Friday, February 15, 2019

For Conservatives... an Advantage? (Part 1)

I started writing this back before the election. I was thinking the whole time, "Wow, this is so important for people to read. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Gotta blog on this baby!" Then I started thinking of insights I wanted to share about the way Catholic Conservatives versus Catholic Liberals are dealt with by the Church. So I put off posting it, and I kept putting it off until now. [Note: I wrote this paragraph on Tuesday, 2/12/19]

Yes; I put this off several more days because I kept thinking of more things to say. Finally I decided to break this up into smaller pieces, this being the main one. So hopefully next week I'll post more thoughts—I have to travel again.

This is a very insightful Quillette article by Matthew Blackwell written about a year ago. Blackwell It examines temperamental differences between conservatives and liberals (Blackwell uses the term progressives). Excerpt:

Asked to think the way a liberal thinks, conservatives answered moral questions just as the liberal would answer them, but liberal students were unable to do the reverse. Rather, they seemed to put moral ideas into the mouths of conservatives that they don’t hold. To put it bluntly, Haidt and his colleagues found that progressives don’t understand conservatives the way conservatives understand progressives. This he calls the ‘conservative advantage,’ and it goes a long way in explaining the different ways each side deals with opinions unlike their own. People get angry at what they don’t understand, and an all-progressive education ensures that they don’t understand.

Haidt’s research echoes arguments made by Thomas Sowell in A Conflict of Visions and Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate. Both Sowell and Pinker contend that conservatives see an unfortunate world of moral trade-offs in which every moral judgment comes with costs that must be properly balanced. Progressives, on the other hand, seem to be blind to, or in denial about, these trade-offs, whether economic and social; theirs is a utopian or unconstrained vision, in which every moral grievance must be immediately extinguished until we have perfected society. This is why conservatives don’t tend to express the same emotional hostility as the Left; a deeper grasp of the world’s complexity has the effect of encouraging intellectual humility. The conservative hears the progressive’s latest demands and says, “I can see how you might come to that conclusion, but I think you’ve overlooked the following...” In contrast, the progressive hears the conservative and thinks, “I have no idea why you would believe that. You’re probably a racist.”

Does this ring true to me? Certainly, and I am glad we now have scientific evidence to prove what we have experienced as outspoken conservatives for years. I can vividly recall the fierce accusations of a hardline leftist in a heated interaction; most of the heat was coming from his side. When trying to reason with him about why conservatives dislike the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), he told me "You just want people to die!" Had I responded, "Well, you just want to have everything for free, bite the hand that feeds you, and..." then that would be a response in kind, and this "argument" would fall flat. But I rarely hear this sort of rhetoric on the right, and when I have, there is an immediate distancing by other conservatives in the vicinity. Thinking conservatives do not want to be lumped in with unconstructive accusation.

[Side note: In fact, most conservatives do not want to be "lumped in" at all with anything. That is why MAGA hats are such a new phenomenon.]

My friend Nate noticed the same tendency in a very good recent post on his blog, Rotten Chestnuts:

Both sides often make relevant points about important data, and both sides seem to avoid what the other one is addressing leading to a frustration of everybody talking past each other. Yet I couldn’t help but notice that the [Trump] fans seemed to make an effort to confront the counter arguments a bit more often – the [Trump] skeptics rarely so. In fact the skeptics seemed to go out of their way to [avoid] even acknowledg[ing] competing evidence.

(I hope Nate doesn't mind my slight correction – it is what I think he is trying to say. We all could use an editor.)

My theory is that there are really two possible reasons we conservatives don't respond in kind as I described. One is that we don't presume to know motives. I don't really know that someone pushing for Obamacare is trying to stick it to the man and get handouts. The other one is that even if I suspect that this might be his motivation, there is no rhetorical value in throwing this at him. He reduces his chance of winning the argument by accusing me of murderous intent, but I'm not about to give ground by assertions of larcenous intent. Even if I was right I would lose in the mind of onlookers who thought my opponent's motives were pure.

Two conclusions from the leftist's behavior are easy for me to imagine. The first conclusion: the liberal has no desire to convince me I'm wrong or a bit "off" in my thinking. He just means to assert his opinion, usually loudly and in a derisive way which is difficult to rebut. He wants to silence my voice. Whether I shut up out of shame or out of frustration, this is his best hope of "winning" — a forfeit from his opponent. I believe this is why we were all so gratified to hear Brett Kavanaugh swinging back at the "coordinated effort to destroy [his] good name" by false accusations in his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. He wasn't having any of it; he wasn't going to give up. We're use to people on our side sitting by and "taking their lumps".

The second possible conclusion: he really does want to convince me he is right and thinks this is the best way to go about it. This is less likely in my opinion, but I admit it is possible. It would mean that I have to "change my mind" in a sort of nominal way to be able to go with the flow — his flow. There is still no logic involved, and probably no real willful change of heart or mind. Maybe the liberal imagines he can pull off the ol' Jedi Mind Trick?

Going back to Blackwell's beginning paragraph:

When I disagree with a conservative friend or colleague on some political issue, I have no fear of speaking my mind. I talk, they listen, they respond, I talk some more, and at the end of it we get along just as we always have. But I’ve discovered that when a progressive friend says something with which I disagree or that I know to be incorrect, I’m hesitant to point it out. This hesitancy is a consequence of the different treatment one tends to receive from those on the Right and Left when expressing a difference of opinion. I am not, as it turns out, the only one who has noticed this.

