Let’s Believe the Worst About People We Disagree With

red_pastreis

2015-04-12 – Facebook brought me the following headline yesterday: “Democrats Want to Legalize ‘Post Birth Abortion’ up to Age 4.” The photo with the headline was a cute wide-eyed toddler holding a marker. Behind her was a wall filled (presumably) with her scribblings. The article went on to say that, if democrats get their way, you’ll have the ability to kill her until she reaches the age of “self-awareness,” which the article says arrives for most humans at around 5 years of age.

It apparently hasn’t arrived for the person who wrote the article. (But I am not advocating that we kill this person. I’m telling you this so you don’t confuse the joke with reality.)

The article appeared in my feed because my friend John, an ardent opponent of abortion, posted a comment in response to this article. Before I tell you what his comment was, let me give you my view.

When you see an article like this that seems crazy, it probably is.

There are a number of possibilities. The first thing that comes to mind is that the report is satire. The first thing that pops to mind is the Onion, but this kind of thing seriously predates the onion. In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal . . . For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to their Parents . . .” in which Swift proposed eating the burdensome children.

Another possibility is that the proposal was truly made, but is falsely attributed to a whole group (i.e., Democrats). If you follow a “corroborating” link in the article, you come to a Slate article that criticizes a couple of leftist academics for coming up with the idea. The Slate article (presumably) supports the proposition that someone is in favor of this idea, but it certainly does not support the proposition that Democrats as a group favor post-birth abortion.

So why is it that some of the anti-abortion crowd appears to believe nonsense like this? And why do they circulate it?

We like to believe the worst about people we disagree with.

(In case you were wondering, my friend John’s comment was not in support of the story. Did you think it was?)

Left or right, we love these stories.

A couple weeks ago, the left got to revel in a story about a California lawyer who proposed a ballot initiative to kill gays and lesbians. There apparently is no question as to whether some guy actually filed this proposal with the state. He did and the state attorney general has gone to court to try to block the initiative. (I’m not even going to get into whether the guy actually believes in what he did. I have no idea.)

But that’s not what makes the story juicy. What makes the story juicy is the idea that anyone who has reservations about gay rights ipso facto supports murder.

We love to believe the worst about people we disagree with.

Or not.

My friend John’s political beliefs seem—frankly—insane, though I have to give him credit for not taking the bait on this nonsense story—maybe he’s not entirely insane. But he’s a nice guy. He works hard. He cares about his family. He’s never murdered anything other than a joke. And he suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune like the rest of us. You want to like him.

But he has wrong opinions.

So he must ALSO be a racist, genocidal maniac.

Sorry, John. There’s nothing I can do. My hands are tied. I’m forced to hate you.

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