Let’s Start with Assholes

Too much of our punditry on both sides, and especially in the independent media, are assholes.  People who would rather be right than happy.  People with a list of self-justifying facts who believe that dominant rhetoric means that you are right, or that you win.  The youtube videos say it in their titles: so and so destroyed by thus and such.  Logic, but at the level taught in 10th grade geometry.  If, then, therefore.  The proofs that made me feel for the first time like I was good at something in the math classroom.

And so we have these men–and look at the preponderance of talking heads–pursue the goal of male conversation in this culture, which is to use conversation and social interaction to establish hierarchy.  (See Deborah Tannen’s research).  Look at the alt-right’s obsession with Alpha and Beta men, figuring out who is what, and wringing their hands over falling in the Beta category.

So you have some smart-enough voice on one side or the other, and they have their 10th grade definition of logic (which, to be fair, has its place) and this need to be right.  To destroy someone else’s argument.  And it isn’t even about the argument, or the outcome, or the impact, it is about a death match of the markers of intellect without the understanding that true intellect is curious, self-reflective, and wonders what it is that you get when you win.  Here, the premise of the argument is defined tribally, the self-proclaimed incisive intellect is only ever turned outward, and winning gets you…  nothing.

The collective behavior can be summed up in a single term:  asshole.

My older sister is raising a spectrum-likely kid, heavy on one kind of intelligence and light on the intelligence that brings you to empathy or to value consensus.  He knows everything at 8 and is determined to be heard.  She finally told him if he interrupts, if he doesn’t allow for the possibility that someone else may have information that he doesn’t have, everyone is going to think he is an asshole, and they will be right.

Liberals make assholes too, but not as many because the starting point for the liberal world view is necessarily self-critical and is generally curious, if only curious in one direction.

Rule number one in my world is to not be an asshole.  I wish more people started there.

Let’s Start with Assholes

2 thoughts on “Let’s Start with Assholes

  1. “Rule number one in my world is to not be an asshole. I wish more people started there.”

    Is it? Or do you justify assholeishness by clinging to your sense of rightness as you did in your “sister” post?

    Your posts seem on the emotional ragged edge to me. If this is not helpful, I can stop writing.


  2. Aren’t many of us feeling a little ragged emotionally? Meanwhile, no one said that disagreements have to be conducted by being an asshole. Or that I was an asshole to my sister.


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