Saturday, October 2, 2010

Annoying Compassion?

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that made me scratch my head. It read: "Annoy a conservative - Show compassion". I shouldn't say it made me scratch my head because I encounter this attitude frequently, but it still doesn't make sense. Allow me to explain why this is both a stupid statement and a perfect summary of some of the modern Left.
I should admit up front that, in most cases, I am no more compassionate than I am tolerant. It's not that I am (or claim to be) heartless, it is just that I have priorities, and compassion ranks rather low on that list. If we were to make a list of common virtues - fair, honest, just, compassionate, etc. - it is say to say that, for me, compassionate would not make the top ten. What I am writing today does not exactly describe me, but I am the exception. Take an honest look around you and you would know that is true.
The point of this bumper sticker, of course, is that conservatives are not compassionate, do not believe in compassion, or, frankly, are heartless monsters. No one who lives in the real world can honestly make this claim, and yet modern Leftists do make this claim often. How does that work? Well, "real world" and "honestly" are a couple of very important parts of that sentence and the specific modern Leftists who make this claim do not exactly have a good working relationship with either concept.
Reading the attitudes expressed in these posts, it should come as no surprise that most of the people with whom I usually associate would be labeled as conservative (many are like me and only seem conservative in some areas but even they are often more conservative than not - what might be surprising is the number of friends I have who could not be described as conservative in any shape, form, or fashion). I often irritate the hell out of them (there are many conservative ideologies with which I simply will not play along) but it usually works out because my core beliefs (TANSTAAFL and MYODB) are such that the pitfalls can be worked around.
My point is that I know many conservatives, and I know these people on a personal level. I see their daily activities and their political pontificating. I don't just see what they say they believe, I see what their actions demonstrate they believe. Let me tell you about the conservative who spends every winter helping to collect Christmas toys for under-privileged children, regardless of what kind of weather that means standing around in. Let me tell you about the conservative who cries at the funeral of a stranger, because that stranger was important to a non-stranger. Let me tell you about the conservative who always has a meal for someone who needs it, even though that conservative lives on a limited fixed income. Let me tell you about the conservative who has given a home and a family to children who lost the original through abuse and neglect. Don't tell me conservatives aren't compassionate because I will call you a liar.
That is the basis of this warped modern Left, though. Deny reality, lie about the other side, and apply labels that just don't fit. If you disagree with them about healthcare, they won't look to see why you disagree. They'll just say you have no compassion. If you disagree with them about immigration, they won't look to see why you disagree. They'll just say you have no compassion. If you disagree with them about how taxes should be spent, they won't look to see why you disagree. They'll just say you have no compassion. It is so much easier when you don't have to debate with your opponent. Just insult them, deny their humanity, and ignore them.
It may be easier, but it isn't true and it isn't right. "You're racist." "You don't care about the environment." "You don't care about the poor." "Do it for the children." "You have no compassion." Whenever you hear these phrases (or many more like them) you should be warned that you are probably not dealing with someone who is arguing through facts. You're dealing with someone who wants to derail debate by punching emotional hot buttons. You are not dealing with someone who is interested in honesty, reality, or an exchange of ideas. You are dealing with a bully who is only interested in getting his own way, by any means necessary. Bullies have no place in the realm of policy debate.
Mature adults can disagree without resulting to childish non sequiturs. You'll notice I didn't say "childish insults" because "insult" is in the eye of the beholder. Much of what I say can be construed as insulting, but it cannot be construed as non sequitur. In a real debate, one fact (or opinion) follows another, in an identifiable line. When you have to jump to something that does not follow from what is being said, that is not a real debate and it is a tactic not being used by a mature adult.
Of course, mature adults don't assume that something they do will annoy someone else just because that someone else doesn't do it. Assuming people to be that thin skinned says more about you than about anyone else.