Sunday, April 30, 2006

Yes, You're Offensive. No, I'm Not Offended.

Apparently my little Cosmos has been reduced to one remaining leftist who is hanging by a thread. I’m going to continue yesterday’s post on my problems with leftism, despite the fact that there is apparently no way to say what I want to say without being offensive. I’m not sure why what I wrote yesterday was offensive, except perhaps to Jimmy Carter. After all, I was only analyzing the situation at the most abstract, ontological level. Nobody expects to lure someone into a food fight by saying, “dude, your ontology sucks."

I personally am not easily offended by hearing viewpoints with which I disagree, not because I don’t think the viewpoints are offensive, but because the emotional state of being offended gives one no “added value,” and in fact, is almost always detrimental to one’s spiritual well-being. You see, being offended is one of the tricks the ego uses to justify itself. The ego secretly enjoys and gets a thrill out of being offended. When you are in this state, the ego achieves a false sense of nobility by elevating itself above whatever it happens to be offended about. Most "activists" are people who perversely enjoy being offended--it's like an addiction to the ego.

Thus, the most low, common, and coarse individual can feel better than others by being in a semi-permanent state of offense, as you will have no doubt noticed that the left tends to be in. If you take away “being offended,” what’s left of the left? Just listen, if you can tolerate it, to Air America, or read Dailykos or the New York Times editorial page. They are “all offended, all the time.” Indeed, we are now in the midst of World War III because a bunch of religious fanatics are chronically offended, whether it's angry jihadis in Khartoum or jihadis angry about a cartoon.

Think of people like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Howard Dean, Cynthia McKinney--again, all angry all the time. But does this anger in any way correlate with exemplary character? Hardly. Look at Ronald Reagan. Did you ever see him gratuitously angry and offended? Or George Bush, who has been the subject of constant bile, vilification and hatred for six years. Does he ever respond in kind? Of course not. He is a gallant man. Most of all, he’s a man. A man does not behave like a hysterical woman. If you have to shoot someone, you just shoot them. You don’t first wallow and indulge in the state of being offended. As Churchill said, if you have to kill a man, it costs you nothing to be polite.

Last night I saw this play out in real time at the White House correspondents dinner. After a truly hilarious and self-effacing bit by President Bush and a Bush impersonator, on came comedian Stephen Colbert with his razor-sharp sledgehammer. Since politics is their religion, the left politicizes everything, and this evening was no exception. Colbert’s bit was so mean-spirited that it mostly drew awkward silence. He had absolutely no sense of the occasion, the purpose of which is to drop partisan politics just once a year and laugh at ourselves. I checked out dailykos afterwards, and they were lauding Colbert for courageously “speaking truth to power.” Speaking truth to power? At a comedy dinner? When the president is already mocking himself? It was the Wellstone/Coretta Scott King funeral all over again. Is it a lack of class or just a sort of autistic inability to read the emotional tone of the situation? It’s both, but I would suggest that the underlying mechanism is the state of being offended, which allows one to lash out and falsely ennoble the ego.

Speaking of low and coarse character, Alec Baldwin is an excellent case in point. Like most of Hollywood, he is drawn to the anger of leftism because it allows him to elevate his vulgar and boorish personality above those with whom he disagrees. Thus his utterances, as is true of so much of the left, are “content free.” The point is that he is higher and you (if you see things a bit differently) are lower:

“America is in trouble... We have a weak, unintelligent, incompetent President, a lying, thieving, diabolical Vice-president, an ineffective intelligence operation and a Congress made up of Republican lapdogs... Everything we stand for is under assault in this country, and not from some outside force. Our rights, liberties and economic security are threatened by the Republican party as it operates today... Distort. Cover up. Make excuses. No plan for change. No hope for an end to the disarray, futility and loss of lives, both American and Iraqi, under current US foreign policy... We live in a society of extremely hardworking people. Those people pay taxes. Those taxes, when raked into a pile, make a very big pile, and that money is used to float an extraordinary standard of living. It is also used to maintain a military whose might and reach are beyond compare.... [W]e'll turn around and America, in the domestic policy sense, in the civil liberties sense, might be unrecognizable. And we'll wonder if all of this was worth it. We'll wonder what happened to that great country that was so worth fighting for.”

