Friday, January 23, 2015

3 common moves of apologist asshole dumbasses (all technical terms, seriously!) like bill maher

If you tell a bully he's being an asshole, he can shrug it off. He already knows he's an asshole, but has reconciled himself to it, even heroized his own asshole-hood. Think Chris Kyle. If you expose him as stupid, his face will turn red. There's nothing wrong with being stupid per se, but I can rationalize calling bullies stupid, as an insult, which is one reason I often focus on the incoherence of apologetics. As the rationalization of power-over, apologetics is always flawed from the perspective of human brains not conditioned to subservience.
I packed several apologist moves into two parallel dialogues below. At the system level, the following is system-perpetuating sleight-of-hand, rationalization, bullshit -- features, not bugs. At the normative level, assigning agency (which all humans do, however determined the world is), the apologist is an asshole who perpetuates the system knowingly or should-knowingly. Taken at face value, though, these are examples of stupidity. And Bill Maher is a fucking moron. 

First, where Bill Maher's accuser is the dummy:
A: What are we gonna do about the Bill Maher problem?
B: What Bill Maher problem?
A: He has purple hair, he's a rhino, and he communicates with aliens.
B: I'm skeptical. Show me that it's true and that it's a problem.
A: Why are you going easy on him? Why are you defending him?!
B: I'm not.
B: About THAT Bill Maher problem? Nothing.

Next, where Bill Maher is the accuser who is the dummy:
A: What are we gonna do about Islam?
B: What do you mean?
A: Muslims are dangerous. Jihad! Sharia for everyone! World domination!
B: Nominal Muslims, as a group, are more dangerous than nominal atheists, Christians, French people, etc.? All humans are dangerous. Are nominal Muslims RELATIVELY more dangerous? I'd like to see some proof.
Why are you going easy on them? Why are you defending them?!
B: I'm not.
B: About THAT Islam "problem"? Nothing.

There are at least three different things going on here (note: not directly related to three-way distinction above, just a coincidence): 
1. There's a buried presupposition. Often, as here, it's the point in contention, a point that's both weak and essential for the entire case, which is why it's buried. Some seldom specified form of "Islam is more dangerous than other religions" is the crux of the case against Islam (to the extent it can be called a case; is anti-Black racism a "case" against Black people? The case comes after, as rationalization). 
2. Inaccurate factual claims should not inform normative assessments. The best approach to understanding something is to accept accurate descriptions and reject inaccurate ones. "Avocados are made of glue" should not inform your decision of what to feed your kids. "Islam is uniquely dangerous" should not inform decisions about how to act toward Muslims generally.
3. Rejecting an inaccurate description of something, e.g., "Bill Maher is a dangerous rhino," does not amount to endorsing that something (Bill Maher). Or consider: "Spinach is awful because it grows on moons." You can reject that statement and still either like or dislike spinach. It's irrelevant, just an inaccurate description, best dismissed. You can reject the (inaccurate) idea that Islam correlates with violence (or that religion is even causal) without endorsing Islam. And because Bill Maher is an apologist for and perpetuator of systemic violence, you can accurately call him that, an asshole, and a moron all at the same time. The fact that he's a rhino has nothing to do with it.

No comments: