say.

  • briddle

    I assume Fred wrote that from the perspective of those who believe that abortion is the slaughter of innocents, as those are the only people who would choose to believe this particular falsehood and participate in the “community of deception.”  If you don’t think abortion is murder, you’re probably not going to find this lie terribly convincing, nor would you be the person that the original commenter was attempting to sway.

  • Tonio

    The original poster also suggested that coverage for abortion and contraception (which she claimed were equivalent) be handled through medical spending accounts, using only employee contributions. So for her, actually preventing these things was less important than protecting the alleged moral purity of the employers.

  • Beleester

    If you’re trying to argue it’s a freedom of religion thing (which is basically your only option, unless you want to try and tackle Roe vs Wade at the same time), then you have to admit that the employee has the right to get an abortion on their own dime.  The argument is that the employer should not be forced to fund something they don’t believe in.

    There’s still plenty of holes in that argument, but I don’t think weird priorities is one of them.

  • Tonio

    The argument is morally inconsistent, at least the way Cottage presented it. It’s a tacit acknowledgement that abortion is a matter of individual conscience and not an absolute wrong as pro-lifers describe it. If one starts from their premise that society has a moral obligation to do everything possible to prevent abortion, then this would preclude the alleged need to protect employers’ consciences. I’m not necessarily arguing for mandatory coverage of elective abortions, I’m just pointing out that the conscience argument has nothing to do with preventing abortions. No surprise, since these are the same people who push mandatory ultrasounds, which do nothing except shame women who don’t wish to become mothers.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I can’t get around the implication that a hypothetical health-care mandate that did
    require insurers to fund abortions would imply the world was full of
    monsters, and that no decent person would prefer to live in such a
    world.

    That implication relies on the assumption that abortion is bad. This is an assumption that someone asserting ‘the health care mandate funds abortions’ is almost certainly making and that everyone else probably isn’t.

  • Tonio

    While I wouldn’t call abortion potentially bad, I would say that no one can really know “when life begins,” largely because there’s no working definition of “life” that would withstand any logical or legal scrutiny. The “life begins at conception” folks are wrongly assuming that the universe has moral absolutes.

    I can understand a woman deciding she’s not going to take the chance of life being at conception. I can even understanding another person not wanting women to take that chance. But we cannot emphasize enough that there’s nothing wrong with a woman not wanting to be a mother, even if she chooses to become one with that particular pregnancy.

    The “except to save the live of the mother” position at least has the virtue of moral consistency. The position “in case of rape or incest” is about punishing women who want to have sex without becoming mothers. The patronizing mentality behind mandatory ultrasounds is that once seeing the fetus on the screen, the mommy magic that all women allegedly possess would kick in and she would break down in tears, unable to go through with the abortion. That’s a tearjerker-movie view of women. 

    I would say that society does have an interest in preventing abortions, but that the interest is in really ensuring that whenever possible, women can avoid having pregnancies that they don’t want. That means, in part, empowering them so they conceive only when they choose to do so. The folks who push mandatory ultrasounds and bans on elective abortions are fetishizing motherhood as though it’s a moral crime to not want to be a mother.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I would say that society does have an interest in preventing abortions,
    but that the interest is in really ensuring that whenever possible,
    women can avoid having pregnancies that they don’t want. That means, in
    part, empowering them so they conceive only when they choose to do so.

    Sing it. Also arranging the world to minimize the number of situations where an unexpected pregnancy is a problem and thus unwanted.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    . The folks who push mandatory ultrasounds and bans on elective abortions are fetishizing motherhood as though it’s a moral crime to not want to be a mother.

    For a lot them, it IS. Which may well be worse.

  • EllieMurasaki

    But then you’d think they’d have no particular objection to a woman who has at least one child not wanting to add to that number. She’s already a mother, after all, whether she keeps this pregnancy or not won’t change that…

  • Cereselle

    But then she’s not fulfilling her biological function of child production. If she’s not providing sexual gratification or incubating a fetus, she’s not actively womaning, and might start thinking she’s people or something.

  • Ross Thompson

     

    While I wouldn’t call abortion potentially bad, I would say that no one
    can really know “when life begins,” largely because there’s no working
    definition of “life” that would withstand any logical or legal scrutiny.

    Pah. Life began 3.7 billion years ago, and has continued in an unbroken chain since then. There is no point between “sperm and egg” and “adult” where there is no life. Perhaps “personhood” or “consciousness”, or some such would better describe what you’re trying to say?

  • Tonio

    Excellent point. I was originally criticizing a specific phraseology used by abortion opponents, but it applies equally well to those other terms.

  • The_L1985

     Ah, the biology pedant.  So irritating when it’s directed at you, so utterly adorable when it isn’t. :3

  • http://www.bipolarlessons.com/ Mary

    Don’t you know that according to the Bible women are saved by childbirth? lol

    Not that I believe that myself, of course.

  • Tonio

    (jaw drops) No way! What tortured reasoning are they using?

  • http://www.bipolarlessons.com/ Mary

    1 Timothy 2:15

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     So, several people have replied to explain, I think, that I’m misreading the implication because it depends on the reader’s beliefs/perspective. I have to admit, I don’t follow the reasoning, but it’s nevertheless at least slightly reassuring to know there are available readings that differ from mine along this axis, even if they aren’t readily available to me.

    So, thanks.

  • Tonio

    The comment that Fred quotes was originally directed at me, and I had hoped we would have he opportunity to use the Good Jackie/Bad Jackie test: “Is she happy to learn that the horror is not real? Or is she angry that the horror is being taken away from her?”

  • sharon

    Mr. Clark, I have been following you for about 2 years now, and you’ve written some fine pieces, but this is one of the top 10. In one short essay you have explained exactly why the so-called faith-based community is not satisfied with having its own opinions, but must also have its own facts.

    Thank you for this.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    So if we were to accept that this statement reflects simple ignorance — an innocent mistake by someone uninformed — then we would have to accept that the speaker is simultaneously bothered and unbothered. We would have to believe that the speaker is deeply troubled by this alleged compulsory abortion funding, while at the same time she cannot be troubled to do even the cursory research it would take to assuage such alleged fears.

