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[politics] Why I focus on certain kinds of hypocrisy - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-05-19 05:52
Subject: [politics] Why I focus on certain kinds of hypocrisy
Security: Public
Tags:guns, politics, sex
As I've observed many times before, we are all hypocrites. I don't think it's psychologically possible to be completely consistent. The tension between mythos and logos in the human psyche pretty much puts paid to that. It's certainly possible to be morally and intellectually rigorous, and intensely self-correcting, but most of us (definitely including me) are too busy leading our lives to keep that up on a full time basis, either. Insofar as I can tell, one of the whole points of pursuing religion, or some other form of ethical and philosophical system, is to provide a framework in which such consistency can be pursued without having to continually reason from first principles.

And for the most part, I don't care, so long as you (and I) are not harming anyone. Have fun believing six impossible things before breakfast. I do it all the time. Revel in your self-contradictory nature. I do that all the time, too.

But when you move into the realm of politics, specifically legislation, and you bring your religion or your ethical framework with you and begin governing from that stance, you'd better damned well be consistent. My ethical framework tells me that other people's private sexual, reproductive and social behavior is none of my damn business, except insofar as they might choose to include or inform me for their own reasons. If I were in politics or government, I'd stay the hell away from putting government in the bedroom. That's one of the core reasons I'm a liberal-progressive: I firmly believe government doesn't belong interfering in private life absent a compelling public interest (mandatory education, for example) or preventing harm (domestic violence, for example).

Contrast this with core conservative principles that attempt to control private sexual behavior, personal medical and reproductive choices, and ethical behavior. Legislating morality is a non-starter in any free society, but conservatives love nothing more than the idea of inserting government into the private lives of people they disapprove of. It's in black-and-white in virtually every Republican party platform out there.

So when we see a story like the resignation of Indiana GOP Rep. Mark Souder in a sex scandal, I call it out. Like I (and so many others) called out Republican Senator Larry Craig, who promised to make the lives of gays a living hell while cruising for men in public restrooms. Or Republican Senator David "Diaper Baby" Vitter for his use of prostitutes while running and serving as a family values champion.

These are not the quiet, private hypocrisies of you, me and everyone else in America. These are the public hypocrisies of the people legislating sexual behavior and private lives of everyone else in America, and they're doing it on a "punishment for thee but not for me" basis.

That's why I don't care when Democrats, or entertainers, or sports figures, are caught out in such scandals. Unlike conservative politicians, those people are not trying to use the force of law to constrain my freedoms and the freedoms of those I love.

It's not the hypocrisy of doing one thing and saying another that incenses me. That's just human nature. It's the hypocrisy of doing one thing while criminalizing and persecuting others for doing the same damned thing that incenses me.

To my mind, that's reflective of the ultimate flaw in conservatism. My worldview as a liberal-progressive encompasses most of the conservative worldview. Against abortion? Don't have one. Creeped out by homosexuality? Don't hang out in gay bars. Almost everything conservatives want, I'm happy for them to have. Even (grudgingly) guns, if people keep them safely. But conservatism, by its very nature, is incapable of granting me the same courtesy. Their worldview, as defined in their party platforms and public rhetoric, explicitly seeks to limit and criminalize mine.

I could never choose a narrowing of opportunity, freedom and the future for myself or anyone else. Souder, Craig, Vitter and the entire conservative movement base their entire political lives on exactly that narrowing. And they betray themselves with the hypocrisy of sex.

Post A Comment | 15 Comments | | Link






S-47/19-J
User: shsilver
Date: 2010-05-19 13:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This totally sums it all up. Thanks, Jay.
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Larry Sanderson
User: lsanderson
Date: 2010-05-19 14:12 (UTC)
Subject: Excellent!
Why do so many want other people's children to fight their wars for them as well?
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martyn44
User: martyn44
Date: 2010-05-19 15:10 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Excellent!
Maybe because they're cowards and have an unassailable sense of entitlement.
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Chris McKitterick: domestic dissent
User: mckitterick
Date: 2010-05-19 14:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:domestic dissent
You state it perfectly, Jay. Thanks.
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User: the_ogre
Date: 2010-05-19 15:06 (UTC)
Subject: Brilliantly put.
Seriously - this is pretty much exactly how I feel on such matters. Thank you for posting it.
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Twilight: RachelBase
User: twilight2000
Date: 2010-05-19 15:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:RachelBase
What a perfect summation of what so many of us feel!
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Kenneth Mark Hoover
User: kmarkhoover
Date: 2010-05-19 15:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The RepubliKans never seem to understand it's the stupefying hypocrisy that is endemic with them we find so objectionable, not necessarily the affair itself, which is a private matter between him and his family.