By inference--which is the whole point of this ego-driven diatribe--this smart-aleck Baldwin is strong, intelligent, competent, honest, giving, angelic, peace-loving, courageous, guileless, hard working, and on the side of all that is decent, just like George Clooney, Tim Robbins, Barbara Streisand, Richard Dreyfuss, and all the rest of the Hollywoodenheads.

Angry? Obviously. Stupid? Of course. Vacuous? Naturally? Offensive? Quite. But am I offended? No, not at all. Being offended just detracts from the clarity required to see how stupid and offensive the man is. Hopefully, Kim Basinger didn’t sit around for too long being offended by his physical abuse and verbal bullying. She simply showed him the mansion door. It costs you nothing to be polite in telling a man that if he comes as close to you as the next county, the authorities will pounce on him like a leftist on a bombastic phrase.

Because of the way we’re built, we tend to assume that the other person matches our own emotional intensity when we are very angry at them. This is why children become frightened of the person with whom they are angry. If the child is chronically angry toward his parents, as an adult he may become chronically frightened of people in general, and often even lash out at them in a preemptory manner--shoot first and ask questions later. Anger will trigger fear and reprisal.

This is actually the basis of paranoia, for the paranoid mind converts fear into anger and anger to fear. One of the most important elements of paranoia is how it affects cognition. In other words, it is not just the content of the paranoid mind, but its process, which is troublesome.

That is, the paranoid mind engages in a caricature of thought, in which they carefully scan the environment for confirmation of the paranoid thought or idea. This has nothing whatsoever to do with intelligence. For example, Noam Chomsky may well be a genius, and yet, if you read his political works, he certainly comes across quite literally as a clinical paranoid. All of his considerable intelligence is marshaled in the effort to confirm his preordained paranoid beliefs, in an absolutely closed loop. In turn, Chomsky becomes the intellectual axis, the bull goose loony around which other, far less intelligent paranoids of the Dailykos/Huffington variety orient themselves through the magic of his authority.

Every clinician knows that you cannot argue with a paranoid. Doing so immediately raises their paranoid defenses, and they will simply incorporate you into their delusions. You must not be offended. Rather, you must lay back, remain noncommittal, and almost use a Socratic, "rope-a-dope" method in dealing with them. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to do this on a national level. In other words, you can do it with an individual, but what do you do when mass paranoia has gripped an entire political party?

The philosopher Michael Polanyi drew a sharp distinction between what he called a "free society" and an "open society," using the practice of science to illustrate his point. A truly free society does not merely consist of everyone believing whatever they want. Science, for example, is a free and spontaneous intellectual order that is nevertheless based on a distinctive set of beliefs about the world, through which the diverse actions of individual scientists are coordinated. Like the cells in your body, individual scientists simply independently go about their business, and yet, progress is made because their activities are channeled by the pursuit of real truth.

In contrast, in a merely "open" society, there is no such thing as transcendent truth, perception is reality, and everyone is free to think and do as he pleases, with no objective standard by which to to judge it. This kind of "bad freedom" eventually ramifies into the cognitively pathological situation we now see on the left, especially as it manifests in its pure form in academia (the liberal arts, not the sciences).

Intitially, the politically correct assault on the existence of objective truth seems liberating, as we are freed from the dictates of arbitrary authority. However, the whole idea of the individual pursuit of truth was a deeply liberal project, since truth was not accepted a priori but was subject to criticism and logical or empirical demonstration. But with deconstruction--the Swiss army knife of the intellectual left--the entire concept of truth is undermined, so there is no way to arbitrate between competing notions of reality.

Therefore, whoever has the power may enforce their version of reality, which is what political correctness is all about: Truth is arbitrary, but you had better believe my version, or be branded a bigot, or a homophobe, or a white male oppressor! One more reason why contemporary liberalism is deeply illiberal. Their ideas cannot be argued on the merits, so they are enforced by the illegitimate authority of political correctness. If you are on the left, you are probably not aware of this bullying pressure. If you are on the right, you feel it all the time--cognitive “stop signs” that impede you from uttering certain truths in public for fear of triggering offense. The easily offended person is also a passive-aggressively controlling person--hardly a victim, but an aggressor.