    If this speaker were arguing in good faith, she would be compelled to investigate the facts of the matter. She would want to do so, because a genuine deep concern entails a desire to learn more about the source of that concern. That this speaker could not be bothered to do any such investigation suggests that her claim of grievous moral outrage is not genuine.

    Ah. Another one of these posts. The most frustrating recurring motif on Slacktivist: “Nobody could possibly believe…”

    Yes, they can. It is entirely possible for someone to be outraged about something that is provably untrue. They just have to not question it. To not think “Did they really…?” and only think “How dare they!” After all, if Fox News says something and they trust Fox News, why would they bother looking further? Fox News said it, they believe it, that settles it.

    And if you’re already inclined to be suspicious of your enemies’ arguments, why bother reading them? Those are crafty, wily folks, after all, and just because something they say seems to make sense doesn’t mean it actually does. Deception is a sophisticated art; after all, “until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven.” There’s nothing to be gained by listening to them; they’re only trying to turn the Good Guys against each other.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     OK, but that only holds up as long as they actually succeed in ignoring their “enemy’s” arguments. It doesn’t work if they actually do come here (or anywhere), engage with people who they disagree with, examine hard evidence, and… have no reaction. They don’t even argue, “your evidence is flawed”; they just flounce away without responding.

    I can’t have any respect for that. It might not be traditional lying, but it’s still dishonest in the same way that a CEO who claims to have had no idea what their underlings were doing and, of course, are shocked to hear of these unethical deeds. Deliberately insulating yourself from outside information is definitely possible — I agree with you there –, but it’s not an honest error and it’s not accidental.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    Certainly, it’s not accidental — or honest or right.

    And who says they examine the evidence? Why would they bother? Their job is to shame Bad Guys into going over to their side, not to be persuaded to go to the Bad Guys’.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It is entirely possible for someone to be outraged about something that is provably untrue. They just have to not question it. To not think “Did they really…?” and only think “How dare they!” After all, if Fox News says something and they trust Fox News, why would they bother looking further? Fox News said it, they believe it, that settles it.

    This is still part of why I think that formal logic should be taught to children early and repeated often through their education.  A fallacious argumentum ad verecundiam is not good practice, and people should be armored from early youth against falling into its trap.

  • Lori

     

    It is entirely possible for someone to be outraged about something that is provably untrue. They just have to not question it. To not think “Did they really…?” and only think “How dare
    they!” After all, if Fox News says something and they trust Fox News,
    why would they bother looking further? Fox News said it, they believe
    it, that settles it. 

    Fred’s point is that if they cared half as much about the issue as they claim to they’d do more than accept whatever Fox says about it.

    Obviously plenty of people just swallow and then regurgitate Fox talking points. I tend to agree with Fred that such people care more about getting their indignation fix and bonding with their fellow haters than they do about the issues they claim are all-important to them.

    And before we get a visit from another of our resident asshats, yes, some liberals do this too. I think it’s far less common on the left though, in no small part because there just isn’t a liberal equivalent of Fox News.

  • aunursa

    there just isn’t a liberal equivalent of Fox News

    Other than MSNBC, which desperately strives to be the liberal equivalent of Fox News.

  • Murfyn

    Other than MSNBC, which desperately strives to be the liberal equivalent of Fox News.How so?

  • Tonio

    I haven’t watched MSNBC enough to know whether it’s comparable to Fox News. But I can condemn the latter on its own faults. Fox is not conservative in terms of political philosophy. Instead, its approach is simple demagoguery, playing to the resentment of people who enjoy privilege based on ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, educational status, or economic status. Essentially the Rush Limbaugh show with blondes.

  • Tonio

    “Educational status” requires some clarification – I meant that Fox is appealing to the phony populism of anti-intellectualism.

  • Jim Roberts

    It’s a little like the video Fred posted, with the man burning a box of cereal and setting fire to the lawn at General Mills. It was assumed that, because this was petty and anti-gay, the man is Christian.

    When I hear someone say something that’s reactionary, logically flawed and (choose one or more from the following list) bigoted, racist, homophobic, classist or misogynist, I assume they heard it from Fox News*. It might not be right that these adjectives are chiefly associated with a self-labelled conservative news source, but it is the case that these adjectives apply.

    There simply aren’t equivalent negative adjectives you could apply to to a “liberal” news source. That isn’t to say that MSNBC et all are paragons of virtue, but the spectrum from Bill O’Reilly to, let’s say, Mr. Rogers is quite roomy.**

    * When I’ve had the chance, I’ve always been right, incidentally.
    ** Quite frankly, I’ve found MSNBC to be WORSE than Fox News in its coverage of problems with illegal immigration. Fox News is so breathless in their condemnation of illegal immigrants that its practically cartoonish. MSNBC’s coverage skews statistics, cites poor sources and generally does its best to make it look like they take the problem seriously while doing nothing of the sort.

  • Tonio

    You know things are bad when younger self-labeled conservatives can spot the problem:

    http://www.frumforum.com/fox-geezer-syndrome/

    At least eight different people – not an Obama voter among them, and one
    of them actually a George W. Bush political appointee in Washington –
    told me that yes, they had observed a correlation between the fevered
    emotionalism of their elderly parents’ politics, and increased exposure
    to Fox News.

    Frum has a point that viewers of people like Olbermann can develop that same petulance and self-righteousness. I saw Olbermann’s show only a couple of times, and I can’t stand the angry ranter approach in video or audio broadcasts regardless of the political philosophy. Still, Olbermann is not a demagogue like O’Reilly because he’s not encouraging people to resent groups who tend to be on the losing end of privilege.

  • Lori

     

    Frum has a point that viewers of people like Olbermann can develop that same petulance and self-righteousness.  

    The thing is, Olbermann is one hour a day, or at least he was when Frum wrote his piece. Now he’s not on at all that I know of.

    I’ve never known anyone who gets all their news from MSNBC or who watched hour after hour of MSNBC every day. I know quite a few Fox viewers who do.

    The fact that Olbermann is unemployed, but O’Reilly & Hannity are not, also points to a major difference between MSNBC and Fox.

