Safe-Space Central

It certainly seems like “safe spaces” are getting out of hand, but since I haven’t done any research on it — I can’t tell how much of it is narrative and how much it is true — but there’s no denying that something has changed since my days in college.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the coverage on “safe spaces” is accurate. As usual, the problem is that people pounce on the actions of others in one context while being egregiously guilty of the same behavior in another.

I don’t take issue with some of their concerns on Safe Spaces — I take issue with the flagrant hypocrisy of it all.

Social Media is Safe-Space Central

For all the talk of college campuses these days — I find it ironic that social media is safe-space central — where you can hide amongst “friends” in fellowship of fury. Ah yes, the part-time conveyors of conviction — who foam at the mouth over facts in one context, but show bottomless contempt for them in another.

Humans are hardwired to want some degree of attention, and forums like Facebook are great for sharing what matters to us.

But the ever-rising ocean of partisan pettiness is gluttony under the guise of concern.

How did we get to a place where regurgitating garbage gets people to “Like” you — celebrating “victory” by clicking “bravo” to bad manners and bunk?

Some highlights from the commentary on the article above (full quotes at the end of the page)

Note: Leaving typos as they are in the quotes that follow:

They they can’t handle the truth

They’re creating mindless robots, sissies, and an entire generation, or more, that cannot handle any kind of stress or difference of opinions, whatsoever!

They don’t belong there if they can’t handle criticism, people who will disagree with them, and ither such situtation that real life will present them with.

And yet — that’s all I’ve faced for over 16 years whenever I’ve challenged conservatives on the . . .

biggest and most demonstrably provable lie in modern history

Not a single conservative I have encountered knew anything of substance on Iraq WMD — and that’s not an opinion, it’s a fact:

truth verifiable from experience or observation

We don’t solve problems in America — we perpetuate them by ceaselessly jockeying for the upper hand . . . shamelessly betraying the very values you supposedly hold so dear.

When I was growing up, I could not have imagined that our country would devolve into a nation utterly devoid of curiosity in the clutch of baseless beliefs. The dead certain will not budge one bit even in the face of the flagrantly obvious — which is brought to light in this 20-second scene from The Insider:

And nobody could deliver this line better than Pacino:

The cat . . . TOTALLY OUT OF THE BAG!

The blurb for On Bullshit perfectly captures how shit shovelers spread their folly with infinite freedom:

[B]ullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant.

That is the universal plug-and-play device of every apologist who defends their position purely on faith. It’s easy to spot someone who has no interest in considering an issue on the merits. No matter what the context, bullshitters have a bond in how they cling to the same patterns in issuing the patently absurd.

Instead of acting on a set of principles that allow for a more fluid understanding of an issue, hermetically sealed minds employ all the same tactics to turn the opposition into the problem. Whatever happened to taking pride in backing up your beliefs? And how about a hint of respect for those who do their homework?

Then again — why study when you can just “agree to disagree” about everything under the sun (quoting myself below to offset the text):

We have become a society of spin doctors who manipulate language anytime it suits our needs. It took the toppling of time-honored traditions to fabricate our fact-free liberties. In days long gone, “agree to disagree” was usually engaged with some degree of sincerity in order to get beyond an impasse with civility.

The intention of the well-meaning motto is that you actually offer something in the realm of a sensible argument. Baseless assertions devoid of any effort in the discovery of truth do not qualify. Naturally, the slope got slippery over time as the egregious abuse of the adage caught on.

Nowadays you can “agree to disagree” about subject matter that you know absolutely nothing about. . . . Its indiscriminate usage is so off the charts that you could even to deny the existence of gravity and gleefully get away with it.

Being smoothly smug is now considered civil — never mind the notion of genuine courtesy that comes with the willingness to be wrong. We begin and end our conversations believing that we’re right — shunning the discipline it takes to be correct. . . .

Anything goes in our Age of Unenlightenment — where “all opinions are equal” whenever you feel the need to call on that convenience.

expert - true

I’ve been writing about the hijacked-for-hackery adage of “agree to disagree” for over 16 years.

There’s nothing sacred in our society — anything that can be butchered, will be

Nowadays you can “agree to disagree” about subject matter that you know absolutely nothing about. Somebody brilliantly captured the folly of this corrupted catchphrase:

And whad’ya know — the author of the book below was tracking the same tactic:

No matter what the subject, the argument always goes down the drain of an enraged ego and ends with minds unchanged, sometimes with professional relationships or even friendships damaged. Instead of arguing, experts today are supposed to accept such disagreements as, at worst, an honest difference of opinion.

