Rebuttals of the Week! #2: Not ‘morally superior’… just a much better person than everyone who disagrees with me.

The context of my debate with S’ – who describes herself as a “bleeding heart” and “leftie” – is UK columnist Brendan O’Neill’s recent article –We must have the freedom to hate: Hatred is an emotion, and the state has no business policing emotion. – and his appearance on the Australian panel show Q&A.

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As is customary for tolerant, non-judgemental, deeply “compassionate” progressives – S’s initial comment is not a critique of O’Neill’s argument…. but a personal, harsh and definitive attack on his character:

Stacey NixonS… You may have the space to be hateful & small, if that is what you wish??? You do not have the right to make us be like you 💕

You gotta love that she included the little love-hearts at the end. Isn’t she adorable? It’s like she’s saying “You’re a thoroughly despicable, insignificant person – and the reason I’m entitled to judge you is because I’m so much better than you….. and I’m saying that with love“.  You see this blindness to hypocrisy and irony from ‘progressives’ over and over again. It’s a standard trait that you’ll see recurring in other Rebuttals of The Week.

Here was my response:

Going to GetuglyGoing to Getugly With that statement you have perfectly demonstrated the primary motivation for those who support ‘progressive-Left’ policies…. it’s the desire to think of yourself as morally superior. So anything that feeds that desire is reflexively supported. It has nothing to do with truth, reason or the application of critical thinking skills.

Stacey NixonS… Not morally superior, just no desire to compete. The truth is I am better than no one. The application of my skills is in listening, not talking. We seek enlightenment on different paths…but that is ok. You are interesting, I never understood those who separate fact from emotion – we would have some great chats!

Is it just me… or is she adopting a condescendingly superior tone here as she denies any sense of her own superiority?  “The application of my skills is in listening, not talking….We seek enlightenment on different paths…but that is ok……. You are interesting…” 

You are annoying.

The best part is that two responses after this one she acknowledges that she does in fact think of herself as superior…. and that she wants you to think of her that way as well.

Going to GetuglyGoing to Getugly  We could certainly have some great chats. One thing we would have to address is the necessity for separating objective ‘facts’ from subjective emotional experiences. It is actually very easy to understand why people separate facts from emotions. It’s because they are different things. 

Your emotions tell you something about you. ‘Facts’ tell you something about the world as it exists independent of you. This, I would argue, highlights the fundamental flaw in all ‘progressive’-Left thinking: Progressives do not distinguish between their subjective emotional experiences and objective reality. The word for this characteristic, of course, is narcissism.

Stacey NixonS…  Yeah, i don’t know. I mostly agree up until you say “This, I would argue”. I don’t argue, I discuss. I am admittedly a “bleeding heart” and “leftie”. This does not mean that I cannot separate fact from emotion. I just choose some facts/issues to apply my feelings to. Is there anything that is a known fact that you feel strongly about? This issue is important to me and I will apply my thoughts & feelings to it. I do not believe that when we live a whole life, that we segregate our feelings from our knowledge and experience. This is my choice and I would never wish to impose my views on others.

I am progressive-left. Unashamedly. I respect your clarity of thought, but do not covet it. It is not for me. You may call it narcissism, I see my words and actions as wishing for a better reality for all – not simply accepting but acting for a brighter future for all of us. To each his own 💕

Again with the little hearts. And did you see what she did with the use of my word ‘argue’? S’s priority here seems to be framing herself in the most flattering manner possible….not directly addressing what is being said to her. This is pretty standard fare for ‘progressives.’

Here’s the thing… I think these people are actually very petty, self-absorbed, angry and intolerant by nature. But those qualities don’t jibe with the way they would prefer to see themselves – with their personal ‘persona’. So they default to a classic psychological dynamic and they project those undesirable qualities outward onto convenient targets… papering over the truth with sentimental bromides, ‘progressive’ slogans and other superficial declarations designed to signal to the world and to themselves their desired self-image of enlightened benevolence.

The trouble is that their true nature hasn’t actually gone anywhere. So they are constantly reinforcing their virtue-signalling to keep acknowledgement of their undesired traits at bay.

Notice how often in my exchange with S’ she finds an opportunity to declare how high-minded, altruistic and magnanimous she finds herself. This is truly odd behaviour. But as you will notice in the series of ‘Rebuttals of the Week’… it is a common characteristic of ‘progressives’.

Here are the final three posts of my debate with S’:

Going to GetuglyGoing to Getugly  S’, you do in fact “argue”. You are ‘arguing’ your point. With respect, it is a bit disingenuous to imply that someone who uses the word ‘argue’ in this context is engaging in some kind of negative behaviour…. in contrast to yourself who is engaged in the more virtuous act of ‘discussion’.

It is like your initial comment – with which you implied that Brendan O’Neill is ‘hateful and small’… and that he doesn’t have the ‘right’ to ‘make’ you be like him. You seem to have a reflex when encountering opinion you disagree with to frame your response in terms of your opponent’s morally inferior status relative to your own. And as I said in my original response, this is a fundamental characteristic of people who embrace ‘progressive’-Left opinion and policies.