Thus, the deep structure of the left-right divide in this country goes beyond the secular vs. religious worldview. A purely secular society is an open society, where all points of view, no matter how dysfunctional, are equally valued (e.g., multiculturalism and moral relativism), whereas a truly free society must be rooted in something permanent and transcendent. It doesn't necessarily have to come from religion, although it inevitably leads in that direction. Mainly, in order to be truly free, one must acknowledge a source of truth that is independent of man, an antecedent reality that is perceived by the intellect, not the senses. Miraculously, our founders knew that the self-evident religious truths that constrain us actually set us free.

You may note that this has direct relevance for the current debate between strict constructionists vs. the notion of a "living constitution." In reality, strict adherence to the constitution results in increased freedom and democracy, while the "living constitution" quickly devolves into judicial tyranny. If you enjoy playing blackjack, your freedom is not really enhanced if the dealer can either hit or stand on 16, depending on his interpretation of the living rules of blackjack.


"I'm not offended. Just go away."


Hoarhey said...

"I'm not offended. Just go away."

Poor little guy; his first rejection from the opposite sex.

Gagdad Bob said...

That photo was several months ago. He's recovered now, a wiser man.

Repack Rider said...

Colbert made my week, my year (so far).

He has cojones the size of Manhattan, because he told the truth to a man who is accustomed to being protected from it. He didn't have enough time to mention every evil, incompetent or corrupt act, but the dinner only runs for a few hours.

He twisted the knife in the heart of the cowardice and sycophancy of the Washington press corpse, and if they were uncomfortable, I was rolling on the floor laughing at their discomfort.

Truly the most enjoyable C-SPAN since Al Franken ate Bill O'Reilly alive at the book conference.

jwm said...

Here we go.

Don't you have a hill to climb somewhere?


Gagdad Bob said...

If readers just ignore the moronic comments, I won't have to go to the trouble of deleting them. Mocking and riduculing--bueno--just don't be offended by such breathtaking stupidity, because there's obviously nothing you can do about it. It speaks for itself.

gumshoe1 said...

must have trouble walking.

Manhattan's a fairly big place.

Hoarhey said...

Pearls to swine.

(Sorry Kahn, I couldn't resist)

Homer said...

Mmmmmmm, pearls....

PSGInfinity said...

Mmmmmmm, swine....

Kahntheroad said...

Uh oh...what's that googly eyed thing down by her leg? Is the Technicolor serpent of the playroom rearing its devious head again?

will said...

Don't forget the leftist flip side of the same coin, easily interchanged with anger - a weepy sentimentality.

Excessive anger or sentimentality, it's all yin, all of the time.

kahntheroad said...


Oh, don't misunderstand my comments.

Mocking hapless idiocy is still fair game in my book. We've got to have some fun, after all.

Gagdad Bob said...

Very good hunting, Will!

Yes, you will notice that the secular mind replaces sober religion with a creepy sentimentality. Bill Clinton is a perfect example. Yes, I know he's supposedly religious, but it's a sappy sentimental religiosity. Let's face it--what kind of person, in his hour of darkness, turns for spiritual succor to the irReverend Jesse Jackson?

jwm said...

ha ha ha
buhs is teh suk!
got you noecons


andthenblammo! said...

Let's face it--what kind of person, in his hour of darkness, turns for spiritual succor to the irReverend Jesse Jackson?

Maybe he hoped to get a beer distributorship out of it?

Lisa said...

Good Morning Bob y Bobbleheads and Boobs,
I survived Disneyland and yes Space Mountain rocks! The soaring over California thing was very cool too, complete with smellavision like smog, patchouli, insert preferred nasty smell! (jk) Nah, It was really pine, ocean, and orange smell.

Question: Is it morally acceptable to use the Socratic rope-a-dope method with moonbats and then kick the box out from under?

