Monday, August 7, 2017

Apologetics Part 2: No Respect

     No, this won’t be a paean to Rodney Dangerfield, as much as he deserves one.

     I’ve just watched a rather illuminating Jordan Peterson video. Dr. Peterson, a clinical psychologist who also lectures at the University of Toronto, is a brilliant man who articulately expresses the traditional values and views of Western societies. It would be a mistake, I think, to classify him politically; Canada is not the U.S., and at any rate I have yet to hear him speak specifically about political matters. But his overwhelming sensibility, his most excellent grounding in reality and what may be known with some confidence, suggests an innate personal conservatism: i.e., a belief in moving deliberately if at all, and an unwillingness to bend to fads regardless of their popularity.

     I exhort you to watch the video, but just in case you have no time for its 13 minutes and 34 seconds, I’ll summarize it for you. A group of “trans” and “non-binary activists” sought, in their typical fashion, to invalidate Dr. Peterson’s views and disparage him personally. Dr. Peterson made a critical mistake: He treated them with respect: i.e., as if they and their leading, insinuating, deliberately insulting questions deserved his attention. That cost him 13.5 minutes of his time and energy.

     This is not an unusual occurrence. Far too many persons with a public profile strive to treat everyone with respect. But that, too, is a mistake. (Moreover, Dr. Peterson is aware of this.) There are several categories of persons who should not be treated with respect – indeed, who must not be so treated.

     If Smith insults Jones, whether directly or by imputation, he forfeits all claim to Jones’s respect. If Smith declares himself to be of a category that has made insult, slander, and denunciation its tools, then as soon as he shows his colors, Jones is within his rights to deny Smith an instant of his time, much less the smallest particle of respect. Moreover, in doing so, Jones leagues himself with the good guys.

     The “trans” and “non-binary” types who attempted to conflate Dr. Peterson’s sentiments with Nazism made plain their intentions and their alignments within the first 60 seconds. At that point, the appropriate response to them was:

“I have no time for you. Good day.”

     Dr. Peterson would have been within his rights to issue that response. (Eventually he did say something of the sort.) You must not grant respect to someone determined to damage you, your reputation, or anything else to which you have a just claim. Your grant of respect, even if it’s merely in the form of courteous, attentive treatment, will be wielded against you.

     If Smith has nothing to offer Jones – no value that makes Smith’s existence even temporarily valuable to Jones– then Jones need not treat with Smith. For Smith to demand Jones’s attention, yet offer nothing that Jones would want in recompense, is an attempt to steal Jones’s time and energy. It’s a theft indistinguishable from the theft of property, for the ultimate cost of all things is the time and effort required to acquire them. The old plaint “Who can I sue to get those five minutes of my life back?” recognizes this implicitly.

     Many are they who would steal every second of your life from you. People who want what you can do for them but who disdain to offer you anything in return (perhaps because they have nothing to offer). Respect these? Great God in heaven, why? wouldn’t it wiser to strain to keep them at distance, perhaps in another county?

     One of Robert A. Heinlein’s pithier maxims comes to mind:

     “It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please—this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time—and squawk for more!
     So learn to say No—and to be rude about it when necessary. Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.”

     Note that it doesn’t matter why “the termites” want your time and attention. If you refrain from granting them respect by default, they can’t get their teeth into you. There’s a great deal of satisfaction in telling them to “buzz off.” If done with others watching, you might inspire them to do likewise.

     Enemies and time thieves are important categories, but we must not neglect a third no-respect category whose numbers appear to be swelling as we speak: the deluded.

     There are a fair number of deluded persons in the world. Not all of them are plainly “a quart or two below the dipstick.” Some of them present a facade of functionality. However, when their delusions surface, they can become irritating, time-consuming, and occasionally dangerous.

     In the most abstract terms, a delusion is a belief or conviction that’s at odds with objective reality. There are as many possible delusions as there are correct beliefs and convictions: simply negate the valid one to reach a delusion. However, as no one’s knowledge or experience is infinite, it’s possible that Smith’s delusion falls outside the scope of Jones’s knowledge and experience. Therefore, Jones might not be able to classify Smith as deluded immediately upon Smith’s statement of the substance of his delusion.

     My knowledge and experience certainly aren’t infinite. Over the years I’ve been acquainted – in most cases, very briefly – with deluded persons of several kinds. Yet I’ve been able to identify them as deluded swiftly in nearly every case. There are reliable symptoms deluded persons seldom learn how to conceal. Perhaps the most important one is the high priority they place upon their delusion. That routinely manifests in a persistence about pressing it on others that’s usually absent from non-deluded persons.

     Unless you’re a mental health professional and are being paid for your services at a previously agreed-upon rate, you owe the deluded nothing. You certainly don’t owe them your time, energy, or respect – and as delusions are often contagious, you must not grant them any.

     I styled this Part 2 of Apologetics for reasons that might not be entirely obvious. At base, it’s about a verbal habit nearly everyone exhibits:

“I’m sorry, but...”

     This is all too frequently the lead-in to a well-earned dismissal of an enemy, a time thief, or a deluded person. No, you’re not sorry. You shouldn’t say you are, even pro forma. As Heinlein said, these people are parasites, whether they’re aware of it or not. Moreover, by remaining conscious of their nature and your perfect right to dismiss them with prejudice, you'll reinforce your self-respect: your appreciation for the place in the world you’ve earned by your own efforts, which your enemies, time thieves, and delusional acquaintances are at pains to erode.

     This is a more important step than you might realize. At this time Western man exhibits a critical deficit of self-respect. Ponder the shrift we give to the shrieking, increasingly violent Left. Ponder the accommodation we’ve allowed those who claim to be “transgender,” or even more comically, “transracial.” Ponder the Muslim savages ravaging Europe as Europeans wring their hands and prattle about “tolerance” and “diversity.” You’ll see exactly what I mean.

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