Saturday, July 20, 2013
Check Your Premises
Then you meet someone who also has just as strong a sense of outrage over the case THE OPPOSITE WAY. (When this happens to me, I know why. It's because I'm a Whig, and everyone else is a Republican Democrat or a Democrat Republican). I'm a thoughtful, intelligent human being and that idiot is just plain evil.
Or maybe not. Maybe I just drank too much Whig kool-aid. The truth is more complicated and the innocent party wasn't innocent, and the guilty party wasn't guilty, or some combination of the two.
All I remember is that if the glove does not fit, you must acquit. Or something equally inane.
Because we just accept the cartoonish narrative of Our Partisan Side, we have no alternative but to think the other fella is a dangerous lunatic.
Like the KKK members in rural Michigan who didn't have any blacks or Jews nearby. They had to look to Catholics to hate. But they knew their Catholic neighbors were good people. So they created the bogus category of "good Catholics" and "bad Catholics" and the bad ones lived in the big cities and hid guns in their churches. Completely bogus consequences follow from uncritical acceptance of completely bogus premises.
I trust the judicial system just enough to believe that the relevant facts of the case will be presented to the jury. The rest of us will get whatever sells newspapers and whatever advances activists' careers. Did the jury make the right decision? I don't know.
When I don't know, the my reasonable response is skepticism.
My skepticism extends to whether Sarah Palin is an idiot or George Bush is a white-knuckle drunk.
And I'm sure that when I talk to someone who is on the other side of whatever strong opinion I hold, that person had just good a set of reasons for that position. Just as I do for mine.
I have a friend from India who is a devout a statist. When probing his opinions, I find that where I distrust the state, he trusts the state, and where I trust the individual, he distrusts the individual. Anything else we might argue about--guns, abortion, taxes, or welfare--are just theorems derived from these divergent axioms.
And that's what I think I should do when I encounter some person who doesn't have the good sense to be a Whig like me. Set aside the distracting bits that everyone is wringing their hands about and focus on the person and the ultimate premises that give rise to their way of thinking. That's where the useful conversation takes place.
Let's not talk about ObamaCare, tell me what you think the obligations of the state should be.