Specifics, Please

Nate Winchester’s guest post on the appeal of Jordan Peterson got me thinking.  Every writer makes assumptions about his audience; one of mine is that the Nine Readers are all adults, at or approaching middle age, with some substantial life experience under their belts.  Thus, I assume posts like this one are just restatements of the obvious, which is why I try not to write posts like that.

Even if that’s true, though, there may well be folks passing through here who are younger.  If you’re an American under the age of about 30, you’ve had an entire life’s worth of very careful instruction, put together by the very best specialists, in how NOT to think.  Facts are to liberals as crucifixes are to vampires.  Extending the metaphor, questioning the narrative is, for them, like getting a garlic enema in broad daylight.  Given that all your instructors, K thru PhD, were all SJWs, it’s entirely possible that you’ve never seen it done.  If so, here’s a handy primer:

Ask for specifics.  Anyone who knows what he’s talking about will not only have them to hand, but will be eager to discuss them with you.  SJWs, on the other hand, will immediately go ad hominem.  So, for instance, when “gun control” comes up, ask your interlocutor just what, specifically, is so heinous about “bump stocks.”  Full disclosure: I have no idea what a “bump stock” is, but I guarantee you that nobody who is all hot and bothered about banning them does, either.  It’s just the hivemind’s latest talking point.

And so on down the line.  “Deregulation” is another SJW term d’art.  Recessions, we’re told, are caused by “deregulation” in the financial markets.  So: Which regulations were repealed, and of them, which would you like back?

Sadly, this applies to Our Thing, too.  The second link, above, discusses a rumor that “most of the Obama administration” will soon be arrested, to face military tribunals.  Ok: Who?  Here’s a list of Obama administration personnel.  Picking a name at random…. Gladys J. Commons, the former United States Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller).  What would we charge this woman with, that isn’t also a civil crime?  You don’t need military tribunals to deal with run of the mill peculation, or even espionage.  What could she have done that would require, in effect, martial law in order to try her?  And how would you go about arresting her?  Wiki’s lack of info on her post-Obama career implies she’s a private citizen now.  Are we going to send in SEAL Team 6 to arrest her?  Why would we send SEAL Team Six, instead of the local police, or even the Feeb?  Can you even begin to imagine the paperwork?

To ask is to answer.  This is nonsense on stilts.  “Military trials of former administration officials” is Step 2 of your standard coup d’etat.  Every question asked in that previous paragraph requires a ream of Constitutional violations to answer.  It’s baloney.

Ask for the specifics.  If you can’t get them — if you get ad hommed, or start hearing about Teh Joooos! — just back away slowly… then delete your browser history.

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8 thoughts on “Specifics, Please

  1. Nate Winchester

    I will note I have seen some leftist trolls figure this out enough to take the other tack and run in the opposite direction asking for specifics to insanity.

    For an example, just picture in your mind a crowd of people surrounding a guy and beating him to death. Just because of spacial physics, you can see that only 6 to maybe a dozen people could actually reach and touch the victim, the rest of the crowd wouldn’t be able to. Thus it becomes “technically” true that a minority of the crowd was violent.

    Yes, I had someone argue this point to me when we were discussing a campus incident where a speaker was injured. (He broke it off pretty quick when the conversation drifted towards whether this logic let the KKK or nazis off the hook.)

    Of course the real world has so MUCH data out there, any topic a person doesn’t like can quickly become overwhelmed with minutia if they put any effort into it. So to add to what Sev said: ask for specifics, but make sure they are specifics which add to the discussion, not distract from it.

    Reply
  2. Wamphyr

    I recall Larry Elder saying on talk radio in the 80’s when I lived in LA:
    “A fact, to a liberal, is like Kryptonite to Superman.”

    There are plenty of other examples, such as ‘closing the gun show loophole’ when no one who’s advocating for this can actually explain what the loophole is let alone why it’s problematic.

