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Monday, November 20, 2017

The Progressive Empathy Reversal Trick

In Ben Shapiro’s demolition of Kimmel’s gun rant, he makes a great point that can be extrapolated. He observes that Kimmel believes that if you disagree with his anti-gun policy (which appears to consist of “do something”) you are not just mistaken, but an immoral, unfeeling, monster indifferent to human suffering. In other words, Kimmel appeals to emotion, rather than facts and evidence, and declares any challenge to be essentially a form of evil. In other words, if you disagree with Kimmel, you are going to hell - there is no possibility of a reasonable counter argument.
The logic is “we are good, we care, and want do something, therefore government action of some kind is warranted” - which is a non sequitur.  (They could just as easily say "we are good, we care, and want to do something, therefore, we should all eat ham sandwiches.")  More importantly, if you oppose their particular proposed governmental action, they reverse their flawed logic and conclude that you do not care and are therefore evil.
Shapiro is right to conclude we cannot have civil discourse under this view - it’s a view that leads to civil war.
The more general point is that this view is endemic to the left. If you disagree with socialized medicine, it can’t be because you believe in individual rights, voluntary trade, or think private medicine is better for everyone - you must be an immoral devil who relishes seeing the elderly and orphans die in the streets. If you oppose welfare schemes, it can’t be because you believe in an individual's right to keep his earnings or believe that dependency on government is devastating to the poor in the long run - it must be because you don’t care about the poor or are a racist hater of minorities.
This is why economic arguments don’t work on them. They conflate empathy with government action. This psychology is so deeply ingrained that the details, the facts, the evidence are irrelevant to them.

Here is another exchange that is so typical of what I have seen recently. The author being interviewed wrote a scathing editorial calling for someone to do something (something!) about guns. And what should we do? He literally has no idea. When pressed over and over by Tucker, he offers no plan, no specific concrete ideas on what to actually do. Yet, he is outraged and anyone who disagrees with his non-plan is an evil, cowardly, despicable, well you get the idea.
As always with liberals, the intention is enough. Simply believing in doing something, anything that involves legislation X, or law Y, or regulation Z is paramount. The specifics, the relationship to rights, and the unintended consequences be damned.
They apply this approach to every issue. Someone doesn't have health care insurance? No need to look at why a particular individual doesn't have insurance - no need to study how current policy has affected the marketplace and made it more expensive or lower quality - no need to look at the unintended consequences of any new policy. The fact is that "someone doesn't have health care so we ("we" meaning someone else besides them) must provide it (by force if necessary, and it's always necessary)." Someone doesn't have a house - "give them housing!" Someone doesn't make enough money - "raise the wage!" Someone used a gun to murder - "ban the gun!" Someone drove a car into pedestrians - "ban the ....oh, even we're not that stupid" - next thing!...

The only solution is to realize that morality consists of rational self-interest, not self-sacrifice, and to show that consistently applying individual rights is not only practical in terms of the benefits of free market capitalism, but the right or moral thing to do.     

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