I remarked to my wife last night that reading this made me want to be even more empathetic in by use of rhetoric and conciliatory in my tone when I debate with anyone, especially liberals. I never ever want to respond in kind. It is obvious that Trump is not so worried about this, but I don't think we have to imitate him by any means just because he is the de facto head of the more conservative political party. But typically the people in the Trump Resistance camp are even worse at seeing the other side because they respond in kind almost reflexively and with barely any self-awareness. It's like Cleveland talker Mike Trivisonno famously stated two years ago, "The people who hate Trump the most don't realize how much they're like him."

[In my next installment, I'll talk about the effect this phenomenon has had on the Catholic Church.]

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Mark Shea Chronicles: Volume 3

A new feature on this blog will be The Mark Shea Chronicles. I've been noting the interesting things said by Mr. Shea for years, but I will be counting this post as The Mark Shea Chronicles: Volume 1 and this recent post as The Mark Shea Chronicles Volume 2. That means the post you are reading is number 3.

These posts will feature a picture, the text in the picture and a link. If they are Facebook posts then they came by way of one of my many friends who can read his posts; I cannot because I am "banned". Banning of course doesn't really work. In fact, if you forbid a number of people from sitting at your lunch table you practically ensure that everything said at your table will become public. Shea has 5,000 followers on Facebook and most of his links are public, i.e., available to read for anyone with a Facebook account which has not yet been banned. So no one can credibly complain about anything private being shared.

Anyway, without further ado...

Text: One politician believed her relatives growing up and thought she had Native ancestry. She has never been forgiven for this trivial mistake by the MAGA morons and never will be. They will be telling this exhausting, boring Pocahontas wheeze of a mockery long after she is dead.

Meanwhile, the Cult Leader and his larval douchebag son and all the rest of them laugh wildly about genocide of Native peoples without the slightest qualms and know that by next week it will be forgotten in the torrent of lies, sadism, racism, and cruelty they pour out in an unceasing cataract while Both Sides imbeciles say, "Warren proves that Dems are just as racist. There's no moral difference at all."

Conservative white Christianists have destroyed Christian witness for a generation.


This is a very interesting post and, although the part about Elizabeth Warren actually believing she was more than 1,024th American Indian made me laugh, I really think things he writes like this need to be taken seriously. We find all sorts of things in this post which point to how questionable his judgement on policy matters has become, not to mention his language.

Mark Shea calls Warren's claim to be of "Native ancestry" a trivial mistake. Really? Have you ever thought about suggesting to, say, a leftist college professor that anything about race or ancestry is trivial? I'd be prepared to be shouted at if you want to have a go. Just check out the link wherein some Cherokee Prof states that all these Indian jokes "further marginalize Natives". Incidentally, the professor does not sound like she is defending Warren for inviting all this.

In the next paragraph we have the claim that people who dislike both political parties would state "Warren proves that Dems are just as racist." Uh, hello? After last week I am pretty sure anyone who dislikes Democrats would say "Virginia Governor Ralph Northram proves that Dems are just as racist." In fact, I've never heard Warren referred to as a racist so much as a liar and a rich freeloader.

Another point can be made about this reference to Both Sides imbeciles. There was a time around 10 or so years ago when Mark Shea proudly wore the garb of both-sides-are-awful pretty consistently. I think he had a broader base of respect at that time. At least he had more respect from me, most of my online friends, and commenters on this blog in particular.

Last note: An effective way which Mark Shea has found to completely destroy his credibility is by hurling, uh, colorful metaphors continually, showing his hatred for those whom he criticizes. In this post we have "Cult Leader and his larval douchebag son", and of course the always popular slur Christianists for co-religionists who disagree with him on public policy. It might be a good idea to collect all these terms and have a Year in Review issue of the Mark Shea Chronicles to list all the colorful insults. We may not even need to wait a whole year to get a plentiful harvest.

Note to Google Plus Users: You're Screwed

Here's a message on the blogger control panel:

Following the announcement of Google+ API deprecation scheduled for March 2019, a number of changes will be made to Blogger’s Google+ integration on 4 February 2019.

Google+ widgets: Support for the “+1 Button”, “Google+ Followers” and “Google+ Badge” widgets in Layout will no longer be available. All instances of these widgets will be removed from your blog.

+1 buttons: The +1/G+ buttons and Google+ share links below blog posts and in the navigation bar will be removed.

Please note that if you have a custom template that includes Google+ features, you may need to update your template. Please contact your template supplier for advice.

Google+ Comments: Support for Google+ comments will be turned down, and all blogs using Google+ comments will be reverted back to using Blogger comments. Unfortunately, comments posted as Google+ comments cannot be migrated to Blogger and will no longer appear on your blog.

Not chuckling. "First they came for the Google+ users and I did not speak out because I did not use Google+...." I had mentioned nearly nine years ago that I was thinking about migrating, and I'm thinking about it again. But since I have trouble posting a new post even when I practically promise that I will, don't hold your breath. I would like to, though.

Of course I'm not really talking about speaking out. I am talking about getting out.