Weaponized Empathy has long been a topic of discussion here. Today, let’s break down a very common use of it in private circles, in debates between regular folks on social media.
The tactic looks something like this:
Conservative: I believe in [insert policy here]. Progressive: Here is a sad story about someone (or even a hypothetical someone) who would be affected by the policy. Do you want this person to suffer? Conservative: Well, no, of course not… Progressive: Well then, you shouldn’t believe in [the policy]. It’s immoral.
This is an exceptionally low bar to clear for the Progressive. No matter what political positions a person might have, at least some people, somewhere, can be found who would be negatively affected by it. If, for instance, the tax code were simplified, the poor IRS agents auditing people with a microscope for violations of their arcane system might lose their jobs. Or, perhaps some poor person somewhere might end up with slightly less from the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Clearly the Conservative then wants poor people to starve, and IRS agents to be unable to feed their families. This is, of course, a rather blatant example, but read on for a more subtle and more powerful version of the argument.
Once a negative example is trotted out, the Progressive declares moral superiority and thus victory in the debate. Clearly he is more moral, because he wants to make sure nobody slips between the cracks, and everyone gets their fair share of… whatever.
A classic example can be found in this debate with Ron Paul, wherein the liberal moderator trots out a hypothetical person who has “a good job” but somehow has no money, decides not to buy a healthcare plan, has no existing government aid, can obtain no charitable aid, and possesses no friends willing to help him, and is experiencing an expensive health problem. What would happen, asks the liberal?
The absurdly unlikely (but theoretically possible) scenario is thus implied to be proof that we need government-managed universal healthcare.
Conservatives need to stop accepting this low bar as evidence of anything. Time after time, I’ve witnessed Conservatives argue these types of absurd positions by positing equally unlikely ways the free market or charity will cater to all such edge cases. Once dragged down to this position, victory is impossible. The best debaters may score a draw, edge case vs. edge case. Everyone else will lose, and the Progressive will trumpet his moral superiority over the evil, greedy Republican Uber-Nazis until he is blue in the face.
Ron Paul, being a very smart man and a doctor himself, argued this thing to a draw. I doubt many others could have pulled this off.
This is the wrong way to argue the point. It is, in fact, tacitly accepting that the Progressive’s position that the edge case means anything about national policy in the first place. Progressive policies, even if they are theoretically universal in scope, will also be subject to edge cases, as the Charlie Gard incident demonstrated. In fact, one essential truth about government micromanagement is that it is likely to result in more such edge cases, not less. Bureaucracies aren’t known for their intellectual flexibility. More people will fail to get the care they need, not less.
But even that isn’t quite the right way to argue the point. Leftism is demanding a sort of universalism that simply isn’t possible in any human institution. And, invariably, when the institution falls short of universal perfection, it is excoriated by the Left and used as justification for giving them (as in the Progressives themselves) more power under the excuse that they are morally superior. It is nothing more than a blatant power grab, thinly disguised as a moral argument.
This must be challenged immediately in any debate with them that goes down the edge case path. “Are you demanding perfection? That every single person receive 100% of all needed care? If so, you are a lunatic. Hard cases make bad law.”
This moves the bar up a notch. Now the Progressive must demonstrate that his system is better at a meta level, not just an individual hard case level. Weaponized Empathy can still be deployed at higher levels, but this is generally much more difficult, especially given the fact that Socialism generally produces very poor results when taken as a whole. However, expect the next rung on the Progressive argument ladder to be something along the lines of “well, Nordic Socialism is just great.”
When buying a product or service, the first question out of a man’s mouth is likely to be “how much is it?” As individuals, that question is axiomatic. So why is it that when we discuss grand political programs, the cost is so rarely discussed? And even when it is, the price is obfuscated behind layers of legalese and technicalities.
Sometime ago, I remember discussing Planned Parenthood with a liberal, and when I pointed out that my primary issue with abortion was the fact that I was paying for it with tax money, he replied that Planned Parenthood doesn’t get any money to perform abortions. This was a technicality. Planned Parenthood gets taxpayer money for all sorts of things, but comparatively little specifically earmarked for abortions.
Yet, if the government is paying for electricity, medical equipment, rent, whatever… for Planned Parenthood, but not specifically for abortions, how do we account that? It’s a sleight of hand designed to obfuscate the real price. I can make nearly any business profitable if you pay my bills. So why doesn’t that funding count in the price?
