Well knock me over with a feather

The people of which political philosophy is the most intolerant of their opponents political views?  Well, Pew Research has finally surveyed social network users in this area to find out and, knock me over with a feather, liberals are nearly twice as likely to block, hide, or unfriend someone over conflicting political views.

Pewinternet.org

Politics can be a sensitive subject and a number of SNS users have decided to block, unfriend, or hide someone because of their politics or posting activities. In all, 18% of social networking site users have taken one of those steps by doing at least one of the following:

  • 10% of SNS users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on the site because that person posted too frequently about political subjects
  • 9% of SNS users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on the site because they posted something about politics or issues that they disagreed with or found offensive
  • 8% of SNS users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on the site because they argued about political issues on the site with the user or someone the user knows
  • 5% of SNS users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on the site because they posted something about politics that the user worried would offend other friends
  • 4% of SNS users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on the site because they disagreed with something the user posted about politics

Of course, that means that 82% of SNS users have not taken any steps to ignore or disconnect from someone whose views are different – or have not encountered any views that would prompt such a move.

Liberals are the most likely to have taken each of these steps to block, unfriend, or hide. In all, 28% of liberals have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on SNS because of one of these reasons, compared with 16% of conservatives and 14% of moderates.

It seems those who accuse others of intolerance are more likely to be intolerant.  This is not news to me.  It has been my experience with virtually no exception that conservatives are quicker to prefer debating an issue, and liberals are more likely to ridicule or demand silence from their political opponents (note the reaction by the left to Rush Limbaugh’s rhetoric and demands he be fired or arrested) over political disagreement.

Comments

  1. Marshall Art says:

    Yeah. This really isn’t news to anyone paying attention. There’s one lib blogger who refuses to engage except to ridicule or disparage my opinions and comments, or the right-wing people and/or articles to whom and/or which I might link. It’s pretty routine with some of them who think that once they give their counterpoint, that the issue is then settled and one is an idiot for not changing their view to conform, or some other equally evasive maneuver.

  2. As someone (a liberal someone!) who deliberately subscribes to blogs that defend perspectives diametrically opposed to my own, I don’t know that I really “get” this whole unfriending thing. However, I can speculate a bit about it, because it seems that this report neglects a few obvious confounding variables that could explain these numbers even before we get to the point of characterizing liberals as whiners who can’t handle rational discourse.

    First off, how likely do you suppose it is that conservatives are friends on social networking sites with outspoken liberals? (Google “epistemic closure” for an interesting discussion of this broader issue.) If only half as many conservatives have liberal friends, compared to the number of liberals who have conservative friends, it makes sense that they would be blocking people half as often.

    Additionally, I don’t think that defending “tolerance” means that I have an obligation to be “tolerant of intolerance.” It’s a cute accusation to lob at someone, but it doesn’t really make any sense. If I want to encourage people not to be hateful toward each other, why should I provide people with an environment in which to spread their hateful messages? On a related note, I think that conservative talking points on hot-button issues are more likely to be offensive to liberals than the other way around. I mean, compare “Gay people are evil and will burn in hell forever” to “We should love and respect people even if they are different from us in some ways.” The latter could easily be responded to by a conservative explaining that sharing the gospel is his or her way of loving and respecting gay people, trying to save them from eternal hellfire. But the former has basically cut off all potential response by dividing everything into good and evil, and it’s not hard to imagine a liberal deciding that that conversation was not worth their time or effort.

    Of course, there are jerks all over the political spectrum and in all different demographic groups. I know there are jerky liberal bloggers out there. There are jerky conservative bloggers too. I don’t deny the truth of personal anecdotes like the one that Marshall provides, but I don’t think that a couple anecdotes is enough to characterize a huge portion of the population, either.

    • NFQ

      Did you notice the amount of people who “discovered” their friend’s political bent only after a posting? I think it is fairly common to not know the politics of friends. I will say there are definately friends I have that I discuss political issues with, so I know where they stand. But after running down my facebook list of friends, I can say with honest naivety that I dont know where at least 90% of them stand politically.

      Not that I think you are intentionally conflating opposing points of view with hate, but I find it rather dishonestly hyperbolic when people brand opposition as hate. This is a tactic nearly universally found on the left:

      Oppose abortion on-demand? You must hate women and want them to die on the floor.
      Oppose same-sex marriage? You must hate gays and want them to burn in hell.
      Oppose Affirmative Action? You must hate blacks and want to reinstitute slavery.
      Oppose illegal immigration? You must hate foreigners and don’t want them to better themselves.
      Reject man-made Global Warming? You must hate science.
      Want to reform Social Security? You must hate senior citizens and want them to eat cat food.
      Oppose more taxes on the rich. You must hate the poor.

      It completely dismisses out of hand the reasons why people hold the positions they do. Just because someone believes in traditional marriage doesn’t mean they hate gays. Just because someone opposes abortion doesn’t mean they hate women and want them to die.

      So let’s not pretend that when someone of my ilk chides the left for being intolerant that I am suggesting that giving a platform to the Westboro Baptists is the same as giving a platform to someone who opposes same-sex marriage. Opposition is not hate and an honest person shouldn’t try to put people into categories they don’t belong in.

  3. I’m shocked – shocked to learn this!!!!

  4. You’re absolutely right, John, I did not intend to conflate conservativism with hate. However, I do think that the most extreme conservative views sound a lot more like hate than the most extreme liberal views (which may well sound stupid, but not hateful), and that this visceral anger towards “the other” tends to shut down conversation rather than foster it. (Can you think of any time where a liberal commentator or a liberal politician implied that people who disagreed with him/her were going to hell?)

