I was weeding my garden the other day. A neighbor sees me out there and remarks; “Nice looking garden you have there.”
“Thanks” I reply, “Other than some deer nipping the tops off a few of my beets, it’s doing pretty well. I have some nice
radishes coming in right now. Would you like some radishes?”
“Rabbit stew!” he replies, with enthusiasm.
(I paused a moment) “No; radishes. Would you like some radishes?”
Without another word, he turned around and walked away.
That one was quick in getting to the point where both parties realized that they were engaging in a conversation which had
nothing to do with what the other was saying. I’ve had this sort of thing go on for a long time before I realized that the
conversation I was having bore little or no resemblance to the conversation the other person thought he was having, even when
the individual words were all intelligible.
A recurring theme in such instances relates to the difference between principles and group identification, or “group think”.
There is a saying floating around lately, which says “When the government has its boot on your throat, it makes no difference
whether it’s a left boot or a right boot.” It makes sense, I suppose, if your world centers around group, or political party,
identity, but it’s a blitheringly stupid statement if you care about principles. I stated, over at Kevin’s, that if there’s a
government boot on your neck (and you don’t deserve it) then by definition it is a left boot. QED– those who uphold the
principles of liberty do not abuse people as a matter of policy.
“I find your lack of insight disturbing. As a libertarian, I see just as much interference in my life coming from the so-called
right as from the so-called left.”
Fair enough– the operative term being “so-called”. But that was my whole point after all, see.
“Maybe because I have friends from each of those camps, I can somewhat understand how each only sees the abuses of the other,
but not their own.”
I’m sorry; my own abuses?
“The ‘giveaway’ in your case is the ‘deserve’ line: who are you, or anyone else, to be the sole arbiter of whether someone
“deserves” abuse? Please don’t go on about breaking the law, that is not what the poster is referring to, as I would suspect you
know. And having a boot on one’s neck is not an appropriate response to law-breaking; arrest and trial would be (if the crime is
real and not a consensual activity of which you disapprove).”
What if they resist arrest? Yeah, I’m going with the boot, thank you.
“No arbitrary political group is either all good or all bad; the same goes for people in general, unless you want to bring up
mass murderers or serial child molesters. So to attribute all evil intent to your political opponents is not only facile and
simplistic, but often leads down the path to violence, pogroms, and war.”
Umm….yes; I do attribute all (political) evil to my political opponents. The moment someone commits an evil, I oppose them,
see. Individually. Not the whole group, unless the whole group embraces the evil act in which case the whole group is leftist and I oppose it.
I was talking about principles and he was talking about political parties (group think– tribal association). Two different
subjects. Lets break this down further.
If some members of the Catholic Church are found to be sex abusers, are all those who try to follow the teachings of Jesus then
to be held accountable for the abuse? More important; are the teachings of Jesus thereby rendered invalid and useless, or even
evil? If some who claim to be Christians are practicing serial child abuse, then Christ himself was an evil man, and
anything he said should be dismissed out of hand? That would have to be the conclusion of the tribalist, and of course it would
If I’d left out the “and you don’t deserve it” bit, someone would have said, “Oh yeah? What if you just murdered someone? Does
that mean that anyone who comes after you for it is a leftist?!!!” Since I put it in, I got criticized with “…who are you,
or anyone else, to be the sole arbiter of whether someone ‘deserves’ abuse?” Either way it’s a change of subject– a diversion
from the point. I’m talking about principles and he’s talking about something else– anything but the point. It’s a
sophisticated version of “Oh yeah? Well your mother wears Army boots!” after which I suppose I am to argue about my mother’s
fashion sense instead of the fact that leftists are all authoritarians and all authoritarians are leftists whereas those on the
right are for liberty. That someone may falsely claim to be on the right, or that someone on the right might commit a crime of
some kind, is not my fault, and it certainly does not say anything whatsoever about the validity of my principles.
What that self-described libertarian is actually saying (probably without thinking about it) is that the principles of liberty
are invalid because, for generations, leftists have been posing as Republicans. Therefore, if I espouse the principles of liberty, I’m a hypocrite.