Friday, May 23, 2014

Should Mark Cuban Get the Donald Sterling Treatment? Notes on Prejudice

Rarely do I disagree with Bill V.  Here is no exception to that rule.  Money quotes:

"The problem is not so much that liberals are stupid, as that they have allowed themselves to be stupefied by that cognitive aberration known as political correctness."
"It is the willful self-enstupidation of liberals that unfits them for the appreciation of such commonsensical points  as I have just reiterated."

Bill Plaschke of the L. A. Times lays into Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, for statements like these:
“I mean, we’re all prejudiced in one way or another,” he said. “If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face – white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere – I’m walking back to the other side of the street.  And the list goes on of stereotypes we all live up to and are fearful of.”
The word 'prejudice' needs analysis.  At a bare minimum, two senses of the term ought to be distinguished.
'Prejudice' could refer to blind prejudice: unreasoning, reflexive (as opposed to reflective) aversion to what is other just because it is other, or an unreasoning pro-attitude toward the familiar just because it is familiar.  We should all condemn blind prejudice, or at least blind prejudice of the aversive sort.  It is execrable to hate a person just because he is of a different color, for example. No doubt, but how many people do that?  How many people who are averse to blacks are averse because of their skin color as opposed to their behavior patterns? Racial prejudice is not, in the main, prejudice based on skin color, but on behavior.
'Prejudice' could also mean 'prejudgment.'   Although blind aversive prejudice is bad, prejudgment is generally good.  We cannot begin our cognitive lives anew at every instant.  We rely upon the 'sedimentation' of past experience.  Changing the metaphor, we can think of prejudgments as distillations from experience.  The first time I 'serve' my cats whisky they are curious.  After that, they cannot be tempted to come near a shot glass of Jim Beam. They distill from their unpleasant olfactory experiences a well-grounded prejudice against the products of the distillery.
My prejudgments about rattlesnakes are in place and have been for a long time.  I don't need to learn about them afresh at each new encounter with one. I do not treat each new one encountered as a 'unique individual,' whatever that might mean.  Prejudgments are not blind, but experience-based, and they are mostly true. The adult mind is not a tabula rasa.  What experience has written, she retains, and that's all to the good.
So there is good prejudice and there is bad prejudice.  The teenager thinks his father prejudiced in the bad sense when he warns the son not to go into certain parts of town after dark.  Later the son learns that the old man was not such a bigot after all: the father's prejudice was not blind but had a fundamentum in re.
But if you stay away from certain parts of town are you not 'discriminating' against them?  Well of course, but not all discrimination is bad. Everybody discriminates.  Liberals are especially discriminating.  The typical Scottsdale liberal would not be caught dead supping in some of the Apache Junction dives I have been found in.  Liberals discriminate in all sorts of ways.  That's why Scottsdale is Scottsdale and not Apache Junction.
Is the refusal to recognize same-sex 'marriage' as marriage discriminatory?  Of course!  But not all discrimination is bad.  Indeed, some is morally obligatory.  We discriminate against  felons when we disallow their possession of firearms.  Will you argue against that on the ground that it is discriminatory? If not, then you cannot cogently argue against the refusal to recognize same-sex 'marriage' on the ground that it is discriminatory.  You need a better argument.  And what would that be?
'Profiling,' like 'prejudice' and 'discrimination,' has come to acquire a wholly negative connotation.  Unjustly.  What's wrong with profiling?  We all do it, and we are justified in doing it.  Consider criminal profiling.
It is obvious that only certain kinds of people commit certain kinds of crimes. Suppose a rape has occurred at the corner of Fifth and Vermouth. Two males are moving away from the crime scene. One, the slower moving of the two, is a Jewish gentleman, 80 years of age, with a chess set under one arm and a copy of Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed under the other. The other fellow, a vigorous twenty-year-old, is running from the scene.
Who is more likely to have committed the rape? If you can't answer this question, then you lack common sense.  But just to spell it out for you liberals: octogenarians are not known for their sexual prowess: the geezer is lucky if he can get it up for a three-minute romp.  Add chess playing and an interest in Maimonides and you have one harmless dude.
Or let's say you are walking down a street in Mesa, Arizona.  On one side of the
street you spy some fresh-faced Mormon youths, dressed in their 1950s attire, looking like little Romneys, exiting a Bible studies class.  On the other side of the street, Hells (no apostrophe!) Angels are coming out of their club house.  Which side of the street would you feel safer on?   On which side will your  concealed semi-auto .45 be more likely to see some use?
Do you struggle over this question?
The problem is not so much that liberals are stupid, as that they have allowed themselves to be stupefied by that cognitive aberration known as political correctness.
Their brains are addled by the equality fetish:  everybody is equal, they think, in every way.  So the vigorous 20-year-old is not more likely than the old man to have committed the rape.  The Mormon and the Hells Angel are equally law-abiding.  And the twenty-something Egyptian Muslim is no more likely to be a terrorist than the Mormon matron from Salt Lake City.
Getting back to Mark Cuban, what he is quoted as saying above makes perfect sense.  His prejudices are reasonable prejudgments.
If you walk like a thug, and talk like a thug, and dress like a thug, and are plastered with tattoos and facial hardware like a thug, then don't be surprised if people give you a wide berth.
It is the willful self-enstupidation of liberals that unfits them for the appreciation of such commonsensical points  as I have just reiterated.

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