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Thursday, September 24, 2015

The age of argument is dead.

David Harsanyi nails it in this piece at The Federalist:

Conservatives might be ethically compromised, uninformed, or—if liberals are in a generous mood—mentally unstable, but they can’t be for real. At least, that’s the sense I increasingly get from the Left these days. Blame it on social media.

When a group confuses its politics with moral doctrine, it may have trouble comprehending how a decent human could disagree with its positions. This is probably why people confuse lecturing with debating and why so many liberals can bore into the deepest nooks of my soul to ferret out all those motivations but can’t waste any time arguing about the issue itself....

Don’t like big government? You’re a nihilist (12345, etc…). Forget what your policy does, watch your tone. Transphobic. Homophobic. Eleutherophobic. Sure, you may claim that you want to save unborn girls from the scalpels of Planned Parenthood, but your real goal is to control women. Even if you’re Carly Fiorina. Even if you’re a majority of women in the United States.
Or maybe you can’t see things clearly because you’re hooked to the most addictive opiate imaginable, religion—which, let’s face it, you probably don’t properly understand or adhere to correctly. Here, let them tell you what Jesus would do. (Hey, Vox, what’s up with Jesus?) Are you part of some regressive denomination that follows doctrine and hasn’t been poll-testing on the Left, that isn’t always pleasing to millennials’ ears, that hasn’t evolved properly, or still clings to “religious freedom?” You’re a modern-day Orval Eugene Faubus, probably. We can sue you into compliance or we mock you into the twenty-first century, because clearly you’re too selfish to be part of our future.

What conservatives (and some libertarians) possess aren’t arguments, but corrupt and nefarious ambitions. Defend yourself. What you can’t possibly have are legitimate differences of opinion.

Precisely. Exactly. So much this, or whatever the hep yutes say these days.

And religious "discussion" is poisoned by the same problems. I'm no stranger to hyperbole, but I can't run on it 24/7. Port is an excellent beverage, but I don't pour it on my Honey Nut Cheerios every morning. 

The culprit is social media, and its bullshit meme thinking, running from the comparatively benign (but still problematic) latest missive from Bernie Sanders (who at least has the integrity to make his case respectfully before an opposing audience, who proved to be equally respectful themselves) down to the poisonous frauds which presume the moral superiority of those who agree and lard them with, shall we say, non-facts. The Christian-hater pages swarm with these. 

And it doesn't take a flashcard from an a-hole to prompt it--most comment threads in Zuckerbergia that involve politics or religion degenerate into a Two Days Hate worthy of the Cultural Revolution. When such tactics and "thinking" become a staple of self-identified Christians--and they have--it is gruesome. It was one such thread that became the pile of anvils that broke the camel's back for me, when the questioning of a fellow Catholic's sanity was met with baying approval. 

So, while Harsanyi's points are well-taken as re: the tactics of the Left (who are not liberals in any traditional sense of the term), they are sins which beset everyone. 

I am pretty well convinced that Hell has a robust--and mandatory--social media platform.


  1. Lewis had point in the Screwtape Letters when he said that no one no longer knows logic, and few these days are capable of reasoning. Three hundred years ago, an educated man knew when a point was proven and when it wasn't, and they were prepared to change their life based on a chain of reasoning. Nowadays, modern man is used to keeping a dozen utterly contradictory propositions running through his mind at the same time, and the purpose of modern education is to make sure they don't realize this. If that was true then for Lewis, it is ten times so now. People are, these days, almost incapable of arguing. Since no one knows when something is proven or not any more, abuse and ridicule are what is left. Plus, our technology - state your opinion in 140 characters, please- is only exacerbating the problem.

  2. One of the reasons I all but completely gave up internet comboxes a decade ago was the almost immediate degeneration of argument into name-calling. That gets old with lightning speed.

    It's good to have you back blogging. ;)

    1. Thank you! And I agree--when I read a news story, I avoid the comment boxes like the plague they are. The prestige papers are the worst: the WaPo and NYT comment boxes are rancid.

  3. Beyond the obvious hard lefty sites, I'd have to say that the National Catholic Reporter comboxes may be the most rancid of all. It becomes an occasion of sin sometimes to even read them.