    No matter how many times Conservatives like aunursa sputter, “But MSNBC!!!!!!” it still isn’t even close to the equivilent of Fox and it doesn’t serve the same function for the Left that Fox News serves for the Right.

  • connorboone

    Ah, the old “the Left is just as bad” meme.

    Just so you know, while MSNBC is unafraid of announcing its bias, that fact alone does not make it an equivalent to Fox News.

    MSNBC doesn’t go out of its way to manufacture outrage, or to manufacture stories to create outrage.  New Black Panther Party, anyone?

  • Lori

     

    Ah, the old “the Left is just as bad” meme.  

    It’s aunursa’s favorite.

  • JonathanPelikan

    I’d say it’s quite a popular avenue of escape for the Right in general now. Whenever they feel pressed at all and realize, well, they don’t really actually have anything they can legitimately do… Centrism is always there!

  • PJ Evans

     I don'[t think MSNBC relabels the party affiliation of people depending on whether they approve or disapprove of they positions. Fox News has done that at least three times.

  • Lori

    And yet isn’t.

  • JonathanPelikan

    “But The Democrats….”

  • The_L1985

    Perhaps, but MSNBC isn’t nearly as bad as Faux News. They may exaggerate things a bit, but they certainly don’t make up entire news articles from whole cloth.

  • The_L1985

     Not really.  MSNBC exaggerates, I’ll give you that.  But Faux News has been known to make up stories out of whole cloth.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Other than MSNBC, which desperately strives to be the liberal equivalent of Fox News.

    Oh, I agree that MSNBC tried to be the liberal equivalent of Fox News.  However, I think that compared to Fox, they are much worse at actually spinning their narrative.  MSNBC strives, but Fox actually succeeds.  

    I do not mind people playing along when things are just fantasy.  My problem with Fox is that to much of their viewership, the line between the fantastic slant and the reality is too often successfully obfuscated.  

  • Tonio

    I would only label MSNBC as Fox’s equivalent if it also practiced demagoguery, and again, I haven’t watched the former enough to make that kind of judgment. Conservatism is the wrong label for Fox’s bias – instead, it’s bias toward the preservation of privilege for wealthy straight white Christian men.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    Fred’s point is that if they cared half as much about the issue as they claim to they’d do more than accept whatever Fox says about it.

    This assumes a certain personality type — the get-the-facts-first type.

    And yes, the main thing they get from it is probably self-righteous outrage and having something to gripe with other people about. Doesn’t mean they don’t genuinely believe it. The abortion-equals-genocide thing, for instance? There are actual genocides going on in the world today that I could probably be doing much more than I am to fight.

  • Lori

     

    There are actual genocides going on in the world today that I could probably be doing much more than I am to fight.  

    Could be doing more to fight it =/= believes falsehoods about it without bothering to try to learn the truth

    Beyond that, when was the last time you went on a blog and ranted about one of those genocides? Do you vote based on what candidates say they’ll do about those genocides? Do you campaign to have US law changed in response to those genocides?

    The fact that you could be doing more about real genocides (as could we all) really has nothing to do with the behavior of abortion-equals-genocide folks.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I don’t know that we could do a whole lot about most genocides. Most of them take place far away, and those who commit genocide have proven themselves mostly unmoved by trade sanctions. So we could encourage our country to… bomb them? That does actually sometimes work to an extent, but it also tends to kill a lot of people we’re trying to save, and then what? Invade them? Put our preferred form of government in place? 

    We can give money to Doctors Without Borders and such, and many people do. If we’re able-bodied and very brave medical professionals, we can join Doctors Without Borders. If we’re healthy and able-bodied and can give up our lives, we can join something like the Peace Corps. But if we’re poor and not extremely brave and not willing to give up everything, we can sign petitions and that’s about it. 

    If genocide were taking place within our own country, we could do more; petitions here carry more weight, and we can vote. Well, hopefully we can vote. But maybe petitions and voting wouldn’t work. They didn’t work to end slavery, except that they got Abraham Lincoln the presidency, which caused the South to secede, which caused the Civil War, which finally drew white people into the war slaves had been fighting for centuries.  

    The anti-birth control crowd is in fact doing all they realistically can do to further their misogynistic cause. Many of them are killing abortion doctors, and other than that, they’re petitioning and voting. They’ve already created an atmosphere in which women are terrified to say that they’ve had abortions, and they’ve already made abortion extremely hard to get for very, very many people. They’re chipping away at the rights of women to control their own bodies all over the place, from restricting abortion rights to joining in rape cheerleading to spreading lies about biology, psychology, society, you name it. 

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    Could be doing more to fight it =/= believes falsehoods about it without bothering to try to learn the truth

    Certainly. I was specifically addressing the claim Fred’s brought up before, that if they believed what they were saying, they’d be taking more drastic action, which seemed to be what you were getting at. I’m still not seeing the “if they believed it, then they would check things out for themselves” logic.

  • Reason Decrystallized

    it’s basically dungeons and dragons, you know, except that in d&d you pretend to be the hero battling the forces of darkness while in your parents’ basement, whereas real, true christianity is played in the voting booths.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    it’s basically dungeons and dragons, you know, except that in d&d you pretend to be the hero battling the forces of darkness while in your parents’ basement, whereas real, true christianity is played in the voting booths.

    D&D can be a good healthy outlet for heroic fantasy, and provides for an entertaining regular few hours of social interaction.  It would certainly be healthier than what RTCs do.  

    Ironically, RTCs are the very people who are often quick to condemn D&D as “Satanic“.  

  • LouisDoench

     Hey now… I’m 43, I have my own basement.

  • lovecomesfromlife

    We’ve done a lot of talking about C.S. Lewis recently, huh?  In some very different contexts.  Some positive, some negative.  I guess that agrees with my general feeling on Lewis!

  • Pat B

    IDK, this has to be the dozenth of these posts I’ve read, but I still don’t buy it. 

