Cougars to Korans to American Exceptionalism, Straw Vulcan Logic Illustrated
Is that a lovely? That’s California Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards posing with a cougar he recently killed in Idaho. He claims it was in self defence. OK, that was a joke. He killed (and reportedly ate) the cougar in a perfectly legal hunt in Idaho. This has caused a storm of protest and calls for his resignation in California, where such hunts are illegal. Mr Richards says the hunt was legal, it was on his own time, and is no different than, say, any other California state official travelling to Nevada to go gambling, which is also illegal in California. So what’s the problem?
The problem is that Mr Richards is an insensitive idiot. Now don’t get me wrong, I support hunting and fishing when well regulated, the alternative is much uglier. And while I’m not a big fan of trophy hunting, within reason I don’t have a problem with it. I would prefer that trophy hunters be limited to hand weapons like spears and knives. I mean come on guys, if you have to kill a big animal to prove you have stones, do it like a man. Any a**hat can shoot a cat in a tree. Bring down a cougar or a bear with a spear, and I’ll buy you a drink dude. Or have one in your memory at least.
I digress. Suffice it to say that any state official careless enough to allow a public picture of himself grinning like a loon while he pursues an activity that the majority of his employers disagree with, an activity he is sworn to prevent in his state, is an idiot. Yes, as a state official he is working for the voters of California. That he doesn’t understand, or is pretending not to understand, that letting a picture like this hit the airwaves would cause some major backlash, is mind blowing to me.
The point here, is that Mr Richard’s attitude is an excellent example of Vulcan logic. Because what he did was legal, he’s basically claiming that anyone who gets upset isn’t being logical, therefore he can ignore them. People do react emotionally to stuff, and anyone who has lived on Earth for more than a few weeks should understand that. Anyone who completely disregarded the emotions of people in their personal life pretty quickly wouldn’t have any friends, or at least they would have just strange stunted friendships. Now for the record I am not saying that every time someone gets upset at a public official’s actions it means they were wrong. I am saying that to claim that your actions are defensible because “people shouldn’t rationally get upset by this” is in and of itself a profoundly irrational argument. People are creatures of emotion, and to pretend otherwise isn’t rational.
And we come to a similar situation in Afghanistan. Despite the fact that there is ample evidence that defacing the Koran violates a core value of many or most of the Afghan people, many Americans in and out of politics and the media act surprised every time something like this happens and cluck cluck about how “irrational” their response is. With simply zero empathy for how they would respond in a similar situation. If a Muslim Army had occupied the USA for a decade, waging war against the Tea Party the whole time, and the charred remains of the Star Spangled Banner flag was found in a trash pit outside a Saudi military base, many Americans would go ballistic. The point is that the burning of the Korans, and allowing Afghans to find out, was a sign of either mind numbing incompetence on the part of some Americans … or mind numbing indifference.
The meta point I am dancing around here is that the attitude of many Americans about this Koran issue is simply a reflection of the fact that they think we are the good guys with the superior values, and our values trump theirs. This is the colonial mind set or cultural imperialism or American exceptionalism … or just plain old fashioned being arrogant and condescending. Claiming one is “helping” people by invading their country and installing a government of our liking is bizarre enough, claiming that trampling on their values at the same time is “no big deal” is beyond bizarre, it’s insane.
And frankly, my current theory is that imperialism is a disease. And the USA has a raging case of it.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and at this point is definitely an historically important image. My opinion on the topic? I say to Mr Richards: “Good shot! However, this picture shows you are too stupid, arrogant, and insensitive to hold public office, do us all a favour and resign.”)
PS: Have a great weekend everyone!