Dé Céadaoin, Nollaig 08, 2010

Slacktivist Shoutout: http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2008/10/false-witnesses-2.html

Yeah, I guess it's kind of old. But I just read it, so bear with me.

This post is largely about people trying to assure themselves of their own goodness by taking proud, ostentatious stands against things every sane person is against. It's similar I think to things that I've touched on a lot in my own thoughts and writings.

It reminded me of the death penalty debate, among other things, the way that DP supporters will piously declare that they motivated by empathy for murder victims, while suggesting that DP opponents must not care about the victims. And of course the premise that it is impossible to mourn a murder victim without screaming for the killers head is known to be false. Relatives of the victim after all, parents, spouses, siblings, who indisputably love their dead, have often called for the killers life to be spared for one reason or the other.

So support for the death penalty seems a pretty obvious way of upping the moral ante for the morally insecure. If you convince yourself that it is impossible to oppose murder without opposing the death penalty, then an obvious given suddenly becomes something exceptional and heroic.

And we Americans live in a culture that is both highly competitive and deeply moralistic. We are raised to believe that exceptional and heroic is the basic minimum standard of what we should strive to be; and so this anti-kitten burning pseudo-morality could be applied to any number of other issues as well. In this we are surely not alone.

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