I tried to explain this to my liberal friend, and evidently failed, as he would not count any money not paid directly from the federal government (state subsidies were conveniently ignored) for a specific abortion. Thus in his mind, the fiction that government doesn’t pay for abortions remained firm and unassailable. But if the government paid me money to buy a car, and paid me money to put gas in it, are they subsidizing my travel, even if they don’t earmark it for a specific destination?
But it isn’t Planned Parenthood that is the real subject of this post. You see, cost is ignored for pretty much everything in the liberal world. There is no limit to the amount of spending that is seen as appropriate.
When a charity asks me to donate money, the question is often “how much?” And not just how much money they want from me, though that is important as well, but how much money is actually spent on the mission of the charity, versus administrative overhead.
Yet with government spending, the question of how much is only ever answered with more. How much taxpayer funding do you need for welfare? More. How much is needed for paying school teachers? More. How much is needed for social services? More. How much taxpayer money do you need, period? More.
However much the government is taking today, it always wants more. And furthermore, the political Left is dedicated to guilt shaming you, via Weaponized Empathy, if you should disagree with them. How many Muslim refugees should be accepted by various Western countries around the world? More. Never is it a specific number, fixed and immutable, after which we might account our duty to human rights and dignity properly satisfied. Always it is more.
Slavery reparations work in a similar manner. Ta-Nehisi Coates argued for reparations some time ago in The Atlantic. And again, no cost figure is given, only vague references to a lot, and interest accrued over the years (as if this were a debt, from one individual to another). What Coates wants, and what many Black Lives Matter folks want, is a blank check to draw upon forever. Or, put more simply, they want more. Coates compares slavery reparations to German reparations to the Jews, but without the realization that many victims of Nazi depredations, and their immediate relatives, were still alive. So were many perpetrators. No slaves or slave owners live today.
Even so, Germany should not be expected to pay reparations forever, in some indeterminate amount. Rather, an amount was settled upon, paid, and the thing was done. “How much?” Asked Germany. “This much,” replied the actual victims.
One gets the sense that Black Lives Matter wants money and preferential treatment in perpetuity.
One amusing example is the cost of cars in Denmark. They suffer a 180% car tax. Did you buy a $10,000 car? Be prepared to spent $28,000 on it. A 180% tax, apparently, might be enough for somebody. Here in the United States, liberals salivate over the time when they can do likewise in America. Back when I lived in California for a while in the early 2000s, I remember when the sitting governor was ousted by Arnold “the governator” Schwarzenegger, partly because of rolling blackouts and a demand for higher energy prices, along with a proposed car registration tax that would hit $1,000 or more for some models. That, apparently, was too much even for liberal California at the time, and Gray Davis got the boot. Jerry Brown’s proposals are much more modest by comparison, though still obviously heading in that direction.
But make no mistake, the love of northern European Socialism among contemporary liberals means they would like to do the same. It is merely a case of too many folks in America asking how much. So they can’t get away with it just yet. Still, if you ask them to provide a number of what is ideal for them, they never do. Always, the answer is more.
Let’s look at it from a more fundamental angle. We are told that we have it too good. Maybe it’s our white privilege showing, or perhaps male privilege, or straight privilege. Whatever. So we need to give up some portion of our wealth, our careers, and some of the benefits we’ve accrued in life.
Okay. I disagree with all that. But, even supposing I were to agree, what’s the bill? How much do you require?
I’ve never received a satisfactory answer to that question. What percentage of my income is demanded? More. How much of my assets must I forfeit? More. How much should I give up from my business and my career? More. I even ask Leftists, on occasion, to just give me an ideal average tax rate. How much should American citizens, as a whole, and on average, give up to the government? More. Never have I once received a reply that says “this is the tax rate that we want, then we’ll leave you alone.”
