« Methinks The Sheriff Doth Protest Too Much | Main | Truth will out ... count on it »

"People are not stimulus-response machines"

Garry Hamilton is speaking truth to the nonsensical:

I continue to see assertions that "speech creates thought" or that "symbols are violence" and variations on the idea that thoughts and actions originate from somewhere besides in one's own mind.

The individual is the origin point for decisions leading to action. Always.

The individual is the origin point for thought that leads to decisions.

People are not stimulus-response machines.

Now, with a little effort, over an extended period of time, you can educate a person such that he is encouraged to adopt a frame of mind in which he bears no responsibility for his thoughts, decisions and actions. The music did it, the video game did it, the ridicule by classmates did it, the weather did it or the lack of adequate stimulating entertainment did it. Easy enough to extend this to include "talk radio did it, advertising did it, symbols on a web site did it."

This, of course, opens the door to controlling what people see and hear. Because without some kind of (government) protection, the automatons that we call "people" will just go off and do all manner of horrible things, because they can't help themselves.

And here's the "ad absurdum" of that: if, in fact, Man is effectively a robot, doomed to simply respond to stimuli, then those who propose to control those stimuli are either a) simply responding to stimuli of their own, in accordance with their conditioning, or b) not really members of the "Mankind" set, being instead some kind of "ubermensch" or master race.

It is clear, on its face, that neither of these assertions works, thus the foundation idea is false.

...

Therefore, let us cease attempting to control people's actions by censoring their "inputs" out of fear that all inputs are essentially the "punched cards" of thought and decision.

It is okay, in fact necessary, to correctly identify a crazy person as crazy without trying to assign blame for that in other quarters.

Rhetoric calibrated to capitalize on a violent event ("never let a crisis go to waste") is dishonest and should be identified as such.

Keep your thinking clear and your utterances precise and free of the clutter of emotion.

The appeal to emotion is seductive and tempting and used powerfully by the manipulative to get the masses to think in a particular way.  We're seeing this played out in a huge way in the wake of the Tucson shootings.  Leftists smell blood in the water and are now in a full-fledged feeding frenzy.

Garry is sounding the alarm.  Don't fall for the dishonesty.  Don't be fooled by those purposed in shutting down dissent.

Now is not the time to go soft.  Now is the time to stand firm in opposing those who will use the Tucson shootings to further their agendas.


TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/40898.

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "People are not stimulus-response machines":

» Brutally Honest linked with "People are not stimulus-response machines"

Comments (24)

Hmmm. Yes...but"Fo... (Below threshold)
sam:

Hmmm. Yes...but

"For as long as I can remember, I have heard conservatives blaming everything that is wrong in the universe, from violent crime to declining test scores to teen pregnancy to rude children to declining patriotism to probably athlete's foot . . . upon Dr. Spock, Hollywood liberals, the abolition of prayer in school, Bill Clinton, the "liberal 1960s," the teaching of evolution — in other words, upon symbols, rhetoric, cultural norms, and the values expressed by political and media leaders. Yet from the moment when someone gets a gun in their hands, apparently, society ceases to have any influence whatsoever on the outcome and individual responsibility takes hold 100%. Something is driving the tripling of death threats against congressmen (and the concomitant rise in threats against Federal judges and other villains of the right, from Forest Service rangers to climate scientists) and it isn't the sunspot cycle.[Stephen Budianksy]

That guy was reading my min... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

That guy was reading my mind. I had entered a comment in the previous post saying pretty much the same thing just a few minutes ago and then deleted it. Why are so many on the the left falling into this trap? I think it's largely because of the whole group-think mentality. Because if people's actions are the fault of others' words - if that was really true, and to them it is - then they would bear as much responsibility. Somewhere in their minds they feel partly responsible and wish to deflect that forthwith onto someone else. So they immediately went into full offense mode.

Why do we hear that others are responsible when someone does something bad but you never hear that when they do something good?

I am getting a little tired... (Below threshold)
mag:

I am getting a little tired of hearing about the hate of the right. Is it hateful to want to keep your own hard earned money and not give it to others who expect other people to support them? Is it hateful to want to follow the rule of law regarding people entering this country? Is it hateful to admire your military and give them thanks and respect?
What I hate is how the left (as is their talent) to demonized things about the right that are not even there. What about all their hate? What about when Alex Baldwin went nuts on TV demanding the killing of a US Congressman because he did not like his point of view? What about the movie they made about Bush being assassinated? What about two ugly (inside and out) women Sarah Bernhard and Kathy Gifford calling for the raping of Sarah Palin and the attacts on her children. The leftists are the most hateful people I have ever seen. But they are so good at turning the tables and accuse others of what they are so guilty of!!!
What happen in AZ was the work of one very sick and evil person. And...if his favorate book was the Communist Manifesto...if anything I would say he had ties other than the right.

