Over at Richard’s blog, I occasionally discuss political issues with well-intentioned individuals whose views unfortunately combine libertarianism and paranoia. I’ve noticed that no matter how often I repeat certain well-known facts — for instance, that literally no one is proposing making it illegal to purchase health care above and beyond what their insurance (public or private) provides — they keep repeating falsehoods.
Thus, I have decided to take the opposite approach. Rather than attempting to disprove their paranoid fantasies, I’ve been pushing them even further. For instance, on the question of “death panels,” I’ve been acting as though of course liberals support this, and in fact claiming that the current “death panel” proposal is a cowardly, watered-down compromise. Here are a couple comments in that vein:
- Personally, I’m upset that they haven’t expanded the death panel program more. [response] Well, what I’m thinking is — why limit the death panels to people who need medical treatment? That’s discrimination.
- The death panels, unfortunately, are not likely to get the necessary 60 votes in the Senate to break a fillibuster — something my fellow ultra-liberals are all mourning. I’ve actually started a petition that would require everyone to report to one of the death panels every three years, with those who failed being sent to work camps in North Dakota. I talked to Ezekiel Emmanuel about this, and he thought it was wonderful and awesome and said that Obama had floated the idea to him but thought the American public wasn’t ready for it yet.
My goal is to create a kind of short circuit. In reality, though, they’ll probably just decide that I’m a patronizing asshole — just like when I used a “facts and information”-based approach. I remain convinced, however, that something other than “argument” is needed with people stuck in such paranoid fantasies, some kind of jolt that can wake them up to a point where genuine reasoning becomes possible. Conversion rather than convincing.
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