Thing is, the more argument is remarkably persuasive to many, because it eliminates the need for the Marxist to conduct a cost benefit analysis. We don’t need to know how many poor people were helped by a welfare program, nor do we need to know much it cost. All we need to know is whether more people were helped by it. And even the most wasteful and ludicrous of government programs will help someone, somewhere, who can be trotted out as a sad story. You hear this argument from the political Left all the time. “If it only helps one person…” Sure. I could go distribute millions from the treasury to random people in the street, and it would meet that minimal standard. But is this smart from a cost benefit standpoint? Probably not…
Weaponized Empathy comes into play here. If you oppose said welfare program, you must want the people involved to die, or to starve, or whatever. If you say no more, you’re a greedy, self-centered Capitalist asshole.
“You said no to helping poor people with more of your money? Wow. I just can’t even… how could you hate poor people that much? White privilege strikes again.”
There is a classification of human that doesn’t understand price, and always demands more. Yes, that’s right: the toddler. And toddlers are gifted at using empathy against you. When I say no, my son will pout, and sniffle, and try to make me feel bad for denying him. Of course, it doesn’t work on me. I just let him cry all he wants in the corner until the noise gets unbearable, in which case he gets a timeout or a spanking, depending on the severity of the tantrum. My wife is somewhat more susceptible to his charms, however. But even her tolerance is limited, and when it is exceeded, her punishments are probably a grade worse than mine.
Just because he wants some $100 toy, doesn’t mean he’ll get it. Just because he wants more cake (no amount of cake is enough for a toddler, as far as I can tell), doesn’t mean he’ll get it. And to be fair to him, the lessons are starting to take. The tantrums are growing fewer, and he’s starting to get it. But Marxists never really get it. Maybe they just weren’t spanked enough as kids, I don’t know.
But like the parent who says “time out” when the demands grow overly emotional, perhaps we need to start treating any attempt to use the more argument as the childish demand that it truly is. If a man can’t even be bothered to do a proper cost benefit analysis and present a bill, in other words if he can’t say this much is needed, then that man is not presenting a serious argument, no matter how many appeals he makes to morality, emotions, or helping the poor, oppressed people of wherever.
Instead, he’s making a toddler argument, and if it is illegal to spank him until he screams, then the least we can do as American voters is give that political toddler a proper timeout. Go sit in the corner, liberals, until you can learn that policies have costs, more is not a valid price, and “it’s not fair” is not a useful argument.
After all, even my two year old is starting to figure out that much.
Weaponized Empathy is a topic I keep bringing up here at The Declination. It is an insidious weapon, both pervasive and subtle. The weapon preys upon your better nature, twisting your better instincts in the service of another.
Guilt-tripping is the best way I can describe it. You are made to feel guilty and remorse for things you have not done. A white man might be made to feel guilty for slavery in the United States, despite having never owned slaves, nor having countenanced slavery in any form. He might be called a Nazi for being vaguely Right-of-center, despite his ancestors having participated in the liberation of Jews from Nazi Germany.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a fresh-off-the-boat Romanian immigrant. You’re white, so you’re privileged. Therefore, also, you are guilty. The Left tells us not to be prejudiced, that is to say to prejudge a person. Yet they ascribe guilt, a literal form of judgment, onto people they don’t know.
Then they say that you should feel guilty. Perhaps today you should feel guilty for being white, and tomorrow all men should feel guilty for having penises. And the day after, straight people should feel guilty for not being homosexual. And so on…
Guilt. I’m tired of it, folks. Pardon my French, but it’s all horseshit. Commensurate with Right-wing philosophy in general if you do the crime, you’re going to do the time. But the reverse is also true. If you haven’t done the crime, then you should not do the time.
In other words, I’m done with that sort of thing. I don’t care if folks on the Left think I’m some kind of cold-hearted, heretical bastard, a blasphemer of the religion of political correctness.
I wasn’t originally going to comment on the attack. After all, there are too many Islamic terror attacks these days for one blogger to ever hope to cover them all (and isn’t that a sad state of affairs?). But one thing compelled me to do so.
You see, like the picture of the Syrian boy who drowned, there is a horrifying picture floating around the Internet right now of an 11 year old girl who was, quite literally torn to pieces by the terror attack. Pieces of her are scattered all over the road, a leg here, a leg there, guts strewn all over the road.
I’m absolutely not going to post it on my blog, because my readers are likely to lose the contents of their stomachs if they see it. But I’ve seen it, and so have many others. You can probably find it for yourself with a little Google-fu. I did, however, verify the photo with local landmarks, and the position of the covered bodies in the photographs the press has released. So it’s not a fake (there have been weaponized fake pics floating around social media all too often lately).