Sam, are you really trying ... (Below threshold)
Jeff Medcalf:

Sam, are you really trying to advance the argument that noticing that society has problems means you must then absolve people of their personal responsibility for their actions?

sam wrote:<blockquote... (Below threshold)
iwogisdead:

sam wrote:

Something is driving the tripling of death threats against congressmen . . . and it isn't the sunspot cycle

Might it be the "bulls eye" rhetoric of Daily Kos?

http://hillbuzz.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/screen-shot-2011-01-08-at-3-05-33-pm.png

Sam, apples and oranges.</p... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

Sam, apples and oranges.

When a gathering of statistics showing an increase of certain behaviors, ie. an increase in abortions, an increase in petty crime, an increase in poor test scores, etc, indicates a decline of a culture which can be directly related to the pervasive advancement of certain ideals imposed on that culture - even by certain people, - that's one thing.

Holding a political group, in this case the Tea Party, which espouses individual responsibility, responsible for an individual's extreme actions, or holding, say, Sarah Palin responsible for some innocuous graphical icon on a website that has been used by many people over the years, - that's another thing.

Why are we always reacting... (Below threshold)
Don L:

Why are we always reacting -"standing firm" while they keep winning, using boldface lies, deceit, emotions, propaganda and we sit almost foolishly satisfied that we use logic and fact? Frustrating as Hades. When are we going to put them on the defensive and not let them off the hook? Sigh!

"Sam, are you really trying... (Below threshold)
sam:

"Sam, are you really trying to advance the argument that noticing that society has problems means you must then absolve people of their personal responsibility for their actions?"

No, I'm not. I'm arguing, via the quote from Steve, that conservatives are constantly locating the source of society's problems in the effects of leftist rhetoric on society. But the only way to understand that claim is to understand it as saying that this leftist rhetoric, in the broadest sense -- media, movies, etc. -- influences, informs, individual belief and behavior. And that's only understandable on the premise that rhetoric per se -- left or right -- can and does influence individuals. We're not creatures living a vacuum. That's why this is profoundly misplaced:

The individual is the origin point for decisions leading to action. Always.

The individual is the origin point for thought that leads to decisions.

People are not stimulus-response machines.

The problem of individual freedom and individual accountability is real and difficult, and I don't think we advance our understanding of our predicament by denying John Donne.


Sam,there is a dif... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Sam,

there is a difference between saying that music, movies, videos, computer games etc that normalize violence, misogyny, drug abuse etc by specifically glorifying those actions and creating an apologia for bad behavior, and the use of metaphors in speech.

The left wants to say that they can graphically depict the rape of a woman, or sing about how they treat women as whores and beat them and that is OK. Then they turn around and say that when a conservative uses a metaphor like "targeting" an opponent for an election challenge they are advocating murder.

Anyone with two brain cells understands the difference. Apparently you do not.

Apparently, you can't follo... (Below threshold)
sam:

Apparently, you can't follow an argument, Jim. My argument concerned the influence of rhetoric, of whatever stripe, on individuals. I wasn't making any normative claims, saying this is bad, and that is good. I was just pointing out that you can't argue that this kind of rhetoric has influence and that kind does not.

Sam,You claimed th... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Sam,

You claimed that conservatives blamed "Dr. Spock, Hollywood liberals, the abolition of prayer in school, Bill Clinton, the "liberal 1960s," the teaching of evolution — in other words, upon symbols, rhetoric, cultural norms, and the values expressed by political and media leaders. "

I was correcting you saying that the complaint was that the left supported things that promoted bad behavior and normalized it. I will add that the left also tears down behavior which focuses people on moral behavior such as prayer in school, religious attendance, reciting he pledge of allegiance etc.

It isn't that people use colorful language to express themselves. If you dislike to tone of political discourse we might as well ban football because the tone there can be far worse with the martial metaphors.

The point is that there is a difference between using a martial metaphor in talking about politics and singing about glorifying treating my girlfriend as a whore or declaring that women are whores in general, or glorifying shooting cops or one's opponents. I could go on. Pop culture glorifies violence and misogyny. It isn't a metaphor.

