Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reason, Emotion, and "Take These Son-of-a-Bitches Out"

I've said this before: Emotions and reason don't play well together.
Which is part of why I think that reason trumps emotion as a reliable way to make decisions. People can do really daft things when they're thinking with their endocrine system.

Politics, America, and
 >>> TO ARMS!! <<<  >>>TO ARMS!!!!! <<< ??

There may be a time for telling folks to "take these sons-of-a-bitches out."1 Like when a military commander leads a charge.

One problem: Jimmy Hoffa isn't a sergeant leading his squad against a military target. He's a prominent, respected, leader in the American labor establishment: Teamster President and son of the legendary Jimmy Hoffa.

I'm pretty sure that most of the folks Mr. Hoffa addressed will realize that he didn't really want them to start slaying the 'sons of bitches' who don't agree with him. Let's all hope - and pray - that's the case.

A Time For War: A Time for Not-War

I'm not a pacifist. I've discussed the idea of just war before. Specific conditions must be met before armed force is justified. One of those conditions most emphatically is not being emotionally aroused by a union leader: or anybody else.

Interestingly, the conditions under which it's okay to meet danger with armed force are very similar to the conditions which make it okay to swap out a nation's leaders by force. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2243) In my opinion, America isn't even close to being ready for that sort of thing.

As for 'taking out' people who don't share the same views? As far as I can tell, that approach isn't okay under any circumstances. Not even if someone is really, really upset.

"Take These Son-of-a-Bitches Out" - It's Justified?

Here's what Mr. Hoffa said, who he wants 'taken out,' and why it's justified. According to at least one person:
"...DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz tried to deflect specific questions about Hoffa's comments, in which he told a crowd in Detroit that America faced 'a war on workers, you see it everywhere - it is the Tea Party,' and urged the crowd to 'take these son-of-a-bitches out.' Hoffa made the comments while introducing President Obama...."

"...The DNC chair has previously been vocal about calling for civil political rhetoric, in the wake of the shooting of her friend and colleague Rep. Gabby Giffords last year.2

" 'I think all of us need to be more careful about the words that we choose to use,'she told CBS in January.

"But when pressed on Hoffa's rhetoric, Wasserman-Schultz fired back, 'are you kidding me? Really? You take a walk with me to some of the Tea Party rallies.'..."
(Kristen Brown, FoxNews.com)
Understandably, folks in the Tea Party aren't entirely sympathetic with Mr. Hoffa's heartfelt call to action:
"Tea Party groups roundly condemned Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa after he called on union supporters unhappy with congressional Republicans to 'take these son-of-a-bitches out.'

"The Tea Party Express called the comments 'inexcusable,' saying they amounted to 'a call for violence on peaceful Tea Party members.'..."
Mr. Hoffa, apparently, doesn't see anything wrong with what he said. Again, I think, understandably:
"Teamsters President James P. Hoffa said he has 'no regrets' about the inflammatory remarks he made against Republicans and the Tea Party during a raucous Labor Day rally in Detroit, ahead of a speech by President Barack Obama.

"While warming up the pro-union crowd, Hoffa declared, among other things, 'It is the Tea Party … there is only one way to beat and win that war … They've got a war, they got a war with us and there's only going to be one winner.'

"He also stated: 'President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let's take these sons of b_tches out and give America back to an America where we belong.'..."
(International Business Times)

Telling Overwrought Folks to 'Take Out' Someone: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Someone shot Gabrielle Giffords in January of this year. Representative Giffords survived. Others didn't. Folks, including myself, were upset about the shooting.

It was obvious to some that Rush Limbaugh, Republicans, and other enemies of the People were to blame. I still think the dude who pulled the trigger bears much of the responsibility: but what would I know? I'm one of those religious people: and 'everybody knows' what they're like.3

'Who Will Rid Me - - -'

I think I understand why Mr. Hoffa is so upset about those Tea Party people.

I also think it's imprudent to tell his audience to 'take them out.'

Not that I believe Mr. Hoffa would be directly responsible, if someone decided that the Teamster boss had a contract out on Tea Party folks. Still, I think the Teamsters president should remember that not everybody is as level-headed as he is.

The situation reminds me a little of the "will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?' thing a few centuries back. That did not end well for Henry.4

Establishment Types Acting Daft: Here We Go Again

I've seen this sort of thing before: folks who you'd think would know better, making daft accusations; and generally seeming to live in a sort of alternate reality. It was almost a half-century ago, during the '60s.