    I also think that many conservatives do not articulate their views with the level of nuance that you tend to, especially in public dialogues (e.g. campaigns, talking heads on TV, etc.). The claim is, “Abortion is murder and that’s wrong!!” rather than making a comparative argument about what happens in a world where abortion is completely banned, in a world where abortion is completely legal in every case, and a world where abortion is regulated (allowed in limited circumstances but not all). Or the claim is, “Affirmative action is just a cover for racism against white people!!” rather than a discussion about how the time for affirmative action has come and gone, and as a society we should be trying to move forward now.

  5. NFQ,

    Why is believing someone is going to hell considered hate? You must consider Jesus a hater then, for he said there will be people going to hell.

    Matthew 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels…’”

    Jesus loves everyone but also recognizes that they will choose hell rather than submit their lives to his Lordship. Hell is a chosen destination. It is loving to try to convince people that they should not want to go there.

    And I dare you to try to nuance the reality of abortion. I have seen what “women’s healthcare” does to the bodies of little children…decapitation, dismemberment. You tell me in what world the slaughter of children should be “allowed in limited circumstances but not all.”

    The fact is good people do not disagree on the issue of abortion. Good people have the compassion in their hearts to protect these helpless unborn children from selfish and confused mothers and greedy and barbaric doctors.

    You want to remove the consequences for women making poor choices to kill their children by requiring a “comparative argument about what happens in a world where abortion is completely banned.” “Women will get butchered in back alley abortions” is your likely retort. That is a consequence of their choice to kill their child. I don’t women to die any more than I want children to die. But making it easier for women to kill their children will make it easier for someone to die.

    Instead of making it easier for women to obtain abortions we should be making it harder for women to obtain back alley abortions. Fewer women and children will die in back alley abortions if we make it harder to obtain. That is the loving policy choice.

  6. I actually do consider the character of Jesus and much of Christian teachings to be full of hateful and terrible messages. I think that the notion of hell is an awful one, because it means that an all-powerful god specifically designed all of existence so that a subset of humanity, who he decided would not believe in him and/or follow his commandments, would then be condemned to an infinite amount of punishment. It requires a total redefinition of the words “love” and “justice” to imagine that either of them could apply to that scenario.

    And I think you’ve provided us with an excellent example of exactly what I was talking about, when you said “good people do not disagree on the issue of abortion.” Good people? All you know about me is that I am a self-described liberal. But you are sure that I am not a good person? Gee, thanks … I mean, how can we go on and have a real and reasonable discussion now? I’m totally shut down before we’ve even really begun. If I’m written off as a categorically bad person from the start, why should I waste my time even talking to you anymore?

    Now, I have a pretty thick skin and I genuinely enjoy debate, so I stick around. But I can pretty easily understand why a lot of people might choose not to. For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re a bad person, even though we disagree on some things. I think you’re probably a well-intentioned, reasonably intelligent person who’s trying to improve the world in the best ways you can think of. I think if we have a calm and reasoned conversation, we’ll each learn a little from each other and maybe change our minds a bit, and we might come to some sort of understanding or even consensus.

    If you think liberals are bad people, why do you want them to be your friends on Facebook or whatever anyway? I’d think you’d be glad if they unfriended you. Saved you the trouble, right?

    • NFQ

      I think what was said taken from his perspective (that abortion kills an innocent human being) people who are for the killing if innocents are bad people, and I’m sure you’d agree if we weren’t talking abortion. But on a tangent from the original post and onto abortion, I find it ironic that you say we Christiand need to adopt a redefinition of the concepts “love” and “justice” in order to believe in hell. We pro-lifers also claim that abortion defenders have to adopt redefinitions of the terms “life” and “human being” in order to support abortion. However, I was not hoping to take this post to the topic of abortion.

      BTW NFQ, the reason I no longer comment on your blog is the barrage of snide insulting comments I receive from your regulars. They tend to push out dissenters with their mockery and rudeness. They appear to want the echo chamber of agreement the Pew study speaks of. *I do still read everything you write though*

  7. Terrance H. says:

    Not news.
    Since I started my new independent thing, I noticed that if I’m bashing the Right, my liberal friends will comment frequently. If I stray even slightly and attack the Left, they’ll admonish me, try to change my opinion, and if that doesn’t work, they won’t come back for several days, and then ignore me if I comment on their blog. LOL.

    There are some exceptions.

  8. Dan Trabue says:

    NFQ said…

    I don’t think that defending “tolerance” means that I have an obligation to be “tolerant of intolerance.”

    I’m not much of a facebook user, so I don’t know all the details, but NFQ has a point here. I’m not saying it definitely IS the case, but it COULD be the case that conservatives on facebook are more likely to be “jerky” about issues and make repeated offensive statements; It COULD be the case that conservatives on facebook are more likely to “over-post” and wear out their welcome.

    In other words, there could be quite legitimate reasons for this report. Or, it could be the case that liberals on facebook ARE more intolerant of opposing views. I rather doubt it, but it could be the case.

    All I know is that, in my personal experience in the blogging world, conservatives are way more than twice as likely to not post opposing views and to moderate those opposing views.

  9. Well, briefly swerving onto this tangent (which I was also hoping to avoid), I think part of the issue is that there isn’t an consensus definition for “human being”. Pro-life folks insist on their definition as the default, but I think it’s not a stretch to claim that “contains a full set of human genetic material” is a necessary but insufficient condition for something being a human (Cf. a drop of blood, a hair follicle).

