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Haters

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This is going to be something of a befuddled post, so I figure I’d better warn you from off.

Some of you already know that one of the movies I’m fascinated with is a thing called Shattered Glass.  This is a movie about the Stephen Glass incident at The New Republic where a young writer, the Glass of the title, fabricated a minimum  of 27 different articles at in whole or in part, and was later discovered to have done the same at half a dozen other magazines, including George, Policy Review and Harper’s.

I’m fascinated by this movie first and foremost because it is so ferociously well made.  You can watch it 40 times and still find things you hadn’t noticed before. 

What’s more, the more you watch it, the more you realize that the filmmakers are giving absolutely no slack to Glass, to the magazines, or to the people who worked there.  The first time you watch it, you get the feeling that Glass had them all fooled.  The third time you watch it, it’s glaringly clear that virtually everybody suspected what was going on, and nobody did anything about it because–well, because.

It would be convenient to be able to put it all down to politics, but at least half the fabricated pieces were not political in any way (the killer piece was on computer hackers), and some of them were hit jobs on Democrats and liberals.

But what has me thinking about the Glass movie this morning is something else:  the way in which Glass is portrayed as emotionally and ethically infantile in almost every way.

Let me repeat:  this is the opposite of a movie that’s making excuses for The New Republic.  As far as this movie is concerned, the magazine, its editors and its owner were entirely culpable.  They suspected, they  let it ride, and they would have gone on letting it ride if they hadn’t been found out by the online edition of Forbes.

But let me go back to the way Glass is portrayed, because infantile is certainly the word.

Note that “infantile” is not the same as “full of childlike innocense.”  Glass in this movie may be infantile, but he’s also a predatory con man who will do anything, say anything, and be anything to get where he wants to go.

But an infantileness, and especially the kind of infantileness it is, is an important point, and getting more important all the time.

It’s the infantileness of “haters.”

Let me be clear–I’m not talking about people who hate.

I’m talking about people who call other people–opponents of same sex marriage, maybe–“haters,” as if the word actually described something in the real world.

I’m not denying that there are some people who hate other people or things or ideas or whatever.

Such people do, of course, exist.

But I don’t think they exist in the sense in which people use the word “haters.”

The word itself is a kindergarten word, the word of someone with a highly restricted vocabulary and an even more highly restricted understanding of life. 

In the world of actual human beings, it is almost never the case that somebody just “hates” without a lot of other very complicated set of other things going on.

 What’s more, it’s more than almost never the case that somebody who takes up policy ideas you do not like is doing it out of “hate” and nothing else.

This is not the way people work, and being in a position where you are unable to imagine anybody disagreeing with you out of any other motive than “hate”

This is a seven year old’s version of what people are and how they work.  It would  make sense coming from a spoiled second grader reduced to tears by opposition to anything she does.  It makes no sense coming from a 40 year old accountant with a house, a  job, and a subcription to Mother Jones.

Some of this is just an attempt to limit the discussion–if Joe Smith is a “hater,” there’s no reason why you have to listen to him, so he can just be ignored.

But there are a lot of ways to accomplish that goal without resorting to elementary school playground affect.

It’s as if people have lost the words they need to analyze and explain human experience, and in having lost the words they’ve lost the knowledge.

An awful lot of people who are supposed to be grown ups  live in a miasma of half-ideas that they can’t explain when you ask them and that do  nothing at all to help them live, or even to help them solve the problems and address the injustices they say they think need to e solved.

If  you ask such a person why somebody is a “hater,” they’ll give you the policy (he’s against gay marriage! he thinks abortion should be illegal!), and if you push it farther than that you get, “they’re afraid of difference and change!”

I don’t  know who started the rumor that that last thing is an explanation, but it makes no more sense–and is no more adult–than calling people “haters.”

On one level, it’s completely tautological.  We’re all afraid of change and difference.  So are cats, dogs and dolphins.  Welcome to the mammalian brain.

Even if it were possible to reduce the motives of people to choosing policy positions to such “fear,”  it wouldn’t explain why people choose different policy positions, never mind why some people choose one position at one point in their lives and switch to others later.

Then, on top of everything else, such an approach manages to reduce all of history–event  history and intellectual history–to  mindless paroxysms of emotional disturbance.

