Sunday, August 03, 2014

Perception Filters and Absolutism

A guy is getting a large number of retweets with a banner saying:

"With all this 'gun control' talk I haven't heard one politician say how they plan to take guns from criminals, just law abiding citizens."

When I listen to the gun control debate, I hear people driven by a desire to keep guns out of criminal hands. The primary focus of many gun control laws is criminal background checks, certification classes and waiting periods designed specifically to keep guns out of criminal hands. There is a slew of criminal law and probation law aimed specifically at convicted criminals.

The guy posted this message and those retweeting it are all admitting to a perception filter.

One of the biggest problems in discourse today is that people neither listen to nor try to understand the arguments of others. We simply lump the people on the other side of the partisan divide into a single category, dismiss their arguments and deflect.

Personally, I think a large part of this problem came about because people trying to defend the American way stupidly accepted the label "conservative."

One of the synonyms of "conservative" is "closed-minded."

Americans have traditionally been one of the most open-minded and rational people on the planet. By trying to adapt to the image of "conservatism" people start acting in foolish ways.

There are people on the left who want an absolute ban on guns. These absolutists play the same game. They dismiss the arguments in favor of the second amendment. They project false images on their opponents and deflect any criticism of their poisition.

Yes, a person who is arguing for a gun ban is not arguing for a balanced system of gun control.  The person arguing for gun bans is arguing for a complete criminalization of gun ownership.

Undoubtedly, these absolutists are not engaged in open conversation. However, when we look back at the conservative banner we see a reactionary who used one absolutist position to justify another. The term "not one" is an an absolutist statement.

"With all this 'gun control' talk I haven't heard one politician say how they plan to take guns from criminals, just law abiding citizens."

I love this statement because it shows clearly how people hone their perception filters into absolutes.

I suspect that the people retweeted this post were so focused on showing the absolutism of their foes, they failed to see the absolute introduced into their tweet stream.

Unfortunately, the process of developing perception filters is inherent in the label "conservative."

I think that people who had learned logic and who were truly engaged in the defense of liberty, such as our nation's founders, would have caught this error. For this error is a grave error.

Our partisan perception filters ultimately destroy our ability to communicate allowing the political class to divide us into warring factions which invariably lets the worst in our society rise to the top.

Through the years I've realized that the most common form of absolutism is the projection of absolutism on others. If Peter projects absolutism on Paul, Peter is the absolutist, not Paul.

If I develop a perception filter where I see all your statements in absolutes, then I am the one who is bing the absolutist.

(OOPS: I lost track of the tweet with this banner. It was retweeted in my time line multiple times.)

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