    And Nate’s comment about getting overwhelmed with minutia is spot on; plenty of folks (on both sides) get suddenly hung up on debating some specific and go into a rat hole. This is an easy way to avoid debating the larger point, which requires thinking. Thinking is hard, and exposes you to a possible outcome of losing the argument, which is why quite a few folks tend to avoid it.

    Lastly, there’s a bad trend I’m seeing on the internet with regards to politics, which in essence throws meat out there as ‘clickbait’. The operative words out there in the headline are ‘may’ and ‘could.’ You’ll see articles like “Lois Lerner MAY be forced to testify again in front of Congress about the IRS scandal” and the article is pure speculation. “Clinton COULD be brought up on charges related to her email server”, rinse and repeat. And of course there’s absolutely no specifics anywhere in the articles.

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  3. Al from da Nort

    Sev;
    I completely agree that the idea of a military coup under current circumstances is, fortunately, nonsense. We should all hope that such a thing as a military coup never happens, much less summary trials of any and all members of previous administrations. Too easy for it to blow back later against the originators and eager participants, for one thing. But you seem to assume that constitutional norms would survive a coup. Why would that be the case_?

    History suggests otherwise. Once the rule of law is suspended, anything can and will happen. The sad history of Russia is but one example. In the words of the infamous head of Stalin’s NKVD (predecessor to the KGB), Lavrenti Beria, “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime,” Or as one of his thugs reportedly said, “Give me a night with a man and I’ll have him confessing that he’s the King of England.” IOW, facts and laws don’t matter once you’re crosswise with those in power, particularly those with a utopian religion that they use to justify anything.

    Bottom Line: It’s the coup that’s not happening. But if it *did*, the trials are a distinct possibility, unfortunately.

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    1. Severian Post author

      I don’t assume Constitutional norms would survive a coup. I was trying to point out — less than effectively, it seems — that anything short of an actual, blood-in-the-streets revolution would look a lot like a show trial… and even show trials require elaborate preparations and lots of paperwork.

      What these conspirazoids are trying to say, of course, is that there WILL be an actual coup… but putting it that way makes it obvious how ridiculous the idea is. So the conspirazoids try to throw some smoke about “military tribunals.”

      And as if any further proof were needed: There’s already six tons of evidence in the public record that could put away some big league Obama Admin officials for a long time. As recently as the 1980s, guys like Clapper, McCabe, et al would be in jail. Oliver North got a prison sentence for considerably less… hell, Scooter Libby got jail time for less as recently as 2007. There’s enough on Hillary Clinton to fry her up Rosenberg-style. Sessions could easily put most of Obama’s goons in orange jumpsuits right now, if he chose — no “military tribunals” necessary.

      It’s all wishcasting. It’s Our Thing’s version of “Russian hacking” — I know lots of folks still insisting that Putin rigged the election; they can’t handle the easy, obvious explanation that they ran a candidate whose competency and personal magnetism made Mike Dukakis look like fucking Pericles. Similarly, the loons in Our Thing are ignoring the simple, obvious explanation that the political class looks out for its own — should Trump order the Justice Dept. to do its job, he’d be met with a version of Andrew Jackson’s reply to John Marshall (“I see Mr. Marshall has made his ruling. Now, let us see him enforce it”).

      Reply
      1. Al from da Nort

        Sev;
        OK. Now I see your logic: A magic coup was going to yield the desired result of Obamoids in Orange with no effort required. And you’re right about how much work trials, show or not, are. The more public and political, the more work that ought to go into setting them up. And such trials are evidently thought to be too much work right now, else, as you point out, they would be happening already.

        Alternatively, there is also wishful thinking going on that Congress or the Trump Administration is beavering away, building up cases. It may be true, and I hope it is, but it is just as possible that the whole FBI Inspector General business is a gigantic head fake by the swamp. If anyone *is* actually charged, the ‘show trial’ accusations will be flying, you can be sure of that.