The Divinia Comedia is not a great work of art with a lot to say about the relationship of God to man; Locke’s Second Treatise on Government isn’t a landmark in the history of political thought; the Orestaea, Leonardo’s Last Supper, the Bach partitas, Napoleon at Waterloo, Neil Armstrong on the moon–

Well, there’s nothing to be said, really.  They were all just  haters, all these people.  Their whole lives and minds and existences were driven by fear of change and difference.

Of course, I know it sounds silly when I put it this way, but I also think there is more to Michelle Bachman’s ideas about gay marriage than that she “hates gays.” 

Hell, I think there’s more to the ideas of some redneck just getting washed in the river with the blood of the lamb than that he “hates gays” or “hates women” or even “hates black people.”

On the same disc as the Stephen Glass movie is an interview 60 Minutes did with Stephen Glass and some of the people involved in that whole mess, and one of the things that stood out was the fact that there was exactly one guy who condemned Glass outright without going into all that psychological jargon–he’s got a problem,  he needs help, whatever–

And that guy was in the generation just before mine.

During the Virginia Tech shootings, there was one guy who got up and tried to do something about what was going on. 

He was a  holocaust survivor, from the generation before mine.

It’s as if, somewhere along the line, people stopped remembering how to behave like grown ups.

Either, that, or they never learned.

Written by janeh

July 29th, 2013 at 10:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

12 Responses to 'Haters'

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  1. I was right with you until you got to Michelle Bachman. If the woman has ever heard of the word “nuanced” she certainly never learned the concept, or at least you couldn’t prove it by anything she’s said.

    I think there are plenty of people who not only embrace the concept of “haters” in all it’s pre-adolescent glory, they think it’s a code of conduct to be followed in their own lives. They hate, or love issues, in the same way a grade-schooler loves bubble-gum. It tastes good, it’s fun to play with, and they stick it everywhere they go.

    People why can embrace uncertainty, change, and see the various sides of any issue have always been thin on the ground, in my opinion.

    But the grown-up thing, I agree. At least common courtesy used to restrain some people from displaying their ignorance in public.

    Lymaree

    29 Jul 13 at 10:53 am

  2. Ummh…

    Well, yes, of course? Calling critics “haters” is a trait of liberals and points left in the Boomer generation. They never had to defend their political positions: they only learned to denigrate and despise anyone who disagreed with them. Boomer conservatives and libertarians grew up disagreeing with authority figures, which is why we get P. J. O’Rourke, and the left doesn’t even get Ann Coulter–just a procession of very earnest, very very dull journalists, some of whom are officially comedians, though it’s hard to tell which ones.

    But not acting like adults is pretty much standard, Boomer and younger regardless of politics. We have a right to an amazing number of things. And since they’re rights, they don’t involve things like hard work, sacrifice or even delayed gratification, let alone taking responsibility. “Infantile” is exactly the word. We do, however, like all children, have to take orders from Big Provider, the source of all goodies–because we didn’t earn them.

    Which is why conservatives and libertarians will win all the arguments, but lose all the political struggles until “the Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.”

    That might not be a long wait, of course.

    robert_piepenbrink

    29 Jul 13 at 1:14 pm

  3. I got half-way through the post before I suddenly realised that Jane was not actually describing our Australian Prime Minister and his immediate predecessor, and their entire cabinets. It encapsulates leftish politics in this country precisely.

    The Murdoch media, so beloved as a whipping horse of your own liberals, is known as The Hate Media by leftists down here – including serious (not to say sensible) academics and other intellectuals. It never expresses alternative views; it lies. Thus the sound of much political discourse down here most closely resembles the sound of maracas – dead seeds rattling in an empty gourd.

    Mique

    29 Jul 13 at 6:57 pm

  4. Speaking of infantilism, I came across this hilarious example shortly after my last post;

    http://bunyipitude.blogspot.com.au/

    Professor Bunyip (don’t ask!) is the scourge of the liberal media down here, particularly the Fairfax media and the national BBC clone, the ABC. For the uninitiate, the Geelong Cats are an Australian Rules football team and the AFL is the governing body for Australian Rules football.

    Brilliant stuff.