    Thing is I’ve argued with a lot of Creationists, and other extreme Christians, and I have never gotten the impression they see it as anything but a rhetorical game; beat the atheist and you spread the Gospel, run out of arguments and you run off to avoid being tempted to Satan. They don’t care about logic or reason except as they can be used as rhetorical bludgeons, and most of the people I’ve talked to would see “Lying for Jesus” as an ideal rather than a sin.

    Not to Godwin the thread here, but it seems like the most reasonable explanation is the simplest; Republicans, especially the religious right, have been engaged in Big Lie Theory for the better part of the last twenty years. Fox News has practically built their entire buisness model on that concept; repeat a lie, especially an obvious lie, over and over and people will accept it as truth.

    I see no reason to assume that there is any self-deception at play, just pure bad faith argument. They can (and are encouraged to) dismiss any point which contradicts their held beliefs as a lie, and they see lies as just another way they can beat the devil at his own game.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The insurance mandate that went into effect on Aug. 1 covers preventive-care provisions and only preventive-care provisions. Here, yet again, is what it requires insurers to provide:

    FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling
    ….

    Said counselling might also involve educating women about all reproductive limiting options, including abortion if it comes to that, with all the factual information they need to *gasp* decide on their own individual conscience what to do.  

    For a group who takes everything from particular sources at face-value while rejecting all other sources, this is something they would see as vile.  Plus it tends to undermine their arguments that no woman really “wants” to have an abortion, it is all those evil doctors who force them to get them, donchaknow’.  

    These are the same people who think that giving teenagers a comprehensive sex education will lead to more teenagers having sex, while withholding as much information as possible will lead to them having less sex, regardless of what studies say otherwise.

  • friendly reader

    See, I’ve been feeling uncomfortable with this line of “they don’t even bother to look it up because they think the other side is evil!” rhetoric the more and more I hear people say Paul Ryan is going to “take away Medicare” and the more I see how senior citizens believe it.  Take away Medicaid? Of course. Make it so that Medicare is unrecognizable by the time current 55-year olds are eligible? Absolutely. Are those things just as bad? Duh, but if we lie about it, or don’t bother to look up the facts, just to get senior citizens to turn on the GOP or because it confirms our belief that the GOP is evil,* that’s not good.

    I know the right is far worse about this, thanks to the media bubble of Fox News and conservative radio, but occasionally we on the left slip into this as well.

    Though I suppose it will be fun watching Ryan debunk this claim and in doing so admit that, for all that he genuinely despises Medicare, he’s going to keep it for political reasons because the elderly would turn on them because they love Medicare because it works. Truth can be worse than fiction.

    *Not saying they’re not, but let’s not let that just allow us to immediately assume Apple is making irregular screws.

  • Lori

     

    Duh, but if we lie about it, or don’t bother to look up the facts, just
    to get senior citizens to turn on the GOP or because it confirms our
    belief that the GOP is evil,* that’s not good.  

    Some of us have looked it up, we do know the facts and we’re not lying about it. We’re simply using a broader definition of “take away” than you are. If you want to argue for using the narrow definition that’s fine, but it’s a different issue.

  • friendly reader

    And I’m saying the fact that seniors are freaked out convinced they’re going to lose Medicare is a sign that whatever we may think of the definition of “take away,” lots of people are misunderstanding how it will work, and we’re not doing much to clarify, either because we don’t care, or because it’s useful to both our political edge and our view of the right (which I happen to agree with, hence the “we”). It’s an evil plan, but we need to be clear on where the evil is.

    I know a lot of people listen to stories about the rightwing bubble of distrust and wonder “How can they believe all of this?” but I tend to get nervous that I am, unwittingly, living in one myself. I don’t think I am, because I do try to get facts and question things even when I feel inclined to agree with them, but when I see how people on the right can be so completely wrapped up in their own worldview that even facts do not dissuade them, I get really paranoid. Am I the only person on the left who feels this way?

    And you should know from past posts, I’m not concern trolling here, this is something I genuinely worry about. The feeling of self-righteous indignation is tempting to anyone, I think, regardless of political outlook. How do we keep ourselves from falling into the same traps? What strategies should we use to doublecheck our own bubble?

  • Lori

     

    And I’m saying the fact that seniors are freaked out convinced they’re
    going to lose Medicare is a sign that whatever we may think of the
    definition of “take away,” lots of people are misunderstanding how it
    will work, and we’re not doing much to clarify, either because we don’t
    care, or because it’s useful to both our political edge and our view of
    the right (which I happen to agree with, hence the “we”). It’s an evil
    plan, but we need to be clear on where the evil is.  

    Since I don’t know who these panic-stricken seniors are I really can’t help them with their confusion. The seniors I know personally don’t believe any such thing. Not only do they not believe Medicare would be taken away from them under the Ryan plan, they don’t believe it would be taken away from me either. To them raising the eligibility age and changing benefits seems perfectly reasonable. All those people wanting to get something for nothing. Totally unlike them. They paid in and they’re only getting what they ought to. In fact, it’s horrible how their SSI and Medicare payments haven’t kept up with inflation. Obama obviously neither knows nor cares how difficult it is to live on a fixed income or the yearly increases would have been more reasonable.

  • friendly reader

     You have my sympathies; I’m going by polling data, and apparently your house is part of the 30% that support the “budget.” (Anything that claims to eliminate your debts but in fact does the opposite does not count as a budget)

    @Loki100:disqus  Not a bad technique… I occasionally see that happen on liberal blogs, with the habit of constant reposting back and forth, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the talking point machine on the right. The centralized power of Fox News versus the spread-out nature of liberal blogging helps, I think, to counteract a bubble effect; if one starts to form, it quickly gets a hole somewhere.

    I guess what I’m saying is, let’s just be careful to make sure it doesn’t happen to us rather than assuming it can’t.

    @Matri, please don’t call people “wastes of genetic material.” That is not a good thing to say about anyone.

  • Loki100

    I tend to get nervous that I am, unwittingly, living in one myself.

    Do you know how you can tell if you are living in a bubble or not? Count the number of people who utilize the exact same phrases the exact same way. In a debate if 20 individuals who support policy X use 20 different explanations (or even the same explanation phrased 20 different ways) you can tell they aren’t living in a bubble. They are getting their facts from different sources and are critically thinking about them.