But when you get out there and scream "affairs are wrong" from a perceived morally-superior position...and then get nailed for doing the same thing. Yeah, conservative, you're gonna have to eat that one. Hard.
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thistle333
User: thistle333
Date: 2010-05-19 17:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This. Thanks for posting it.
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Max Kaehn: Politics
User: slothman
Date: 2010-05-19 20:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Politics
I agree; if you don’t want to be called out on your personal morality, don’t prescribe morals publicly. Personally, I was overexposed to hypocrisy in early life and do try to work things out from first principles all the time, but it takes a lot of effort.

I suspect many conservatives could make compelling-public-interest or harm-prevention arguments for their positions as well, though we would disagree with their premises.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-05-19 20:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I suspect many conservatives could make compelling-public-interest or harm-prevention arguments for their positions as well, though we would disagree with their premises.

Sure. For example, I am strongly pro-choice, but recognize a principled opposition to abortion. (Whether most of the people who join the forced pregnancy movement actually share those principles is a different question, of course.) But for many conservative positions around sexual morality, I've never seen a cogent argument that didn't boil down to either "because I think it's wrong" or "because I think it's icky".

Viz opposition to gay marriage or extending family rights to same-sex partners with respect to healthcare, visitation and inheritance. There is no principled stance there that I've ever seen, just bigotry clothed in high minded rhetoric.

Likewise conservative shibboleths such as abstinence education. There's little consistent objective evidence that it works, and considerable evidence that it's counterproductive. But conservative wishful thinking on the topic trumps any evidence presented.

And so on and so on...
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Max Kaehn: Teach the Controversy
User: slothman
Date: 2010-05-19 20:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Teach the Controversy
“I think it’s icky” may be a more compelling argument for some folks; have I ever pointed you to Jonathan Haidt’s work on moral foundations? His TED talk is really interesting. I don’t see any solutions springing out of his work yet, but it’s intriguing to see how people can develop viewpoints based on different basic impulses.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-05-19 20:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
“I think it’s icky” may be a compelling argument for some individuals, but so is "I don't like pink", and "of course the Earth is flat, look at the horizon." It's not a compelling argument for any level of objective public discourse beyond a statement of personal preference; certainly not an argument for government intervention.
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Max Kaehn: WTF Panda
User: slothman
Date: 2010-05-19 21:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:WTF Panda
I agree. The challenge is coming to a democratic consensus in a society where a large voting bloc wants their standards of ickiness enshrined in law. Do we just try to muster enough of a majority to say “no!” and wait for people who disagree with us to die off, or do we try to find some way to get past the whole culture-war thing?

The only solution I’ve found thus far is that everyone hates getting hoodwinked, liberal or conservative, and encouraging people to use fact-checking can help. (Discovered this by accident: for Yule one year, I gave a copy of How to Lie with Statistics to my wife’s cousin who was going off to college, and my wife’s uncle borrowed it and really enjoyed it. So I’ve been sending him various books that help to refine one’s bullshit detector ever since, and I actually managed to turn him off Glenn Beck.)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-05-19 22:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The only solution I’ve found thus far is that everyone hates getting hoodwinked, liberal or conservative, and encouraging people to use fact-checking can help.

And that's where the conservative memes about liberal media and academia are so pernicious. Many people are immune to fact-checking because they assume these are liberal lies. Hence statements like "someone has to stand up to the experts." Um, no...

It's a lovely self-insulating mental schema, and it's pervasive on the American Right. Sigh.
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shaolingrrl
User: shaolingrrl
Date: 2010-05-19 21:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Heh. Gary's brother-in-law went to school with this bozo, and his family is all a-flutter about it.
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