Sunday, March 15, 2015

Judge Mental

This is not quite what I am talking about....

In a recent online discussion about tithing to millionaire "prosperity theology" pastors, someone made the comment:
"I don't know which is worse, these megabucks ministers or the sheep who follow them!"

To which I replied:  "The sheep, of course."
What was interesting was that what followed was a meandering diatribe from someone who said that I was being "judgmental" and that until I know what the parishioners were going through, etc. I should  not "sit in judgement" over them.

It was an interesting gambit, and I realized that I have heard this sort of nonsense before, mostly from people who don't have a leg to stand on in an argument.   When all else fails, you just throw out this "judgmental" deal and that is the end of debate.

Or is it?   You see, it really is a non sequitur.  It makes no sense at all.   Nearly any statement or every statement made can be characterized as "judgmental".  In fact the person calling me "judgmental" was being well,  judgmental.   That's how this game is played.

For example, Hillary should hand over her private e-mails, as it was wrong to keep them.  Whoops!  That's judgmental!

Or, the Senate Republicans shouldn't have sent that letter to Iraq.  Oh, me, oh my, that's being judgmental again.

What people are doing who raise "arguments" like this, is being passive-aggressive.   They want to derail the argument, and instead make the argument about you and whether your not you are being judgmental.   It is a just a silly game people play.  And usually the pious like to play this game, pretending they are better than us because they are above the fray and are not judgmental.  And of course, that is just good old status-seeking behavior.

Another tactic like this is when people get all self-righteous about some phrase or words.  For example, someone says, "Well, I am in favor of drug-testing for welfare recipients.  If those people want to collect welfare, we should not subsidize their drug habit!"

And like lighting, someone says back, "You said those people!  I'm telling Mom!" or something like that.  Apparently, saying the phrase "those people" when referring to a group of people is now somehow politically incorrect (usually lefties are in on this one) and once again, the argument is successfully derailed into petty bickering about what "those people" means and whether it has underlying racist tones.

So what is the point of all this?   Well, these two examples illustrate how people can hijack discussions by bringing up totally irrelevant bullshit.   And they do this, in order to persuade you of something, one way or the other.   And when the discussion is economically or politically related, (e.g., a salesman or a politician making such noises) chances are it is a means of distracting you from the underlying bargain or issue.

When you start adding up the cost of a car lease, the salesman distracts you with "cash flow" or "opportunity cost" arguments.   They are nonsense arguments, having nothing to do with the overall cost of the agreement.   The point is to get your brain to stop adding up the costs and instead analyze a different argument- one that makes no sense and is difficult if not impossible to quantify.

In politics, the same is true.  Distract people from the real issues, and instead raise red herrings.  The Hillary e-mail thing is a case in point.   Many Republicans, including President Bush, used private e-mails and erased tens of thousands of e-mails during their tenure.   This doesn't make it right, but it does illustrate the hypocrisy factor.  But the argument is just a distractor from the more important issues of the day - the political positions of the parties on various economic, foreign policy, and social issues.  When you can't attack someone's political views, attack their character instead.    In recent decades, that seems to be the only thing discussed during elections, too.

Getting back to Sheep v. Shepherds, the reason why the answer to the question is clearly "sheep" is that it is followers that enable people like odious mega-church pastors to live in luxury and steal from their flock.    You can argue that the pastor "lead them into it" but the reality is, these people are more than willing to be led.  They want to buy the Guru fifty Rolls Royces - no one is "forcing" them to.

Another example: A lot of people hate Rush Limbaugh and say he is a bad person who says nasty things.   And that may be true, but what keeps him on the air is the 3.5 million people who listen to his show.  Without the dittoheads, there is no show, there is no Rush.   And the same is true for Fox News or whatever other program you "hate" because it disagrees with your philosophies of life.

I used to be outraged over things like cult churches and whatnot.   In the 1970's they seem to take off alarmingly, and if you watched the television, there were alarmist shows about how such-and-such a cult was doing horrible things to people and why it was necessary for "deprogrammers" to kidnap people and then beat the snot out of them until they renounced the cult.

The deprogrammers, of course, ended up going to jail and being sued out of existence.  You can't tell someone over the age of 18 what they can and cannot believe in, even if what they believe in seems stupid and self-destructive to the rest of us.   It is called freedom - and most people squander it.  We really can't help these sheep.  The best thing you can do is not be one of them.

And the funny thing, to me, is, that the folks who say, "Well, I'm glad I'm not some mindless sheep that just follows some charismatic cult and gives them all my money!" are the same people who say, "Want to see my new leased Acura?   Come on over and we'll watch the big game on cable!  Text me on my smart phone!"

Darn good thing they aren't sheep!    Or is that being judgmental?