Sal said...

"As Churchill said, if you have to kill a man, it costs you nothing to be polite."

Or as my high school history teacher's old sargeant-major said at bayonet practice: "Naow, just enough to kill 'im. There ain't no call to be brutal."

(You know how you meet people when you're too young and dumb to appreciate all you could have learned from them? That teacher was one of those.)

The picture - the expression on her face, his face, the whole child-driven decor! priceless

Hoarhey said...


you wrote:
"I personally am not easily offended by hearing viewpoints with which I disagree, not because I don’t think the viewpoints are offensive, but because the emotional state of being offended gives one no “added value,” and in fact, is almost always detrimental to one’s spiritual well-being."

In a post about a week or so ago you spoke of a hangover of sorts from being baited in by leftists in political/religious debates.
That regardless the tact and politeness with which the conservatve viewpoint was articulated and despite the fact that the name calling was entirely attributable to the other party, there always seems to be this sense of unease afterward.
What would you attribute that yucky feeling to? Is it residual ego or maybe the after effects of vampirism?

Gagdad Bob said...


Personally, I think it's the disorientation of being so thorougly misunderstood and then attacked on the basis of the misunderstanding. When you think about it, that is a kind of "hell" to be in.

This is why it's so disorienting to read or hear liberals speak about their fantasies of what a conservative is like: evil, selfish, fascist, greedy, etc. It's as if they've never met one, but are simply doing battle with their own projections.

In psychoanalysis, this is called "projective identification," that is, when someone inducts you into to their own psychodrama. They apply unconscious pressure to get to to adopt the role, and it's always very uncomfortable. It's one thing to monitor it in a professional setting, when a patient is doing it. Much more difficult in an intimate relationship or in politics.

John Hinds said...


I see you comment frequently over at American Digest. I was just there reading his piece on United 93. Have you and Vanderleun ever met? You guys ought to collaborate on a seminar or some such thing one of these days for the benefit of your combined audiences.

Gagdad Bob said...

No, we've never met, but it turns out that he helped invent me, at least when I was a liberal punk.

will said...

>>what kind of person, in his hour of darkness, turns for spiritual succor to the irReverend Jesse Jackson?<<

I suppose the kind of person who wants to find out what having a mistress really entails. What's the monthly budget? How much can you rely on promises? Are weekends best for dalliance or the after-hour weekdays? It can get to be a spiritual condundrum.

will said...

. . . and of course, the most urgent question of all re mistresses: Can we ever wrest the championship from the French?

Tamquam Leo Rugiens said...

Occasionally when expressing my un-PC opinions some one will say something like, Hey, watch it, that's offensive!" (Which I read as, "Hey, there's something wrong with your opinion, so change it!"(Interestingly, they tend not to address the issue, but their (usually fabricated) outrage.)) To which I reply something like, "It's a free country. I certainly respect your right to be offended should you so choose." Tends to end the discussion right there.

Dan Spomer said...

After reading the comments of the past few days, I feel like I've been watching a baseball team play a football team in the Stanley Cup playoffs on a soccer field. It might be entertaining, but it doesn't make a lot of sense.

However, I think I have now reached a plateau of sorts, as this is the first time that I understand Bob's posts more than the attendant comments. Bravo for me?

Now then... beyond the words, the semantics, the politeness, the anger, the confusion, the arguments, the misunderstandings, it all seems to reduce down to a very simple "us" v. "them" template.

Except "we" don't want to tear them down. "They" do want to tear "us" down, whether the playing field is physical, emotional or spiritual.

"They" can not win by winning.

"They" can only win by "us" losing.

Or something like that. I think I need an aspirin.

hoarhey said...

>>"Yes, you will notice that the secular mind replaces sober religion with a creepy sentimentality."

I watched Joe Leiberman on T.V. work a diner crowd in Connecticut during the 2000 election. I know exactly what you're talking about.

Gagdad Bob said...


Yes, I only just the other day realized the extent of the passive-aggressive bullying and pressure involved. It was like a light bulb went off. I immediatly jotted down a note to myself--"must blog about this." PC is a sort of infantile technique of getting your way and keeping everyone on the same page. It's quite tyrannical.

