Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Flawed Leadership

I mentioned previously Sponge-headed Scienceman’s report that Nigerian email scams are now intentionally bad.  They only want the most gullible responders, who would fall for anything.  A more persuasive letter with fewer errors would attract too many people who were ultimately, a waste of time.

I related this to the tendency of groups at the edges of the political spectrum to choose the worst possible hills to die on: victims who clearly asked for it, the falsely accused who have plenty of other crimes that they are guilty of, any number of fools and hypocrites. For the groups that want to harness a lot of noise and energy, the thousand people who are so sold out for the tribe that they will even defend Mayor Radu while he’s doing time in federal prison or crazy old Aunt Fezwa up in the attic are more valuable than the hundred thousand who have higher standards and are more measured.  Given enough time, the insane thousand will provoke the opposition into saying enough irritating stuff that even the sane members of the tribe start to get aroused.  The cause starts to move into the mainstream. Whether Matthew Shepard’s killing was actually more related to methamphetamine than homosexuality becomes unimportant and uninteresting, because the symbolism has taken over the story. We all become true believers and “just know” that homosexuality had nothing to do with it or everything to do with it – that even if the inconvenient details were different, the outcome would have of course be the same.

If my choice of Shepard irrituates you, you can zip in Fred Phelps, or Randy Weaver, or Leonard Peltier, or David Koresh, or Mumia Abu-Jamal.  Or whole organizations.  Whole countries even.

This isn’t new, but I seem to have trouble remembering it when I read the news.  Which leads to a disquieting thought: what if it’s not just the fringes?  What if we in the mainstream have milder versions of the same foolishness (or worse, equally unreasonable responses we just rationalise better)?  What if we prefer representatives and poster children that are good-uns at the first pass, but quickly become more motivated to support flawed candidates and causes?  Because we have gotten activated by the opposition?

What if we are essentially requiring our leaders to be flawed?


james said...

You mean "If they hate him that much, there must be some good about him somewhere?"

There's an automatic reaction to unfairness. I remember when I was waiting in a dorm common room and Rush Limbaugh was on TV. He was laying into the New York school superintendent, with out of context snippets and aggressive namecalling. I knew enough from other sources to suspect that the super deserved everything that was coming to him, but the unfairness of the form of the attack left me feeling sorry for him. I decided then I wasn't going to listen to Rush.

Of course to first order everybody's flawed, greater power offers greater temptations, and given the ability to drill down through all a person's records an opponent can make a plausible case that any person is a vile imitation of humanity, without having to make much up. IIRC Hitchens was able to concoct what he and some others considered a nasty case against Mother Teresa.

Sam L. said...

I suspect most of us have that infection lying dormant,just waiting for a time to become active.

Sam L. said...

I suspect most of us have that infection lying dormant,just waiting for a time to become active.