    If in a debate 20 people who support policy X use 1 explanation, virtually carbon copied from each other you can tell they are living in a bubble. They are getting talking points from one source and are not critically thinking about them.

    It’s not perfect, but it tends to be correct.

  • wendy

    The Ryan (and Romney) Medicare plans *do* immediately end the free annual wellness checkups, re-open the prescription drug doughnut hole, and restart charging co-pays for preventive care and cancer screening. For current Medicare recipients. Right away. 

    The slashing of Medicaid eliminates not only care for poor children and middle-aged disabled, but also nursing homes for seniors (Medicare only pays part of the cost of nursing homes, people who don’t have other money of their own or children who’ll contribute do rely on Medicaid for that). 

    So yes, there is an immediate “take away” for current Medicare recipients. For those 55 and under, it’s even worse. It’s that they’re never going to get something they’ve spent the last 30 years paying for. 

  • friendly reader

     Thanks for more details; I need to hunt down the full text of the bill (links anyone?). Medicare’s a complicated thing, and it doesn’t entirely surprise me that anything that can be shaved off without technically getting rid of Medicare would be shaven.

    The part that most people site is the conversion to a voucher program. Maybe we need to shift away from that and focus on the other details.

    I also don’t doubt that at least some of the outrage from seniors comes from realizing that their children and grandchildren will not receive the same benefits that they do. Seniors aren’t inherently selfish a-holes, after all.

  • Jim Roberts

    “The part that most people site is the conversion to a voucher program. Maybe we need to shift away from that and focus on the other details.”

    . . . Why? This is a genuinely terrible idea in the eyes of a lot of people. If we’re criticizing something, why shift away from something emblematic of the criticism? That’s like reading A Modest Proposal and starting your criticism with, “Shifting away from the topic of cannibalism, Mr. Swift makes some good points.”

  • LL

    Agreed. 

    If I bothered to watch the stage- and party-managed affairs that masquerade as “debates” in this country, it would be amusing to see how Ryan or Romney handles this. 

    “That question about the really terrible idea I have is a good one, but instead of answering it, I’m going to direct your attention to the fact that Obama wants to enslave us all in a secret Muslim fascist state that forces everybody to get an abortion and outlaws Christianity. And wants to make private businesses illegal. And hates white people.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    I also don’t doubt that at least some of the outrage from seniors comes from realizing that their children and grandchildren will not receive the same benefits that they do. Seniors aren’t inherently selfish a-holes, after all.

    There is a good reason to oppose changes to Medicare that only affect those under 55 even (especially) if you are a selfish a-hole. It’s the same reason that my husband and other state retirees in Louisiana are fighting proposed changes to the retirement plans of current state workers.

    There is no reason to believe these people are going to stop with one set of changes. They are using the tried and true strategy of divide and conquer. If Congress succeeds in decimating the Medicare plan for the people who are now in the workforce and who have been paying in all along, what is to stop them from going after Medicare for current beneficiaries next? After all, who is going to stand with the current beneficiaries and oppose them when they do, the people who got screwed over while we stood by and said, “Not my problem?” No, the current beneficiaries need to stand by the future beneficiaries as one monolithic group, and some of us are smart enough to know that.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    I need to hunt down the full text of the bill (links anyone?).

    Try this.

  • TheFaithfulStone

    I’m going to reform Slacktivist.   We’re going to get rid of Fred, and we’re going to have aunsura write all of the posts.   We’re going to do moderated, threaded comments, and there’s gonna be BALANCE between the bigoted trolls and your current crop of super-liberals.

    We’re still gonna call it Slacktivist though.

    A rose by any other name might swell as sweet, but calling a bag full of dog shit a rose doesn’t make it smell any better.

  • friendly reader

     Um, okay, I guess you didn’t read all my comments? Because yes, they are getting rid of Medicare in all but name for anyone under 55. I said that in, like, my first post. I don’t buy the “it’ll still be Medicare because we call it Medicare” argument either. I am not a pro-Ryan defender, I hate his budget, and my overall point wasn’t even the budget itself.

    Oh, and most people here aren’t super liberals, we’re center-left at best. In fact, maybe “left” isn’t the right term. We don’t have much of a left in this country anymore, and the right is shrinking. Can centrists be bubble-ified as much as the reactionaries? Or are all these terms just hooey based on a spectrum that doesn’t really apply anymore?

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    I think “super-liberals” was meant to be as sarcastic as the rest of the comment.

  • PJ Evans

     Here’s the link to the PDF of the final version from here (2.2 MB, 906 pages in legal format).
    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr3590enr/pdf/BILLS-111hr3590enr.pdf

  • Launcifer

    I suppose it’s far too much hope that all of those under fifty-fives would at least be refunded the money they’ve paid out for this service they haven’t received?

  • Loquat

    Well, the money is supposed to come back to them in the form of vouchers they can use to buy their own health insurance from private companies. Vouchers that are specifically designed not to increase in response to increases in medical costs. Because when government helps protect people from financial disaster, that’s Wrong and Bad and Fosters Dependency, dontchaknow.

  • Green Eggs and Ham

     That you are concerned about living in a bubble means you are not.  That you care not to be enveloped by righteous indignation gives you a guard against it.

    Hubris is a human temptation, regardless of the belief set of the human. 

    That you keep asking, “What am I missing?”,  “Have I got all the facts?” and “Does this argument make sense?”  is the bulwark against hubris.

    When we stop asking questions, then hubris can take hold.

  • Tonio

    To use your point in another context, perhaps being aware of one’s biases is a bulwark against being controlled by them. I admit that what I want is to free of bias entirely, to not have human temptations such as hubris in the first place.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    That you are concerned about living in a bubble means you are not.

    Arguably, but the thing is, even if this is true, you can’t let yourself believe that it’s true. Because if you’re really convinced, you stop worrying. :)

    A bigger problem is that CONSTANT VIGILANCE [/Moody] takes a lot of time and emotional energy, and most of us take shortcuts. I’m probably more paranoid about checking what I claim online than most people, and I still slip up.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     I know a lot of people listen to stories about the rightwing bubble of distrust and wonder “How can they
    believe all of this?” but I tend to get nervous that I am, unwittingly,
    living in one myself. I don’t think I am, because I do try to get facts
    and question things even when I feel inclined to agree with them, but
    when I see how people on the right can be so completely wrapped up in
    their own worldview that even facts do not dissuade them, I get really
    paranoid. Am I the only person on the left who feels this way?

