Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Closer Look at Some Asinine Crap I Found

I don't know how I didn't hear of John Hawkins before now, but this guy is a gold mine. On top of running the aptly-named Right Wing News, he writes a weekly column for Almost all of these columns are in the form of "X Reasons [____] Should [____]" or "The X [____]est [____]s in the history of [____]," or something to that effect, and the latest is no exception: 7 Non-Political Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives.[1]

Honestly, I'm a little overwhelmed. If I tried to scrutinize every line that's deserving of scrutiny, I would undoubtedly go insane. Since I'm not quite ready to let that happen, the best I can offer is this partial overview, beginning with Non-Political Difference #2:
2) It's socially acceptable for liberals to lie about conservatives: Whether you're talking about the New York Times, The Washington Post, or the Daily Kos, it's considered to be perfectly acceptable to lie about conservatives. That's because, as Charles Krauthammer once said, To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.

If you think your opponents are evil, you tend to be okay with using tactics that you would describe as "evil" under other circumstances to fight them. If you're up people you compare to Nazis, it’s easy to tell yourself that lying to beat them isn’t so bad. If you're in a dispute with people who you believe are just too stupid to understand what's going on, you feel compelled to try to explain yourself a little better.
Ok, if I've got it right, the logic goes something like this. Lying, under normal circumstances, is evil, and thus unjustifiable. However, if one believes one's opponents are evil, then one may also believe it's acceptable to lie to defeat them. Liberals believe conservatives are evil. Therefore, liberals believe it's acceptable to lie about conservatives.

But wait a minute—if liberals lie about their political opponents, doesn't that make them evil? And if conservatives believe liberals lie, and are therefore evil, then why wouldn't conservatives believe it's acceptable to lie to defeat them? And at that point everybody's evil and everybody lies, and we might as well throw logic out the window.

Hawkins tries to side-step this paradox by endorsing Krauthammer's claim that conservatives think liberals are stupid, but not evil. But that doesn't make sense. Either they lie because they're evil, or they're wrong because they're stupid (assuming, for the sake of argument, we've eliminated the "none of the above" option). If Hawkins really thinks they're "too stupid to understand what's going on," then I don't see how they can be liars. And if Hawkins thinks they're liars, then he's lying about thinking they're stupid. Either way, he's lying about something. Unless he's just stupid.
3) Conservatives are results-oriented. Liberals are not: If you understand one thing about liberals, understand this: Liberalism is nothing more than "childlike emotionalism applied to adult issues." That's why they don't care very much about whether the programs they advocate work or not. Proposing programs isn't really about what will help the most people to liberals; it's about making them feel good about themselves. On the other hand, conservatives are results-oriented, which is why they tend to be so down on the government, which is inevitably slower, more expensive, and less effective than the private sector at pretty much everything.
In other words, if liberals and conservatives were an 80's movie about a pair of comically-mismatched cops, conservatives would be the one who gets results, dammit!
4) Conservatives care about the Constitution. Liberals don't: Conservatives believe that we need to try to interpret the Constitution in the way that the Founders intended it to be read and if we want to change it, then we need to pass a Constitutional Amendment. Liberals believe in a "living Constitution," which is functionally no different than believing in no Constitution at all. If you believe in a "living Constitution," you think it is okay to do whatever you want for political reasons and then come up with a legal justification afterwards, which you'll then call "constitutional law."
In other words, if liberals and conservatives were an 80's movie about a pair of comically-mismatched cops, conservatives would be the one who does things strictly by the book.

So…conservatives somehow see themselves as both Riggs and Murtaugh.

Seriously, though, how are points #3 and #4 compatible?[2] Being "results-oriented" means doing what it takes to get the job done. Respecting the rule of law means sticking with the system even when it produces seemingly-unjust results. As anyone who's ever seen a movie knows, these two characteristics are not generally found in the same person. Even giving Hawkins the benefit of the doubt, the only way this could make sense is if conservatives believe the Constitution is so flawless, it simultaneously represents the unimpeachable rule of law, and the ideal mechanism for achieving short-term results.

Oh, right. Nevermind.
6) Conservatives are happier people than liberals: Despite all the claims you hear that conservatives are angry, cruel, and mean, conservatives are much happier people than liberals. This is something that has been consistently proven in studies and, let's face it -- anyone who knows a lot of liberals and conservatives will tell you that it's not a surprise. Conservatives love the country they live in, they're more likely to be Christian, and they take responsibility for their own lives instead of griping that the world is terribly unfair. If you want to be a happy person, you're more likely to be a happy conservative than a happy liberal.
Again, there's way too much going on here. I don't even disagree, necessarily—the real question is whether correlation implies causation[3]—but I love the part about conservatives taking "responsibility for their own lives instead of griping that the world is terribly unfair," because it came from the same person who wrote:
Amnesty is unfair to immigrants. Nobody has been treated worse in the whole amnesty debate than legal immigrants.
When you're a conservative, it's almost impossible to filter out liberal views. Your kids are exposed to liberalism at school, Hollywood forces liberal ideas down your throat when you watch TV, the local paper leans left -- you just can't get away from it.
No matter how grave the provocation or how clearly Israel is in the right, the world's judgment is always against Israel. Why?
Just a few decades ago journalism in this country was actually about reporting the facts. Yes, journalists may have leaned to the Left, but at least reporters made an effort to be fair. Today, journalists are more interested in "making a difference" than in any antiquated standards and they play by PRAVDA rules.
And on and on. It's tough to find anything he's written that can't be classified as griping, really.

Then again, maybe I'm being unfair—it is his job, after all. But whatever. What's he going to do, gripe about it?

1. I sent Hawkins's column to a friend, who responded with, "How do you find that asinine crap? Do you Google 'asinine crap'?" Haha! I obviously didn't find it that way, but, thanks to this article, maybe in the future somebody will.
2. Also, how are they "non-political" differences? Eh, forget it.
3. Imagine a bunch of people are deciding who to align with. Ideology A says, "Are you upset about anything (poverty, the environment, something you want to do but can't because it's illegal, etc.)? Then join up with us and we'll do something about it!" Ideology B says, "Are you alright with things just the way they are? Cool, so are we." Of course the happier people are going to go with Ideology B, but that doesn't mean they're happy because they made that choice.
    (Meanwhile, Ideology C says, "Do you think Ideology A has the right goals, but the wrong answers, and Ideology B is full of shit when they say they want to leave you alone?" I think I'll go with that one.)


  1. Man, whoever wrote this could sure use an editor.

  2. Thanks for the constructive feedback! Anything in particular that needs to be edited?