    Mique

    29 Jul 13 at 7:37 pm

  5. I didn’t think of Australian politics probably because I consider both major parties completely incompetent but I did think of the people who want Zimmerman tried for “hate crimes”.

    jd

    29 Jul 13 at 8:45 pm

  6. Oh, the “hate crimes” business is different. It’s how in the modern, living constitution era, we get around that archaic “double jeopardy” business. Like an EU referendum, we get to just keep trying people until we get the outcome the governing class wants.

    robert_piepenbrink

    29 Jul 13 at 8:54 pm

  7. Okay, I need o correct this, because the courts have been quite clear. George Zimmerman has been tried for second degree murder. He cannot be tried again for the same incident under hate crimes legislation, assuming Florida has any.

    If Florida wanted to try Zimmerman for a hate crime, they would have had to try him that way the first and only time. ALL calling a crime a hate crime does is to activate longer sentencing guidelinees.

    The federal government can’t try Zimmerman for murder, which is a state matter, and they can’t try him for a hate crime.

    There is a law that allows the Feds to try someone for “denying or violating the civil rights” or someone else.

    That’s what people want the Feds to try Zimmerman on.

    BUT that law is written specifically for the conduct of government e.ployees, and especially police officers.

    Which means it’s probably not going to happen.

    janeh

    29 Jul 13 at 9:51 pm

  8. Jane, you’re quite correct technically, though I think the overall point stands.

    If the powers that be dislike an acquital, they retry as a civil rights violation. And notice that in this context a “civil right” is not Lockean life, liberty and property as such, which apply to everyone, but to a variety of Lockean and non-Lockean things–voting rights, for instance–and can ONLY be invoked with race “gender” or whatever hatred as a presumed motivator. So we’re back to crimes determined by the motivation and race–or whatever–of the accused, which is precisely what distinguishes a “hate crime.” The “civil rights violations” prosecutions over already tried actions may not be on the books as “hate crimes” but the distinction is otherwise non-existent.

    robert_piepenbrink

    30 Jul 13 at 7:09 am

  9. Part of my point, however, is that the federal law cannot be used to try just anybody for civil rights violations.

    It is targeted at government employees and especially police officers, and is written to pertain to the equal access amendment.

    The only way the Feds could charge Z under the law is IF they find a way to count the fact that Z was a volunteer in an established neighborhood watch as being somehow officially a quasi-policeman.

    That “officially” is important.

    And I think the reason we have heard little or nothing from Holder’s DOJ is that they’re pretty sure they couldn’t get away with that.

    If I’m going to find a real danger to double jeopardy, it’s going to be in allowing people to sue the alleged perpetrator and then use a lowered standard of evidence to get a court to say he committed the crime after all.

    That one really needs to be stopped, or it needs to be reconfigured in a way that takes the trial court’s judgment as read.

    janeh

    30 Jul 13 at 8:53 am

  10. I wonder how it can be stopped if that (latter) process is what was successfully used by the Browns to sue O.J. Simpson? Hasn’t the precedent thus been set, and could that CA precedent be used in Florida?

    Mique

    30 Jul 13 at 9:38 am

  11. And I don’t think mere futility would stop Holder & Co. These are the people who insisted that attaching a GPS bug to a car so the federal government would know everywhere it went required no warrant of any sort. Even the Supremes couldn’t swallow that one, and Holder lost in a unanimous decision.

    My favorite was the bit where someone disconnected the GPS bug, not knowing what it was, and the FBI wanted him to pay for the damage to their property.

    robert_piepenbrink

    30 Jul 13 at 10:18 am

  12. Mique–state laws are particular to that state, as are precedents under state laws.

    So a state law in California, concerned with state and not federal law, would not provide a precedent for any other state.

    You can see how that operates with same sex marriage.

    The CT state supreme court said denial of the right to marry violated CT’s STATE constituion, and that had no effect whatsoever on any other state’s constitution.

    Each state had to make that determination for itself.

    That said, ALL US states allow you to sue for damages even if the person has been acquitted in criminal court.

    Let’s face it, trial lawyers love this

    What we need is a federal law that would define this as double jeopardy, or state laws that would require a civil court to accept the verdict of the trial court as to the defendant’s culpability.

    janeh

    30 Jul 13 at 12:30 pm

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