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more-moderate-than-thou

I want to interrupt my incessant prattling about Beltane to solicit some opinions. Have you noticed how prevalent is the notion that only centrists are reasoned and sane? How often do you hear someone say "I think both parties are nuts. The only reasonable position is the middle one."

I'm gonna call bullshit on that. I think it's intellectually lazy. What people really mean by this is that the only good opinion is one that has been carefully considered, and that's certainly true, but simply adopting a "moderate" or "middle of the road" position isn't the same thing. It's a cheat, and it's no substitute for actually thinking.

I'll also point out (and you knew this was coming) that I think this is a device used more often by the Right these days. "Fair and Balanced," right? The GOP is the voice of the infallible "center" and those crazies on the Left are insufficiently moderate. This is the single most boldly marketed message coming from the Right these days. The pronouncement of their supreme even-handedness.

I've seen a lot of ads on the Metro lately listing the most extreme circumstances under which abortions occur, and asking if abortion rights have "gone to far." That's just the most disingenuous load of crap. Those people aren't concerned that we've "gone to far". They are simply trying a slight of hand to distract the public from their extreme (yes, extreme) agenda in which no woman has the right to an abortion.

OK, I could go on, but I'm beginning to sort of ramble around the issue here.

Anyone wanna argue with me? I'm truly very interested in contradictory opinions (how moderate of me!) because I am still trying to solidify this concept in my mind. And hearing other peoples' thoughts is one way we liberals inform ourselves, ya see.

Comments

( 60 comments — Leave a comment )
peregrin8
May. 9th, 2005 06:12 pm (UTC)
And there are times when the "moderate" or "compromise" solution is much worse than either of the extremes. I'm trying to think of a tidy hypothetical example -- say, halfway funding something instead of either doing it right or not doing it.
fenriss
May. 9th, 2005 06:41 pm (UTC)
Very good example. Trying to think of another one, but pretty much coming up blank. Sleep deprivation, dontcha know.

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joanarkham
May. 9th, 2005 06:19 pm (UTC)
I think if you look at my total belief system, you would call it "moderate" but I didn't get there just by splitting the difference on each individual issue.

Of course, as the country moves to the right, I find myself moving to the left just by staying in the same place...
fenriss
May. 9th, 2005 06:44 pm (UTC)
I think if you look at my total belief system, you would call it "moderate" but I didn't get there just by splitting the difference on each individual issue.

Right. There's nothing at all wrong with holding moderate opinions. It's just that enshrining moderation as desirable in it's own right is potentially dangerous.

Of course, as the country moves to the right, I find myself moving to the left just by staying in the same place...

You noticed that, huh?
(no subject) - telie13 - May. 9th, 2005 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
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m3rkvry
May. 9th, 2005 06:30 pm (UTC)
The next time someone claims that both parties are equally nuts, ask them what the liberal equivalent is for the white supremacists in the deep south that lynch black people.
fenriss
May. 9th, 2005 06:38 pm (UTC)
Ooh. Strong medicine! Thanks for that.
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fenriss
May. 9th, 2005 07:56 pm (UTC)
Wow. Are you sure you aren't an alternate timeline me? :)

I'm right there with you. I really cannot deny the fact that the values at the root of most conservative thought are so very, very anathema to me. I want to be respectful of people who think differently, but when it comes to political issues, I am genuinely at a loss to understand how people can base their opinions on greed and aggression and authoritarianism and still sleep at night.

As ever, I am absolutely, 100% willing to listen to anyone who wants to give me a reasoned argument. I am willing to change my opinions if new information comes along, and I strive (and sometimes succeed) to be gentle and polite to everyone. But I will not condone ideas that I perceive as contrary to compassion or freedom. No matter who is made uncomfortable.
translucent_eye
May. 9th, 2005 07:06 pm (UTC)
Okay, here's one for you. When I went to the March for Women's Lives, I was a bit annoyed by the number of people that were behind the "Free Abortions for All" campaign because to me a message that strong needs to co-exist only with a personal responsibility message as well. The message they portrayed was not one that I back. Since then I have talked to may pro-choice people on the "free abortions" issue to kinda determine where they stood and if someone would be able to sway me - and I am sitting in undecided camp right now.

Also - I would like to add that the magority of left and right people tend to be ignorant on the issues that they backed, and its just as frustrating to see an ignorant person push for the issue you back as it is for an ignorant person to puse for an issue that you are against. I wish people that don't have the time, inclination, or brain power to understand and reseach an issue wouldn't take a strong stance of it.
fenriss
May. 9th, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC)
Well, first of all, I'd repeat what I said to Joan, above. It's not moderate opinions I disapprove of. It's the trend toward holding up moderation as a standard to which everyone should aspire that I find troublesome.

