The Jury Talks Back


On Being at Peace with All Men in an Era of Hypocrisy and Bullshit

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:38 am

A commenter recently left me this comment:

You used to have content that I enjoyed: actual political commentary from a principled Constitutional position. And while you still do that from time to time, the constant sniping at the people who disagree with you has gone past the point where I want to visit your site. You’re turning into exactly the thing you say you hate: the person who just wants to rub the other guy’s nose in being wrong, instead of arguing the issues.

Bye. I may check back in a year or so to see if you’ve gotten over this phase of unproductive arguing, but for now I’m taking your site off my daily rotation of blogs I read. Shame; you used to be good before you started getting bitter.

Usually, when someone flounces, I am (if anything) pleased. Flounces usually express displeasure at my attitude towards Donald Trump — and generally, I find very little persuasive about most of the bitching about me and the things I write about Trump. But that’s not this commenter’s argument. And I think this commenter has a point. Historically, the commenter is not a hypocrite or crackpot, like so many other flouncers are. And much of what he says rings true to me.

I am disgusted by the bullshit arguments, hypocrisy, total lack of logic, and blatant double standards I see on a daily basis from some people who defend Trump. But dwelling on it — at least in the way I have for a while now — angers me, which is counterproductive. And I’m trying to remove anger from my life.

After reading this comment, and realizing that there was some justice in it, I was not quite sure what to do about it. Exposing hypocrisy and double standards is a habit by now. But it raises my blood pressure. Is there a way to channel that feeling into something constructive?

I asked a couple of good friends that question, and one of them, a very wise soul (who can choose to identify himself or herself, or not), replied in a way that I will paraphrase here. My friend said that there is nothing wrong with exposing double standards, especially if our goal is honest dialogue. But recognize that some people simply won’t engage in honest dialogue. Given that, I should see my efforts at pointing out the hypocrisy and bullshit, not as an effort to change minds, but rather as a public stance that I am going to be consistent in the application of my principles. If the occasional person, whose is not so invested in Trump that their pride is somehow at stake, sees something of value in my commentary, so much the better. But I need to stop letting hypocrites influence how I feel and how I react. My friend closes with the quote: “As much as you can, live in peace with all men.”

I think this is fantastic advice. I don’t want to give up calling out the B.S., but I do want to give up the negative emotions that come with yelling at people over it.

I thank this commenter for his comment, and I thank my friend deeply for the advice. I plan to email the commenter a link to this post — but this isn’t really about regaining one lost reader (although regaining this particular lost reader would be nice). It’s about improving my own life and my own outlook. I’ve successfully done that in many other areas of my life, but this one is a glaring exception. It’s time for me to at least try to do something about it.


  1. It doesn’t matter who gave you this good advice, but I like to think it was …

    Comment by DRJ — 6/2/2018 @ 4:20 pm

  2. I have to agree with the commenter. This administration and the circus surrounding it has caused a lot of good political bloggers on the right to draw lines and begin shouting at one another instead of focusing on the policies we, the readers, really care about and on which we wish to engage the writers—and by extension other commenters. It’s like watching a comment thread become derailed by a troll (e.g. Happyfeet) to the point where it isn’t worth engaging anymore until the emotion dies down. It happened to Ace, it happened to RedState, it happened at Legal Insurrection, Breitbart is a complete loss, Drudge was on his way to becoming an echo chamber, and unfortunately it’s happened here as well.

    I’m glad you took a moment to step back and reflect, and I look forward to reading how this moment affects your prose in the future.

    Comment by Sean — 6/2/2018 @ 5:04 pm

  3. It doesn’t matter who gave you this good advice, but I like to think it was …

    Go on…

    Comment by Patterico — 6/2/2018 @ 5:29 pm

  4. I’m glad you took a moment to step back and reflect, and I look forward to reading how this moment affects your prose in the future.

    I’m not going to stop pointing out when Trump lies, but hopefully that’s not what you’re saying.

