Guilt and Darwinism
My wife recently introduced yet another animal show to me. It's on the National Geographic channel and features a guy in Los Angeles who is the Grizzly Adams of the dog world. Called The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milian goes around and helps people who have difficulty with their dogs. Whether it's a dog who always pulls at the leash, jumps on people, pees on the carpet, or indulges in many other bad behaviors, Cesar comes onto the scene and magically sets things right. And then he moves on, his work done and leaving appreciation and awe in his wake.
I was watching one show this weekend which featured a lady and her pug. The pug was bad news, always running away, jumping on guests, and barking up a storm. Cesar's main strategy is to use techniques which make the dog see his place in the world, as a follower of the "pack leader" owner. And it works. He ran the lady through some exercises and the dog started to obey. But that isn't what grabbed me about this episode, even though I have two dogs which could benefit from these exercises. It was something he said.
I'll have to paraphrase this because I don't have the episode handy, but Cesar was talking about the owner's attitude toward her dog. She said she felt guilty about certain aspects of the dog's life, to which Cesar pointed out that the animal world has no concept of "guilt." Human beings rationalize things by saying "oh, you've had a hard life so here's an extra bone" or "well, it's OK that the dog runs around because he misses our old home in Florida." But the dog doesn't care about any of that. The dog only sees the ability to get more food or more privileges, and will tailor behavior around that since it gives him an advantage. Darwinism, man...that stuff that is considered unassailable by the Education establishment.
And that got me thinking.
If true, and I actually think Milian's basic point holds, then I think it can be applied to quite a bit more than some pug's behavioral tendencies. For instance, let's take a look at how the Democrats want to handle terrorism (before I would have said the fringe of the Democrat party, but Howard Dean moved this type of thing into their mainstream). We are to bear blame for the attacks upon us, for whatever reason. Instead of furthering the "cycle of violence," in which there is no right party because in the world of moral relativism we're all guilty, we should take the high road, understand the beef our attackers have with us, reach out and talk talk talk with them. After all, we bear guilt for those people wanting to kill us.
In the meantime, our attackers, much like the errant canine in the show, have a worldview where guilt doesn't enter into the equation. The endgame for them is to gain an advantage over us, and if exploiting our guilt gets them one then they will be all for it. They'll come up with reasons we should feel guilty, and we can oblige them by wallowing in it.
Let's take another one. Race relations in the US haven't been as smooth as some would like (but to be fair, they have been and are smoother than in many other places in the world). Without a doubt, slavery was evil, which is why the US ended it. And yes, many black people have suffered. But today much if not all of that has been addressed. And yet look at the race baiters of Jesse Jackson and Al "This Is Not My Suit" Sharpton. Anything those guys can do to get an advantage for their followers, they will do. Use guilt? Heck, they use it by the carload! And now they have a SCOTUS decision that says it's OK to discriminate college admissions based on race.
Or another one. Gays in this country are an extreme minority of the population. Even if we go with the wildly inflated figure of 10%, that still means 90% of this country is straight. And yet check out the political and social influence wielded by that 10%. If 10% of this country believed that electricity was evil, do you think that would ever be treated as mainstream? No. But our society affords gays with influence greatly disproportionate to their number, and still it isn't enough. The current demand is to redefine the basic structure of marriage, with far reaching and serious consequences that are too huge to fully grasp. And how is that being advanced? Because we're made to feel guilty about being "homophobes" if we don't acquiesce. Guilt as a way to gain advantage? I can think of no clearer case.
Earlier I made a comment about Darwinism. Is all of this not social Darwinism at play? Survival of the fittest played out on a sociological stage? I also made a comment about Darwinism in general being treated as fact. Isn't social Darwinism similarly true then? Lefties sure seem to think so. You see this attitude in the rotting stench of some of Teddy Kennedy's speeches...that poverty causes crime, as if a criminal has no free will of his own and is forced to rape and kill little old ladies for his crack habit. The fish is programmed to eat or be eaten, and we are too since humans are no better or worse than that fish. Or is Ingrid Newkirk full of it?
And similarly, is it so out of the pale to think that groups instinctively look for advantages when it comes to survival? That exploiting guilt, a human concept, could be one way to gain that advantage? I understand guilt (I'm a recovering Catholic, after all)...but as public policy, it sucks. I think it's time we started recognizing that and stopped substituting guilt for policy arguments.
Posted by John Tant at January 16, 2006 08:58 AM
The trackback entry for this page is : http://www.inthehat.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/1221
|# January 16th, 2006 11:01 AM mbrlr|
|Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Game, set, match on that point.
Having said that, speaking of terrorists generally, if you don't make the effort to understand the enemy and those things which led to conflict...you lose. The only thing that's wallowing in is reason.