Having said that, I personally think the abortion debate is one in which moderate opinions are especially suspect. It seems to me that, on one side of the debate, there is the question of whether or not a woman should have the absolute right to control her body, and if one believes that, there is very little room for compromise. On the other side, there's the belief that abortion is murder. It's hard for me to give a lot of credence to an argument that murder is sometimes OK. I am much more inclined to respect (and respectfully disagree with) someone who believes in a total ban, even though on days when I haven't had enough sleep, I am likely to yell at them. (I'm human *sigh*)

When you say "free abortions" are you literally talking about funding abortions for the poor? That's a more complex issue, although I'm still pretty clear on where I came down on it. I do agree that personal responsibility needs to be emphasized. But, OTOH, if I believe that abortion must ultimately be every woman's right, then I have to believe that the means to exercise that right needs to be provided for.

Huh. This is interesting. I'm usually so black-and-white about my positions surrounding choice, but today I'm seeing more facets. I'm not gonna run out and start supporting any initiatives to restrict abortion, of course, but thanks for stimulating the ol' neurons a bit :)
(no subject) - translucent_eye - May. 9th, 2005 07:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
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timquestionmark
May. 9th, 2005 07:46 pm (UTC)
I think some people are just ego-centric and feel that everyone to the right and left of them are crazy and they are the only sane ones. I am sure that some people who consider themselves centrists would be seen as righties by the left and lefties by the right.

These days middle ground is pretty muddy and probably a lot more crowded than either side would have you believe.
fenriss
May. 9th, 2005 08:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, see, you're on to one of the things that bugs me about this. So many of those middle-of-the-roaders are such smug bastards about it! They act like it's some great virtue not to hold any strong opinions, and it's just so terribly distasteful when people do. They stand around at cocktail parties, congratulating each other for being indifferent. Gah!!
(no subject) - peregrin8 - May. 9th, 2005 08:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
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vicar
May. 9th, 2005 08:34 pm (UTC)
Neat!
Wow, neat points I'll just say uh...neat to, until I have more time to play with them. Neat!

Tim hit an interesting theory up there as well, ego is correct, either other extreme is wrong. Mix that with cognitive dissonance?

I think there are anecdotes that support and refute your point - in many cases the middle is a better idea. Extremists of any flavor are often just reactionary assholes (yes I fit that model on occasion). Ugh, this is not an easy subject to discuss due to the temptation to draw up specific arguments: how does extreme left vs. extreme right compare on...abortion, environment, animals, property rights, definition of life (pre & late/post), religion & state...

Fuck with me after exams! Yargh!
_blackjack_
May. 9th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC)
As you have figured out, part of the trick is how they define "moderate". It is NOT "moderate" to insist that "both sides" of the evolution "debate" be discussed in science classrooms, since one of the "sides" is not science.

You wanna know what is moderate? Socialized medicine. Every other industrialized nation has it, and even the far-right in those countries won't touch it. People who are far-left in this country (opposing the death penalty, supposting universal health-care, opposing random pointless wars, spporting decriminalization of some drugs, etc.) are moderate in the rest of the world.
rimrender
May. 10th, 2005 08:17 pm (UTC)
Kill all career politicains. Problem solved for another 20-50 yrs.
I look at it this way, One choice is no choice. Unfortunately the 2 party system is not going anywhere. The more polarized the politics get the less of a chance of a third party break out. Adams was right, they should have outlawed political parties when writing the constitution. Both parties are wrong to the core, both.
As for the christian element that is driving most of this crap: lion breeding. We need to breed a lot of lions. I'll show them pursicution.

sorry for the really crappy spelling today.
fenriss
May. 11th, 2005 04:27 am (UTC)
Well, first, for the sake of argument, how about the remarks above?

The next time someone claims that both parties are equally nuts, ask them what the liberal equivalent is for the white supremacists in the deep south that lynch black people.

What do you say to that? I'm inclined to say that my personal experience tells me people to the right are far more likely to get crazy and irrational. They're "more wrong." I'm totally prepared to be proven wrong, though. Have at.

Secondly... d00d, are you coming to Beltane or what? Cause you'd said you might, and I'm positively on pins and needles for confirmation. You haven't been in a million years.
(no subject) - rimrender - May. 11th, 2005 07:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
austingoddess
May. 21st, 2005 07:02 pm (UTC)
Question everything. Believe no one. Especially if they won't really listen to the other side and then show how they arrived at their own opinion logically. Doubly so if they got their opinion from someone else wholesale.
That pretty much sums it up for me.
( 60 comments — Leave a comment )