Sunday, January 23, 2005

it's all your fault

As humans we have a tendency to invoke general rules and high-sounding principles when they can be made to support our position, but to ignore them when it doesn't suit us.

We're all for tort reform when we think someone else is cashing in on a minimal injury, but when Walmart's insurance company wants to send us a big check for breaking a fingernail on their packaging, we're suddenly about "Big companies taking responsibility for their actions" or whatever.

When our neighbour's teenage daughter gets pregnant, we're for Discipline and Personal Responsibility. When it's our daughter, we're for Love and Understanding.

I've heard white people blame the *person* when the perp is black, but blame the person's upbringing when they're white.

I've heard people say both of these things:

1) Well, of course [black person] is selling drugs -- but have you considered who's BUYING them? Who's creating the market? The problem is mainly the white middle-class buyer -- the supplier's just filling a need, making a buck.

2) Well, of course [black person] is using drugs -- but have you considered who SUPPLIES these drugs? Who flies them into the country in bulk? The problem is mainly the white high-level supplier.

IOW, we apply philosophical rules to suit our needs at the moment. Generally, it's to make something be someone else's fault. And we all do it, constantly.


At Tue Jan 25, 10:37:00 AM PST, Blogger No_Newz said...

I would like to say that doesn't happen everywhere but it does. And it stinks! Another one I hear a lot that annoys me is "pregnant" for someone who is married and "knocked up" for someone who isn't married. Stupid!
Lois Lane

At Tue Jan 25, 08:37:00 PM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

I just use "been got at" -- that covers all scenarios nicely, I think.

At Tue Jan 25, 08:56:00 PM PST, Blogger No_Newz said...

Personally I like "done did". ;)
Lois Lane

At Tue Jan 25, 11:45:00 PM PST, Blogger Bloomin' Onionhead said...

hey bryan, another great thought provoking piece so i'm surprised not many have commented...but i see what you are a society we blame each other down racial, class, and socio-economic lines for shit: whites blame blacks, blacks blame whites; rich blame the poor, and the poor blame the rich; the boss blames the worker, and the worker blames the boss, etc...seems to me that the afflictions in our country whether it be drugs, poverty, homelessness, you name it, would be less prevelant if each group stopped blaming each other and worked together a little more...Certainly those in power have a moral obligation to begin the process and reach out to those who are not...but after that individual responsibility should take over...this may be some utopian idealism, but i see no other cure for the lines in the sand that haven't been washed away by the tides of social change...we must do more, all of us.

At Wed Jan 26, 03:02:00 PM PST, Blogger unca said...

I think this is sometimes called the "fallacy of the generalization" or the "fallacy of the slogan" and we employ it (as you state) very selectively depending on who's ox is gored -- always have and always will. If I haven't learned something in a class it's because the teacher hasn't taught. If I'm the teacher, the student didn't put forth the effort. I've always wondered why this kind of thing doesn't have a more formal name, something like: selective use of principle.


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