There were certain issues in the past that have graduated to non-issues. They are now considered by most of us to be settled questions.
In some cases, it is because the weight of accumulated evidence has pretty much crushed any doubt. Very few of us take seriously any debate on whether the sun goes around the earth. Those who wonder if President Obama was actually born in America seem to be split between those who think he was born in Kenya and those who do not realize that Hawaii is a part of the the United States.
In other cases, settled questions are settled because simple fairness has become obvious over time. Gay rights, in at least some form, has gone a long way toward being a universal view. There are some who simply regard a same sex romantic relationship as a perversion that should be outlawed. But the number of adherents to that view has shrunk to the point of near non-existence. There is still debate over actual equal rights. Equality in marriage is less controversial than it was even a year ago. Even Republicans are beginning to dodge questions they once demagogued.
Racial equality once was controversial. Now the denigration of minorities is distasteful to even die hard conservatives. We have a philosophical objection to discrimination that goes beyond argument. It is a settled question.
Many things that were once open to debate are now settled simply because people thought about them enough to approach them with a very solid point of view. Slavery. Death camps. President Nixon.
But on most issues, those before the public, people are swayed by evidence. My friend John Myste disagrees with me on this, and his view holds up to observation to a point. In a single discussion, in even multiple discussions, most folks do not want to concede an argument. But, over time, evidence does tend to affect enough folks to bend the arc.
The difficulty with the shrinking minority that consider themselves Republican is that the most influential consider the very basic fabric of social organization to be a closed question. Government intervention in the form of public safety, pollution control, employment compensation, a healthy economic environment, even nuclear safety, is rejected.
Those Republicans who reject government activism do not, for the most part, reject government solutions because they believe these problems do not exist. They believe these problems do not exist because they reject government solutions. At least on most things.
There are some issues on which most Republicans favor governmental activism. Sex education is favored as long as it is "abstinence only" sex education. Immigration restriction is favored. But, for most, even these issues are closed questions.
Their point of view is philosophical in nature. When they formulate it that way, this can be quite legitimate. In fact, most of us apply a philosophical conclusion to many of life's situations.
"My mind's made up. Don't confuse me with the facts." That is the caricature, but it is only a caricature to a valid approach. We do not challenge the logic of an argument. We challenge the premise.
Consider a recent viral video of an interview with Texas Governor and recently announced Presidential candidate Rick Perry.
I can’t find a full transcript, but to offer a flavor, the clip shows a reporter passing along a question from the audience to the governor: “Why does Texas continue with abstinence education programs, when they don’t seem to be working? In fact, I think we [in Texas] have the third-highest teen-pregnancy rate in the country right now.” Perry responds, “Abstinence works.”
So, the reporter tries again. “But we have the third-highest teen teen-pregnancy rate among all states in the country. The questioner’s point is, it doesn’t seem to be working.” The governor answers again, “It — it works.” Perry then spends two-and-a-half minutes on a meandering answer that doesn’t really make any sense.
Perry might have answered that statistics are not the only measure, that if it works in just one case, it works. He might have elaborated that what matters more than if it works is whether it is right, that a society should stand for something, that the benefit of a moral stand goes beyond it's immediate utility.
Challenge the premise.
The problem is this: Most Republicans do not seem to have the patience. And so we end up with a reflexive denial of even the most obvious facts. Queen of Hearts reasoning drags at the mind.
Hey, I'm telling you.
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As you alluded to, should we give up the moral high ground and admit failure right out of the box? I mean, after all, kids are just going to have sex anyways, right? Far better to try and protect them and teach them how to use condoms etc. right?
With that logic, why don't we just give bullet proof vests and rubber bullets to gang-bangers? I mean, after all, they are just going to shoot each other anyways. Why not try to protect them somewhat and make this inevitable action a little bit safer? Right?
I have a better idea! Why don’t we parents spend lots of time with our kids and bring them up in a moral fashion instead of in a morally relativistic one. How about we are present in their lives all the time so that TV and the media and friends aren’t teaching them about sex instead of us parents? How about we explain the possible consequences of un-married sex to them and show them the horrible examples that abound on the internet of making that wrong choice? How about we raise our children to be strong and fortified with personal dignity that will necessarily make such temptations as an easy decision against doing what they know will be bad for them in the long run? How about we love our children and answer their questions truthfully on this and other such topics so that they are armed with both knowledge and integrity when confronted with these natural human urges?