    Comment by Patterico — 6/2/2018 @ 5:30 pm

  5. I wouldn’t expect you to stop calling out Trump or any other politician when they do something warranting criticism. I’m just tired of reading bloggers that I once enjoyed when they wrote about policy and principles now unable to set pride aside and find the common ground we once shared. Whether its Ace’s ridiculous high horse rankings about true conservatism and the continued use of that insipid pajorative “cuck”, or site’s like RedState purging those that aren’t sufficiently Trupian in their views (vows?), I’m just tired of the unproductive and distractive bickering.

    Comment by Sean — 6/2/2018 @ 9:05 pm

  6. Dustin.

    Comment by DRJ — 6/2/2018 @ 9:45 pm

  7. Sean,

    I think this is one of those moments when some people can’t agree on politics, or agree to disagree.

    It’s not as if this never happens. Can we ask people to find common ground on abortion if they believe abortion is murder, or if they believe denying women the right to choose is like slavery? There is no common ground between the two there or, apparently, here.

    Comment by DRJ — 6/2/2018 @ 9:51 pm

  8. I think this is one of those moments when some people can’t agree on politics, or agree to disagree.

    I completely agree DRJ. However, the one or two “disagreements” have now seemed to become the total sum of their identity. It’s no longer just a matter of, “we disagree on this issue, but I can still respect you as a person.” No, it’s now, “you are an evil, , and you need to be torn down and destroyed.”

    Don’t like a ridiculous comment someone with no followers on Twitter posted? Get her fired before her plane even lands. Can’t stand a politician a company donated money to because of ONE issue the politician has that you don’t like? Organize a die-in to inconvenience everyone. Don’t agree that my “guy” is the best candidate on the planet? Well then, cuck. Oh, and boycott, boycott, boycott… everything!

    It’s tiring, and at the same time sickening.

    I see this behavior far too often in the younger students I teach (I work at a community college, so ages of students range from 18–40+). The worst part is when I have frank discussions with them I get the impression that they haven’t learned how to treat others with respect or recognize that as humans we’re all flawed and to accept that; and it’s gotten worse in the last 5 years.

    Comment by Sean — 6/3/2018 @ 6:50 am

  9. Well said. It is very sad, and I don’t see an answer. There was a time when you could talk to people and sometimes find common ground, but now too many people don’t even try to listen to other opinions. They even have reasons that let them justify refusing to listen. And I know they feel like we do the same thing. But I still feel there are issues like abortion where people are farther apart and more polarized than they are on subjects like Trump. Trump’s power will end. He will have people try to pick up his mantle but one thing about celebrities, they don’t like replacements, so his era will end, too.

    It isn’t Trump so much that bothers me now as the way people seem to be rejecting the things that made Western Civilization great — logic, reason, morality, law. All are annoyances that keep people from getting even and winning.

    Comment by DRJ — 6/3/2018 @ 9:39 am

  10. Here — in the comments to a Susan Wright post at The Resurgent — is an example of the new discourse that mystifies me. Wright was let go at Red State with Patterico. She has been blogging at The Resurgent since then. Some commenters who clearly like her work followed her over, as did at least one commenter who seems to be there solely to harangue the commenters. The commenter doesn’t even seem to care what Wright says.

    Why do that? The commenter has the desired Trump-focused forum. Is it like Trump, they love the chase, or is life too boring without someone to parry with?

    Comment by DRJ — 6/3/2018 @ 10:34 am

  11. The fact that he still uses the NeverTrumper label says everything about his intentions. He doesn’t care about discourse, he only wants to complain about individuals who don’t tow the Trump line 100% of the time. He’s a great example of the new alt-right Troll.

    Comment by Sean — 6/3/2018 @ 5:10 pm

  12. That is so true, and alt-right Troll is apt.

    Comment by DRJ — 6/3/2018 @ 5:58 pm

  13. The term Alt-Right Troll is apt, that is.

    Comment by DRJ — 6/3/2018 @ 5:59 pm

  14. It worries me that Patterico’s decision not to engage as much will encourage and empower Trump supporters at the main site even more. I am very glad for this website, and I am equally glad for Patterico that he made that decision. It is right for him but I think it means the debates will degenerate.

