Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Those wascally tewwowists

This morning I was woken by a series of ear-splitting bird calls, which in my groggy stupor, I mistook for a car alarm. I angrily decided that the beautiful sounds of nature were a pretty daft choice for theft deterrence, until I realized that one of the sounds was in fact the same one I had asked my grandparents about the day before: that of the quail.

Now, I know only one thing about the quail other than that it has an incredibly beautiful call: our elected officials like to shoot them in their spare time.

Most famously, we all remember Dick Cheney's unlucky potshot in 2006. So I started reflecting on all the ways in which that man is a great example for this blog.
Cheney said Obama would regret his commitment to closing down the Guantanamo Bay internment camp and ending harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects.

"These are evil people. And we're not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek," [Cheney] said.
(AFP 2009)
We've seen this one before: by golly, we have the right to torture them! They're eeevillll! That's why they do evil things! It's probably not a complex interaction of differing faiths, aggressive policies, and various socioeconomic factors. It's cuz they evil.
“The United States provides most of the leadership in the world… I don’t think we have much to apologize for.”
Cheney on Obama "apologizing"
Yeah, apologies are for losers. (I have no intention of turning this blog political, but I will point out that apparently Obama's "apologies" amount to expressing his intention to stop with the torturing.)

I'd like to build the case that the above tendencies are all related, but I'm going to have to work around the edges, as I'm not aware of any studies directly linking them.

I could point out, for example, that animal cruelty is strongly correlated with a wide variety of criminal offenses, and try to establish how a lack of empathy contributes in both cases. I could also try to argue that Cheney's black-and-white us-vs-them mentality is a reflection of the holier-than-thou effect I reported on earlier. Lastly, I could suggest that one's willingness to both apologize and forgive reflects his/her appreciation of the subtleties of human intention and behavior.

But all of these are nebulous without hard data, and each requires some space to delve into. For now, I'd just like to point out that I don't disagree with Dick Cheney's assessment on the severity of the problems terrorists pose. I would, however, like to suggest that the cowboy antics he espouses are the result of a deep misunderstanding of human nature -- i.e., a failure of empathy.

No comments:

Post a Comment