We are supposed to “agree to disagree,” a phrase now used indiscriminately as little more than a conversational fire extinguisher. And if we insist that not everything is a matter of opinion, that some things are right and others are wrong . . . well, then we’re just being jerks, apparently.

The Death of Expertise - resize for quote

Oh yeah, I know the routine — all too well . . .

I had a friend with such razor-sharp wit that I called him the “Atomic Clock of Comedy” — for his consistency in making people laugh. To survey a situation in split-second timing requires an astute level of alertness. You’d think that some semblance of that awareness would show up when you have all the time in the world on matters of consequence.

He fell into the “all opinions are equal” trap  — insulting his own intelligence all the way down. That one’s intellect can vanish on cue is a staggering stunt that never ceases to amaze me.

It’s astounding how the mind can pull off psychological gymnastics that allow us to believe what we say without any sense of accounting for it.

Making matters worse is when your friends come to your aid by coddling you instead of calling you on your crap — exemplified in Jolly Ol’ Phil. You’d be doing your friends a far better service by goin’ Gambini like this 8-second scene that says it all:

Never-ending battles to claim Victory for Values has become trench warfare between armies of unreachables. Raising questions that simply cross paths with a worldview is seen as a challenge to entirely undo it, so the good soldier pooh-poohs any effort that could tarnish their utopian image.

Something I wrote many years ago:

Insidious disrespect in the form of “Democrat Party” is another ploy by the purveyors of poppycock.

“Democrat Party” is Indoctrination 101

Probably the most powerful of these group cohesive forces is narcissism. In its simplest and most benign form, this is manifested in group pride. As the members feel proud of their group, so the group feels proud of itself.

A less benign but practically universal form of group narcissism is what might be called “enemy creation,” or hatred of the “out-group.” We can see this naturally occurring in children as they first learn to develop groups.

It is almost common knowledge that the best way to cement group cohesiveness is to ferment the group’s hatred of an external enemy.

Deficiencies within the group can be easily and painlessly overlooked by focusing attention on the deficiencies or sins of the out-group.

People Of The Lie - Resize 2

“Everybody believed Iraq had W.M.D.” is not a valid argument any more than “armed only with skittles”

And the trite taglines of today are the “everybody believed” bits back then.

do not govern yourself by any standards

I’ve never been a bandwagon believer in anything. When I was in high school, “NOT!” was dominating the day. I’ve never used it — hated it back then and still do.

Many of them will never know the feeling of crafting an argument with care — using their own words in ways that they don’t even know that they’re capable of.

And speaking of worship

Government has devolved into the values business — where results are not measured in the success of serving your interests, but in the appearance of the pursuit.

Exemplifying how politicians prey on people’s emotions is Obama injecting his imaginary son into the Trayvon tale — opening the floodgates for folly.

Inserting himself into the saga from the start was an egregious breach of ethics —particularly for a president who knows both the law and sensitivities involved. An honorable leader would have withheld commentary until after the trial. And in the event of unrest, the president would educate the nation instead of pandering to it.

How I would love to look upon a leader who has the guts to inspire intellectual inquiry when it comes at a price.

THAT — would be some change to believe in!

Republicans would wholeheartedly agree that Obama repeatedly manipulated African Americans — as democrats have been doing for decades. But republicans are just the flip side of the same counterfeit coin, as they allow themselves to be manipulated with equal allegiance.

It boggles the mind that people who put their faith as paramount — would permit politicians to exploit their beliefs and betray their trust time after time.

Nobody captures that better than David Kuo in his book Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction. As a Special Assistant to President Bush and Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, Kuo was connected to the top.

For two years I had bitten my tongue and toed the line. We in the faith-based office didn’t speak too loudly or thunder too much. We were nice. I wasn’t angry now, but I was no longer willing to lie.

Before your knee jerks to impugn his motives in coming clean:

Hearing the words “brain tumor” in proximity to the words “you have a” clarifies things. . . . My wife, my daughters, how I treat others, and how I live before God concern me greatly. That’s why I decided to write this book.

Kuo lost his fight to brain cancer 10 years later. He was a Christian who was the genuine article — a tried-and-true believer with a willingness to reflect. He was committed to the compassionate-conservative cause, and in so doing he struggled between his loyalty to Bush and honoring his Administration’s claims.

Try to keep that in mind as you read the following:

National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as “ridiculous,” “out of control,” and just plain “goofy.”

The leaders spent much time lauding the president, but they were never shrewd enough to do what Billy Graham had done three decades before, to wonder whether they were just being used.

Kuo was a man of conscience who wrote his book with sincerity. His attitude was far closer to what Christ had in mind than anything else I’ve seen out of conservative Christians in the political arena.

