Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thinking is hard; Being outraged is easy.

A few days ago, I was told by a close liberal friend that my posts are "repugnant."  I asked fo an explanation of this expression of moral superiority and was pomptly "defriended"....again.

Ironically, since she was a liberal, her defriending me actually confirmed the findings of social science that liberals/leftists are twice as likely to defriend on Facebook than conservatives, thereby implying that liberals are not as open-minded as they like to think.

Perhaps the reason for this is the moral outrage that liberals seem to be required to express. Correlated with that outrage is a dull and banal apparent inability to comprehend things like "irony" or "arguments ad absurdum" or the other rhetorical tropes that add spice to the life of the mind.

Ann Althouse connects some of the dots on this subject:

I've gone on quite long about Scalia, but Scalia wasn't the inspiration for this post. What got me started on this track was the difficulty readers had with 2 of yesterday's posts that entailed the use of rhetorical devices. One consisted of 2 quotes: "What is the gun community going to do about this tragedy?"/"I dunno. What is the gay community going to do about Penn State?" This linked to Instapundit, who provided the source of the quotes and who now has a couple updates that suggest he's getting pushback similar to some of what I see in my long comments thread, e.g., "Professor Althouse, the comparison is absurd, bigoted and offensive any way you cut it. You should be ashamed of yourself for linking to it with approval."

See? Shame on you! I am offended! Come on, think about it. Figure out the puzzle. It's an analogy, pithily phrased, and thus an occasion to pick apart the ways in which the 2 statements are/are not parallel. Many readers in my comments thread did understand the rhetoric and deal with the coherence of the analogy, but many fell into the sort of expression of outrage that's so common and so dull these days. At least show you understand the rhetoric and then tell me it's in bad taste to be humorous and challenging over topics so raw and painful.

The second post that got me started on this topic was the one that linked to this Matt K. Lewis item "The media should be ashamed of its Connecticut coverage." I'd quoted only the last few lines of that piece, where he proposed "some common sense media control." He's doing a twist on the post-Newtown gun control arguments, switching the right under threat from the 2d Amendment to the 1st Amendment. I thought that was clever and thought-provoking, but unfortunately some readers didn't get it. One said: "Professor Althouse, I'm not sure whether you got punked or if you get that this article is satire and are endorsing it's [sic] specious point." Oh, jeez, that's annoying! I like to keep things crisp around here. Are people going to be so dull that all humor will need arrows pointing at it saying it's humor?

Actually, I see that the 2 comments I've selected for quotation here are by the same person. Maybe he's simply pretending to be dull and doing the Theater of Outrage. That's rhetoric too, and I need to get it.

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