        Slightly OT: It always mystified me that Stalin, Hitler, et al went to so much trouble having show trials when they could just as easily have dealt with the doomed in their usual summary way.

        My speculation is that show trials are necessary to allow the rest of the elite to fool themselves that the defendants deserved their fate. Otherwise those who could potentially get at the dictator start to feel that they are all next. If so, then they have nothing to lose by banding together to take that dictator out. Apparently a number of Caesars met their end this way and so Machiavelli explicitly warned The Prince against this situation.

        But perversely, what’s to inhibit potential coup plotters right now if there’s no price to pay for extra-legal subversive activity_? A lot of people think that a coup means blood in the streets. Actually, it’s just the opposite. A well executed coup is over before breakfast time in the capital city. If there’s blood, it comes later, after said show trials have run their course.

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  4. nightfly

    “Overloaded with minutiae…” hm, that’s a suspiciously-familiar MO to any of us who have gone cuttlefishing.

    Fortunately, there’s another “tell” to distinguish thinking from emoting – the thinker will often be able to outline the emoter’s position more clearly than the emoter can. If you ask Clarence Thomas or Samuel Alito about a constitutionally-dubious idea, they will be able to articulate the premises of the argument in much more detail than your typical “guns are just icky, arms are for hugging!” fruit loop. If you ask a theologian about a dogma, they will have much better reasons even in favor of the heretical versions of it than a garden-variety Unitarian.

    They will then be able to shatter even the improved versions of those arguments while the opponents are still fumbling around in mute shock, muttering “but that’s so problematic!” to themselves.

    There was a clip recently from one of the town halls in the wake of Parkland, where one parent held up a swiss army knife and said, in effect, “What would you do if I was actually trying to hurt somebody with this, right now?” In the background, a couple of shocked, shocked I tell you “adults” can be heard calling out “Hey, you’re threatening a kid!” and “That’s illegal!” Well, question answered I suppose, but in such a way that amply demonstrates the point here – this guy was thinking about what might happen should a criminal disobey the proposed rules (or even the current, unenforced rules), and the emoters could not in any way reply except to insist that There Are Rules as if their mere recitation would make the knife vanish in a puff of impossibility.

    On twitter I saw this sent far and wide with people remarking “OMG HE THREATENED A KID THESE NUTS ARE UNHINGED,” but of course if he HAD actually been violent towards a kid there would be one fewer kid, and possibly worse besides… and none of them stopped to consider, either, how he would be stopped by a bunch of disregarded (and thus pointless) rules.

    The demonstration proved that the knife-bearer actually understood the problem and what might work, and what certainly would not work. The emoters’ reactions proved that they’ve got nothing.

    Reply
    1. Severian Post author

      A certain kind of conservative (of which I am not one ) loves that Jonathan Haidt guy for precisely this reason — he uses “science” to show that while conservatives understand liberal positions perfectly, liberals consistently fail to understand conservative ones. Righty can put himself in Lefty’s shoes; vice versa doesn’t hold.

      We went round and round with the Cuttlefish on this very point over at Morgan’s, if I recall correctly. They were crowing that “studies” like Haidt’s show that conservatives think liberals think they care more about fairness etc. Parsing the grammar in a non-autistic way, of course, says nothing about Progressives’ actual, behavioral fairness — much like the loser who somehow still believes he’s super-suave with the ladies because he knows some PUA lingo, Liberals believe they’re all about the fairness, when in reality they’re anything but.

      Ultimately, it all comes back to Liberals’ unswerving faith in the power of magic, magic words. There’s a law against X; therefore X can’t exist, because there’s a law, you hear me, a LAW!!! That there are laws against murder, too, never seems to faze them, because humans have no free will. Just as poverty causes crime — you can’t help it; fall below the poverty line and boom, you’re a stickup artist — so guns cause murder. Can’t be helped — if there’s a gun in the room, someone has to pick it up and shoot someone with it. Only the magic power of words can stop it.

      Reply

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