Let's see, what was next...race. "But today much if not all of that has been addressed." Bloody nonsense and either outright falsehood or an unwillingness to deal with both our history and our present. Are things better? Yes. Are they done and can you undo 4 centuries within 50 years since Brown and 40 years since the Civil Rights Act of 1964? No, especially not when the government of the US is willing to go to war based upon false accusations and yet unwilling to go to war against these internal problems despite unadulterated and doccumented reality.
As for gays, many western nations see no reason to avoid civil unions, and marriage has yet to collapse. Why are we acting as we do in the US? The answer to that question also answers why the separation clause is so important. The actions of those on the right don't necessarily constitute homophobia, just idiocy. The 10% will be always with us, folks, and recognition of civil unions is just reason...oh, that explains why y'all are against it.
I think Darwin got it right and all evidence supports it. I'm also Catholic. I also think Teddy Kennedy (your opinion of his speeches is slightly higher than mine of GW's) is right --- one of the primary causes of crime, even if it doesn't fit the religious dogma of those of you on the right, is poverty. I was a prosecutor and I've known many defense attorneys and the fact is that, while many people commit offenses just 'cause and poverty is not a legitimate legal defense, it is nonetheless a cause and a cause without which many of those who commit offensews would not commit offenses or come to the societal point at which the offense occurs. Poor people are more prone to suffer offenses and the tragedy is that poverty also helps cause folks to commit them, although many of those of us on the left think the rich just get away with it more often because they're societally more allowed to do so absent an attentive press and prosecutors with character. Witness the recent felonious actions in Congress and the at least questionable legality of the trashing of the need for a warrant by this administration.
"...rape and kill little old ladies for his crack habit." Blithering nonsense that hasn't anything to do with a rational argument or reality. Rape and murder usually have nothing to do with supporting crack habits. For example, the murder of over 2000 of our troops has to do with the corruption of near-absolute power elsewhere than in Iraq.
And when did a belief in evolution constitute failing to believe in responsibility for one's actions and consequences? For instance, that's why I've finally come 'round to believing that impeachment's the proper response to this tragic farce.
Finally, try substituting responsibility" for "guilt", although I personally have no trouble with using the phrase. But for now, forget guilt. Think of it as responsibility. Failing to recognize responsibility for past situations (or present ones, as this administration seems prone to) and the current problems resulting from those situations is... let's use religious terms... a sin and just rather foolish. To use Southron home speech, it's just plumb stupid. Society as a whole and those who live in it sometimes must be responsible for dealing with the faults and situations of prior generations and the aftereffects of those situations and faults. That's not exploiting guilt, that's dealing with reality. As we so often have to in this country, let's bring race back up again --- as mentioned earlier, 300 years of slavery wasn't solved by a Civil War and 10 years of Reconstruction followed by inattention and capped by Plessy; hello, Jim Crow for 80 years or so! The reversal of Plessy, Brown, and the Civil Right Act of '64 are still being implemented socially as well as legally even today and dealing with the inability of our society to be open --- race, color, ethnicity, sexual preference --- to those different isn't something we've dealt with just yet. It, as is our Republic, isn't a book that was closed in 1789 but is a continuing process. That may be my ideology, but it is an ideology based upon fact and law and our history rather than an ideology based primarily upon fanning fears of difference.
Jesus may have delivered us all from sin, but even in Catholic theology with it's requirement for continual confession there's a recognition that actions have consequences. The folks who now wish to pretend our actions domestically or abroad, past and present, have no consequences are --- and I'll admit I love the irony --- those who wish to pretend the separation clause isn't there and bring America back to their brand of God and somehow also manage to argue with a straight face that guilt isn't a proper ground for a policy argument. I'm not saying you're one of those Christian nut cases, but you certainly keep that company in your understanding of our polity.
|# January 16th, 2006 3:19 PM james|
|dogs naturally form packs. when a dog joins your family, he thinks of you and yours as part of his pack.
in the absense of a clear leader, a dog will always try to lead the pack. and now here is the most important thing to understand: a dog doesn't care if he is the leader or a follower. he is happy to fill either role. what is most important to your dog is that there IS is a leader; what is most important to your dog is that someone is providing direction and heading up the pack.
an effective dog training method will show the dog that he is not the leader of the pack. indeed, most ill-behaved dogs act out because they don't sense that anyone is heading up the pack, and they are only trying to fill the role of "leader."
think of this as "nature abhors a vacuum." think of it as "bad leadership is better than no leadership at all." whatever you do, at least think about it, because the same principle holds true in human relations. the same principle holds true in international relations.