Furthermore the left uses as much or more violent rhetoric in their speech. obama constantly uses offensive phrasing such as we need to "punish our enemies", "punch back twice as hard" etc. The left is extraordinarily hypocritical to blame the right for the tone of political discourse. The left has promoted intimidation of their political opponents. The left has promoted the physical assault of their opponents. Then the left turns around and when the right talks about substance and facts they cry that the right is lowering the tone of discourse.

These are two different issues. One is pure hypocrisy and it isn't the one on the right.

Jim, see my comment dire... (Below threshold)
sam:

Jim, see my comment directly above your first, ok?

I do blame the Tea Party fo... (Below threshold)
James H:

I do blame the Tea Party for a lot, including the Republican Party's rightward lunge, the current polarization of American politics, and my inability to get a date on Friday nights.

However, blaming the Tea Party for Loughner is misplaced. It would be one thing if somebody could show that Loughner was a member in good standing of his local Tea Party, attended meetings, or even knew somebody whose third cousin had once had coffee with a guy who ran a gas station patronized a teenage son of a Rotarian who was a third cousin of a kid who was a caddy for a golfing Tea Party member.

But we have no connection. Zilch. MMFA, et. al. are just playing political opportunism with this tragedy.

"I do blame the Tea Party f... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"I do blame the Tea Party for a lot, including the Republican Party's rightward lunge"

You know this surprises me. Because the Tea Party is probably more responsible than anything else for the suppression of the social conservatives within the GOP. The Tea Party has made fiscal conservatism the primary and overriding issue in the GOP. And it isn't that the fiscal conservatism of the Tea Party is that much more conservative that what existed before its origination. Are calls for a balanced budget and reducing spending that much further right than what was asked for before?

So I try to understand whether it is that people actually accept social conservatism that well by comparison to fiscal conservatism or if it is merely that they are upset that events have transpired to elevate one concern over the other and that concern happens to be the one that has broad appeal to moderates and independents. I'm inclined to think that it is the success that bothers people and not so much the political viewpoint.

I am glad the social conser... (Below threshold)
James H:

I am glad the social conservatives are tamped down a bit, and I am sympathetic toward the Tea Party's fiscal conservatism. But I have three major beefs with the Tea Party:


  1. It seems the mirror image of the anti-Bush liberals of the aughts. I find reflexive opposition to a president solely because he's in the other party unhelpful at best.

  2. The Tea Party's rather insistence on homogeneity within the Republican Party. Reality is that America may be center left or center right, but it is profoundly center. The ideological purges (cf. Murkowski, Castle) don't help the cause ... and they speak to me of an ideological intolerance. Additionally, the Tea Party's intransigence will impede lawmakers' willingness to compromise on elements of their agenda. By appearances, the Tea Party will be more satisfied with no loaf than half a loaf.

  3. The Tea Party has allowed itself to be exploited. I would have been more impressed if the movement had created a third party. Historically, American third parties have been successful not in being elected, but in compelling elements of both dominant parties to adopt portions of their agenda. The budget surpluses of the 1990s, IMO, cn be attributed in part to Ross Perot putting the deficit front and center. But rather than take the role of a third party, the Tea Party faction has allowed the existing Republican power structure to exploit it, to the point that major conservative personalities (cough Palin cough) use the Tea Party's passion to enrich themselves and entrenched Republicans use the passion to propel themselves into positions of influence.

  4. Finally, I fundamentally disagree with the Tea Party's interpretation of the Constitution. I won't go into the further arguments here, but let's just say that I'm more Hamiltonian than anything else.

James are you kidding? You ... (Below threshold)
John:

James are you kidding? You fail on your very first point. The biggest success the tea party can claim is taking out REPUBLICANS. They are focused on any politician that doesn't respect the public's role in government and any politician that treats the people like subjects and yes that includes Obama but not just because he's from the the other party. Pay attention to this, there was a group of people loosly associated call PORK BUSTERS they had the same agenda in most cases, do you know when they started up and who they opposed.... I'll give you 1 guess GWB and his spending. So please start over I can't get past point number 1 to know if you make any sense or not.

It isn't reflexive oppositi... (Below threshold)
jim m:

It isn't reflexive opposition to the most far left president in history. The opposition has always been based on issues and policy. Your statement is only slightly better than saying that all TEA Party people are racists. Very slightly.

I'm surprised that you say that the TEA Party is focused on Homogeneity and that is bad. The focus is on homogeneity on fiscal issues and that has really opened the door to participation by gays and other groups like never before.

Politicians like Castle were defeated because they were fiscally soft and big government types. The same goes in spades for Murkowski whose first act was to try to slide millions in earmarks in the first bill of the lame duck session.