    The fact that you’re capable of asking this question makes me think that you’re significantly less likely to be pulling the wool over your own eyes than the Fox-addicts.  (At least, I hope so, since I’m in the same boat.)

    EVERYONE lives in a bubble.  Some are just more permeable than others.

  • CAThompson

    I just picked up a new role playing game, A Dirty World, which is absolutely perfect for creating stories in the noir genre. I love the noir genre. I don’t live there though. It’s odd when people move into their fantasy world and sad when they do so to keep their anger strong.

  • Ralovett

    Everything in Fred’s post is correct. But there is another, and possibly simpler explanation. 

    I have a Ph.D. in economics. In economics, perception often “is” reality. If we think the economy is weak, it weakens. If we think widgets are superior to wingnuts, it doesn’t matter what the engineers say, they will compel a higher price. 

    I know nothing of the precise commenter who sparked this thread. But I have very conservative friends. If you’ve been told, by people in authority who you trust, that Obamacare forces abortion funding, then . . . for all practical matters in the discussion, it does. 

    The perception trumps the fact, because you never look beyond the perception.

    And if this is depressing . . . well, it is. My only point is that it doesn’t require lying. It requires believing.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    I’ve wondered whether you could have a phenomenally and famously successful investor whose stock picks always went up after he/she bought them, because the information on his/her stock transactions was always made publicly available and everybody knew the prices would go up and rushed to be the first to buy. Well, second.

    In other words, a one-person bubble.

  • Ralovett

    It should be theoretically possible, with enough cash and hype. It’s the stampeded mentality. Which I think is part of what’s happening here. Though I also agree with those who say “for shame” to people who pass things on without checking their facts. Or who at least fail to say, “I’ve not checked this out, but I heard,” which is at least an attempt to get someone else to do the research for them!

  • wendy

    Yes. 

    Warren Buffett.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sidetrack: Can y’all pop by http://elliemurasaki.dreamwidth.org/382795.html and answer my survey? I’m worldbuilding a novel and trying to figure out how many gods its world has and how my characters will react to learning (as most of them will) that the actual number isn’t the number they thought.

  • Matri

    I admire Fred’s optimism and willingness to believe that there is good in everyone.

    For myself, I fear it has been eroded away. I read and I learn and I discover, and the more I know the less inclined I am to even consider the possibility that these people are “merely” ignorant.

    There is absolutely nothing “mere” about their ignorance. It is their agenda. They are actively pushing for Ignorance to the standard. They despise knowledge.

    They have a war on education, for crying out loud!

    My cynicism grows with every “statement” these embarrassing wastes of genetic material releases every day.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Off topic, but remember when Fred talks about the “Anti-Kitten Burning Collation”?  Well, it is hard to find the metaphor so funny when there are people actually burning kittens as a form of political protest.  

    :(

  • EllieMurasaki

    That poor cat.

    I hope we find out that the person responsible did it out of mental illness. Mental illness is generally treatable. If the perpetrator is mentally healthy, then either they don’t know that this is wrong or they don’t care, and in either event there’s probably no way to convince them not to do it again. Lock ’em up, sure, I just looked up Minnesota animal cruelty law and being convicted of killing an animal to threaten someone comes with a prison sentence of up to four years and/or a fine of up to ten grand, but punishment doesn’t have a spectacular track record of convincing the punishee that something is wrong or that it shouldn’t be done. It is however excellent at convincing the punishee not to get caught next time. Which has the effect of convincing them not to do it again if they think there’s too much a chance that they’ll get caught, but only if so…

    But mostly, that poor cat.

  • Matri

    Which has the effect of convincing them not to do it again if they think
    there’s too much a chance that they’ll get caught, but only if so…

    I’d bet a whole lot of money that Fox News will be able to completely convince these people that the chance of getting caught is nil, and that even if caught It’s All Obama’s Fault(tm)

  • http://profiles.google.com/stantaylor Stan Taylor

    I spent a bunch of time yesterday dealing with some people on Facebook who claim that the Affordable Care Act contains wording requiring the implantation of RFID devices, thus fulfilling their believed prophecy toward the Tribulation. First, I referenced Snopes.com, which was rejected as a source for having a liberal bias. Then I spent several posts asking the others in the to reference the wording in the publicly available bill to this effect. Two different people begged off, saying that the legalese in the bill was too difficult for them to find it themselves. Then I asked, “Well, then you got this informaiton from someone who presumably is capable of reading the legalese. Can you provide a citation?” Crickets so far.

    Wilful isolation from reality, indeed.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    Wilful isolation from reality, indeed.

    Stan, in cases like that, my favoured tactic is to simply call them liars, directly and to their faces. There’s something about the harshness of that word that can make people sit up and take notice.

    TRiG.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    If this speaker were arguing in good faith, she would be compelled to investigate the facts of the matter. She would want to do so, because a genuine deep concern entails a desire to learn more about the source of that concern. That this speaker could not be bothered to do any such investigation suggests that her claim of grievous moral outrage is not genuine. It strongly suggests that she is arguing in bad faith.

    See, this is why I will never be as important a writer as Fred.  When I made this argument (less eloquently of course) I was talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

  • JustoneK

    MSNBC is liberal?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’m sorry, Fred, but no.

    There are ways in which people really can be crusaders for truth and justice in this world. Ways in which they can sacrifice time and energy to really and truly save the lives of children. Someone who really wants to be a hero can be.

    You’re missing the plot here. No one can be a crusader for children in reality and also be anti-birth control. The point is to be anti-woman. Claiming that position is pro-children and pro-women takes a bit of sleight of hand, but not all that much in this country we live in, which is plenty anti-woman anyway. 