    Nevertheless, even in the case where I think a serious redefinition has occurred (say, Christians redefining “love” to include deliberate, infinite torture) I still don’t think I would paint all people ascribing to that definition as “bad people.” We compartmentalize, after all. Even the Christians I have heard defend Biblical genocides by saying that they too would commit genocide if they believed God told them to do seem to be nice, conscientious people the rest of the time. By respecting them as individuals, I also keep the door open for further dialog, and I’m hopeful that we’ll both understand each other better someday in the future.

    I have to say, it makes me laugh to see you refer to the “barrage of snide insulting comments” on my blog. I can think of only one commenter who is chronically insulting, and I’ve reprimanded him, edited his comments (replacing “Cheesus” and “buyBULL” with “Jesus” and “Bible”, for example), and threatened him with a ban. There have been several comment threads in which atheist commenters disagree with you and ask you to warrant your claims, but then you refuse to do so or evade their questions. They get frustrated with you and tell you so. The only way to avoid this “barrage” is for no one to respond to your comments at all, which I’m not sure would be an improvement from your point of view.

  10. NFQ,
    I don’t want to have a “reasonable” discussion with you about your favoring the killing of children. I want to make sure people who think like you are never in a position to put their barbaric views into practice. While we have our “reasonable” and “civilized” debate on abortion you are allowing millions of children to be decapitated, dismembered, burned alive with saline, or allowed to die in a bucket in a linen closet for daring to be born alive after an attempted abortion.

    I don’t need to know anything further about you than your position on abortion to judge your “goodness.” Reason is lost on you since you reject the sovereignty of God who is the source of all reason.

    As a Christian I am compelled to share the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with you to pesuade you to yield your life to his sovereignty. If you reject the Lordship of Jesus Christ then I am compelled to oppose the consequences of your poor moral choices and to ameliorate the injustices (abortion, forced charitable contributions in the form of welfare and universal health care, homosexuality, etc.) you force on the innocent.

    I know your Creator loves you as much as he loves me, but it is hard sometimes for me to love people who merely wink at or even advocate for the killing of the innocent. I pray that God will give me the compassion to pity you instead of despise you.

  11. Terrance H. says:

    Well, briefly swerving onto this tangent (which I was also hoping to avoid), I think part of the issue is that there isn’t an consensus definition for “human being”. Pro-life folks insist on their definition as the default, but I think it’s not a stretch to claim that “contains a full set of human genetic material” is a necessary but insufficient condition for something being a human (Cf. a drop of blood, a hair follicle).

    This is false on so many levels I don’t know where to begin. There is a “consensus definition for ‘human being’” whether you accept it or not. Human development begins at conception and continues until death, so if our development begins at conception, logic dictates life begins at conception, too. But you needn’t take my word for it.

    From: Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2

    Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being.

    From: Sadler, T.W. Langman’s Medical Embryology. 7th edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins 1995, p. 3

    The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.

    From: Carlson, Bruce M. Patten’s Foundations of Embryology. 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 3

    Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)…The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.

    From: Moore, Keith. The Developing Human Being. 7th edition

    Human development is a continuous process that begins when an oocyte (ovum) from a female is fertilized by a sperm (spermatozoon) from a male. Cell division, cell migration, programmed cell death, differentiation, growth, and cell rearrangement transform the fertilized oocyte, a highly specialized, totipotent cell – a zygote – into a multicellular human being. Although most developmental changes occur during the embryonic and fetal periods, important changes occur during later periods of development: infancy, childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Development does not stop at birth. Important changes, in addition to growth, occur after birth (e.g., development of teeth and female breasts). The brain triples in weight between birth and 16 years; most developmental changes are completed by the age of 25. Although it is customary to divide human development into prenatal (before birth) and postnatal (after birth) periods, birth is merely a dramatic event during development resulting in a change in environment.” (p. 2)

    Princeton University

    It is a fact, as much of a fact as any other we have, that a unique and separate human being comes into existence the moment fertilization occurs. The anti-life lobby, you included, should stop being so anti-science and simply accept the facts.

    It’s also quite asinine to compare part of a distinct human being (e.g., a drop of blood, hair follicle) to a distinct human being. Silly.

    You should have substituted “human being” with “person,” since “personhood” necessitates a philosophical inquiry and therefore no right or wrong answer exists. You might say “personhood” is achieved via self-awareness while I might (and do) say fertilization, the beginning of human development. Which threshold is the correct one? Keep in mind, yours would allow the selective slaughter of newborn babies (contingent on the psychological interpretation of self-awareness), which has been suggested recently by two supposedly educated medical ethicists, based on their interpretation of personhood.

    So, you lose.

    Anyway.

    I don’t understand all this talk of religion. You seem to be suggesting that the pro-life movement is at its core a religious crusade. Such asinine and demonstrably false implications make you look silly (ier). You will be unable to locate a single religious justification for ending abortion in this response, on this website authored by John, or on my website authored by me. They don’t exist.

    The pro-life movement may indeed have a strong religious influence, but so what? The 19th Century Women’s Rights movement had a strong religious influence as well (see: Second Great Awakening). Am I to believe Women’s Rights is inherently bad because of its connection to religion?

    So, you lose.

  12. noforbiddenquestions says:

    DogTags: Thank you for providing such a perfect example of what I was trying to explain. There is nothing I could say to you now that you would listen to, other than if I were to capitulate to every detail of your opinions. This is why liberals don’t think it’s worth their time to talk to you and be your friend. And it sounds like you don’t want liberals as friends either, so there’s no point in being outraged about this self-selection.

    To any of you who are willing to see a thoughtful, moral examination of the abortion issue from a secular liberal perspective, you can read my post about it. The discussion here should stay on John’s original topic.