As to being exploited, are you referring to the dems running bogus candidates under a TEA Party banner? Forming a third party was a clear route to marginalization. There has been a shift in the behavior of Republicans. If the Tea Party had gone third party they would not have elected many congressmen and no Senators. The GOP would be free to ignore their concerns and would be happily spending and growing government. Instead they have been forced to change their habits and restrain their spending. Mitch McConnell didn't want to ban earmarks but ended up being forced to enforce a ban on his caucus.

What it sounds like is that you are angry that they have actually maximized their influence. This could have been the dem party but their tendencies did not run toward reducing spending and smaller government.

It isn't reflexive... (Below threshold)
James H:
It isn't reflexive opposition to the most far left president in history. The opposition has always been based on issues and policy. Your statement is only slightly better than saying that all TEA Party people are racists. Very slightly.

Well ... I'm not sure you can classify Obama as "far left," really. He's further to the left than Bush, and certainly Clinton, but I wouldn't put him as far left as, say, Woodrow Wilson.

I'm surprised that you say that the TEA Party is focused on Homogeneity and that is bad. The focus is on homogeneity on fiscal issues and that has really opened the door to participation by gays and other groups like never before.

Castle probably would have won Delaware. He was a respected politician. Nominating O'Donnell turned a likely Republican victory into a surefire Democratic victory.

I confess that my homogeneity frustration is bipartisan. Just as the Tea Party is ready to penalize anybody who refuses to toe its line, the Moveon.org crowd loves to break out the pitchforks for Democratic apostates. (*cough* Lieberman *cough*). The only difference, to my eye, is that MoveOn uses biodegradable pitchforks.

As to being exploited, are you referring to the dems running bogus candidates under a TEA Party banner?

Not quite. I'm thinking more of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, and Glenn Beck. They srike me as more concerned with their personal political fortunes than with the wants and needs of the Tea Party crowd. Not to mention the way that Tea Party candidates in Washington are very quickly getting sucked into the political industrial complex.

Forming a third party was a clear route to marginalization. There has been a shift in the behavior of Republicans. If the Tea Party had gone third party they would not have elected many congressmen and no Senators.

Again, take a look at history. The most successful political movements in America succeed not in electing candidates, but in convincing the major parties to adopt their agenda. I'd point you in particular to the Perot movement in the 1990s and the progressive movement of the late 19th century.

What it sounds like is that you are angry that they have actually maximized their influence. This could have been the dem party but their tendencies did not run toward reducing spending and smaller government.

No, I don't think they've maximized their influence. I think that either a) the Tea Party candidates will foster more gridlock in Washington, becoming part of the problem, or b) the Tea Party movement will flame out in a few short years and, because it faile dto influence both parties, its agenda will remain unenacted.

I'm not sure you can classi... (Below threshold)
jim m:

I'm not sure you can classify Obama as "far left," really.

What about voting to kill a bill in committee that prevents the murder of new born children do you consider not to be far left? obama kept this bill bottled up in his Senate committee in Illinois for years. It took mere weeks for the bill to be passed and signed by a dem controlled legislature and dem governor once he left for DC. He has been the most liberal member of the US Senate. Either you believe his actions or the bullshit that comes from his mouth. If you believe the latter I cannot help you.

You point about success being getting a major party to adopt your agenda is mine exactly which is why I cannot understand your preference for he TEA Party to go third party. It would have marginalized them. Perot made a drop in the bucket. He affected the Presidential elections allowing Clinton to be elected but he did not move the underlying politics of either party in a meaningful or lasting way. The TEA Party has had significant effects on the agenda of the GOP and has already significantly modified their behavior.

I would disagree that Perot... (Below threshold)
jim m:

I would disagree that Perot had any significant effect on the parties certainly not long term and not the dems at all. Clinton was effected more by the GOP House take over than anything else. He changed n order to get his agenda moving.

obama lacks the ability to compromise. He has never done so before. Even with the tax bill deal recently he could not allow it to go without making mean spirited partisan comments that were totally out of place for something that was supposed to be a compromise. It made it look like he was forced to give in rather than he compromised.

The TEA Party may flame out in a few years. Most movements do. That is the nature of society. But if it succeeds in getting the federal government to reduce spending and waste and reduced the strangling regulation n the economy and to alter or repeal obamacare then it will have succeeded in its primary aims.

If the TEA Party has to do so with only the help of the GOP then there is nothing dishonorable in that. I rather suspect that it will have to unless the dems are going to shed their current far left socialist agenda of government control of healthcare, manufacturing, education, finance and energy industries.

