How to deal with “hater” haters

“I’m right, because my feelings say so!” is passé. The new, “progressive” argument is “You’re wrong, because I say so about your feelings!” Their opponents are wrong because they’re motivated by “hate.” The people who try to shout Trump down don’t say he’s trying to gain absolute power, or that he’d take away our liberties; they say he’s motivated by “hate.” As they’re screaming to drown him out, of course, they have no hostile feelings at all in their own minds. By claiming emotional superiority, they try to convince us their opposition to free speech is good and his is bad.

The classic argument from emotion is about the speaker’s own emotions: “I feel very strongly about this, so it must be true.” “Let your heart be your guide.” The argument from “hate” uses projection. When its users say, “You’re a hater,” they mean “I hate you.” When they say “Hate speech should be banned,” they mean “Speech which I hate should be banned.” Projecting the negative emotion onto their target lets them feel superior.

It’s tough to get past this fallacy and can be dangerous to try. The person using it is playing on your emotions, hoping to draw out an angry response that will show you feel “hatred.” It leads naturally into dirtier tactics, such as spreading innuendos about you or threatening to spread them. Proving or disproving emotions is very difficult.

The only answer I know of is to refuse to play the game. When someone starts talking about “hate,” even if they’re apparently on your side, be on guard. If they target you with that line, break off the discussion and — if you think it’s just a temporary aberration — say you’ll continue it when they want to talk about the issues and not emotions. If they resort to smears, have nothing to do with them. I haven’t had much success dealing with such people; maybe someone else has better answers.

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