The Anti-Indulgent Post About You

After writing more than 1500 words this morning, I decided to trash my horribly self-indulgent post and instead quote Orin Kerr.

I’ve come to the realization that people who disagree with me are just arguing in bad faith. How do I know? Well, when I get into an argument, no one who disagrees with me ever says anything I find persuasive. They never even come close. It seems to me that if a person who disagrees with me were smart and acted in good faith, surely he would say something that persuaded me (even if only a little). But since that never happens, people who disagree with me must be either stupid or acting in bad faith. I’m a generous person, so I won’t assume the other guy is stupid. And that leads me to conclude, reluctantly, that people who disagree with me are arguing in bad faith.

This was written in 2010. It’s gotten worse since then. More significantly, smart, well-educated people have given up thought for emotion, and then indulged their value system by pretending that it’s justified because they’re right and anyone who disagrees is not just wrong, but malevolent.

Dr. SJ, an old-school liberal and feminist, muttered to me yesterday that we used to get smarter by reading the New York Times. No longer. We also used to be able to rely on smart, well-educated people to think. Not necessarily be right, but think.

Those who say we need to have meaningful conversations about the problems confronting society are being dishonest with themselves. What they want is to lecture those who disagree with them to tell them they’re wrong, and have those who are wrong change their evil ways.

This seems to be the only thing upon which the extremes can agree. Wipe that smug look off your face. You’re no better than the other guy.

If it’s all about good and evil, then there’s nothing further to discuss. And if you wrap yourself up in self-righteousness, you’ve got nothing. As I watch otherwise smart people reduced to simpering fools gushing their self-serving feelings while viciously attacking anything that remotely smells of disapproval, there isn’t much to talk about.

There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.

–Sir Joshua Reynolds

You are allowed your feelings. You are not allowed to force others to feel as you do. You are not justified in hating others for not sharing your feelings because they are wrong. But never make the mistake of confusing your feelings for thought.

15 thoughts on “The Anti-Indulgent Post About You

  1. Sara Kubik

    I blame a lot of this to the way we communicate over technology. It’s a Jeckyll/Hyde environment. There is (perceived) safety when posting from behind a digital wall.

    Add to that the narcissistic tendency to want attention and sprinkle in the problem that the ways to get that attention (again, due to the increase in the channels of communication) require an ever-elevating shock effect.

    The odd thing is that, I suspect that those throwing the stones also live in glass houses.

    1. SHG Post author

      Technology has certainly given us the means to throw stones from our glass houses, but what makes us want to do so? Or is technology just the new medium for “Lord of the Flies”?

  2. mb

    That’s why I always make it a point to not attack anyone or assume them to be arguing in bad faith until they use the word, “gender”. Then, all bets are off.

        1. Scott Jacobs

          “May cause kicks to the crotch. If crotch-kicking persists, please shut your pie-

  3. wild bill

    Governor Lowell P. Weicker (CT) was once asked by a reporter if he thought such and such relationship might be an ethics violation? He said, of course not! Why not, she asked? “Because I am an ethical person,” he said. Brilliant.

  4. Maz

    I’d add, “You are not allowed to expect someone else to change his or her behavior because of your feelings.”

  5. David

    “Well, when I get into an argument, no one who disagrees with me ever says anything I find persuasive.”

    As correct as it may be, before you start churning out the fortune cookies I’d point out that there’s two humans in that argument that need to line up for Orin to be persuaded, not one.

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