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I am a former middle and high school science teacher pursuing a doctorate in Science Ed. at George Mason University, with a concentration in cognitive science and the evolution of cognition and learning. Postings on this blog represent my own views, not those of my employer or school. All writing displayed on this page is original work unless otherwise noted, and thus copyrighted.

25 January 2011

Since you brought it up...


  A blogger who writes for townhall.com recently posted what he considers to be 7 non-political differences between liberals and conservatives. I think those would do well to be subjected to critical examination.

 1) Conservatives are more patriotic than liberals:Conservatives tend to focus on the positive things about America, while liberals focus on the negative. If the first thoughts that came to your mind when you thought of America were “slavery,” "imperialism," and "unfairly using too much of the world's resources," you probably wouldn't like America very much either. Conservatives, on the other hand, look at the fact that we saved the world in WWI, WWII, and the Cold War, take pride in the fact that we have contributed so much to the planet, and believe America has had a tremendous positive impact on history. The conservative view produces love of country. The other view produces a deep seated dislike of our nation.

  Gee, that's great... you're optimists. Or you've failed to see the reality in front of you, which is that the rest of the world doesn't much like us because of an imperialist, unilateral foreign policy. Am I less patriotic than some/most conservatives? Perhaps, but I don't consider that to be a bad thing, and it doesn't mean I don't want 'murica to succeed, it means I view it in a more reasonable light. Rampant nationalism doesn't have much to recommend it, historically speaking.

  It's socially acceptable for liberals to lie about conservatives: Whether you're talking about theNew York TimesThe Washington Post, or the Daily Kos, it's considered to be perfectly acceptable to lie about conservatives. That's because, as Charles Krauthammeronce said, To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.
If you think your opponents are evil, you tend to be okay with using tactics that you would describe as "evil" under other circumstances to fight them. If you're up people you compare to Nazis, it’s easy to tell yourself that lying to beat them isn’t so bad. If you're in a dispute with people who you believe are just too stupid to understand what's going on, you feel compelled to try to explain yourself a little better.

  Logic fail in the highest order, sir. It's not socially acceptable for liberals to lie about anyone, but if you listen to O'Reilly, Beck, or Limbaugh, you'll see that it's publicly accepted for them to lie through their teeth about nearly everything whilst being intolerant bigots. I believe your affliction is called projection. You clearly don't feel compelled to explain yourselves well, or you're incapable of doing so. And frankly, I don't think conservatives are evil, I think most of them are relatively stupid/ignorant. Having your head in the sand isn't evil. On the other hand, the people who serve as the mouthpieces of conservative ideology are absolutely deplorable.
3) Conservatives are results-oriented. Liberals are not:If you understand one thing about liberals, understand this: Liberalism is nothing more than "childlike emotionalism applied to adult issues." That's why they don't care very much about whether the programs they advocate work or not. Proposing programs isn't really about what will help the most people to liberals; it's about making them feel good about themselves. On the other hand, conservatives are results-oriented, which is why they tend to be so down on the government, which is inevitably slower, more expensive, and less effective than the private sector at pretty much everything.

  No, results matter a great deal. Programs that work would certainly be better than ones that don't, but politicians of all forms tend to hamstring programs so that they have no chance of working, and base the decision to launch or terminate programs on their electoral needs rather than the needs of the people the programs purportedly serve. If the private sector did anything that supplanted government-run programs that actually worked, it might be a better alternative. Alas, it doesn't seem to turn a profit, which is the point of private sector organisations in most cases, so they don't. Either that, or they're run by religious organisations and the help comes with strings that it shouldn't. 
 4) Conservatives care about the Constitution. Liberals don't: Conservatives believe that we need to try to interpret the Constitution in the way that the Founders intended it to be read and if we want to change it, then we need to pass a Constitutional Amendment. Liberals believe in a "living Constitution," which is functionally no different than believing in no Constitution at all. If you believe in a "living Constitution," you think it is okay to do whatever you want for political reasons and then come up with a legal justification afterwards, which you'll then call "constitutional law."

   Judicial Review, Marbury v. Madison 1803. Read it, understand it, and realise that the people that made the ruling were the founders. In response to the final allegation, no, it means that the Constitution needs to be interpreted in a manner that is commensurate with the problems of the 21st Century rather than the 18th.
 5) Liberals are much more misogynistic than conservatives: If you're a prominent conservative woman, you will be deluged with rape threats, death threats, attacks on your family, attacks on your looks, and offers to give you a good screwing as a public service. In other words, what you've seen with Sarah Palin is actually the same thing that happens to most prominent conservative women, but on a larger scale. That's not to say that liberal women don't get some of the same treatment, but it's several orders of magnitude worse for women on the Right.

