In his 2005 book, On Bullshit, Harry Frankfurt establishes the following:
It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.
I say this in an effort to help my fellow Democrats, liberals, and sane people avoid wasting their time with such foolishness as “facts”, “rebuttals”, and “the truth” when discussing the proposed health care reform with enraged, sputtering, foamy-mouthed Conservatives.
Talk of “Death Panels” and such isn’t lies. It’s bullshit, as defined above. It has nothing to do with any actual facts, and the presence or absence of those facts doesn’t affect it in the slightest. It’s simply designed to do one thing: make Obama fail. Even the issue doesn’t matter; if it wasn’t health care it would be something else. Obama could declare National Pancake Day and the Tea Party groups would all be up in arms, having Waffle Parties instead. It’s a small number of hardcore conservatives inflating their presence by yelling louder and doing what they always do: shrieking and stamping their feet when they don’t get their own way.
Making the situation even worse, of course, is all the astroturf coming down from the insurance industry, terrified that it might see a slight dip in profits. As a result, they’ve been able to feed into this irrational overreaction with bullshit of their own.
The punchline to all of this foolishness is that it’s all a lot of sturm und drang over a toothless, half-hearted bill that falls far short of what’s truly needed and was mostly written by the insurance companies themselves anyway.
So folks, feel free to fact check and post blog comments and respond to tweets all you want, but it won’t make a lick of difference. You’re not even bringing a knife to a gunfight, you’re bringing a pie chart to a pep rally, and nobody gives a shit what your egghead elitist facts and figures say, these people just want the other side to lose and Grandma to not be murdered in her bed by Imperial Stormtroopers. As one of my revolving quotes says, “You can’t reason someone out of something they weren’t reasoned into.”