    This is a country in which people treat abortion as if it’s not just another surgery, elected by the person upon whose body it will be performed. They treat abortion as if the fetus is lending its body to the mother, rather than the other way around. This is a country in which motherhood is sanctified while actual mothers are vilified. A country which has an astonishingly high rate of death in labor for women. There are lots of jokes about women getting fat during pregnancy, being “allowed” to eat whatever they want, and about labor being painful, but people rarely talk about the fact that pregnancy and childbirth change your body forever, and always risk both your health and your life, and the risk to neither is small. We talk a lot about how to get back to perfect sex object status quickly after childbirth, though. Women are supposed to be perfectly attractive sex objects, all the time and no matter what, but when we dare to be the choose to have sex ways we want, and to not have sex in ways we don’t want, we’re called sluts. If we’re raped, it’s our fault; if we’re pregnant and don’t want to be, it’s our fault; if we don’t have children, we’re horrible; if we have lots of children, we’re horrible. 

    You continually talk about this as if people are playing a game of self-righteousness, and that’s really depressing. It’s not about wanting to feel self-righteous. That’s one perk for these people, but it’s not the root cause. The root cause is misogyny. It’s a culture that is rigged so that women cannot win.

  • Jim Roberts

    Lliira, all self-righteousness requires that one have something to feel self-righteous about. Something that you’ve made lesser or lower that you can scourge/take pity on. In this case, it’s definitely women, and I don’t think Fred’s every hidden from that.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    He’s claiming that the root cause is wanting to feel self-righteous. Fred usually acknowledges misogyny, which is why I find the fact that he constantly claims the root of anti-abortion fervor is something other than misogyny so disappointing. This post is not the first one he’s written in which he completely avoids all discussion of misogyny when talking about the anti-abortion crowd. You might as well avoid all discussion of racism when talking about the Tea Party.

  • Jim Roberts

    I think I see where you’re coming from, or at least it seems clearer to me.

    What I’m seeing this column as promoting is an explanation for the, for lack of a better term, biological root cause – it feels good to believe that other people are evil.

    What you’re talking about is certainly equally important, but is the sociological root cause for this behaviour – it feels good to believe that other people are evil because they’re dirty, dirty women.

    Conversations about both of these things are important, but this column serves as a good reminder that when dealing with someone who sees a group as evil, it may not be enough to simply show them that the group isn’t evil.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    as a good reminder that when dealing with someone who sees a group as evil, it may not be enough to simply show them that the group isn’t evil

    But that’s because what they actually want, at the root of it, isn’t to feel self-righteous. They could become crusading environmentalists or feminists or activists for the poor or for children or for animals or peace or etc. and have truth on their side if they wanted to do that. What they want at the root of it is misogyny.

    They aren’t playing in good faith, but we already knew that. They have to lie in order to further their cause to the outside world, to some extent — but when you examine what they say to each other, it’s astonishing how little they actually do lie to themselves. Push them just a little, and they’ll snap and reveal the misogyny that truly lies at the root of their posturing, which would not happen if self-righteousness were the true cause. If you’re a woman, that’s particularly easy, because they’ll so often start calling you misogynistic names.

    I think that not even mentioning misogyny when talking about why anti-birth control activists are the way they are is astonishingly irresponsible. It’s erasure. I don’t think Fred has bad intentions at all, but he’s usually so good with this stuff, except in this particular instance, that I’m floundering to understand what his intentions are here. Not only that, but I think he’s completely incorrect; these people do in fact do all they realistically can do to further their horrific cause, and they have won a whole lot of battles with their strategies.

  • Tonio

     Your post comes close to painting misogynists as cartoon villains. Not that I have any sympathy for them, because they’re pushing an ideology whose cruelty cannot be measured. I just think it’s dangerous to assume that anyone who hurts others seeks to do so for its own sake, because that can blind one to the dark places in one’s own heart.

    It’s more likely that the people who do the most harm to others either do so for their own gain and are in willful denial about their motives, or they honestly believe that they’re doing the right thing. This would mean that misogyny is a means to an end and not necessarily a end itself.

    When women’s Olympic boxing debuted in London, some of the comments I read from men made me furious. I’m not proud of the fact that part of me wanted Claressa Shields to kick their asses, with my misguided assumption that the pain would teach them humility. These men are simply scared of a woman who’s stronger than them, because they perceive this as threatening their privilege. Pointing out that such assholes are motivated by fear doesn’t excuse their assholery.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I just think it’s dangerous to assume that anyone who hurts others seeks to do so for its own sake, because that can blind one to the dark places in one’s own heart.

    I didn’t say that. However, it is very often true that people who hurt others very often do that for its own sake, whether the reason they are allowed to hurt others is misogyny, racism, classism, etc. 

    If we want to discuss the cause/s of misogyny, that’s a complex topic. But it exists in profusion. And much of the way it works itself out in society is simply to hurt women, nothing else, full stop. It exists for one group to press down another group. There are an awful lot of people in the world who like to harm others, and who find many excuses to do so. There are even more people who will believe those excuses and aid that harm, on purpose or not. Most rape cheerleaders are not themselves rapists, and yet.

    I’m not going to pretend along with misogynists that they have good intentions. They don’t. And I’m not going to pretend that when Fred writes about misogynists’ intentions and doesn’t mention misogyny, which he’s done now multiple times, that doesn’t hurt. It does. 

  • Tonio

     I’ve said many times that good intentions don’t matter for the harm that’s caused. They only matter in terms of learning that one shouldn’t be blinded by one’s own good intentions. My perception of human nature is that people harm others because they believe they have something to gain from it, whether it’s money or power or privilege or security or simply the rush they get from self-righteousness. Even the ones who believe that they’re doing the right thing get a rush from seeing themselves as do-gooders. And even the ones who like to to harm others receive an emotional reward or at least want one. Misogynists and racists aren’t Terminator automatons whose only thought is to hurt women or hurt ethnic minorities. All of us have feelings of vulnerability and selfishness that can be easily twisted further by the prejudices that we absorb from the culture while growing up. I’m no different – occasionally I discover elements of latent sexism and racism in my own unconscious, and I try to use these as learning experiences for myself. When we combat bigotry and strive to halt the cruelty being dome to women and to people who are different, we should not assume that it’s only other people who are bigoted, but instead remember that the true enemy always lies within ourselves.

