Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Tell us how you really feel

Recently I've seen so much political bickering surrounding people defending the behavior of political figures they like when they have (or would have) condemned the same behavior from people they don't like.

You know what I'd really like to see? I'd like to see these folks presented with a piece of news, but have it misrepresented as a different political figure's actions. Then see what kind of fury and outrage they spit when they think it's not something one of their darlings did. See what kinds of condemnations and justifications they come up with. Then reveal that actually it was behavior exhibited by someone they support and see what changes.

You know what, though? It wouldn't help.

Because just as much as they excuse and defend terrible behavior for people they like, they exaggerate and demonize the actions of people they don't like. As soon as they hear it was done by someone they do like, they start fumbling for a reason why THAT person is justified in behaving like that but it's intolerable when their opponent does it.

I've seen this frequently in expressions of bigotry, too.

I've had conversations where someone I know is claiming that an entire group behaves a certain way because that's just how they are, and they take any presentation of people framed in a terrible light to represent their actual real-life culture, but when they see someone of a different group they already have established positive opinions of behaving that way, these exposures do not change how they think of those people. This happens with race and with religion. With politics and with orientation. With gender and with education and ability. Those people aren't like us and we haven't had much exposure to them? Well, any negative presentation of them is probably true. Those people who ARE like us are getting tarred and feathered in the media? We know it's not because they're like us.

What I really hate about bigotry and confirmation bias is how fiercely people WANT to believe terrible things about people they don't know. Doesn't matter if your politician did something awful; it's not that big a deal and the other guy's worse so let's talk about that. Doesn't matter if it affects YOUR life not in the slightest if people believe or disbelieve stereotypes about another culture; we need to reinforce these gross portrayals with uncritical belief because ~well it's THE TRUTH so we have to talk about it~. Doesn't matter if everyone of this gender that you're friends with is cool; you know overall that OTHER GENDER is by and large inferior to yours, and examples to the contrary are exceptions, not indications that the rule itself is flawed.

We learn from experience and we make decisions emotionally and there is nothing wrong with that. What infuriates me is the absolute refusal by people who think they're reasonable to apply actual reason to the situations. Hold your own people to the same standards you hold the opposition. Have some basic integrity when you evaluate why you support and reject what you do. Ask yourself whether you would really excuse someone's behavior or vilify them categorically if you found out the person you're talking about is on the other team. If your mind (and your research) immediately jumps to justify the opinion you already hold, that's an example: if you find yourself searching for a reason why what your boy did must be okay or why what their boy did must be bad when you would've flip-flopped in another context, you're operating from a fundamentally dishonest position and I know I can't trust anything you say, even if I agree with it.

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