  13. Terrance H. says:

    I would have rather attached my ***EDIT*** to a boat anchor than read that pseduo-philosophical bore. You put a dress on nonsense and called it a dame…

    The politics of the issue have poisoned the objectivity of scientists to make a definitive claim as to when fetuses feel pain. Some scientists suggest that pain can be felt as early as the second trimester, at which point you regard the child as no different than a mouse or squirrel. You are trying to convenience your brutal ideology by ignoring any scientific opinion contrary to your leftist credo. You don’t care about the unborn child at all.

    But aside from that, I guess individuals with certain diseases or injuries that limit their ability to feel pain (catatonia, for instance) could be killed since recognition of pain is the determinant of worth in your mind. I wonder what you think of euthanizing infants painlessly. Would that be cool? Why shouldn’t it be? There would be no pain to be recognized and therefore it would be – how do you put it – morally permissible…

    You’re ridiculous.

  14. Terrance H. says:

    Leftists are obsessed with sex and death.

  15. noforbiddenquestions says:

    Ah yes. Leftists like Rick Santorum, Christine O’Donnell, Rick Perry … Extremely outspoken on the issues of sex and death. This isn’t even a point, just a weird attempt at an insult.

    And I don’t understand why you are continuing to comment here about abortion. Are you so determined to tell me off that you will veer wildly off the original topic against the explicit wishes of the blogger whose site this is? You can tell me off in the comment thread of my blog if you want. (But as long as we’re here and John doesn’t want to shut you up, what on earth makes you think mice or squirrels don’t feel pain?)

  16. Terrance H. says:

    Rick Santorum, Christine O’Donnell (odd you’d mention her), and Rick Perry are countering Leftists’ assaults on the sanctity of life and religious liberty. If not for the blood thirst of the left, they’d be no reason for them to discuss such matters, now would there?

    Try your sophistry on someone else.

    I merely responded to your asinine rationalization, after which you linked a supposedly “thoughtful” examination, which I also responded to. I did not start the “off topic” discussion. You latched on to an anecdotal comment made by John. If anything, you veered this discussion off-topic.

    I don’t trust pro-choice blogs because my comments are routinely deleted for their tendency to display how face palmingly stupid the pro-choice camp is.

    Point:

    I said: “Some scientists suggest that pain can be felt as early as the second trimester, at which point you regard the child as no different than a mouse or squirrel.

    Where in that particular sentence did I say rodents are unable to feel pain? Anywhere? No.

    In the piece you wrote you compared a second trimester child to a mouse or squirrel. I merely included that piece of information so all followers of this thread can see how truly ridiculous you are.

    Are you going to respond to my remarks or are you going to dance and dodge a little more? You might as well forgo the discussion and save yourself the embarrassment. Your position is irrational, impractical, and totally irrelevant to any conceivable legal status of persons.

  17. noforbiddenquestions says:

    Terrance, I have a very liberal (ha) comment policy and have only ever banned spammers and pure antagonists (ie not saying anything related to the topic at hand and only being mean). Please don’t blame me for perceived failures of any other blogger who happens to also be liberal.

    Apparently John has decided not to intervene in this digression (I’ve seen him delete other off-topic comments before) so I will try to better explain my stance.

    If you had read my post, you would have seen that I address the issue of killing newborn babies. I concede that it might have to be permitted by my standard. Unlike you, I do not begin by assuming all of my conclusions and then collect arguments and citations that support those conclusions. I started by thinking about the situations in which we might tend to find killing acceptable (self-defense, meat-eating, pest-control) and the situations in which we tend to find it unacceptable (cold-blooded murder, purposeless violence to animals especially seemingly intelligent animals) and then tried to tease out the rationale behind these categorizations (remembering that intuition isn’t perfect and if I had no good reason that was grounds for reconsidering). It seems to me that we are more hesitant to kill things the more aware they are (and thus the more aware of suffering they are and the more they are capable of desiring to live). This is consistent with a very basic sort of utilitarianism I think everyone implicitly agrees with – happiness means “that feeling we’d like to have more of” and sadness is “that feeling we don’t like having.” Killing a mouse in a mouse trap is more acceptable than slaughtering cows, which is more acceptable than killing Koko the gorilla, etc. At the same time, if your life is in danger, you are completely entitled to defend yourself by killing the person endangering you if necessary. I hope this notion is not controversial, but I can defend it if you like.

    One thing this means is that abortion ought to be available for women whose lives are threatened by their pregnancies. The other implication is that abortion is more morally acceptable earlier on in the pregnancy and less acceptable later. Killing a small undifferentiated lump of cells is analogous to skinning your knee or swatting a gnat (both cases in which small numbers of living cells die). Killing an embryo in its very early stages might be more like flushing a goldfish down the toilet. As the fetus develops and becomes increasingly capable of having “experiences” it becomes worse and worse to choose to kill it.

    You’ll notice that I don’t speak in absolutes here. There’s a sense in which it’s bad to kill any living creature. But most things we do, we could technically have used that time, effort, and resources to do *something* that’s technically better. I don’t think this means that all our actions are morally repugnant. Have you ever killed a bug or trapped a rodent? Have you ever eaten a pork chop? If so, you have caused/been responsible for pain and suffering in a creature that was to some degree aware of it. But their pain and suffering was outweighed by your convenience and preferences. Where is the line drawn, in order to talk about permissibility/impermissibility rather than better/worse actions? That’s sort of a personal call about how far from perfect you will tolerate. But if you don’t carry spiders outside instead of squashing them, for consistency I think you have to be okay with things like the morning-after pill at the very least. If you aren’t vegetarian I’d think you have to allow abortion through the first trimester, maybe into the second. And I don’t see any grounds on which you could legitimately deny an abortion to a woman who would otherwise die, but I think there is a responsibility in any case to seek a wanted or needed abortion as early in the pregnancy as possible. And I think everyone has a responsibility to take reasonable precautions against pregnancy so that we minimize the frequency with which things get to the point of wanting an abortion. (These are things I said in my post, but apparently I need to restate it all for you personally.)