    Comment by DRJ — 6/3/2018 @ 6:03 pm

  15. I appreciate the comment and even more so Patterico’s response. I didn’t vote for Trump and don’t care for sycophantic adulation, but I am broadly in tune with his agenda and so do want him and his team to succeed. The independence of this site can be breath of fresh air. The recurrent mockery of sycophants, however, becomes wearying. It sometimes feels – even though not so intended – like wishing Trump would not succeed because he personally does not deserve to, even if there is much a conservative can wish he and his team would succeed in accomplishing.

    Comment by Nathan Wagner — 6/3/2018 @ 6:56 pm

  16. Good points Nathan.

    Perhaps more guest bloggers could help shoulder the load and mitigate some of the negative emotions Patterico is attempting to avoid.

    Comment by Sean — 6/3/2018 @ 7:10 pm

  17. Good points. In the past, Patterico welcomed guest posts, although of course he gets to decide whether to publish it at his site. People who might not want to blog full-time might be open to writing one article or essay.

    Comment by DRJ — 6/3/2018 @ 7:37 pm

  18. I want Trump to succeed by implementing a conservative agenda. He has done that with his judicial nominations, reportedly by delegating to The Federalist folks.

    I hope Trump will do more of that in other areas. CEOs delegate because they know they can’t do it all. Trump is a businessman so I hope he will delegate more.

    Comment by DRJ — 6/3/2018 @ 7:40 pm

  19. Yes, Trump needs to succeed on conservative policies, but we can’t abide individuals that attack any legitimate criticism when his polices are trend left, or like in the case of his tariffs (which hurt me personally and professionally) far-left.

    Comment by Sean — 6/3/2018 @ 9:34 pm

  20. That is what you should write a guest post about, Sean. Tariffs hurt me as a consumer but I don’t see it directly, and most people don’t see it. It’s too abstract. Trump succeeds because he can reduce arguments down to basic levels that people can feel. We need someone to do that with tariffs.

    Comment by DRJ — 6/4/2018 @ 6:17 am

  21. Also, I completely agree about dissent. It is beyond disappointing that people on the right want to silence dissent that way the left does.

    Comment by DRJ — 6/4/2018 @ 6:18 am

  22. I think one way to find peace is to speak your mind in the posts, make your position clear in the comments if needed, and move on. I read your posts and comments as saying that is what you intend to do.

    Another way is to speak out in the posts and continue to engage in a Christian way in the comments. Doing that is much harder and something that teaches us humility and patience. I do not hear you saying this.

    Comment by DRJ — 6/6/2018 @ 7:42 am

  23. I think one way to find peace is to speak your mind in the posts, make your position clear in the comments if needed, and move on. I read your posts and comments as saying that is what you intend to do.

    Another way is to speak out in the posts and continue to engage in a Christian way in the comments. Doing that is much harder and something that teaches us humility and patience. I do not hear you saying this.

    That is what I hope to do, but I’m just not going to engage in long and unproductive discussions any more.

    Comment by Patterico — 6/7/2018 @ 7:43 am

  24. It’s a difficult question. Why waste my time on a hopeless quest to find common ground, vs it’s never a waste of time to care for and engage with people. I guess it depends on our definition of hopeless.

    Comment by DRJ — 6/7/2018 @ 10:57 am

  25. I think the reality is that there is nothing new about people cheering on “their side” with a lack of personal integrity/principles.

    What is new about Trump is that Trump himself has always courted controversy. Its always been his stock in trade, his “brand”. That’s relatively unusual for a politician at the national level who normally try to be relatively bland even while putting mildly controversial political positions in their platform.

    So the combination can be especially irritating.

    However, the reality is that that in-your-face controversy appealed to a large fraction of the electorate. I’m not sure that that appeal is wearing off much. So the real issue is how to not be yet another one hooked by Trump’s trolling and instead toss that over one’s shoulder and return to the actual issues.

    Comment by SPQR — 6/8/2018 @ 9:51 am

  26. I meant to add to the above:

    And this is why I’m especially heart-sick at the news regarding Charles Krauthammer. I had often admired his ability to do a better job of threading some sort of principle throughout his political commentary than I am. Did not always agree with him, but was often very challenged when I found myself in disagreement.

    Comment by SPQR — 6/8/2018 @ 9:56 am

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