Tuesday, August 7, 2012

They think you're stupid


People who take politics seriously, who have strong opinions about political issues, more or less universally think anyone who has a differing opinion is stupid.

We tend to believe that we arrive at our political views by examining the facts and drawing logical conclusions from those facts. We think that people who don’t know the facts we are working with are ignorant, and people who know these facts (perhaps because we have just pointed them out) who persist in having a different opinion – well, the only explanation must be that they can’t think logically. In other words, they are stupid.

A lot of people have analyzed political opinions and how people come to have the opinions that they do and have determined that facts and logic have precious little to do with it. But even those who agree with these analyses – and I do – can’t really help themselves when confronted with someone who stubbornly persists in disagreeing with us.

We feel compelled to share our facts with them. And we can’t help ourselves from thinking that the person we’re arging with is stupid when they don’t immediately agree with us. Even when we know that this person is not actually stupid. (Well, some people are stupid, often by choice or laziness, but the majority of human beings are not, in fact, stupid. In my opinion.)

Liberals and conservatives seem to be equal opportunity offenders here. Conservative commentators call liberals “libtards” as often as possible. Liberals love this right-winger’s sign so much that “moran” is the liberal in-joke for stupid conservative.

Get a Brain Moran Pictures, Images and Photos

But what seems to be different is that conservatives seem to take this back and forth much more seriously. There’s real anger, real emotion, about being called stupid by those who think differently. While liberals are more, eh whatever, when called a libtard, for example.

Why? Liberals don’t have a constant drumbeat of “conservatives think you’re stupid” poured into their ears. If you’re a liberal who’s not passionate about politics to the point of reading conservative blogs, comments on YouTube, etc (to see what the other side is up to, ya know), you’ve probably never even heard the term libtard.

On the other hand, there seems to be no end to it in the conservative mainstream media. Fox news, talk radio. It’s constant. Liberals think they’re better than you. They think you’re ignorant, stupid, hicks.

I got to thinking what this does to a person, constantly being told that there are a lot of people who think you’re stupid. Those people, those right over there, your neighbor with the sign for the Democratic candidate in their yard, your co-worker who makes the case for conserving energy and abortion rights (clearly a liberal). They think you’re stupid. So you’re told. And told, and told, and told, and told.

Isn’t it kind of like an abusive husband, who repeatedly tells his wife something like, “Most people think you’re ugly. They make fun of how fat you are behind your back.” But then he’ll say, “But not me. I see your inner beauty. I like a woman with a little meat on her bones. No skinny chicks for me!”

It’s classic manipulativeness. Make her feel worthless and bad, and then make sure she knows the only relief from how bad she is feeling is you. If she doesn’t feel worthless and bad, if she really felt beautiful (inside or out) she might run off with someone else. It’s about power. It’s about control.

Otherwise, why tell her the bad things other people are saying? If you really love her, if you really see her inner beauty and that’s what matters to you, if you really prefer a woman to be voluptuous rather than looking like an emaciated fashion model, why not just say, “Wow honey, you are so hot!” Why preface that with the nasty things “other people” say?

So why don’t conservative anchors on Fox news and conservative talk show hosts just say, “This conservative proposal is better. Here’s why. The liberal ideas on this are wrong. Here’s why.”

Why the need to always present it as, well, of course, you know that (insert conservative proposal here) is better, but the liberals – who think you’re stupid - want to do (insert liberal proposal here).

Except to insinuate in their viewers’ and listeners’ minds that they are, in fact, stupid. Or at least to make them doubt themselves. When you’re told over and over that a lot of people think you’re stupid (or ugly) doesn’t that plant the seed somewhere in your mind that maybe they’re right? So that it feels really good when the person that just told you that other people think you’re stupid, says, “But I don’t!”

[posted on 11/26/10]

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