A lesson learned

Since I hammered Ken White of Popehat for his howler on the UN report on “cyberviolence”, it only seems fair to point out that unlike an SJW, he did not double-down:

I was right in saying that we need to scrutinize any specific proposed laws or policies that arise from this report. But I was wrong to downplay the rhetoric as mere rhetoric, and to say it was premature to criticize it. On a more serious look, the report’s rhetoric suggests an effort to use the language of violence to cover non-violent and protected conduct. That is of particular concern since it is directed at the UN….

I screwed up. I didn’t blow a closing argument or put the wrong pacemaker in someone or crash a car, but I offered my thoughts without exercising due care. The easy reason was that I rushed, because I was busy. The harder reason is that some of my attitudes colored my approach.

I expected that the report would not be read, that its contents would be overstated and distorted, and that it would be treated as an open and explicit call for censorship because of the people involved with it. I wasn’t wrong to think that. But I was wrong to let that thought stop me from a more careful examination, and to allow myself to breeze by the implications of the rhetoric while looking for the specific proposals that weren’t there. If I had looked at it from a “is this rhetoric bad or not” standpoint, instead of a “imagine the reaction to this” viewpoint, I would have gotten it right.

People have been getting suckered by the Left’s “it’s only rhetoric” and “it’s just this one brick” for over a century now. That’s how the income tax got started. That’s how Britain joined the European Union. If there is one lesson to be learned from White’s mea culpa, it is this: rhetoric is not irrelevant.

Rhetoric is a form of persuasion and it is MORE effective than logic, science, data, reason, and dialectic for the vast majority of human beings. It is never to be dismissed lightly or ignored, not even by the dialectical thinker, because the manipulation of human emotion is one of the most powerful means of inspiring human action.

Furthermore, one should never assume that facts are either true or false on the basis of how one feels about the individual supporting or opposing it. Even the Devil can quote Scripture, after all. But if someone is known to be dishonest, or an SJW, or affiliated in any way with the United Nations, one should always take the time to carefully scrutinize any assertion they make as well as any source they cite.