It is, by an order of magnitude, a more powerful picture than the dead Syrian boy.
So why haven’t you seen even a semi-censored/pixelated version of this picture? Is it because it is too gruesome? Doubtful. Certainly if that were true, they could have at least posted an alternate angle.
No, the gruesome death of Ebba Akerlund doesn’t fit the pro-Islam, pro-migrant narrative. They could weaponize the photo, if they chose to, but they don’t want to. So why are pictures of Syrian children weaponized, and Swedish children not? It’s not rocket science, obviously.
This could have been worldwide news, at a level that would dwarf the dead Syrian boy, or the affair with United Airlines. But only a few outlets are even carrying her story at all.
It’s enough to make one sick, almost as sick as someone who saw the picture in question.
As for the media, I’d appreciate it if you stopped wasting my time, trying to sell Islam to the West like some kind of used car salesman decked out in 70s plaid, trying desperately to clear his lot of lemons. I’m not buying, okay?
So if you’ve been paying attention to my recent posts on Weaponized Empathy, you may have noticed this guy Merkur, who has a very irritating debate style. The essence of it is that I am biased, and isn’t it interesting that I post things that confirm my bias? Maybe I ought to go read some books about bias so that I can see the refugee situation in a much better light. Or something to that effect. It’s all there if you want to read it yourself, though it’s probably more fun to have a root canal. I was being kind of foolish to permit this sort of Kafka-esque framing on my blog, and suffice it to say I won’t be allowing it in the future.
Well, this guy has been a periodic thorn in my side for a while now, but I always got a strange vibe from him. Why is someone spending so much time trying to lecture me about this? He’s far more persistent than the usual Lefties who come here.
This is him. He’s of Albanian extraction, which explains his pro-Islam stance. But that’s to be expected. What wasn’t expected, but perhaps I ought to have known, is that he literally works for the UN.
Currently engaged with MSB and the UN as a Snr Information Managment Officer within MENA region Mr Merkur Beqiri is an Independent Consultant with a range of projects delivered in the fields of Information Management…
And here’s a real gem:
In the past 20 years, Mr Beqiri has worked for or with Public sector (Education, Health, Municipal services, Cadastral Agency), Private Sector (BI, BS, ERP, CAD, PM), Humaitarian/Emergency Sector (IM/GIS for UNHCR, OCHA, FAO, WHO, NRC, IRD) and Development Sector (SD & BS for SOROS, World Bank) in Europe…
I never would have figured I’d attract a troll with this kind of Leftist pedigree. But there you have it, folks. Remember your SJWs Always Lie. SJWs always project. Well, Merkur is projecting his own biases in favor of the UN, Soros, Islam, and a host of transnational Progressive organizations.
Suffice it to say, he will no longer be permitted to comment here. I don’t need UN information managers spewing their bullshit on my platform. He can buy his own podium.
Update: Merkur denies it, but I’m pretty confident in my chain of evidence. That evidence is based on his IP address originating from Serbia (and it’s consistent, so he failed to use Tor or anything like it). There are, after all, very few ardent, public, UN and Islam defenders in Serbia these days (Kosovo excepted, of course). The name “Merkur” is also Albanian. That narrowed the range down to a reasonable, searchable number of people. He claimed to have worked for a number of charity organizations, and inputting those, plus the fact that he was an Albanian in Serbia, led me to this Merkur Beqiri fellow. His Social Media accounts were filled with pro-refugee, pro-migrant stuff, written in a very similar style. That he had the same name made it pretty much a slam dunk. The only way the chain would be broken is if he did not, in fact, work for the charities he claimed, in which case he’d be a liar and could be safely dismissed on that basis. Or, of course, if he didn’t actually live in Serbia, and somehow had an IP address originating from there. That seems rather unlikely, though.
Anyway, he’s consumed enough of everyone’s time. On to the next topic!
I didn’t realize how quickly the term “Weaponized Empathy” would spread. But I’ve been seeing it pop up all over the Conservative Right the last few days. So in that light, here are a few other examples:
Here we have a sob story about a man who claimed his mother died due to Trump’s travel ban. Turns out, she was dead five days prior to the ban.