    You haven’t trapped me or something by saying “Some scientists suggest that pain can be felt as early as the second trimester, at which point you regard the child as no different than a mouse or squirrel.” You seem to think that you are saying something outrageous but you are basically just repeating what I admitted and what I argued. “I find this outrageous” is not actually a logical argument against mine. I actually have no idea what your actual argument is, if it is not that anything with human DNA must have the full moral quality of a conscious human person. (Do you think acorns are identical to oak trees? And so on.)

    There’s some other more on-original-topic stuff I want to say but I don’t have time now. As soon as I can.

  18. Terrance H. says:

    NFQ,

    This particular post is about the intolerance of Leftists in general. Just thought I should point that out….Ya know, you may not delete my comments, edit my comments, or be intolerant of my comments in any way, shape, or form. But it’s going to take me roughly 60 seconds to dismantle your entire argument, so I don’t see a need to turn this into some big debate on your blog.

    If you had read my post, you would have seen that I address the issue of killing newborn babies. I concede that it might have to be permitted by my standard. Unlike you, I do not begin by assuming all of my conclusions and then collect arguments and citations that support those conclusions.

    I assume nothing.

    My conclusions are rooted in Western culture, Western morality, and the laws under which we live. I would take it a step further and suggest that the taking of innocent life has been condemned in all cultures, across the board, everywhere since the beginning of human history. Short of war and religious crusades, this is absolutely true on a cultural level. You Leftists try to deracinate society with your perversions and pseudo-philosophoical nonsense.

    It’s also somewhat telling that you aren’t paused, even for a second, by the reality that your cruel, disgusting worldview would allow the selective slaughter of born children. Among Leftists, the distinction between “born” and “unborn” is not as important as is claimed. You people don’t care because ideology takes precedent – even over human life. This is abundantly clear by reviewing the Leftist regimes that have existed throughout human history.

    I started by thinking about the situations in which we might tend to find killing acceptable (self-defense, meat-eating, pest-control) and the situations in which we tend to find it unacceptable (cold-blooded murder, purposeless violence to animals especially seemingly intelligent animals) and then tried to tease out the rationale behind these categorizations (remembering that intuition isn’t perfect and if I had no good reason that was grounds for reconsidering)

    You trying to liken non-human animals to human beings and failing miserably. If you’re unable to perceive the moral difference between human beings and mosquitoes – aside from level of ability – then I cannot help you.

    It seems to me that we are more hesitant to kill things the more aware they are (and thus the more aware of suffering they are and the more they are capable of desiring to live). This is consistent with a very basic sort of utilitarianism I think everyone implicitly agrees with – happiness means “that feeling we’d like to have more of” and sadness is “that feeling we don’t like having.” Killing a mouse in a mouse trap is more acceptable than slaughtering cows, which is more acceptable than killing Koko the gorilla, etc.

    This is absolutely false on every level. Judging by my saunter through Kroger last night, I’d say we’re not anymore hesitant to kill cows, chicken, pigs, and fish than we are mice. Killing both are acceptable. Killing Koko the gorilla is not because gorillas are not used, in our culture, for sustenance, and they human-like qualities. For instance, are you familiar with the Heikegani crab? Do you know why their shell has a human appearance? Look it up.

    At the same time, if your life is in danger, you are completely entitled to defend yourself by killing the person endangering you if necessary. I hope this notion is not controversial, but I can defend it if you like.

    Is the unborn child packing a piece of something? No. So this argument is only useful when abortion is used to prevent the death of the mother.

    One thing this means is that abortion ought to be available for women whose lives are threatened by their pregnancies.

    Yes. I said that above.

    The other implication is that abortion is more morally acceptable earlier on in the pregnancy and less acceptable later.

    No it doesn’t mean that at all.

    It’s convenient to your ideology for you to believe there is some great moral debate over the killing of cows, a highly sentient animal. But, in fact, there isn’t. We slaughter cows, chicken, and pigs every single day in this society. We also slaughter deer, moose, bear, and innumerable other animals. Sometimes for sport, but most of the time for sustenance. I see no degree of acceptability. I see, merely, acceptability.

    We can cut through the rest of your B.S. with this simple fact alone:

    Even though an adult cow is more sentient than a newborn baby, the law protects the newborn baby. That shatters your argument deftly. Because in this society, humanity, not sentience, is what matters.

    “I find this outrageous” is not actually a logical argument against mine.

    It shows how ridiculous you are and how far we could take things by your argument alone. Your argument could be used to support things that would turn this society into something unlike the world has ever known. It would be the most disgusting, putrid, vile excuse for civilization that has ever existed. We’d be killing newborns, slaughtering grandma, and worshiping chickens. The ridiculousness of that which you support is the only argument I require. I don’t need to get into some great philosophical debate, pointing out your contradictions, in order to show its irrationality.

    I actually have no idea what your actual argument is, if it is not that anything with human DNA must have the full moral quality of a conscious human person. (Do you think acorns are identical to oak trees? And so on.)

    Are you back to denying the humanity of unborn children again? Are you so ashamed of argument thus far that you’re back to the typical Leftist tactic of being anti-science?