That's largely because liberals claim the "feminist" mantle and so, if they're feminists, then obviously they can't be "anti-woman" no matter what they actually say, right? Even worse, most of the actual feminist women on the Left tend to either participate in the abuse or, alternately, turn a blind eye to it as long as it's aimed at conservative women.

   I'd love to see the data that spawned that comment, but I'm betting you don't in fact have any. Being a misogynist stems from your actions, not whatever philosophy you claim, but lets examine that of the typical conservative: 1) pro-life= women don't have the right to decide what to do with their bodies medically because we value the lives of an undifferentiated bunch of cells more then theirs, and b) the traditional patriarchal view of women as belonging in the home; barefoot, pregnant, or at least 'Leave it to Beaver'. That's not misogyny? 
 6) Conservatives are happier people than liberals: Despite all the claims you hear that conservatives are angry, cruel, and mean, conservatives are much happier people than liberals. This is something that has been consistently proven in studies and, let's face it -- anyone who knows a lot of liberals and conservatives will tell you that it's not a surprise. Conservatives love the country they live in, they're more likely to be Christian, and they take responsibility for their own lives instead of griping that the world is terribly unfair. If you want to be a happy person, you're more likely to be a happy conservative than a happy liberal.

  Hmm... first off, that's a rather trivial difference. But being and old white male in power should make you happy. You're in charge. The studies cited in the article are also from a similar source, and when you find the real study, the difference comes more from geographic location than anywhere else. People in the South/sunbelt are happier than elsewhere, which would make sense as they get more sunlight (https://health.google.com/health/ref/Seasonal+affective+disorder). Those people are also, regardless of income, largely white, uber religious, and conservative. If you parse out the data for those factors, the only other one that sticks is religiosity; yes, religious people seem to be happier than non-religious. If it takes a faery tale to make me happier, I'll pass. I'd prefer to know what's actually going on in the world and not depend on the fantasy of a better life after this one is over.
7) Conservatives are better Christians than liberals: Certainly there are debates about social conservatism and Christianity on the conservative side of the fence, but Christian conservatism is considered to be a honorable and important part of the Republican base. People are going to hate to hear this, despite the fact it's absolutely true, but Christianity and liberalism have become largely incompatible. That's because there are so many liberals who are implacably hostile to Christianitythat liberal Christians are left with one of two unpalatable choices. Either they can water their Christian beliefs down into thin gruel so as to be compatible with liberalism or liberal Christians can choose to be cringing dogs and keep their mouths shut while their beliefs are regularly insulted, demeaned, and attacked by their fellow liberals. Neither option should be acceptable to someone who has a strong Christian faith.

 Before declaring liberalism and Christianity incompatible, you should probably have examined the tenets of your faith, which demand penance, taking care of the poor, and some other things that conservatives want to leave up to the private sector rather than making a contribution themselves. But since you said it, I'll go ahead and do what you said liberals do: your faith is a complete fiction, you worship a Bronze Age asshole that supports genocide: a jealous, bigoted sky-daddy with serious sexual repression issues, and you're proud of that. You think that a 4,000 year old (in parts) document trumps the accomplishments of modern science. If you subscribed to it in full, you'd have to support the notion that the Earth is flat, that the sun revolves around the Earth, and that you should put to death homosexuals, people that work on Saturday/Sunday, and children that talk back to their parents. By all means, be a better Christian that I am (since I'm not one), it lets us all know what a deranged fool you are.


  1. He had me through point one. Yes, it is true that having to come to terms with the entirety of your nation's history, which, on the whole, is morally no better than anyone else's, does make one more critical than devoting yourself to a made-up version in which we arrived at a vacant country and pranced freely to the Rio Grande and the Pacific. His reasons, of course, are wrong: it's not that liberals and conservatives are drawn to different episodes of history; it's that conservatives have simply written a history that they find more palatable.

    The rest of it is simply the childish ad hominems that one comes to expect from Townhall. Outside of when John Leo occasionally got syndicated there and the odd day in which Jonah Goldberg has something intelligent to say, it's a bunch of party-line wingnuts writing on party-line wingnut topics for a party-line wingnut audience. One expects a cascade of boos and thrown fruit every time one of them writes "liberal." Thank you for reminding me what an utter waste of time reading it is.

  2. Point one is valid, and so is your summary thereof.
    As for Townhall in general, my mother's cousin linked that article on Facebook like it was something profound... I decided to write a retort and link that as well. Shockingly, there has been no response.