Ace of Spades points out that the Left was remarkably silent on the matter of Elian Gonzalez, back during Bill Clinton’s reign. When empathy will not serve Progressive interests, it is ignored.
That’s Elian Gonzalez being ripped from his extended family here in America at gunpoint at the direction of Clinton Attorney General, Janet Reno, after Gonzalez’s mother died helping him escape from the horrors of a Castro-controlled Cuba.
Today, progressives are crying big crocodile tears over a few immigrants getting held up over security checks. Back then? Crickets. Bill Clinton was their boy. So what if some 5 year old got shipped back to a Communist hellhole instead of being allowed to live with loving relatives?
A black man has been arrested and charged with burning an African-American church in Greenville, Miss. last month and defacing its outer walls with “Vote Trump” graffiti.
The Mississippi state police arrested Andrew McClinton, 45, on Wednesday and charged him with first-degree arson of a place of worship, Warren Strain, a spokesman with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety told The Daily Caller.
McClinton allegedly set fire to Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, where he is a member, on Nov. 1, a week before the election.
The demand for hate crimes far outstrips the available supply, so hoaxes are trotted out before the media in an effort to gain more Weaponized Empathy. Don’t support Trump, or else you like seeing black churches burned.
Milo goes to speak at Berkeley, of course, and out come the riots, beatings, and vandalism in the streets. Yet the narrative from people like Sarah Silverman and other celebs and media talking heads, is how good this really is. Because wouldn’t it be great if we could start a military coup now.
You’re delusional, Sarah.
So where’s your empathy now? Oh, that’s right, it doesn’t serve a Progressive cause.
Here’s another grand hate crime hoax, wherein it was implied Trump supporters were harassing a woman with homophobic slurs. The campus investigation proved this to be absolutely false.
A commenter named “Skywalker” posted a comment noting the following:
This is a variation on the presidential election and some of the more vocal opponents. Remember the Tess Rafferty Aftermath 2016 video? . She as much said, If you voted for Trump, you’re a racist/sexist. If you voted for Bernie/Jill/Gary, unfriend me. What she DIDN’T say was, The only acceptable vote was for my candidate, Hillary; but through a process of elimination, it’s basically the same thing. This is form of political and sociological bullying.
Vote for my candidate, or you’re a bad person. It’s guilt-tripping Weaponized Empathy deployed as a form of peer pressure. I’ll hate you, unless you do what I say.
Here was a great example of Weaponized Empathy posted by Jason Mart:
Here is an article about the same idea used to weaponize empathy toward the AWNR.
This example is great because it illustrates how Weaponized Empathy can be used on non-human targets. It’s one of the chief weapons in the environmentalist movement’s arsenal. They post pictures that have nothing to do with the place where the drilling will occur. Pristine wilderness, frolicking deer, and bountiful forests… when the proposed site is an ice-filled tundra where pretty much nothing grows.
Here you can see The Atlantic explaining how to deploy Weaponized Empathy as a persuasion technique. Amusingly enough, the Tweet that was the basis of the article appears to have been deleted. Another hoax, perhaps? I don’t know. But it certainly wouldn’t surprise me, at this point.
Here is the New York Times blaming future trans suicides on a nebulous group of supposed haters (implied to be Conservatives). So you don’t even need anything concrete in order to to use the weapon. At least the picture of the child in Syria was legitimately about a dead kid, even if it was used to cynically manipulate people into accepting a political position. Now we are talking about theoretical deaths, not actual deaths. Theoretically, says the Progressive, somebody might kill themselves because you don’t like what they are doing.
What a crock.
And let us not forget the photo of Michael Brown most often circulated by the media, showing a proverbial teddy bear.
He was a good boy. Just listening to some tunes, ya know? Don’t shoot!
Meanwhile, explicit instruction was given out to not show the video of Michael Brown, a big, burly man, robbing a convenience store earlier on the same day. We’re only permitted to show the nice pictures of such folks, right?
Send me more examples, and I’ll post them here. This tactic must be called out whenever we see it.
I'm a DJ, developer, amateur historian, would-be pundit, and general pain in the ass. I still cannot decide on the wisdom of the Oxford Comma. These are my observations on a civilization in decline, a political system on the verge of collapse, and a people asleep at the wheel as the car turns toward the jersey barrier.