    In principle, there is no difference between an acorn and an oak tree; a chicken and an egg; The is a clear developmental difference, however. But conferring worth upon these organisms is directly related to the kind of organism it is. In this society, humanity is worth something, the developmental ability of the individual human aside. So you actually attempt to rest your argument on a worthless, apple-to-tulip comparison.

    So, guess what? You lose.

  19. Terrance H. says:

    Rushing out the door does nothing for clarity. Let me highlight a few points.

    1).Prior to 1973, the taking of innocent human life was condemned in Western culture since the inception of Western culture, with few exceptions, regardless the ability of the innocent to conceptualize its own worth.

    2). The conferring of worth upon an organism is directly related to the type of organism it is, not the capability of the organism. Example: Adult cows are more sentient and capable than human newborns, yet newborns are protected whereas cows are not.

    Related to 2) is 3). The acceptability of ending life is not generally related to the sentience of the life in question.

    4). Humanity has inherent moral value because the manifestations of humanity have value (e.g., eradicating disease).

    And related to 4). is 5). Eschewing human value by ignoring human dignity renders worthless every code we live by, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All of which are grounded in the simple truth that human beings have intrinsic value and dignity.

    You should have forgone the discussion and saved yourself the embarrassment of failing to recognize the disastrous results your ideology would create. But Leftists never consider the ramifications of their cruel ideology, evidenced by its continued existence.

  20. Terrance H. says:

    I didn’t immediately realize the following statement upon reading your argument the first time. I merely skimmed it, since it started out being the same pseudo-philosophical balderdash pro-choicers always come up with.

    It’s true that your entire argument is gutted by the simple fact that humanity has intrinsic value and must if we are to remain a somewhat civilized species. But I would like to respond to the following foolishness nonetheless.

    Killing a small undifferentiated lump of cells is analogous to skinning your knee or swatting a gnat (both cases in which small numbers of living cells die). Killing an embryo in its very early stages might be more like flushing a goldfish down the toilet.

    You are again comparing a genetically distinct, intrinsically valuable human being to various parts of another genetically distinct, intrinsically valuable human being. You’re also comparing an intrinsically valuable organism – i.e., a human being – to an organism that is not intrinsically valuable. Neither is an apples-to-apples comparison.

  21. noforbiddenquestions says:

    Oh, Terrance, it’s so cute how you started out by saying it would take you 60 seconds to dismantle my arguments completely, and then you left three separate comments answering me over the course of about an hour and a half.

    You are not even making actual arguments against what I am saying. You are just repeating what I said and being flabbergasted by it. You’re right, I do not think there is a moral difference between a human blastocyst and a mosquito. Why do you think there is one? “One is human and one is not!” is a descriptive claim that is true, but it is not an explanation of why that fact carries moral weight. (Of course I do see a distinction between a human child and a mosquito, because I see a gradient of moral weight during development. You are the one trying to paint a tiny clump of cells and a newborn baby with the same brush, not me.) You’re right that we have more laws protecting human newborns than protecting cows, but this is an “is” statement rather than an “ought” statement, and it also neglects the fact that we do have laws protecting cows. (Also, you may not find hunting or meat-eating morally controversial, but there is controversy about both of those things in society at large, and rightly so. If I were to stoop to your level in this conversation I might well echo your words and call you “cruel” and “disgusting” for finding these things so plainly acceptable.)

    You make several weak attempts to warrant your assertion that humanity has intrinsic value over all other species, so that it’s perfectly fine for us to slaughter any other animal of our choosing for fun and games but are barbarians if we terminate the development of a just-fertilized human egg. They all ultimately boil down to is/ought fallacies or simply circular restatement of the conclusion you are trying to draw. Simply repeating “humans are intrinsically valuable” over and over again with no deeper analysis of that statement is not enough to convince any intelligent person that abortion is categorically morally wrong. (For example: why does the value of human life mean that we should only concern ourselves with the simple existence of a life, rather than factoring in the expected quality of that life? And: does the value of human life mean that every person is morally obligated to have as many children as physically possible in their lifetime, because to do less is to reduce the total amount of goodness in the world?)

    It is not really my goal here to convince any of you to become personally pro-choice. I am simply trying to show that there can be a thoughtful, respectful discussion to be had on the nuances of various hot-button liberal vs. conservative disagreements. Meanwhile, you all have done an excellent job of illustrating why liberals are more likely to throw in the towel and unfriend conservatives on social networking sites. Here is a sampling of things that have been written to/at/about me in this one single discussion:
    - contrasting me with “good people”
    - “Reason is lost on you”
    - “I pray that God will give me the compassion to pity you instead of despise you.”
    - “silly” at least twice
    - “You lose” at least three times
    - “I would have rather attached my ***EDIT*** to a boat anchor than read that pseduo-philosophical bore.”
    - “You put a dress on nonsense and called it a dame…”
    - “your brutal ideology”
    - “ridiculous” at least four times
    - “the blood thirst of the left”
    - “Try your sophistry on someone else.”
    - “your asinine rationalization”
    - “face palmingly stupid”
    - “You might as well forgo the discussion and save yourself the embarrassment.”
    - “your perversions and pseudo-philosophoical [sic] nonsense”
    - “your cruel, disgusting worldview”
    - “cut through the rest of your B.S.”
    - “the most disgusting, putrid, vile excuse for civilization that has ever existed”
    - “the typical Leftist tactic of being anti-science” [Particularly ironic; see climate change, evolution...]
    - “Leftists never consider the ramifications of their cruel ideology”
    - “the same pseudo-philosophical balderdash pro-choicers always come up with”
    - “foolishness”
    It’s interesting to note that not only are these personal insults and attacks that divide the conversation with an “us vs. them” mentality and shut down respectful and nuanced dialog, but they also include a few specific directions that I ought to give up and leave the discussion immediately. It is strange, then, that you all seem to be upset that liberals are doing exactly what you tell them to do. I’ll take the hint, then, and leave you all to your echo chamber on this one. Have fun discussing how cruel and disgusting I am, and comparing what you would like to attach your ***EDIT***s to.

