Precinct 333

Monday, March 28, 2005

You Can't Argue With Some People

I had a conversation recently about the Schiavo case. It went something like this.

"I can't believe how disgusting all you conservatives are! How can you people believe that this is right? The stuff that you and that woman's family are puttingher and her poor husband through! You should all be ashamed. It's just wrong."


"Stop it! Don't say another word! You people are just sick!"

Needless to say, it was over at that point. No place for discussion, debate, or rational presentation of views in any of it. Just a set of exclamations and declarative sentences, and a command that I not even attempt to speak a word on behalf of those who might oppose Michael Shciavo's decision.

Sadly, that is reflective of the state of public dialogue today. Pat Sajak comments on that phenomenon in a column in Human Events.

Recently, for example, I was discussing the United Sates Supreme Court with one of my many Liberal friends out in Los Angeles when she said, without any discernable embarrassment, that Justice Anton Scalia was “worse than Hitler.” Realizing she wasn’t alive during World War II and perhaps she may have been absent on those days when her schoolmates were studying Nazism, I reminded her of some of Hitler’s more egregious crimes against humanity, suggesting she may have overstated the case. She had not; Scalia was worse. As I often did when my parents threatened to send me to my room, I let the conversation die.

Aside from being rhetorically hysterical -- and demeaning to the memory of those who suffered so terribly as a result of Hitler and the Nazis -- it served to remind me of how difficult it is to have serious discussions about politics or social issues with committed members of the Left. They tend to do things like accusing members of the Right of sowing the seeds of hatred while, at the same time, comparing them to mass murderers. And they do this while completely missing the irony.

The moral superiority they bring to the table allows them to alter the playing field and the rules in their favor. They can say and do things the other side can’t because, after all, they have the greater good on their side. If a Conservative -- one of the bad guys -- complains about the content of music, films or television shows aimed at children, he is being a prude who wants to tell other people what to read or listen to or watch; he is a censor determined to legislate morality. If, however, a Liberal complains about speech and, in fact, supports laws against certain kinds of speech, it is right and good because we must be protected from this “hate speech” or “politically incorrect” speech. (Of course, they -- being the good guys -- will decide exactly what that is.)

Now I will grant that there is plenty of self-righteous superiority on the Right as well as teh Left. I know certain folks on my side of the political fence with whom one cannot have a discussion without being presumend to be morally and mentally defective for disagreeing with them on some point or other. But this characteristic, dating back to the 1960s, seems particularly common among the radical Left -- and it is that segment of the Left that often seems to develop the political memes that dominate debate on the Left. The result is an impoverished public discussion.

The rhetoric has become so super-heated that, sadly, I find myself having fewer and fewer political discussions these days. And while I miss the spirited give-and-take, when Supreme Court Justices become worse than Hitler and when those who vote a certain way do so because they’re idiots, it’s time to talk about the weather.

I miss that spirited give-and-take as well. Not just because I love a good argument, but because I think it ultimately harms the country as a whole.


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