Now that I think about it, I'll bet it's ubiquitous in primitive groups, and helps to keep them primitive.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

dan, it is disorienting at first, trying to get your mind around the paradoxes of "maybe the smart people are really stupid," and "maybe all the accusations of bad motives of the right said more about the speaker than the speakee." It is difficult to apprehend that the opposite of the conventional wisdom might be closer to the truth. It is natural to perceive such criticism as shallow.

Doesn't mean it is shallow.

Gagdad Bob said...

One other irony--you will notice that the people who enjoy this blog see me as just one of the guys, doing what I can to be of humble assistance, whereas those who don't always think I'm trying to pass myself off as some sort of enlightened master. Again it's a case of misunderstanding me and attacking the misunderstanding, otherwise known as transference.

Hoarhey said...

>>"In psychoanalysis, this is called "projective identification," that is, when someone inducts you into to their own psychodrama. They apply unconscious pressure to get to to adopt the role, and it's always very uncomfortable."

Thanks Bob for the tutorial.
So I guess alot depends upon the degree to which we get sucked in to the psychodrama.
I just had a flood of memories of people who have tried this with me in differing ways, some of then quite comical. Like the ex-girlfriend whom I hadn't seen in 8 years who contacted me on the spur of the moment and who had elaborate plans for the holidays for us (to the point of talking to her friends about it before I'd even talked to her) and acted as if we had never broken up. Comical and fatal atraction spooky all at the same time.

Connecticut Yankee said...

It helps me sometimes to recognize that the professionally offended have always been with us. I like the story in the Gospel of Matthew in which the disciples of John the Baptist ask Jesus whether he is the promised Messiah. Jesus says to them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me." (Matt. 11:4-6)

PS. I'm often left scratching my head about the assumption that hysteria is a female issue-- almost all the hysterics I know are (biological) males.

Hoarhey said...

>>"One other irony--you will notice that the people who enjoy this blog see me as just one of the guys,"

Albeit one of the brainier guys.

Hoarhey said...


Do you know alot of "metro" type guys? That might explain it.

Sal said...

"This is why it's so disorienting to read or hear liberals speak about their fantasies of what a conservative is like: evil, selfish, fascist, greedy, etc. It's as if they've never met one, but are simply doing battle with their own projections."

A Katrina co-volunteer, learning that I was a political conservative, actually asked me "Then why are you here?"

PC as passive-aggression: genius!

(Will - enjoying the music. Thanks for the link.)

Connecticut Yankee said...


No, I wouldn't say they're all metrosexuals (two or three of them are, though)-- "narcissists" would be the most accurate description of them as a group. Some of them would impress most people as macho until they got to know them better.

dilys said...

Maybe that's the distinction to draw for the various discussions here: It's a "free" site (in more than terms) but not an "open" one.

As to the theme, Louis Auchincloss summed it up years ago in his novel title, The Injustice Collectors. Injustice collecting is not limited to the Left, but it is disproportionately common among those of all stripes who need to Get a Life, and contribute to the common good however ingloriously.

The new opera Adriana Mater ends with the characters turning away from offense and revenge: "We have not been avenged, but we have been saved."

Clinging to offense is IMO pretty much grounded in the same soil as envy. One of the great Sufis: "How can you get anywhere, carrying resentment like a camel?"

Gagdad Bob said...

That's brilliant--

"Free but not open." Exactly! Never would thought of applying the principle to the blog.....

"Comments welcome as long as they converge on transcendental truth."

will said...

Sal, thanks.

Look for the Ask Fergus the Cat A Question feature coming soon.

jwm said...

I'm thinking of the Geico 'Cave man' commercials. Absolutely brilliant little satire on this exact point.


ben conrad usn (ret) said...

