Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sometimes it's hard to be polite...

In life, it is important not to be too judgmental. Naturally, there will be people that you don’t get along with. There will also be whole groups of individuals who you’ll be inclined to dismiss, scorn, and/or ridicule. It is usually best, I think, to quash those urges. Give into them too often and you become one of those dickweeds at the family barbeque, spouting off about how the liberals are ruining this country or how Albanians eat too many onions or how feminists are bad because they fail to shave their armpits on the rigorous schedule that you demand. This kind of thing is fine for dull people who need a little rage to make their lives seem worthwhile, but most people should strive to stay out of that trap. The world is a complex place and any safe, simple categories you construct will be immediately slapped down by reality in all its amazing diversity.

That being said, allow me to confess that I’ve got no time for libertarians.

You know what a libertarian is? A libertarian is a Republican who’s read too much science fiction. A libertarian is that guy (because, seemingly, they’re all guys) who will provoke an argument with you at the drop of a hat, only to declare himself the victor five minutes later because you haven’t read some obscure Belgian’s economic treatise and so you obviously can’t have anything intelligent to say about market forces. A libertarian is the sort of dude who will proclaim himself in favor of all sorts of hedonism and debauchery, yet will blanch like a Victorian abbott at the decadence on display at your average outstate Ruby Tuesday’s. Libertarians operate under the impression that their beliefs are too profound and subtle to be accepted by the common run of dumb people, which conveniently shields them from nagging doubts that their beliefs may be as error-ridden and prejudiced as anyone’s. Libertarians sometimes run for public office, but they never win. No one wants to elect some guy who’s only in it for himself. The libertarians who are wise enough to be ashamed of John Stossel are seldom wise enough to be ashamed of Ayn Rand or Rush.

If I hear someone say that they’re a libertarian, I immediately think: Oh Christ, I’ve got to get away from this jackass... Most days, I’d rather have my balls chewed on by a pack of wily otters than have a discussion with a libertarian. I suppose I’m a bigot when it comes to libertarians. If you are reading this and you’re a thoughtful, generous, modest and civic-minded libertarian, I apologize. I’m a dick. There’s really no excuse for me.

But do you want to know another group that really gets on my nerves? People who think that the September 11th attacks were a United States government conspiracy. I mean, that’s just asinine.

Conspiracy theorists have a powerful urge to consider themselves “clued in”, they need to see themselves as possessors of insight and knowledge that the naive masses of sheep-like, official-story-accepting drones cannot handle. They cling to minute scraps of pseudo-fact and ignore their own common sense. They take coincidence as pattern and don’t blink at dismissing actual patterns as fiendishly-clever C.I.A. diversionary schemes. They find it hard to believe that cave-dwelling fanatics could execute such a complex operation, but apparently consider it reasonable that a state bureaucracy could do the same thing to its own people, manage to pin it on a bunch of cave-dwelling fanatics, and have none of the thousands of people that would have to be involved in such an plan ever spill a single detail to anyone. Occasionally, a few claim to be interested in evidence, but usually they’re just interested in exaggerating whatever evidence might prove them right and minimizing the vast amounts of evidence that suggests that they’re just wasting their time. With a great many conspiracy theorists, there is nothing forensic about it: it’s all ideology. The United States destroyed the World Trade Center because that’s what the United States does. The United States is bad, ergo everything bad that happens in the world can be traced back to it’s deviousness. This is not a quest for truth. This is demonology, plain and simple.

Like libertarianism, it’s distressing that so many intelligent people choose to spend their energies this way.

I could go on and on. But I'm done ranting for now.