Monday, August 13, 2012

Ideological Barriers to Communication....

I abandoned religion at a very young age.

I grew up in a Tammany Hall Democratic least on my paternal side.

I am open to any and all arguments pro or con on any belief I hold. I’ve worked with theoretical mathematics for much of my life and have always “let the numbers take us where they will.

I should be the perfect “liberal”/Leftist demographic, unfortunately, I’m resistant to indoctrination and I’ve always thought for myself.

As a result, I have always been and remain pro-freedom, and, of course, by “freedom” I mean individual liberty – which is NOT defined as “people doing what they want” (I decidedly DO NOT believe in that – “license”), but the grinding, ponderous burdens of full personal responsibility – that’s individual liberty, “as much freedom as you can bear...or pay for.” Therefore, for most of my life I’ve been pro-abortion (believing that an unwilling parent is at that moment also an “unfit” one as well), pro-economic freedom (free markets), pro-gun, pro-sexual liberation, etc., although I am open to any and all reasonable arguments against those positions.

With that rather wide spectrum of beliefs and given my background and locale (NYC is one of the most Leftist regions of the country), I’ve been in a position to hear people of both sides out and this is unfortunately what I’ve found; while any number of people Left and Right have challenged me on various issues, ONLY Conservatives (most Libertarians seem to be largely in agreement) have consistently made lucid, rational, fact-based arguments in their challenges and no matter how strongly we may disagree, they tend to remain civil and, are more likely to simply “agree to disagree."

While it seems that the primary thing my  fellow “liberals” (I call myself a “liberal” because I believe in freedom/liberty “across the board”) seem to take issue with are my economic views, many also have challenged my consistency on social issues and in that arena they’ve been even more vituperative

I’ll dispense with the benighted Leftist economic arguments, suffice to say, there has never been a successful socialist/Command economy and generally the freer the economy the more prosperous as well (see Hong Kong). I’ve always chalked Leftist economic intransigence to their general and overall lack of mathematical ability. Indeed Leftists tend to be overwhelming (nearly exclusively) Liberal Arts and Humanities majors.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say, BUT I have to admit, I DO tend to look askance at people who, “Can’t do Diffy Q (Differential Equations)."

It’s the few social issues where I disagree with leftists that have been the most contentious and that has surprised me because I’d have at least thought they could make rational arguments in THAT realm!

While I can reasonable discuss whether “life begins at conception” trumps my own view that “an unwilling parent is also an unfit one,” that is rarely, if ever the case when discussing any social issue, say guns, for instance, with fellow “liberals.”

Here are the facts about gun violence – those cities with the strictest gun control also tend to have the highest rates of gun violence, while those places where concealed carry permits are relatively easy to ascertain tend to have much lower rates of gun violence. Washington, D.C.’s gun violence has risen in the face of a virtual gun ban. The same holds internationally, where England has seen a steep rise in gun violence along with its stricter gun control and Australia is considering scuttling many of its gun control laws due to failure.

As John Lott has so carefully documented, more GUNS (in the hands of more law-abiding citizens) are the antidote to gun violence, just as surely as MORE technology is ALWAYS the answer to the problems we face due to technology!

Moreover, THANKFULLY, people with bad intentions, just as those with good ones, seem ALWAYS to “find a way,” as Julio Gonzalez proved, when he killed 87 people on March 25th, 1990, when he set fire to the Happy Land Social Club with less than a dollar’s worth of gasoline and a makeshift wick. I say “thankfully,” because such violence is an unfortunate cost of freedom, but certainly a cost worth paying.

One fellow “liberal” brought up the Fort Hood shooting, apparently unaware that the troops on that base had their guns locked away and that the first police officer on the scene that day was a female, who critically hesitated to drop Hassan Nadal from behind, allowing him to turn around and squeeze off a number of shots, severely injuring her before she could effectively return fire.

But in that fellow’s mind, that was a “good argument” for gun control.

Maybe that’s the problem – most arts and humanities majors, like most liberal arts majors don’t really concern themselves with the facts, or what they like to call “the minutia,” they prefer the emotional appeal.

UNFORTUNATELY, the “appeal” part of that is a very thin veneer indeed. Right beneath the surface is a festering rage that wants to shout out, “WHY DON’T YOU BELIEVE LIKE ME?! Who are YOU to think differently?!”

Perhaps the most glaring logical inconsistencies are found along the lines of what the Catholic Church calls “the reverence for life.”

Now I respect the Catholic Church’s and other major religious organization’s consistency on the issue – generally OPPOSING both abortion and capital punishment for the very SAME reason – that “reverence for all life.”

While I reject that “reverence for ALL life,” I too am logically consistent, in that I support both abortion AND capital punishment.

