Saturday, March 11, 2017

Viral "Outrageous Quote" and "Outrageous Paraphrase" Stories

Here’s the thing about Milo Yiannopoulos and Ben Carson and other people who get savaged for saying dumb or offensive things. I don’t know how mad I should be at these guys, because everyone says dumb and offensive things all the time. If a plain vanilla Democrat, or Republican, or moderate, were to sit down with me and carefully explain his worldview, this person would inevitably spew a lot of non-truths, half-truths, and morally outrageous ideas about the use of government power. Some of these statements would deeply offend my intelligence, and others would deeply offend my moral sensibilities. I should say "do"  instead of "would" because this kind of unserious garbage shows up on my Facebook feed all the time.

You want to confiscate the wealth of private citizens and use it to fund your half-baked, hare-brained social programs? I find your casual acceptance of theft morally offensive. The empirical record of social programs like the one you champion is probably weak and you’re probably woefully ignorant of it. These kinds of ideas are generally offensive to me on two counts.

You want to imprison people for buying and selling chemical substances that you disapprove of? I find your implicit assumption that the government owns our bodies extremely offensive. The historical record of drug prohibition is one of failure, despite paying enormous costs. Once again, a common idea is offensive to me on many levels.

I could multiply these examples many-fold. People are too flippant about important topics like immigration restrictions, foreign wars, economic "stimulus" programs, socialized medicine, socialized education, socialized retirement plans, and pretty much everything else the government does.

Everyone does this a little. Everyone carries around these half-assed ideas that they’ve never really thought about, but which are extremely offensive or idiotic when examined in the light of day. And everyone says speculative things that they don’t really believe while free-balling during a good bull-session. I’m not going to walk around in a constant state of outrage, denouncing people left and right for a normal human activity. I'm not going to speculate on what is Milo's real motive or what he really believes when he says something stupid, admits it was stupid, apologizes, and tells us he actually believes something completely opposite. I'm going to assume he's telling the truth. I'm no Milo fan, I just think everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. I've caught myself saying things I don't actually believe and making arguments I don't find convincing in far-out bull-sessions. I reserve the right to repudiate these things afterwards, just as I reserve the right to indulge some wild speculation in the heat of the  moment. 

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