umm.. i've kinda rambled off topic.. i'm not even sure what my point was going to be... just playing off the dog allegory, i guess. good article!
|# January 16th, 2006 4:29 PM mbrlr|
|If we view ourselves as leaders right now, we're viewing the world through slightly distorted lenses. If we're acting imperially without fail, we've doomed ourselves. The brilliance of Roosevelt and Truman and all presidents through Clinton, Republican and Democrat, was that they understood the US is most effective and most powerful when it acts as a leader based upon our founding principles and based upon a basic principle of equality and comity with our allies --- we were an imperial power, but we had the sense not to act that way to our allies' faces most of the time. Now, we should just remember that Rome and many others fell precisely due to pride and we should be aware we're building the case for our own fall unless we return to a bit wiser and less imperial view of the world. That's not idealism, that's reality. China and India are out there and they're not going away. The unity of the West, both militarily and industrially, would be a very wise path to follow if pride doesn't get in the way.
And as far as dogs go, a phrase can't help but spring to mind that might be applied to our Prez and it's one that I and many others have often applied to him and to his ancestry.
I want to live to be 99 not only to see my kids grow and then get to play granddaddy, but also to see what a bit of perspective places upon this odd little period in our history. Of course, I imagine my grandparenting duties will be outbid and then outsourced to India, so I'm not sure what the point would be.
|# January 16th, 2006 6:01 PM Daddy|
Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Game, set, match on that point.
...but, the only time the question of an Iraq-9/11 connection has been legally tested, the verdict was affirmative.
What's the sound of one hand clapping?
Bet it sounds an awful lot like mbrlr patting himself on the back.
|# January 17th, 2006 7:37 AM JohnTant|
Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Game, set, match on that point.
Except you're playing a different game, the one where you mistakenly believe anyone in the Administration made that case as a justification for taking out Hussein. And since I never said anything about Iraq, I can't help but wonder about your hair-trigger tendencies to spout froth on the subject.
That shark just gets further beneath you with each passing day.
|# January 18th, 2006 1:19 AM mbrlr|
|Dick Cheney still seems to think that was the justification and can't quite seem to let go of his devotion to the idea. As for hair-trigger responses, let me just say that I yield the prize to this administration. I come nowhere near the hair-trigger responses this administration tends to make where the trigger is pointed at our troops.
As far as the case is concerned, I'll note that it was a default judgment at the district court level and that ain't precedent. In any event, no case was presented for the defense because we were invading the defendant's country and he and the other parties chose not to appear in court, imagine that. Ergo, there was no defense made to this case, and plaintiffs in those circumstances don't have to do much to get a ruling and in this case, the pattern held true.
The finding by the court was actually described by the court as having been based upon the plaintiffs' having made their case "albeit barely". That indicates the worth of the finding. There's that "albeit barely" aspect, the problems stemming from the lack of a defense due to the invasion, and primarily the fact that the court relied upon material from James Woolsey, a long-time Iraq hawk (pre-9/11) who is one of those making some pretty decent money off the government due to the invasion, upon information from Tenet colored by his burning desire to find a link to make the war party happy, and upon Colin Powell's speech to the UN, a speech we've since admitted was based upon incorrect info.
Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and the guys we have no doubt did have something to do with it are still out there wondering why on earth we didn't concentrate on them instead of gallavanting off to deal with the SOB that the President's Daddy didn't fully deal with all those years ago; I guess if I had the chance to go after one of my dad's "enemies", I'd want to do it, but would I actually be such a jerk that I'd use the armed forces to do it and also use the opportunity to engage in some extralegal search & seizure episodes?
Over 2000 dead in a war based upon false premises and lies is something that just troubles me a bit and this administration's tendency to mock the truth and the devotion of Bush's devotees to all these folks in the administration --- most of whom didn't see the need to fight in our last domestically contentious war, btw --- who were so hell-bent to go after Iraq that they sunk so low as to use 9/11 as an excuse is both puzzling and more than a bit horrifying.
|# January 18th, 2006 8:05 AM JohnTant|
|Considering that I never mentioned Iraq at all, your Renfield-like tendencies to bring up your beliefs are, as I said, interesting. Unfortunately for you, they are also irrelevant as concerns this thread.
But hey...put up or shut up time. You say:
Dick Cheney still seems to think that was the justification and can't quite seem to let go of his devotion to the idea [that Iraq had something to do with 9/11].
Show me where Dick Cheney flat out says that when making the case that Iraq needed regime change. As I recall you've been challenged on that several times here in the past and it remains your own unsupported assertion.
|# July 18th, 2006 4:47 PM mbrlr|
"The Vice President contended that more recent evidence indicates 'that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s, that it involved training, for example.'"