Personal insults: liberal and conservative style

We both do it, and we’re both wrong to do so, because we don’t really know anything about our opponents personally, it’s mean to insult people unnecessarily, and the ad hominem assault is a logical fallacy in any case.  Do it we do, nevertheless, but I think we do it differently.

The liberal accuses the conservative of not being what he champions.  We support chastity, so they say that we are secret lechers.  We extol martial valor, so they say we are “chickenhawks” who would never endure a needle prick for our country.  We are hypocrites, to sum up.

Conservatives sometimes play the same game (“These liberals say they’re against greed, but look at how much money Lefty actors make!”), but mostly we take a different tack.  We accuse liberals of being what they champion.  It’s odd that they get so outraged over this.  A liberal goes on and on about how cosmopolitanism is the morally superior sentiment and how we should all be citizens of the world, and then he gets upset when I say that he’s not patriotic.  “How dare you question my patriotism!”  Dude, you should take it as a compliment; I just accused you of embodying your ideals.  A guy attacks “heteronormativity”, and I call him a queer.  Outrage.  But by his own lights, wouldn’t it be better if he were doing some “experiments in living”?  A man says we should confront the misdeeds of our predecessors and “overcome the past”, so I say that he’s impious.  “No, no!” he and the should-be-queer and should-be-cosmopolitan say.  “I am not talking about myself.  For myself, I am an unimaginative family man who burns with pride for his country and his ancestors.  How dare you think otherwise?”  In other words, he’s angry at me for not assuming that he’s a hypocrite.

Of course, I’m still being a dick to deliberately go at him personally like that.

2 Responses

  1. Funny, true, and insightful. Almost ‘pre-political’…of a category with pop observations like “the young conservative has no heart, and the old liberal has no brain,” but much wiser than that one.

    (I did hear a further comment that makes the heart/brain comment more interesting , which was a reflection that in pre-modernized societies, you actually find the reverse more often in men of opinions – the youth are rashly traditional, and old are the freethinkers. Montaigne for example. The old system was probably better.)

  2. It’s hard to beat the baroque anti-liberal formulations of Fourth Checkraise:

    Since we seem to be replaying the nineties, it’s only appropriate that another kerfuffle has flared up because of The Bell Curve, the book whose antiquated ideas about intelligence and especially the self-reinforcing intelligence stratification between social classes, the immensely important societal topic that nobody wants to discuss because it is much easier to attack that one chapter that discusses IQ differences between ethnic groups, were demolished by Stephen Jay Gould, the old Marxist who proved from the authority of his professorship in Harvard that discrimination on basis of intelligence is always wrong. Of course, all smart people know that intelligence does not exist, and only some stupid cretin could possibly claim otherwise. Besides, the researchers of intelligence a hundred years ago were totes bad people (but only a very ignorant person would dismiss today’s left and its ideas just because a hundred years ago, the left worshipped the Soviet Union) and tried to use science to prove the innate superiority of their own racial group, which is completely different from the way today’s left uses science to prove their innate superiority over the less intelligent conservatives whose disagreement with the left is really a personality disorder.

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