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March 27, 2005


David Brooks, moral relativist:

DAVID BROOKS: But the interrogation process and how we react at Gitmo, how we react in Iraq, these are issues that I think we should have memos about. You know, every week we sit here and we watch on Fridays the soldiers that have been killed in Iraq and . . .

JIM LEHRER: We have some more tonight.

DAVID BROOKS: And we know very little about the insurgents. And we have got to somehow do a better job in knowing about the people who are killing the faces we see every Friday night. And this is part of that process. And I think his [Gonzales] role has been utterly appropriate.

David Brooks
NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
January 7, 2005

Say it ain't so Dave!

Terrific post, hilzoy. I only wish sobriety was as infectious as hysteria.


Have you tried submitting an op-ed on the Schiavo case, to the NYT or elsewhere? If not, maybe you should. Certainly a letter to the NYT would be valuable.

What I find particularly interesting about the coverage of this case is the media's sheer inability to cope with the fact that a) the dividing lines between the various opinions don't follow any neat, pre-packaged political categorization, and b) insofar as they do, they don't adhere to the stereotypes of those categories. "Liberals" for personal autonomy and "conservatives" for governmental intervention*; whatever shall we do? Cats and dogs, living together!

They're doubly screwed by their own inability to see the world for what it is, rather than how they'd like to sell it. It's worse than that, even: they know damn well what's going on, they're just screwed by their unwillingness to see the world for what it is. The rampaging cognitive dissonance, the mental trainwreck as talking heads try to make this fiasco confirm to one of their standard narratives... it's priceless in a gruesome sort of way. The only downside is that, instead of using this to learn from their mistakes, they'll doubtless take it as a sign that they weren't doing stereotyping, oversimplifying and just plain misreporting enough to make their conventional schtick work.

And that sucks. Because we deserve better.

* Quotes definitely intended to be scary precisely because the groups don't categorize so neatly.

I second Bernard's suggestion, incidentally. Work that good deserves a larger audience.

I love the marriage example.
This totally explains my feelings about this too.

However, I fear this will go over the heads of a lot of people. Not because they're unintelligent, but because they simply don't want to consider this way of life. It's a foreign and distasteful concept to a lot of people. Many people think control, power, paternalism, patriarchal pedagogy, one-upping, and forcing people into things "for their own good", is the right way to go.

(Indeed, in social situations, I think this is called "co-dependency". heh.)

Some people live in The Arena their entire lives.
Myself... I'm not a slave so I refuse to be a gladiator.
So I'm careful to draw very clear lines about what I'll fight about and what I won't.

Unfortunately, I think there's even a small sect of fervent religious people who just want to fight for the hell of it. (Pun not really intended, but what the hell.)

Bernard and Anarch: thanks, but I can't see it: very busy of late, and the idea of writing for places that, unlike ObWi, do not guarantee publication, isn't feasible just now. Plus, I think my stuff is too long. I was on the radio, though (big media me.)

OT, via Atrios: perhaps the insanest law I've heard of in modern times - the Michigan House wants to allow health care workers to refuse to treat people on "moral, ethical, or religious grounds".

rilkefan: check this out:

"TALLAHASSEE -- Hundreds of protesters trying to keep Terri Schiavo alive are calling the Florida Department of Children & Families hot line each day, and officials are concerned they could be jamming the line for people who are trying to report abuse unrelated to the case."

Brooks needs to stop talking about morality. In this column he's setting up the same dichotomy he always does: "conservatives=moral, liberals=heartless and think they're smart."

Thank you, Hilzoy. You're a voice of reason. No wonder visits to your site are increasing. It ain't the Schiavo subject matter - talk about oversupply! - it's the substance of your remarks. Factual and rational. No oversupply of that, unfortunately; but could there ever be?

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