 

You say “I just choose some facts/issues to apply my feelings to.”  Exactly. You start with emotion… then you “choose facts” to validate that subjective impression. That’s the exact opposite to the process that people who privilege reason, rationality, objectivity and critical thinking engage. For these people, their focus is not on their personal, subjective impression about something (which,as I mentioned above only informs you about yourself) – but on what is objectively true. For them, the fact that our emotional reactions can occlude our capacity for impartiality and objectivity is a fundamental and active principle.

 

You say you respect my ‘clarity of thought’ but that it’s not for you. That is a startling confession…although I appreciate your candour. It is precisely this indifference to truth and clarity of thinking coupled with an impenetrable certainty that your conclusions are morally and intellectually unimpeachable that makes the ‘progressive-Left’ such a pernicious force in society.

This is the post where “S” admits she considers herself ‘morally superior’.

Stacey NixonS… Thanks for the free character assessment, I’ll be sure to take it on board based on the long time we have known each other and the fact that we have so much in common 😉.

From my first post I have expressed my opinions only. I did not”imply” that Brendan O’Neil was hateful & small. I flat out stated it as my opinion. If it differs from your opinion (which you still have not stated) big deal. People do not have to agree. Both opinions are still valid.

You claim I think of myself as morally superior, perhaps I do. I would hope others also think my world views to be more considered & compassionate than some “hateful & small” people, hence my original post. When I speak of my opinions they are soaked in emotion. Over time & with experience I have applied reason & objectivity. But, this is facebook not Rhetoric & Logic 101. If we want people to care about the world, build communities that thrive & leave the world better than we found it, people need to be emotionally invested. Walk in another man’s shoes for a day & your “truth” will be very different.

Here comes another opinion, you’ll love it: Only the privileged can sit in their tower & apply reason and objectivity to another’s experience. Pernicious? Bit strong hey? Again, only my opinion

Going to GetuglyGoing to Getugly I’m sorry if you perceived something as an unsolicited character assessment. I’m not sure what you are referring to. What I wrote was actually just observation of specific things you have written. As you point out, I am guilty of using the word ‘imply’ when referring to your first post. I deliberately chose that word because I thought it was more tactful than simply highlighting that you indulged in fallacious ad hominem rather than presenting a valid perspective based on reason or evidence. 

But to your credit, you have again been very forthcoming by admitting that your intention was simply to broadcast your assessment of your own moral superiority and to hopefully elicit validation from an audience: “You claim I think of myself as morally superior, perhaps I do. I would hope others also think my world views to be more considered & compassionate than some “hateful & small” people, hence my original post.”

Your comment that “this is facebook not Rhetoric & Logic 101” is a cop-out. You are commenting on the Facebook page of a major current affairs program discussing a very serious topic and focusing on the perspective of a controversial public pundit of some international renown. It isn’t a cat video. 

Of your own free will, you have posted a fairly vicious personal attack on this individual which you felt no compulsion to support in any way…. while assuming yourself to be the embodiment of some higher moral and ethical ideal. This notion that you get to choose when the standards of reasoned commentary and rational debate can be abandoned in favour of self-congratulatory posturing and name-calling is difficult to take seriously. You write: “Walk in another man’s shoes for a day & your “truth” will be very different”. Did you bother trying on Brendan O’Neill’s shoes before you offered up such an ugly, public condemnation of his character? I think not. 

Furthermore, inserting ‘your’ in front of the world ‘truth’ is insipid. “Truth” pre-exists our opinions about it. Only narcissists think in terms of ‘my truth’ and ‘your truth’. 

You referred to the following statement as “your opinion” : “Only the privileged can sit in their tower & apply reason and objectivity to another’s experience.” When people default to invoking fashionable terms and memes like “privileged” instead of presenting a coherent argument of their own… it’s not so much ‘your’ opinion as it is a prepackaged, ‘progressive’ talking-point that you have merely adopted and are now parroting. As for the sentiment behind that statement – that reason and objectivity are only available and useful to the tower-inhabiting ‘privileged’ (by which I think it’s safe to assume you mean ‘white men’ in particular) – well, that’s just a little bit racist, classist and sexist. 

You are entitled to that opinion of course. But I fail to see how the belief that people belonging to certain ethnic backgrounds, a particular gender or lower socioeconomic positions are intrinsically incapable of applying reason to this or any other issue represents a higher level of moral or ethical judgement. You ask if my use of the word ‘pernicious’ is too strong to describe the influence of the ‘progressive’ ideology you exemplify –  which is characterized by an indifference to truth and clarity of thinking coupled with an impenetrable certainty that your conclusions are morally and intellectually unimpeachable. 

The answer is no. Not too strong in the least.

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Michael Harris

Michael Harris is an oil painter, photographer, song writer and blogger from Toronto Canada. Michael's work is influenced by his interest in psychology, media, consciousness studies, politics and philosophy.

4 thoughts on “Rebuttals of the Week! #2: Not ‘morally superior’… just a much better person than everyone who disagrees with me.”

  1. Love it. Well done. I have wanted to say this so many times, but haven’t been able, especially in the heat of the moment, to compose it so well. I like the word “shibboleths” to describe the self-congratulatory beliefs and memorized talking points of the left. (Full disclosure: I learned the word while watching The West Wing. You never know where you are going to find a gem).

    Liked by 1 person

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