And if, God forbid, they have sex anyway, how about we lovingly but firmly hold them accountable for the erroneous decision so that it will hopefully not be repeated in the future. And that involves not allowing a “quick and easy” abortion if they are “punished with a baby”.
The funny thing about abstinence is that, with the solitary exception of Mary, it has worked every single time it has been tried.
One of the best articles I have ever read, had the statement you just made as its thesis (not its thesis statement, but the concept was its thesis).
I highly recommend the article, which tries to understand why conservatives are unrelenting in the face of evidence. I am not suggesting that they are or they are not. As with most cases, my immediate thoughts were: “Wow this is really good and here is how I would refute it...”
That said, I added it a link buried deep in my website, because it is so well-argued.
Here is the article that seems as if it were the inspiration for your article, though I am sure it is not, since your article expresses a common Deming theme.
Just the article title is appealing.
You cite an example of Perry’s mind being closed to prove your case. It has two problems:
1. If you prove Perry’s mind is closed, that does nothing to prove that Republicans are closed minded.
2. If you prove Perry’s mind was closed on this issue at this time, that does nothing to prove that Perry is closed-minded. I am certain that he is, but this does not prove it.
I could go find a liberal acting closed-minded to refute the assumption, but it a waste of my time unless your contention is that I would not be able to find such, and if I were, you would concede that liberals and conservatives are equally open-minded.
The phenomenon you describe applies to people, not people with a certain opinion. I do agree that it seems to me like it applies to people with conservative views more often. I know some conservatives who tell me that the opposite seems to be the case to them. Hmm. Perhaps they are just lying. After all, they are conservatives, and as we know conservatives lie. It’s in their handbook, right?
I highly encourage you to read the article I mentioned above. It almost convinces me of your position, and would certainly have done so if not for the brilliant rebuttal I imagined giving.
You know I would rather chew the cud than dispute one of your claims, but this statement is no only tiresome, but absurd, when used in context:
“The funny thing about abstinence is that, with the solitary exception of Mary, it has worked every single time it has been tried.”
The funny thing is, that those who try to use abstinence to keep their children from having children end up with grandchildren much faster than those who admit that the desire to have sex is built in the human species and “marriage” is not built into the equation.
You have to admit there is a potential problem before you can solve it. The problem is not that everyone isn’t teaching their children abstinence. I know because if that were the problem, the solution would be for everyone to teach their children abstinence. If everyone did this, however, we would still have unwanted teen pregnancies, so the problem must be something else.
My own parent taught me to use abstinence as her approach. I can promise you, her solution failed. She tried teaching abstinence as a method of birth control and she was completely unsuccessful. However, I did not impregnate anyone, because I rejected her solution and used condoms, and always a second form of protection. Two forms of protection works very well.
If you want lots and lots of grandkids from many different mommies and daddies, then teach your children abstinence, which never fails to procreate accept when the children deny their human impulses and suffer to please you or their purported creator, which is not that often. Those who use teaching their children abstinence as a method of birth control do often fail, as they pregnant daughters will attest.
That approach makes the false assumption that avoiding something that it is human nature to not avoid is OK. It is OK for the parent, who experiences none of the symptoms of the plan. Children often have different ideas.
I just noticed this:
"Why don’t we parents spend lots of time with our kids and bring them up in a moral fashion instead of in a morally relativistic one."
What you mean is why don't we all raise our children the way T. Paine thinks God wants us to, right? That is also morally relativistic. It is relative to T. Paine's world view.
How should atheists and agnostics determine what is moral? I have answers, but I want to hear yours, as you continually condemn moral relativism in favor of the T. Paine Bible.
I have to agree with T. Paine on this one. If a teen makes a mistake, we should rape another unwanted child into existence in order to teach the teen responsibility.
If the teen continues her bad behavior, we can probably put her on the right track other ways, once the baby is born. I am thinking baby fingernails.
Are you going to tell Volt about this wonderful invention, or are you just going to let him keep yapping about how horrible we are? I would tell him, but he will not believe me. I have lost credibility.
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