In the course of my daily affairs, I am wont to get into debates on various intellectual, political and religious matters. Over many years of this sort of thing, it has become clear to me that admitting error is increasingly seen as an admission of weakness. Indeed, if you say the words “I was wrong” it is entirely likely that those you debate with will hang the error over your head at every opportunity. When you discuss another matter, they will bring up that time you admitted you were wrong in an effort to discredit your opinion. If someone else posts on the original topic, they will remind the newcomer that once upon a time, someone else was wrong (therefore they must be right). Leftists are prone to fits of logic chopping just to convince themselves that they are never in error. In one example, I provided the dictionary definition of a word, and still the Leftist insisted that my definition was wrong.
I frequent the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler. Indeed, I have lurked there for many years. And in that venue there is D.J. Allyn, who is a liberal. To be fair to Deej, he is of the relatively moderate variety. His opinions are less egregious than those of his more radical compatriots and, on rare occasion, I have even found myself in agreement with him. Yet recently we found ourselves as debate opponents again, on the matter of the Germanwings pilot who crashed his airliner. Except this time, I was an unwilling participant. I desired a friendly discussion, some speculative banter (for it was too early to know with any certainty what had happened) not the kerfuffle followed.
Shortly after the plane crashed hit the media, I opened a thread with the following sentence: “$10 says the pilot of the Germanwings aircraft was a Muzzie.”
There was some banter, as the Rotties are a rowdy bunch. None of them were willing to take the wager, for the odds of airline mass murder being related to Muslim activity was far too great for their taste. Deej, however, chimed in claiming that airline suicides are rarely due to Muslim activity and that my wager was entirely unjustified. Not only was I wrong, he said, but I should never have speculated on the matter in the first place. To keep a long story short, there was a lot of back and forth in which Deej repeatedly claimed that speculation on the issue was premature, damaging and unjustified. Furthermore, he claimed, I and other Rotties seemed to have a special desire for the pilot to be Muslim. I need not remind my readers that I have no desire to see Muslim terrorism in any form, much less related to the airline industry. The claim was disingenuous, and yet he continually repeated it, over and over. He wrote several screeds nearly as lengthy as this post on a $10 wager.
Activity like this is frequent on the political Left, and even makes itself known often enough on the Right. A “normal” individual, for whatever utility that word has these days, would have simply taken the $10 wager if he disagreed with my speculation, much like how individuals will exchange friendly beer wagers before a major sporting event. If, after the fat lady sung, the pilot had been a Muslim convert, I would have taken my winnings at the bar and probably bought the next round as a peace offering, for the next time it could be me paying up. And if, as seems to be the case here (but is yet unconfirmed), I was in the wrong, I would have happily bought a few beers for the victor and cleared my wager.
After it was all said and done, Deej hit on the topic again, calling me out by name, when another Rottie speculated likewise. He could not let the matter go. Even supposing the debate were serious business, and being wrong in a private forum carried some great negative consequence, it should still have behooved him to be magnanimous to the defeated, to be a sporting fellow as it were. Instead, without any confirmation yet that he was even correct, he continually attempted to grind my nose in it.
Now, normally I would have chalked it up to another liberal doing his liberal thing on the internet. But, on the very same day, another individual acted similarly in a different private forum. In fact, this individual, (who I will keep anonymous for now — we will call him John), claimed that to take a stand on any matter was a violation of proper skepticism. That nothing is certainly true, one should be skeptical of everything, and one must always leave margin for error. He feared being wrong so terribly that he defined covering your ass more completely than any politician I have ever heard of. He was confused that I had no fear of being wrong, and would frequently take stands on various matters and openly ask to be proven wrong.
My friend who runs the Cult State blog was as confused about this as I was, as John is a mutual acquaintance of ours. Like me, he is a programmer by day. If you know anything about programming, you know that it is a business fraught with error. You will be wrong multiple times every single day. In fact, this is how you work your way through typical programming problems. Write code, test code, fix errors, go back to step one. Every programmer worth his salt will ask for a test environment before he even begins work. Being wrong is an educational process. Usually bad software is written by individuals who cannot admit error, who cover their asses instead of saying “nope, I was wrong there. I’ll fix it and send you an updated version.” Yet management often tells us programmers not to admit the error, because somehow it makes them look bad. We both tried to explain this to John, but he thought we were lunatics for openly taking stands and inviting the possibility of error.
My friend said it thusly:
I’d hate to see John on Github.
Like a thousand comments about how he wanted to code a line but was unsure because he was afraid it might have been wrong… and not a single committed line.
You wouldn’t survive a day in open source, John.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized this has infected every facet of American society. Obama and Hillary, after the Benghazi affair, could have admitted error. They could have said “we didn’t realize the threat was as serious as it was. We’re sorry, we just didn’t see it coming.” Once upon a time in American history, this would have been accepted. The euphemism “shit happens” applies to leadership more than most fields. But they understand, like Deej and John do, that to admit error today is to invite attack from their own erstwhile allies. Furthermore, the attack will be merciless, repeated endlessly. There will be no shaking of hands, no “good game” at the end of the affair. Instead, it will continue forever. As Francis over at Liberty’s Torch tells us, even surrendering, groveling and apologizing is insufficient to placate them. They desire nothing less than unconditional surrender in all things. Negotiated truce is impossible. Once weakness, which they see as coextensive with error, has been admitted, it is eternal.
Yet, as humans, they categorically must be wrong at times. Humans are imperfect beings. Imperfect beings make mistakes. QED. This means that what they are really doing is celebrating the art of lying. No, they are not merely lying because they have weighed the options in their minds and decided that lying is the lesser evil, a choice every human has made at some point in his life. They are elevating lying to be a good. They are not sinning, and repenting of the sin, they are sinning and proudly declaring “I have sinned, therefore I am good, I am stronger and better because of my sin.” And they do this with an angle of proving their own superiority, not to you and I, dear reader, for we know they lie and they know that we know of their lies, but rather they do this to prove it to themselves, so that they may feel good about themselves. This is the terrible harvest the worship of Self Esteem has brought us.
If the Germanwings pilot turns out to be an Atheist or an Evangelical Christian or some other thing, I will go back to my thread and offer beers to anyone who took my wager and say “my speculation was wrong.” If Deej turns out to be wrong, I expect he will be silent, or try to spin it somehow that he is still right (he wasn’t a “real” Muslim, or some such). Getting a liberal, even of the moderate camp, to say the words “I was wrong” is as monumental a task as building the Great Pyramids.