As Kuo wrote in his Afterword — in 2004 he was asked to speak at the St. Louis Family Church (his “spiritual home” he called it). He relayed how after the service someone came up to him and said,

“You tell President Bush to get that Supreme Court right!”

He had heard it all many times before and always responded in a “pat” and polite manner to put the person’s mind at ease, but not this time:

That night . . . I threw out the old script. Instead, I said, “Maybe the problem isn’t the courts, maybe the problem is us. Maybe things are so screwy because we’ve spent more time thinking about how to advance politically than we have about just changing our own lives.”

On top of being incredibly informative, his book is an enjoyable read.

Everything he advocates comes back to the concern he quoted from a “prominent pastor”:

What we’ve done is turn a mission field into a battlefield

Same goes for the other side — always at the ready with disingenuous dialogue to rile up the base

I have thrown golf clubs with Ralph Reed and speared fish with John Ashcroft. I have eaten epic meals with Bill Bennett. George W. Bush whipped me silly in a private running race. From 1989 until I joined the Bush White House in 2001, I longed for the day the right political leaders would arrive, govern morally, eloquently profess their Christian faith, and return America to greatness. Most of our problems could be solved politically, I believed.

Now I know better. I have seen what happens when well-meaning Christians are seduced into thinking deliverance can come from the Oval Office, a Supreme Court chamber, or the floor of the United States Congress. They are easily manipulated by politicians who use them for their votes, seduced by trinkets of power, and tempted to turn a mission field (politics) into a battlefield, leaving the impression Jesus’ main goal was advancing a particular policy agenda. I know: I’ve seen it, I’ve done it, I’ve lived it, and I’ve learned from it.

Tempting Faith - 1

Speaking of the Supreme Court

A Facebook Messenger post I wrote to a friend:

Back in the Bush years — if a Supreme Court justice had died with a year left on his presidency, I would have vigorously argued in support of Bush getting a nominee through before his term was up.

That Bush is one of the biggest liars in history is irrelevant in that context — as my pursuit of the truth on Iraq has nothing to do his right to fill that seat. My views on policy are equally immaterial on that topic — because Bush won the presidency, and whether he deserved it not — he should be treated fairly.

Same goes for Obama — who was robbed of what was rightfully his (and once again — I argue this as a matter of principle, not policy). Conservatives think they won by getting their guy on the court — and for a time, they have. But in the long run—cheating the system is disastrous for the country.

I know all the talking points that Republicans used to rationalize their view — regurgitating how Democrats did this and Democrats did that.

Nowhere to be found was the notion of right and wrong (or how “two wrongs don’t make a right”).

I imagine most of those same people teach their kids that very principle . . .

but they leave out the part that it all goes out the window when politics are in play, and that you can abandon integrity, honesty, and fairness — as long as it’s for a “good cause.”

I originally came up with the “Safe Spaces” analogy in the Facebook Note below:

SAFE_SPACES Sunday, November 20, 2016

SAFE_SPACES

While it is childish that people are protesting over Trump, it is equally absurd that those having a field day over it see themselves as a bastion of civility in political discourse. “Crying” about not getting your way takes on many forms. Bitching about Obama every day for 8 years sounds a lot like wailing to me.

That you were right in many ways is irrelevant, as the issue is your highly-selective demand for the truth. When you danced in denying him a Supreme Court nominee, that was not a principled position — it was you wanting to get your way at any cost.

Had it been your guy in office, you’d be singing the same tune as the democrats you deride — and such shameless hypocrisy is at the core of our country’s ills. With rare exception, the outrage over Hillary’s emails had nothing to do with national security — (a topic that’s incessantly butchered by a crowd of uninformed know-it-alls — who have not an atom of reflection on their record of recklessness).

These are the geniuses who create chaos — then blame others for failing to fix it

The costliest “entitlement” of our times is the infinite faith people place in their opinions — dismissing any amount of evidence that counters them.

Facebook is the ultimate “safe space” for the ocean of absurdity that America has become — where beliefs are “validated” in a circle of certitude and sound argument is shunned with a smile.

I do hope that Trump does a great job, but this country will never even remotely reach its potential with citizens so petty (that goes for liberals and conservatives alike). That brings to mind one of my favorite lines from Braveheart:

Propaganda . . . must always be essentially simple and repetitious. In the long run, only he will achieve basic results in influencing public opinion who is able to reduce problems to the simplest terms and who has the courage to keep forever repeating them in this simplified form despite the objections of the intellectuals. If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

— Joseph Goebbels’ diary, 1/29/42 (Third Reich Minister of Propaganda)

Why? Why is that impossible? You’re so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshank’s table . . . that you’ve missed your God-given right to something better.