A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Friday, November 16, 2007

Never Misunderestimate the Backlash

People often seem to take a twisted pleasure in taking an overstated position and completely embracing a similarly overstated opposition to that position. I suppose it's part of human nature to want to "one up" the other guy. Or something.

Anyway, case in point is the global warming issue. Some of the proponents of radical change are SUPER HUGELY SERIOUSLY AND MOST DEFINITELY CERTAIN THAT WE MUST CHANGE NOW OR BE IN BIG BIG BIG TROUBLE MISTER! Regardless of the economic, societal and political consequences of those radical changes. A rational response to this might be to try and weigh the consequences of climate change vs. the consequences of preventing/fixing climate change.

Alternatively you can ridicule those who disagree with you and advocate the use of cars with bad gas mileage, leaving your lights on for no purpose and generally being a complete A-hole simply because you can be. Which is basically cutting off your nose to spite your face.

In other words stupid. And the growing concern I have over the polarization of politics, culture, the media, education and just about everything else. The spectrum of positions and ideas on a particular issue seems to be disappearing in far too many cases, replaced by knee-jerk reactions and extreme intractability.

Doubt global warming if you want and question the extreme measures advocated by some global warming alarmists (I certainly do), but don't do things that promote global warming just to be a jerk. What harm is there to turning off unneeded lights? What downside is there to using packaging that is more environmentally friendly? Why not keep your thermostat set a little warmer in the summer and a little cooler in the winter? Why not provide incentives to industry to be more fuel efficient and less polluting?

Honestly, the middle-ground isn't such a bad place. Compromise is not a dirty word, nor does it mean those that broker it have no conviction or backbone.

Extreme measures nearly inevitably bring about extreme reactions. And quite frankly extremism may be the most dangerous thing in the world right now-- because it seems to be clouding the judgments of nearly everyone.

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Sometimes that middle ground is very hard to find, especially when one who doubts the legitimacy of the global warming proponents gets lumped in with Holocaust deniers.

I would like to say we're at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.

You say you doubt "global warming ... and question the extreme measures advocated by some global warming alarmists." According to Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe, though, that makes you equivalent to a Holocaust denier. Shame on any of us who dare to violate that article of the P.C. code.

When I see a backlash as you describe, I'm really not surprised. People get fed-up with having their legitimate questions about an alleged scientific consensus being thrown aside, only to be attacked and labeled as equivalent to those such as Ahmadinejad (yet strangely enough, unlike scientists who question global warming, Ahmadinejad gets to speak at Columbia).

Here's another one, not related to global warming, but it won't get much attention, primarily because it is on the wrong end of the P.C. backlash. A high-school kid has been suspended for saying the dreaded "N word." Nope, not that "N word." He said the word noose. Do you think this might be a backlash for the Jena 7?

Travis Grigsby loves playing drums, but he and his friend Alex Coday weren't able to play for two weeks after they were suspended. It started after the band's performance at a football game. Some kids on the drum line said they were talking about the best knots to use to tie up the drum equipment.

"Someone asked if anybody knew how to tie a noose and Travis did admit he knew how to tie a noose," Kim Grigsby said.

Travis' mom said her son is almost an Eagle Scout, he knew how to tie it, but told his friends he wouldn't because you could get in trouble for that. Later, a black student on the drum line told the teacher he was offended.

"Travis was accused of using a racial slur for saying the word 'noose.' Then he was suspended for 10 days," Kim said.

But if you think that all of that is something, wait until the backlash that comes from the next terror attack. Now that will be something to write about.
I worry very much about the backlash from the next terror attack, Mojo. Scares the beejezus out of me if I think about it too much, frankly. The attack itself will be horrific enough, but the resulting crackdown and "vigilantism"... well, I hope I'm wrong. But I am not surprised by the backlash, either.

Actually, finding the middle ground isn't all that hard-- but it's a tough place to hang out these days because quite often you are disparaged by people on both extremes. And these days, an awful lot of people have polarized to one or the other of the extremes.

Ellen Goodman thinks I'm comparable to a Holocaust denier because I'd like to think through the ramifications of proposed "anti-warming" efforts. Tim Blair thinks I'm a Leftwing moonbat because I believe increased fuel standards on cars might be a good idea. Neither side even bothers to listen to the other any more because the rhetoric is super-heated and compromise is considered tantamount to defeat.

Sigh. The noose thing is another ridiculous example-- there is no context considered, no weight given to the character or motivation of the "guilty" individual. I hate "No Tolerance" rules. And you guys know how I feel about hate, so you get the idea of how strongly I feel on this one.

Double sigh.
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