  22. Terrance H. says:

    It’s appropriate to quote Winston Churchill. It’s always exhilarating to be shot at without result.

    Oh, Terrance, it’s so cute how you started out by saying it would take you 60 seconds to dismantle my arguments completely, and then you left three separate comments answering me over the course of about an hour and a half.

    I dismantled your argument in 60 seconds, I assure you. But I felt it necessary to elaborate, clarify, and clear things up because you have shown thus far an inability to comprehend opposing arguments. Based on this most recent reply, I wasn’t clear enough.

    You are not even making actual arguments against what I am saying. You are just repeating what I said and being flabbergasted by it.

    I have made numerous arguments dismantling your pseudo-philosophical hogwash, but you’re apparently unable to understand them. You talk about “is/ought” fallacies without realizing that you have not once explained why things “ought” to be the way you say. I have explained why your argument is impractical. Whether right or wrong – which is subjective anyway – it cannot work.

    You’re right, I do not think there is a moral difference between a human blastocyst and a mosquito. Why do you think there is one? “One is human and one is not!” is a descriptive claim that is true, but it is not an explanation of why that fact carries moral weight.

    The worth of an organism – as I have already explained – is related to the type of organism it is rather than its abilities. Your logic dictates that a functionally mature virus should be held in higher regard than a newborn baby, since the virus is, per the abilities of its species, able to do more. Absurd.

    (Of course I do see a distinction between a human child and a mosquito, because I see a gradient of moral weight during development. You are the one trying to paint a tiny clump of cells and a newborn baby with the same brush, not me.)
    ….
    why does the value of human life mean that we should only concern ourselves with the simple existence of a life, rather than factoring in the expected quality of that life?

    Your logic is reminiscent of social Darwinism, for crying out loud. I have explained why it’s necessary for human beings to have intrinsic value. Without it, society cannot function. Because if our value is transitory, then the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would be worthless. Each person’s value would then be tied to their ability, and should that ability be lost, their life would be worthless and unworthy of protection.

    That you are unable to comprehend that this would allow tyranny to take hold is why I regard you as nothing more than a pseudo-intellectual, blood thirsty muttonhead.

    You’re right that we have more laws protecting human newborns than protecting cows, but this is an “is” statement rather than an “ought” statement, and it also neglects the fact that we do have laws protecting cows.

    Are you talking about sanitary guidelines? These laws don’t protect cows or speak to their value. Not in America, anyway. Don’t believe me? Go to Burger King. I recommend the number 1.

    (Also, you may not find hunting or meat-eating morally controversial, but there is controversy about both of those things in society at large, and rightly so. If I were to stoop to your level in this conversation I might well echo your words and call you “cruel” and “disgusting” for finding these things so plainly acceptable.)

    95% of the population consumes meat, so the controversy is barely audible. If you want to call me cruel for just having eaten a Big Mac, be my guest. But then be sure to explain why those animals should have intrinsic value.

    You make several weak attempts to warrant your assertion that humanity has intrinsic value over all other species, so that it’s perfectly fine for us to slaughter any other animal of our choosing for fun and games but are barbarians if we terminate the development of a just-fertilized human egg.

    In what universe is it appropriate to believe that you have explained why humans should not possess intrinsic value? You’ve yet to counter my arguments with anything substantial. You keep saying they’re weak, but don’t explain why.

    You’re a pathetically ridiculous person, so if telling the truth is being intolerant, then so be it.

    It’s been clear for a while now that you have absolutely nothing substantial to add to this discussion. You say your arguments are thoughtful, but they aren’t. They’re ridiculous, impractical, and irrelevant to the reality we find ourselves living.

    Also, you’re apparently unaware of the fact that you’re arguing your support for abortion from an “ought to be” standpoint, which is why I continue to say it’s irrelevant. So don’t accuse me of the “is/ought” fallacy for merely pointing out your folly.

    Now run along, child.

  23. Marshall Art says:

    I am more interested in NFQ’s conclusion after listing so-called personal insults. Apparently, it is OK to present the least rational, least intelligent, least serious comment and demand it be regarded as equal to most rational, intelligent and serious comments. (This is not to say NFQ’s comments qualify for any of the “least” categories per se) This is the typical progression: calm exchange leading eventually to frustration or exasperation by one side or the other. Generally, the left presents exasperating arguments that are expected to be profound, but are seen for their shallowness and self-serving nature, regardless of the intention of the lefty involved. Then, the right-winger’s exasperation manifests and the lefty splits without ever really defending the exasperating position. In other words, why isn’t your arguments any of the following:

    - contrasting me with “good people”
    - “Reason is lost on you”
    - “I pray that God will give me the compassion to pity you instead of despise you.”
    - “silly” at least twice
    - “You lose” at least three times
    - “I would have rather attached my ***EDIT*** to a boat anchor than read that pseduo-philosophical bore.”
    - “You put a dress on nonsense and called it a dame…”
    - “your brutal ideology”
    - “ridiculous” at least four times
    - “the blood thirst of the left”
    - “Try your sophistry on someone else.”
    - “your asinine rationalization”
    - “face palmingly stupid”
    - “You might as well forgo the discussion and save yourself the embarrassment.”
    - “your perversions and pseudo-philosophoical [sic] nonsense”
    - “your cruel, disgusting worldview”
    - “cut through the rest of your B.S.”
    - “the most disgusting, putrid, vile excuse for civilization that has ever existed”
    - “the typical Leftist tactic of being anti-science” [Particularly ironic; see climate change, evolution...]
    - “Leftists never consider the ramifications of their cruel ideology”
    - “the same pseudo-philosophical balderdash pro-choicers always come up with”
    - “foolishness”

    I tend to defend myself against similar comments from my lefty opponents rather than pout and go home. I tend to demand explanations for the accusation if one hasn’t been already offered afterwards. “My argument is stupid? Why? Where am I going wrong? What sources can you cite to support your side?”

