There is no point in engaging in political debate…

…on social media or blogs for that matter.  It’s not just that you are unlikely to ever change anyone’s mind, What I find most frustrating is the inherent dishonesty in the discourse.  So I pretty much just ignore the bullshit I see posted on a daily basis because responding is just not worth the aggravation.  Sometimes I’ll shake my head in sadness at the rantings of folks I know to be otherwise rational and intelligent human beings before scrolling on.  I do wonder why if they feel so strongly about an issue they resort to some mindless internet meme to make their point.  I guess it is easier to erect straw man arguments than to actually address the facts of the matter.

A case in point.  The other day a Facebook friend posted this:

No reasonable person on either side of the debate has said that Obama has actually confiscated guns, nor do I believe the President has ever articulated such a goal. But rather than debate how new restrictions on gun ownership might (or might not) stop random acts of violence by crazy people, the poster reduces folks who hold contrary viewpoints as ignorant. Which in my view is a pretty ignorant thing to do.

No reasonable person on either side of the debate has said that Obama has actually confiscated guns, nor do I believe the President has ever articulated such a goal. But rather than debate how new restrictions on gun ownership might (or might not) stop random acts of violence by crazy people, the poster attempts to portray folks who hold contrary viewpoints as ignorant. Which in my view is a pretty ignorant thing to do.

As I say, I usually just regard posts like this as unserious and unworthy of response. I did that in this case until the poster wrote this in the comments:

And most people that are for guns are generally not very educated in most everything else.

One of the things I dislike most about arguing with folks on the left is that they tend to envelope themselves with a belief in their intellectual superiority.  I mean, obviously if you don’t acknowledge the rightness of their position you must stupid.  And so I left this reply:

Seriously? Wow. I take it that disagreeing with your world view is evidence of ignorance. I almost never engage these debates because it is pointless. Because obviously, I’m stupid.

And he doubled down in his response:

I just go off statistics John. Most people that support gun rights tend to lean right and those people are GENERALLY less informed. If you took it personally that was not my intention. Obviously there’s exceptions to every rule. Do your homework & you’ll discover evidence to support what I said, unless you want me to do it for you

I’d said all I needed to say and the above response told me all I needed to know about where this friend was coming from.  Further engagement would be pointless.  I do love the part where I’m supposed to do my “homework” to support his argument.  That’s not the way debate works in the real world.  If you are going to shovel bullshit and tell me it smells good, it’s on you to supply the evidence to support that claim.

For what it is worth, I did spend some time reading about a disputed, if not discredited, study that purportedly found conservatives are less intelligent than liberals.  But as fair minded people have said in response, it all comes down to how you define liberal and conservative:

In fact there is nothing new in pointing to a link between social attitudes and intelligence. In 2010 the evolutionary psychologist Satochi Kanazawa, who works at the London School of Economics, analysed data from 20,000 young Americans and found that average IQ increased steadily from those who described themselves as ‘very conservative’ to those who describe themselves as ‘very liberal’. A study looking at British children, carried out by Ian Deary, reached a conclusion neatly summarised by the title of the paper: ‘Bright Children become Enlightened Adults’. Other studies have found correlations between strong religiosity (a traditional marker of conservatism) and low intelligence.

 

So case closed? Not really. The problem here is how we define ‘left’ and ‘right’ thinking, what this means socially and politically. A moment’s thought shows that the faultlines are not only blurred but they are legion, cris-crossing across traditional political strata and have changed through time.

 

But there is another side to what the Smarts believe. They are pro-immigration (immigration being a form of free trade, in this case in human labour). They are impeccably socially liberal. They do not care what consenting adults get up to in bed and would legalise gay marriage without a thought. They are as near as is possible to be colour blind and strongly favour sexual equality. They are internationalist and despise petty nationalism. And they are suspicious of the war on drugs and in fact of wars in general and do not believe the public should in general be allowed to own firearms. These are the social views, then, of the British metropolitan Left. So what is it then? Are dim people right or left? Here we meet the problem of defining liberalism and left-wingery.

 

A belief in economic redistribution of wealth does not correlate with social liberalism. The nations of the Cold War Communist bloc were ferociously ‘Left Wing’ in terms of a belief in statism, nationalised industries, basic equality and so forth but socially and in other ways they were far, far to the ‘right’ of any mainstream European or American party. The Soviet education system was brutally elitist – no wishy-washy mixed-ability nonsense there. Militarism and conscription were the norm. Communist states had and had an attachment to capital punishment, repression of homosexuals and paid only lipservice to sexual equality (Russian women were free to work, but they had to go back and do the cleaning and cooking when they had finished).

In today’s world the most ‘right wing’ attitudes are to be found not in the American Bible Belt but in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and parts of Asia as well as Russia. Across most of Africa the majority has an eye-wateringly brutal view of homosexuality (gays face long terms of imprisonment or worse in many southern and eastern African states). If you want to see robust attitudes to crime, sexuality, feminism, immigration and religious freedom go to somewhere like Sudan or Mauritania, Uganda or even Kenya and Jamaica.

 

The paradox is that the political discourse in nations such as these has been dominated by a leftish post-colonialism. The epitome of this paradox is, or was (attitudes have relaxed) Communist Cuba where attitudes to gays, criminals, and people of non-European descent would have softened the heart of a Mississippi Klansman.

I consider myself a classic liberal with strong libertarian leanings.  Which means I’m all about limiting government power and intrusions on our liberty.  Including our right to keep and bear arms.

 

 

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