Most “liberals” and many Conservatives tend to be somewhat inconsistent on this matter. While most Conservatives tend to OPPOSE abortion and SUPPORT capital punishment, most “liberals” tend to SUPPORT abortion and OPPOSE capital punishment.

On that score, Conservatives seem much more able and therefore likely to make actual, reasonable and affirmative arguments for their position – “We believe in protecting the innocent (presumably unborn fetuses) and punishing the guilty.”

OK, there’s a logical thread that runs through there, but again, my primary argument on the former is, “Are we really “protecting” that unborn fetus by making sure it’ll be born into that unwilling, often chaotic and dysfunctional environment?”

Still, we can discuss such things amicably and even agree to disagree, BUT most “liberals” tend NOT to be able to defend exactly why they choose to support abortion for “convenience,” and NOT the death penalty for those who’ve committed even the most heinous crimes and been convicted on DNA evidence! There is no such logical thread for that runs along the track supporting abortion and opposing capital punishment and THAT is almost certainly why so few “liberals” even ever try to defend it reasonably. It’s very essence is a soft gooey overtly feminine and overly emotional argument.

I noticed this many years ago.

Milton Friedman flustered and befuddled opponents of free markets with unmatched wit and sparkling humor. NO one ever successfully challenged Friedman face to face.

Here, he devastates Phil Donahue, after Donahue thought he’d sandbagged him into defending “greed”;

Margaret Thatcher, like Ronald Reagan was able to articulate sound economic principles and make them plain for all to understand, like the time she excoriated a Labour Party House member with “You’d prefer to see the poor poorer, so long as the rich were less rich.”

Is it possible, perhaps, that Leftist arguments are so nuanced that very few (almost no one) can actually make those arguments?

That doesn’t make any sense at all.

Seriously, how come there’s never been a Left-of-Center Milton Friedman, or a Leftist Reagan or Thatcher?

I’ve come to believe it’s because few Leftists, if any, WANT to make such arguments. They take their own emotional arguments on “faith” and when confronted, react the same way many such faith-based believers do when challenged – rail against the challenger as a heretic, or as “ignorant” (for who wouldn’t take the same things they do on faith, if they weren’t ignorant?). Aren’t heretics and the woefully ignorant, especially those who revel in their ignorance “worthy of insult?”

Seriously, this is the ONLY thing that (at least to me) explains the Leftist penchant for insults over facts.

On that score, I have to note that I’ve witnessed many kind, “liberal” people jump into various discussions to defend insulting Leftists from personal attack, while never once addressing the often much more vituperative personal attacks, virtually always initiated by those they’ve defended.

That’s merely an observation that’s remained consistent over a long period of time, one which has fortified my belief that, as I’ve often said (for decades now) that I’ve observed that, “The vast majority of the most angry and revolting people I’ve met have been fellow “liberals.” While I’ve rarely, if ever encountered derision or even direct proselytizing from Conservatives, even “Conservative Christians,” I’ve encountered anger and insults over relatively minor disagreements with fellow “liberals.”

As an example, it is most likely the “Conservative Christian” who should find my views to be antithetical to their own, probably even more revolting than anyone else, and yet I’ve rarely had an insulting exchange with such folks. . .AND yet, the few relatively minor disagreements I’ve had with Leftists have nearly all resulted in virtual scorched earth wars. The ONLY possible explanation for that is that Leftist ideas are primarily “faith-based.”

There are only two ways of dealing with that, (1) accepting that, like everyone else, these folks have a right to their own faith and simply refrain from engaging them, OR (2) continue to engage such people, whenever possible, hoping that eventually they’ll at least one day be willing to hear another viewpoint with a more open mind.

I, of course, hold to the latter view.

You’d think that the idea SHOULD BE to try and make our arguments as persuasive as possible to bring others to our side, but for whatever reasons, “liberals” always tend to do a much worse job of that than do Libertarians and Conservatives. WHY is that?

Whatever the reason, it’s got to be the primary reason why “liberals” have never been more than half the number of “Conservatives” (currently there are nearly 2.5X as many Conservatives as liberals in the USA, according to Gallup) and Conservatives should probably be jumping for joy over that!

I’ve said this for a very long time, “IF you believe your neighbors are “the enemy” because they have an Obama, or a Bush, or now a Romney bumper sticker, then you are part of what’s wrong with America.”

That “team sports” mentality doesn’t fit politics and ideology well at all. If you can be made to hate a nazi, you can just as easily be made to hate the little old lady next to you in the supermarket aisle. WHY? Because you’re basing your hate on something you’ve read or watched on TV...your opinions have been molded by someone else with an agenda unknown to you.

It’s important that we don’t fall into demonizing our neighbors over minor issues like religion, gay rights, gun rights, etc. especially when there are so many other issues (economic, for instance) that SHOULD unite us.

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