Over on Metafilter there wa... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Over on Metafilter there was a post about Gifford's shooting - and immediately the usual suspects were going on about how it was the influence of talk radio hatred that caused this...

I posted the following -

"And if media has such an influential aspect - why the fuck aren't you blaming every rapper for black on black violence? You don't get a fucking pass because YOU might happen to like the message or messenger when they're advocating violence - if political ads supposedly cause violence, and 'right-wing' folks objecting to the president's policies causes violence, then LEFT-wing folks advocating the President be assassinated causes violence also, and entertainment media causes violence also.

It's all part of the same game - you'd better take a look and make sure your own hands are spotlessly clean before you start accusing everyone you don't like of having blood on theirs.
I got back some knee-jerk responses, but some were oddly thoughtful.

I assure you that US politics is a much, much bigger game than rap music, but people in fact do say this. They say it about video games and heavy metal music, pretty much anything that isn't banking, guns, or professional sports.

I'm not sure a climate of violence metaphors creates social acceptability for violent acts, but I can certainly see a stupid and/or crazy person thinking it does. There's a chicken-and-egg problem here that I am reticent to explore, and it troubles me that my thoughts lead to the same area that contains speech codes. Incitement is a real thing, though.
Of course, some weren't.
Let's just nip this one in the bud. Because not every rapper raps about violence. Also because not every rapper is black.
There's people out there who don't get it because they don't want to get it. Their reality is exceedingly nuanced - so much so that the stories they tell themselves to justify their thinking and opinions lead them to a very bizarre place where nobody they approve of is EVER guilty of anything, where those they disapprove of are constantly guilty of everything. Reality as it is means little to nothing to them - but 'reality' as they want it to be means everything.

So the 'stimulus-response' machine is very much the way they want to see this - at least, some of them - and their ideas of what stimulus causes what response seem entirely predicated on what they're disposed to like or disdain. It's an interesting look at the justifications they use...

http://www.metafilter.com/99323/Lone-nut-or-something-worse

Wasn't there an argument ab... (Below threshold)
John:

Wasn't there an argument about trading freedom for security during the time of the Partriot Act? Whatever happened to that? Do we really want to restrict speech in trade for some notion of security, especially given this particular act seems not inspired by the speech some seek to restrict.

Wasn't there an argument... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Wasn't there an argument about trading freedom for security during the time of the Partriot Act?

Yes there was. But the left is perfectly willing to sacrifice your freedom for their security. OK let's be honest, the left is just willing to resctrict yuor freedom period.

I dunno James, I see the Te... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

I dunno James, I see the Tea Party as a response, or a symptom/indicator of things less than a cause.

Republican Party's rightward lunge: The rank and file members and a good number of indies were more than a little sick of how the Party was spending tax dollars for at least a decade. The call to take it back just got louder and louder, and crystallized as the Tea Party. It gave people a way to tell the critters in Washington who they were, so to speak. The Tea Party didn't create the opinions or the anger at Washington and the GOP leaders.
the current polarization of American politicsI think this really predates the Tea Party. While the Regan, Bush 41 smears are far enough back to not be current era, that steady diet of hate towards Bush 43 and conservatives is a little too fresh. And the Clinton smears I think paled in comparison to the vitriol aimed at Bush. It takes two to tango, but the left has been calling the tune too long to blame the last guy to step on the dance floor.
and my inability to get a date on Friday nights. Well, given the choice between a virile, educated and gainfully employed Tea Partier and yourself, can you blame them? But there is hope! Ladies, I am taken, happily married, and if it helps you enter the sour grapes phase of moving past disappointment, there is chest, back, ab and overall body hair that would make a Sasquatch pass me some Nair. Too short to be a wookie, too tall to pass for an ewok. And after 30... the Bruce Willis/Jack Nicholson receding hairline went into effect...

Now, a note to another commenter, I know James can both spot a joke, and can take a few punches.




Advertisements









rightads.gif

beltwaybloggers.gif

insiderslogo.jpg

mba_blue.gif

Follow Wizbang

Follow Wizbang on FacebookFollow Wizbang on TwitterSubscribe to Wizbang feedWizbang Mobile

Contact

Send e-mail tips to us:

[email protected]

Fresh Links

Credits

Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

Emeritus: Paul, Mary Katherine Ham, Jim Addison, Alexander K. McClure, Cassy Fiano, Bill Jempty, John Stansbury, Rob Port

In Memorium: HughS

All original content copyright © 2003-2010 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark.

Powered by Movable Type Pro 4.361

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.

Author Login



Terms Of Service

DCMA Compliance Notice

Privacy Policy