Rationalisation, discrimination, de-legitimisation … you know the rest

Interested, while controlling my revulsion at the subject matter, to read this, via Unz:

By the logic of gay liberation, Thiel is an example of a man who has sex with other men, but not a gay man. Because he does not embrace the struggle of people to embrace their distinctive identity.

In a very telling moment, Thiel referred to the devastating legislation that North Carolina and Mississippi passed prohibiting transgender people from using the bathrooms of their choice as a “distraction.” Thiel also endorsed a political platform and party that includes the vice-presidential nominee who has voted aganst [sic] hate-crime laws, opposed HIV funding, and supported a law allowing businesses to deny services to people who identify as gay.

In this way, Thiel reaffirmed his own sexual choices — while separating himself from gay identity. His notion that transgender people’s predicament is somehow a distraction effectively rejects the conception of LGBT as a cultural identity that requires political struggle to defend.

‘By the logic of gay liberation, Thiel is an example of a man who has sex with other men, but not a gay man. Because he does not embrace the struggle of people to embrace their distinctive identity.’

One of my aphorisms is that people can rationalise anything, if doing so would mean that they can remove an unwelcome cognitive dissonance and dismiss or denounce a person or group which presents an inconvenient and/or significant disruption to one’s beliefs, cause and/or raison d’etre

The next step, to which I was moved by the absurdity of the reasoning above, is that people will rationalise, given the chance. Whether consciously or not, I don’t know. But the ability to rationalise isn’t merely a latent tendency that is employed voluntarily, rather it is of the nature of an automatic reaction of the brain, a manifestation of the Semmelweis reflex aspect of confirmation bias. An initial response aimed at making one feel at ease by removing, through reasoning (however weak) the nasty, unwelcome contra-indication or counter-example.

But this mechanism appears necessarily to move the person into the category of an other. ‘Peter Thiel, while being homosexual, doesn’t meet my definition of a homosexual, and therefore he isn’t a homosexual.’

It’s so simple to do. The mind accepts it so easily. And these initial rationalisations, so easily made and so easily and readily accepted, become the foundation for further rationalisations relating to one’s treatment of the people so rationalised.

In the case of Thiel, it is idiotic, and the consequences are likely (I hope) to be minor. But in another case, it’s terrifying:

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.

Now some of those folks, they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

‘Not America’ gives me the shivers. How is the American government, under Mrs Clinton, going to treat the people within its borders who are ‘not America’?

1. People can rationalise anything. 
2. People will rationalise anything. 
3. People will act on, and in accordance with, their rationalisations. 

I keep telling readers: this project is more important than ever. I hope, from this post and others, you can see why.


About Stebbing Heuer

A person interested in exploring human perception, reasoning, judgement and deciding, and in promoting clear, effective thinking and the making of good decisions.
This entry was posted in Motivated Reasoning, Rationalisation, The Mind & Society. Bookmark the permalink.

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