Excellent post, and insightful comments all, minus one.
I have learned that you cannot engage chaotic confusion and illusion with orderly logic and reality.
Thus, when I reply to the incoherent, it is for the benefit of those who are searching for truth.
Not that I'm an expert on truth, mind you, so I am very careful about speaking only about what I know best, which isn't all there is to know, but is coherent and rooted in reality.
Though there are a few, rare, leftys who are also searching for truth, and have almost undetectable quantities of sadistic froth emmanating from their being.
My education has increased rapidly, since I have started reading among the best mind-veterans on the net. To wit; Bob, Dr. Sanity, Shrinkwrapped, AVI, Neo-Neocon, GM Roper, to name a few I'm familiar with.
They provide an incredibly profound service to us all, and many of their commenters are top-notch in my book.
The vast pschological knowledge they have so generously imparted, has had a positive effect on my learning process, and spiritual growth.
Add to that the other great thinkers on the web, such as Charles Krauthammer, Thomas Sowell, Bill Bennett, and a host of others, and it's one thrilling moment of learning after another.
They help me to think, and grow, and understand, in and outside the "box",
even when I might disagree.
In conrast, the "grate" thunkers of the left, are akin to snorkling in a dark sewer sludge, full of filthy leeches, the undead, the rats and the hyenas. Festering in a bottomless pit of their own making.
So, thank you Bob, for your generous teaching, and for being one of he guy's.

Gagdad Bob said...

Aye, Cap'n. As Petey always says, it's much more difficult to wrestle with a weak mind than a strong one. Trouble is, when he says it, he's referring to me.

And I hope you're reading Vanderleun at American Digest as well as those others you mentioned.

jwm said...

Gosh, repack, you're right.
I feel so foolish and deluded.
I blame Petey.

I'm gonna' go register at Daily Kos where they don't have any of these straw men hangin' around.


will said...

Maybe I could be the designated lefty for the coming week? After which we could rotate.

Dr Schnuggiputz said...

Bob, a veritable feast these last few days, if not a generous helping of Schwarzwaldkirschtorte, i.e. black forest torte. Especially value the juicy cherries of Sunday, comments re a child's tendency to be frightened of people they are angry with. Choice corroboration of a recent self-discovery. Mmmm, love those moments.

Connecticut Yankee said...


Who gets to be the cleanup batter in that rotation? (I guess Bob stays on as team manager).

jwm said...

Fight the power space brothers!
No nukes for whales!
Stop geonormativity!
Free the- the- well, hell free someone!


will said...

Yankee -

Why not you? Your minor league stats are excellent, that's why you got called up the Show.

Good team here, too. Bob's never had a losing season as a manager. Hard to believe he once played for another team, isn't it, considering that one just associates his name with this franchise and our current batch of All-Stars.

Oh . . . stay away from the steroids, please.

Rorschach said...


I saw a bumper sticker that was apparently intended to offend the Left as much as possible.

It said Nuke The Gay Baby Whales For Jesus.

Kahntheroad said...

Rorschach -

Did you read any of the coverage a few weeks ago about the Canadian protests trying to stop the seal hunt? There was a raft filled with PETA types screaming through megaphones (I think they were yelling 'FREE MUMIA!!') at a boat of seal hunters. How did the burly sea-men response to this nuisance?

They heaved baby seal carcasses at the moonbats and capsized the raft!!

Oh man, it was the funniest thing I'd read in a long time. In fact, as a bonus, there was even some idiot celebrity on the raft, but I forget who now.

Yeah, yeah it's lowbrow humor...but try imaging that scene without a smile...c'mon...I dare you.

CatoRenasci said...

Found this blog from Flopping Aces. Your insight about socialism and envy strikes me as very true: I've argued this ever since spending time in Scandinavia over a decade ago. I could quibble here and there, but fundamentally the whole series of three posts on the left is very insightful. I have sent the link to my kids in college and to several other friends.

dilys said...

If Cato is still here: By all means, quibble on your blog, and send us the link! Anyone taking the political argument in the direction of lexigraphical ordering and Pascal's Wager could most likely amplify things here.

triticale said...

(I think they were yelling 'FREE MUMIA!!')

We have all the MUMIA we need. We don't want any more even if ir is FREE!!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Around here, the sign is usually "Free Kittens."

Anonymous said...

Can we move on from the free kittens thing? It just is sounding so tired.