On Patterico [Dan Collins]
I say. I just think that he’s wrong about this. That’s all.
It’s possible that I’m misunderstanding him, though I don’t think so. He expresses himself clearly and thinks clearly. He’s been a good friend of the internet kind to me. He’s done some marvellous work, and some work that distinguishes itself in the “right” blogosphere as investigatory, which is something that we can all use more of. He’s been a champion of free speech and a bulldog critic of abuse at the L.A. Times. His bona fides are excellent and I’ve agreed with him about a lot of things. My impression is that he’s a good man, even if, as most of us who blog are, he’s a bit of a narcissist. I know I am–and gosh, I love myself for that.
The shabby treatment that Jeff received from PJM and some of its bloggers has led to some paranoia (which isn’t always unjustified) and now meta-paranoia. None of this is helpful. And just because someone doesn’t agree with your argument, as compelling as you yourself find it to be, doesn’t mean that he’s being intellectually dishonest. Further–and I think this is key–different people under the same circumstances of equal “intelligence,” however you wish to measure it, may come to entirely different conclusions about risks and rewards. I drive more quickly than some people do on icy Vermont roads, and I imagine that as I pass they mutter “idiot” as I go by. And when people pass me under those same conditions, I do the same thing.
As Jeff notes, those of us who’ve been reading him for a long time understand why he places such emphasis on hermeneutics and intentionalism. We order and structure our world, our thoughts, according to language that we hope is more or less congruent to reality. When the language becomes warped, we see as through a glass darklier than we should. All of us are perjured to some degree by self-love and self-interest. But to revert to Patterico’s analogy of the courtroom (recognizing first that it’s always dangerous to argue by analogy, but that language, insofar as it’s meaningful depends on analogues), the question is, how do we regard the judge and prosecutor? If the judge gives instructions that skew the field of inquiry and the prosecutor knowingly solicits and presents perjured testimony, then how do we proceed? Do we recognize the honor and integrity of the court, because not to do so would make us seem unsympathetic to the jury? I hope not, and I hope that we don’t accept the eternal series of plea bargains that have proved so disastrous in the UK, Europe and at the UN.
As the Britons have just become aware, Michelle Obama is one of those people who argues that a racist incident can be said to have occurred whenever the putative victim feels that it has occurred. This is, at root, a cynical kind of madness, but it is one that has been carefully inculcated and nurtured in academe and the media for decades, and which has now taken up residence in our very courts–the ones in which Patterico works–thanks to legislators who find some personal or partisan gain from pandering to the appetite for victimhood and the moral authority that it is accorded. And if you reward victimhood by according it this special status and esteem, then you incentivize it, in the parlance and the parliament of our betters. And when this happens, human relations are the victim, and mutual respect is the victim, and we are all victims.
And we don’t want to be fucking victims.
It’s fair, I think, for Patterico to claim that he’s been misjudged, because he seems not to share all of these premises, because here he’s come into a linguistic court that doesn’t respect the same precedents as the law does. And his intellectual foundation is in the law. And here, it’s not just a colorful term of self-reference to say that we are outlaws, because that is what the linguistic warpage accomplished through the law has turned us into. So, Patterico differs. And maybe it’s true that we don’t “get” him. It seems equally true that he doesn’t “get” us. If we don’t “get” each other, I’m not willing to conclude that that’s a function of intellectual dishonesty. And, by all means, let us use suasion where possible, and let us be civil where possible, but let us never lose sight of the fact that some of our adversaries are lying dogs, and that for them this is a game that needs to be jobbed, but that has terrible consequences for our world and for our values.
Jeff will probably disagree with some of what I’ve said here, and so will some commenters. But Jeff and those commenters will let me have my say, and that is why I am here. And despite all of this rancor, if I were to visit L.A., Patterico would be one of the first people I would call. Old boy.