    • noforbiddenquestions says:

      Fair enough, Marshall. I think Terrance thought he *was* explaining to me where I was going wrong, but as I said repeatedly, I found his comments to be simply making assertions rather than presenting arguments. I did not think that asking him to elaborate on why I was being “pseudo-philosophical,” “foolish,” “asinine,” or “cruel” would result in greater understanding for me. I do not see why my standpoint is any of those things, but if you would like to try to explain it to me, I would welcome the chance for enlightenment.

      I’m also curious what you think the proper response would be to statements like “You might as well forgo the discussion,” “You lose,” and other apparent attempts to end the conversation. I feel like at that point I can’t win: either I continue to badger the person for an explanation, in which case I am annoying and thick-headed, or I do what they are telling me to do and leave the conversation, at which point the fact that I “split” is taken as a concession.

  24. Terrance H. says:

    Marshal,

    I’ll set my frustration aside for a second. She is not a stupid person, but she continues to try and defend an inherently indefensible position. The pro-choice philosophy cannot be justified.

    She openly accuses me of the “is/ought” fallacy without realizing the contradiction of arguing her support for abortion – an act that takes place in this reality – from an “ought to be standpoint.”

    Originally, the ability of the child to feel pain was the threshold she chose. I explained that because human beings have intrinsic value under the codes by which we live by – in America, anyway – such a threshold is trumped, rendered nothing more than a philosophical point of view that is not binding. She then moved the goalposts, as liberals are known to do when they’re losing an argument, and demanded to know why human beings should have intrinsic value. I offered an explanation and she has chosen to deny its existence, accusing me of asserting without explaining. She has no response which is why she continues this end-around tactic.

    So, I wouldn’t encourage her.

  25. Terrance H. says:

    The idea that life has intrinsic value is a religious, generally Christian, point of view. Atheists feel compelled to reject the idea. Should they ever find themselves living in a society that holds human life in such low regard, they’ll change their tune.

    A major contradiction of the Left is that they manage to be utilitarian and hedonists at the same time.

  26. Terrance H. says:

    I’m going to explain my argument one final time.

    If you think value should be tied to ability, you haven’t given the issue much thought.

    If the value of a person’s life is tied to their ability, the door to tyranny is opened. People not deemed able-enough or people who lose ability could be exploited by others. Their equality would no longer be self-evident and they would be slaves whose value is tied to the expected output of their service.

    To explain it another way, consider the following:

    You are not the smartest person in the world. You are not the most physically fit person in the world. You can’t jump the highest. You can’t run the fastest. There exists some person whose abilities are greater than yours. Knowing that, answer these questions:

    1). Does that person’s life have more value than yours?

    2). Should your life be traded for their life?

    “No” would be the answer sane people give to both questions. So if you’re sane, you accept that human life has intrinsic value. You don’t accept that human life has transitory value, hence you cannot tie worth to ability.

    Speciesim

    Rational people would not choose to allow a newborn baby to die so that a functionally mature virus may live, even though, at present, the virus has more ability per the boundaries of its species. So if you’re rational, you’re a speciesist. You may feel a moral obligation to respect the life of non-human animals, but you still assign greater value to human life – and rightfully so.

    The characteristics of human life is why it has intrinsic value. You could list a hundred specific characteristics that make human life valuable. One could be the human ability for moral action (e.g. respecting the life of non-human animals). Each person may not possess the ability, but so what? It’s specific to the human species. It is part of our nature. If you judge individual worth by the presence of a characteristic you deem valuable, you’ve gone full-circle. You now accept transitory value. So ask yourself again:

    1). Does another’s life have more value than yours?

    2). Should your life be traded for their life?

    If you’re rational, your answer is a resounding “NO” to both questions.

    Believing in transitory value would be like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders (to borrow an oft-used phrase). So this is why your argument is pseudo-philosophy. Unless your irrational, you wouldn’t accept its manifestation impugning your worth.

    It’s also impractical and, as I’ve said, totally irrelevant to the reality we find ourselves living, since we live in a society in which the worth of a person – their equality – is self-evident.

    So to support abortion, you must deny the humanity of unborn children. Which presents yet another problem for you. And you certainly cannot argue the personal autonomy of the woman, since you’ve already admitted – perhaps unknowingly – that you don’t believe personal autonomy is absolute. But even if you thought it was, the law does not believe it (e.g. laws against selling organs for profit, et cetera…).

    All of this should have been self-evident. I think it probably was, but the Leftist ideology requires the use of obstructionist tactics. So I know you have nothing substantial to add, but I wanted to clarify for other readers.

    Peace.

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  1. [...] Within the DNA of far-Leftism (herein, “Leftism”) is an unwillingness to accept dissent of any kind. Surveys of social networking users have shown that  of the various political classifications, those… [...]

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