  • The_L1985

    I’m confused as to why you don’t consider self-righteousness to be a symptom of misogyny in this case.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    I don’t think these explanations are mutually exclusive. Fred gives a reason why they get outraged over such things; you give a reason why abortion is at the top of the list.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    By the way, the fact that the healthcare plan doesn’t provide funding for abortion is horrifying. What’s a woman who needs an abortion and can’t afford it supposed to do? Luckily, abortion’s inexpensive as surgeries go, but it’s not free.

  • The_L1985

    “But nobody NEEDS an abortion!!  You don’t NEED to murder people ever!!1one!!”

    In other words, they’ve thought about that.  They don’t care.

  • EllieMurasaki

    One would however think that, even taking as read that no one has an actual need for an abortion (and thus erasing every woman who’s ever had her pregnancy threatening her life or health, or whose pregnancy is doomed under any circumstances, or where one of her fetuses is threatening another), they’d want to reduce the perceived need for an abortion, did we learn nothing from Prohibition…

  • The_L1985

    Of course not!  Prohibition was about alcohol.  So clearly the only vice that it’s counter-productive to ban is alcohol.  Gambling, prostitution, and abortion are all very different from that.  Somehow.

    (Note:  I do not view gambling and prostitution as being equivalent to abortion–I’m only listing them because people object to them for primarily religious reasons, like alcohol, and because there are laws banning them in most of the U.S., like some people want to do to abortion.)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    My father’s mother would have been a hundred in a few years.  Prohibition was in full swing for a good portion of her childhood.  She was also a life-long devout Baptist who was raised in the tradition by people steeped in the Temperance Movement.  It took her decades and decades before she would even touch alcohol, eventually seeing it as not being so bad if taken in small amounts.  Prior to that, she believed they only reason people drank at all was to get smashing drunk.  

    At the time of her death about a decade ago, she still thought that the government could have made prohibition work if they just stuck with it a little longer.  

  • LL

    I too kind of admire Fred’s willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt. It makes him a nice person. I’m not a particularly nice person, so I don’t share that willingness, but I do kind of admire it in others. 

    I no longer give people who repeat nonsense the benefit of the doubt. And I don’t care whether they’re doing it out of guile or ignorance. In 2012 America, people with access to the internet don’t really have an excuse for not knowing things that are very much common knowledge and easy to verify. They can Google just as easily as the rest of us. It’s not that they can’t find out whether something is true or not. It’s that they don’t care. They want to pass along whatever bullshit they got from Fox News or whoever just like they’re passing on a juicy bit of gossip. 

    About 5 or 6 years ago, when blonde white women were disappearing practically every other day in the Caribbean, according to the TV “news,” a coworker remarked to me about how dangerous vacationing in that part of the world was, because some idiot said so on TV. This is not a stupid person. She’s college educated and worked in a relatively complicated job that required researching things. But she sees Nancy Grace or whoever yapping about a missing white girl and all of sudden, the Caribbean is a terrible danger for white women who dare to go there. She lives  in Dallas. In 2005 (when Natalee Holloway disappeared), there were about 200 murders in Dallas (just Dallas, not the surrounding suburbs, which also have plenty of mayhem going on). It’s amusing to me how people lose their shit over extremely unlikely threats that they see the TV talking heads yapping about, but don’t seem to be terribly bothered by the much more likely ones. Also in 2005, nearly 1,200 women in the U.S. were murdered by a husband or boyfriend. I assume most of the victims were not both white and blonde. So those murders aren’t worth being upset about, we can conclude. They only count as terrible things worth being concerned about when they happen to people Nancy Grace can really work up outrage over. 

    It’s just easier to pass on bullshit that you read on the intertubes or saw on TV than it is to actually look stuff up yourself, I guess. Which is why I don’t give people the benefit of the doubt anymore. It’s inexcusable laziness to pass on inaccurate information. If you have time to update your Facebook page or watch Dancing with the Stars, you have time to Google something to find out whether it’s accurate before you forward it to all your friends and family.

  • Tonio

    Compulsory viewing of Nancy Grace would fit my definition of cruel and unusual punishment. Her show works because it fosters that same sense of self-righteous victimhood that Fred describes, but in a more generic sense. The type of ignorance that you’re talking about occurs partly because of identification with the victim – the issue becomes personal. An entry of the Far Side showed cattle pulling a wagon across a desert, and the animals were staring intently at a cattle skull some distance from the road. Gary Larson explained this as showing that we focus more on things that fit our particular interests.

  • The_L1985

    Holloway?  She was old-money from Mountain Brook who didn’t fully understand that the real world is, in fact, dangerous.  I personally blame the “chaperones” (I use the term VERY loosely) for not instituting the buddy system, since naivete isn’t exactly a factor within one’s own control.

    And yes, I did in fact hear this story to death that year.

  • Cereselle
  • AnonymousSam

    The difference I find between Fox News and other news sites is that I simply can’t trust Fox to give me information without slanting it in such a way as to skew the nature of that data. When other countries began to pull their military out of Afghanistan, Fox News repeated Bush’s laughable spin attempt and claimed that this was an indicator that the war was going very well for us.

    Other sites just reported that the military units from other countries were pulling out and left it as that.

  • http://twitter.com/wonderbink Sheila O’Shea

    Funnily enough, the same line of thinking can be found among the 9/11 conspiracy theorists I’ve come across.  They get to feel smug about how they know what really happened, but don’t seem to do much about it beyond (a) ranting about it in the commentary spaces of blogs, Facebook and other social media, (b) periodically having street rallies where they wave signs and pass around flyers of painfully wrongheaded information and (c) bringing it up at parties to show off what enlightened thinkers they are.  But at least they’re not still trapped in the Matrix, right?

  • banancat

    MSNBC admits its bias, and that alone differentiates it from Fox News, which tries to pretend it is “fair and balanced”.  MSNBC also doesn’t have the same history of “accidentally” labeling bad politicians with the wrong letter beside their name.