This just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson: The Politics of Victimhood. Excerpt:
The questionable assumption we often accept about suffering is that enduring terrible experiences automatically make one an expert on the broader issues related to the causes of suffering. That’s why like other public victims of gun violence, (former Arizona Congressman Gabrielle) Giffords has spoken out as if her experience has made her an authority on gun policy. Thus she has attacked politicians for disagreeing with her on the issue of guns not by making a coherent argument, but by conjuring up her own experiences and sentimentalizing other victims of gun violence. Having created a fog of emotion, she then argues for policies, such as more restrictive background checks for those buying guns, even though there is no evidence that such procedures keep guns out of the hands of those determined to get them. After all, the man who shot Giffords had undergone a thorough background check. Worse yet, such emotionalism sets aside the critical Constitutional issue––the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”
Invoking overt displays of emotions is a staple of the gun-banners; it is likewise a staple of such kooks as anti-vaccine kooks and animal rights lunatics. It is, after all, much easier to try to evoke an emotional response than it is to prepare a fact-based presentation and conduct a dispassionate analysis of the issues.
It’s important to note that, while both parties indulge in these kinds of histrionics, the most passionate appeals to emotion and the most irrational arguments are – with a very few exceptions – made by those on the political Left.
Setting aside gun control for the moment, look at the arguments – and I use the word “argument” in the broadest possible sense – by the radical animal rights nuts. Every argument against animal use, be it for food, research, entertainment, or even keeping as pets, is strictly emotion-based. They argue against eating animals on the basis of the “suffering” of farm animals, even though they have no way of quantifying that suffering, and have no idea of the impact their own diets cause – those diets being by and large the product of monoculture plant agriculture, which causes animal death and suffering in vast quantities.
They neither know nor care about this savage hypocrisy; just like gun-banners neither know nor care that disarming the law-abiding will only produce an entire new set of helpless victims for adherents to the toxic urban thug culture that is infesting many of our larger cities.
Dr. Hanson concludes: The trump card of suffering might be politically useful, but using it is a dishonest tactic that inhibits informed deliberation and debate. Relying on emotion and sentiment, no matter how understandable they are as a response to suffering, have since ancient Athens been the agents of bad policies and dangerous political decisions, and tactics for pursuing political advantage at the expense of the public good. They have no place in our already conflicted and divisive public political discourse.
Today, our Imperial City is awash in politicians, lobbyists and advocates of every stripe, and nine of ten are pushing for policies that are not only bad but, as Dr. Hanson points out, dangerous. They argue with emotion as their opening card, and very little if any pols or anyone else seems able to present a dispassionate analysis of fact.
To someone like yr. obdt. who has for the last ten years or so run a business whose main purpose is teaching problem-solving and cause analysis to high-tech companies all over the world, that is a situation that is increasingly frustrating.