Your Lyin’ Eyes

SCENE: Mitch BERG is standing, socially distanced, in line at the Q-Fanatic Barbeque in South Minneapolis. Focused on the smell of the delicious brisket, he’s caught by surprise as Avery LIBRELLE walks in behind him.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Oh, shhh….sure enough, it’s Avery. What’s new…

LIBRELLE: You wingnuts are paranoid. [Switches to that condescending coo-ing voice that “progressives” use as they parrot this particular chanting point] Nobody is coming for your guns.

BERG: Why do you say that?

LIBRELLE: You said the same scare tactic of Obama, and he never came for your guns.

BERG: Obama had some blue seats in red states to defend – had he let slip his inner id on guns, he’d have extincted them. Well, extincted them faster, because in a lot of America a “blue state Democrat” is a little like a “dodo bird driving an AMC Gremlin”.

LIBRELLE: So – he didn’t come for guns!

BERG: He was a lot of things, but not politically stupid.

LIBRELLE: Biden is even more centrist on the issue than Obama was. So no [switches back to the condescending coo-ing voice] Nobody’s coming for your guns.

BERG: So that’s your final answer.

LIBRELLE: Of course. Paranoid wingnut.

BERG: Got your phone handy?

LIBRELLE: I lost it. Let’s use yours.

BERG: Naturally. [Pulls up Joe Biden’s campaign site, scrolls down to paragraphs 6-10]. Go ahead and read that.

LIBRELLE: [Silently mouths the words]

BERG: Either you’re lying and he is coming for our guns, or he’s lying on his campaign website.

LIBRELLE: Well, of course he’s coming for…those guns.

BERG: So in one line, you’ve gone from [mocks the cooing tone] “nobody’s coming for your guns” to “we’re coming for the guns a bunch of people who don’t know the difference between a firing pin and a crochet needle think you don’t really need to have“. That was fast.

LIBRELLE: [Mocking tone] All right, you got me. Joe Biden’s gonna break into your house and take your guns.

BERG: So in two lines, we’ve gone from “Nobody’s taking your guns” to trying to mock me for catching in covering, badly, for your own lie.

LIBRELLE: Trump banned bump stocks.

BERG: Bad Trump. Don’t change the subject.

LIBRELLE: Hey, can you lend me ten bucks?

BERG: Why?

LIBRELLE: I need to run over and buy some spray paint to paint to paint “Meat is Murder” all over this place.

BERG: Ask them [BERG points a thumb toward unamused counter guy]

LIBRELLE: Oh, great idea. I…

But BERG has already left.

And SCENE.

Snappy Answers To Casual Gaslighting, Part V

“You should be voting in your ‘best interests'”

You mean, the “best interests” that gave voters Camden?

Stockton?

Detroit?

Newark?

New Orleans?

Baltimore?

Saint Louis?

DC?

North Minneapolis?

The destruction on Lake Street and University Avenue?

The carnage every summer in south Chicago?

Those “best interests?”

Just wanna be clear, here.

Snappy Answers To Casual Gaslighting, Part IV

“Check your privilege”

OK. Let’s check my privilege.

I grew up descended from people from an inhospitable place that nobody wanted to conquer and that nobody managed to enslave (or who managed to kill everyone that tried). My dominant culture has no experience of being enslaved – indeed, it abolished slavery hundreds of years before the rest of the world. It’s a “privilege” that every human in the world should have, and that I’m more than happy to share.

I grew up in a family where the parents stayed together (until we were all adults, anyway), and worked their butts off to give us a stable, loving upbringing where we were expected to grow up into productive, self-sufficient adults. My parents themselves were “privileged” with the same basic family structure, notwithstanding the Depression and World War 2.

Those are privileges I’m more than happy to spread to the whole world, and have nothing to do with my skin color.

I went to a public school system that was more concerned with teaching me to read, write, calculate, present myself, and reason than indoctrinating me in a view of society. It’s a “privilege” afford to very few these days.

I got a post-secondary education (thanks to my Mom working at the local college, with the commensurate tuition break) that focused on reason, logic and critical thought, rather than post-structural twaddle – not merely a “privilege”, but a decisive advantage in so many areas of my life.

Somewhere, I got a work ethic. I was blessed with ways to exercise it – for which I’m thankful. I’m more than happy to do my bit, and more, to make sure you get the same privilege.

I am a free person, with all the rights God endowed me, and all the responsibilities that position gives me. Freedom and responsibility are “privileges” I’ll fight to provide anyone who wants them, and against anyone who’ll deprive either of us of them.

In no case are those “privileges” zero-sum. My freedom takes nothing away from your freedom (that you’re not willing to give up, or at least pretend you’ve given up). And taking freedom away from others gives you no more; Germans, the Klan and Red Guards gained no freedom, no prosperity, no happiness from oppressing Jews, Afro-Americans or “counterrevolutionaries”; quite the opposite, in fact.

Freedom is the ultimate “privilege”. And it’s contagious, if you let it be. Try it, Sparky.

You are, of course, not referring to any of those. You are referring to the stretchy, sketchy concept of racial privilege which is in fact almost entirely a matter of class, not race, and is almost entirely an attempt to expiate White Progressive Guilt.

Snappy Answers To Casual Gaslighting, Part III

“If You’re Not Part Of The Solution, You’re Part Of The Problem”

People who use this statement always use it incompletely. I’ll do it again, filling in and emphasiing the words that are unstated but that actually define the statement.

“If you’re not part of the solution I’m demanding, you’re part of the problem that’s in my way“.

It’s incumbent on you to convince me – everyone – that your solution isn’t worse than the problem. If you are a socialist, if your “solution” can be shown via a rational argument based in fact to be worse than the problem you see, then you’re going to have a tough time of it.

And if you use statements like “If you’re not part of the solution…”, it’s going to be even tougher, because if you knew all that rational, factual, “convincing people” stuff, you wouldn’t have to resort to such twaddle.

Snappy Answers To Casual Gaslighting, Part II

“If You’re ‘On The Fence’, You’re Complicit”\

No. If I’m “on the fence on an issue”, then neither side has convinced me yet. “Better to be quiet and have people think you might be a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”.

And being considered a fool by anyone using a line like the star of today’s piece is at best irrelevant and at worst mutual.

Snappy Answers To Casual Gaslighting, Part I

“Silence is Violence”.

No. It’s not.

Silence – if you catch me silent at all – is me keeping my mouth shut while I figure out what I think, to say nothing of what I’m going to say. Your freedom of speech doesn’t give you the right to tell me what I’m going to say.

If your response to that is “there is only one thing to say”, and that’s to agree with your point of view – then most likely you’re trying to logroll and shame people into knocking off all that pesky thinking, and just acquiescing.[1] If your position is worthy, I may eventually agree with you. Not doing so, in and of itself, doesn’t make me the immoral one.

Logically, it’s Orwellian – silence is the opposite of violence. Morally, it’s worse than Orwellian.

If your response is “that’s how Germans reacted when Jews were getting hauled off” – well, there’s your opportunity to convince me that the issue we face is, actually, that clear-cut.

If it’s not? If there are some facets to the issue at hand over which reasonable people may debate?

If you were to tell a spouse or a significant other “if you’re not verbally acquiescing with my point of view, you are party to evil”, a therapist would call you an emotional abuser.

And they’d be right.

Logrolling is no substitute for a convincing argument.

Unfortunately, people using this form of logrolling, gaslighting chanting point aren’t trying to “convince”, and they’re not trying to provoke thought.