'The establishment' around 1960 had fairly well-defined notions about what was real, and what wasn't. In some cases they were right. In others: well, since they were 'the establishment,' their underlings weren't likely to tell them that they were wrong.

Folks who have been 'the establishment' for the last few decades may think they're nothing like their 1960 counterparts. I think they're wrong:
  • Establishment, ca. 1960
    • Looking for commies
    • Pursuing 'the American dream'
    • Maintaining conformity
  • Establishment, ca. 2010
    • Looking for racists
    • Being afraid of global warming
    • Maintaining conformity
      • Ever hear of political correctness?
    (January 12, 2010)
I can be a bit flippant about establishment foibles, since I wasn't on the same page as 'the establishment' in the '60s. The faces and ideology has changed since then, and I still think 'the man person' needs reality checks.5

Change Hurts, Change Happens

During the '60s, parents, teachers, and public leaders had gotten used to having children, students, and other subordinates agree with them. Then things started changing. Big time.6

Quite a few folks went crazy. Or acted the part very well. I remember getting used to 'regular Americans' going ballistic over
  • The communist threat
  • Fluoridated water
  • Civil rights
  • Those crazy college kids
    • Like me
Some of their concerns were, I think, valid. Sort of. When you excavated past the hysteria, and pieced together whatever set the establishment types off. Then there the all-too-common habit of acting as if anyone they didn't like was a commie. Or, more recently, a racist.

An over-generalization? Agreed. But I think what I've said is close enough to reality to be a pretty good caricature.

Bottom Line? Let's THINK

I'm a very emotional man. I get excited, upset, delighted, disgusted, and anything else, quite easily.

I think that's a big part of why I trust reason over emotion, my thoughts over my feelings. Emotions are fine: and a part of human nature. I enjoy some of my emotional responses, and try to notice all of them.

But I try to avoid letting them determine what I say and do. That can have unpleasant consequences.

Related posts:
News and views
  • Emotions
    • Are "natural components of the human psyche"
      • Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1764
      • Aren't "good" or "bad" by themselves
        • Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1762-1770
    • Should be governed by reason
  • Reason
    • Isn't opposed to faith
      • Catechism, 35
    • Is a critical part of
      • Conscience
      • Human law
      • Natural law
    • As intellect, an attribute of God
      • Catechism, 271
    • An ability which makes human beings like God
      • "God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. 'God willed that man should be "left in the hand of his own counsel," so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.'26
        • "Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts.27"
        (Catechism, 1730
  • People aren't perfect
  • Free will matters
  • Catholics must be good citizens

1 The grammatical glitch might be a transcription error - the call to arms wasn't.

2 Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot January 8, 2011. Today's date is September 6, 2011. She was shot almost last year, but not quite.

At the time, I thought the attack was utterly unacceptable:I still think trying to kill a member of Congress is wrong. Botching the job, and killing a little girl: that's just pathetic.

About "the shooting of her friend and colleague Rep. Gabby Giffords last year"? I've gotten used to journalistic gaffes. Putting a high-profile shooting in the wrong year is - these days - a fairly minor blunder:3 You can't make this sort of thing up:4 King Henry II of England may not have actually said exactly those words. Whatever he said inspired Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, Reginald Fitz Urse, and Richard Le Bret, who heard their king, to go have a chat with Thomas a Becket. When Becket refused their offer, they killed him.

More, at:In a way, it was an early example of 'an offer he couldn't refuse. Except Thomas a Becket did - and was canonized.

Getting killed for refusing to disobey God isn't a requirement for Sainthood: but it helps.

5 I never have been all that good at being conventional:So I became a Catholic?! I've explained that:6 I think some - maybe most - of the changes were long-overdue. I remember when "she's as smart as a man" was supposed to be a compliment - and I'm getting off-topic.

I don't approve of what the new establishment did: but America had an enormous backlog, from broken 19th century treaties to the position of women in society, that needed attention. More topics.


Brigid said...

Punctuation and grammar errors: "I wasn't on the same page as 'the establishment' in the '60s, and still aren't"

Missing end single quote: "early example of 'an offer he couldn't refuse. Except Thomas"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Thanks: I revised that sentence. Good call.

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