Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Subjective Evidence

I find subjective feelings used as evidence to be beyond annoying, and they were in full display in the Covington incident.  Nathan Phillips claims he was approaching the groups because he thought those boys were going to lynch those black men. I can't believe that a decent interviewer did not immediately ask for clarification there. So you thought those highschool boys were going to go over to those black men, drag them to some structure with a protrusion, and hang them?  Just checking. Continue. But how does Phillips even get such an idea?  White-on-black violent crime is minuscule. The actions of the boys we see on video don't look menacing in any way.  It's all in Philips's head.

People were claiming that a MAGA hat triggers them as much as a KKK hood, the implication being that the MAGA's must be just as bad.  I submit that they are probably more triggered by the hats than the hoods.  Everyone knows that the KKK is some moribund, cockamamie organisation with no power;  but Trump voters are many, and strike at the heart of cultural power. People are more triggered by that.  But "triggered" is not quite the concept here. The "trigger" that the hats pull is on a weapon which the receiver has loaded and pointed at himself. The actual danger is in his head, or self-inflicted.

And then there's that "smirk."

While this flows primarily left-to-right, I don't think that's unanimous.  The belief that Obama must not have been born in America came from people's subjective feeling that he didn't seem entirely American.  He seemed Indonesian, Kenyan, and he's hung out with some anti-American people.

It's very dangerous territory, when objective evidence is not a defense.

Unrelatedly, but also from the followup to the incident.  People have been apologising, but many of the apologies are inadequate. One newswoman who advocated calling the college one boy was going to and telling them to rescind its acceptance apologised profusely for jumping to conclusions - because she had misidentified the boy and done damage to an innocent bystander.  That it would be terrible even if she had gotten the right target didn't occur to her. I have always thought that the non-apology of "I'm sorry if anyone was hurt by what I said," rather than acknowledging "I said something wrong" was just evasion, a moral weakness.  Yet I have to wonder if some of this is just muddled thinking.  Maybe people don't know what an apology is.  Maybe they really do think this is enough, because culturally, that's what they see everyone else doing.  It fits the speech pattern of the society.  Same with "I take full responsibility."  I think it's just one of the lyrics in the song, that no one really looks at anymore.  When people are apologising it's just a sort of vague sorriness, without any looking squarely at what, precisely, was done wrong; by whom and to whom? Not everyone gets solid training in confession. I may be imposing evangelical norms on people who mean well enough but just didn't think very hard, a less desperate problem.

Then I remembered the apology by the Bishop of the Diocese of Covington. Not entirely adequate.  There are some missed notes.  Yet I think bishops are fairly well trained in confession.


Sam L. said...

Those Black Hebrew Israelites outnumbered the Covington boys...and Phillips thought the boys were going to lynch them. He's either lying, or delusional. My money's on delusional.

"The belief that Obama must not have been born in America came from people's subjective feeling that he didn't seem entirely American." It was on his book cover, so "it must be TRUE."

Grim said...

Those BHI guys in the video were full grown men who were perfectly comfortable. I don't think a bunch of weenie High School kids was any threat to them, and they manifestly didn't think so either.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Sam L - I'm not ruling out delusional, because people get ridiculous prejudices locked in their heads that can't be shaken, but my money is on lying.

It would have just been so much fun if the interviewer had followed up.

Texan99 said...

The apologetic form that really struck me was, "Well, I'm sorry, but I was bullied into behaving badly." If true, the bullies have their own apologies to make, but the proper form here has to include some element of "I had a duty to show some courage, but I failed. I ended up collaborating in someone else's serious moral crime." As you say, bishops know better.

I never had a strong opinion one way or another about where Pres. Obama was born. It seemed like an issue he could have quickly laid to rest if he hadn't been awfully evasive. I couldn't tell if he was evasive because he was irritated by what he considered a silly invasion of privacy or because there really was something under the rock, and I quickly lost interest. I already had him pegged as insincere and somewhat given to fabulism. I mean, those autobiographies, sheesh.