This is rationalization #49, The Apathy Defense, or “Nobody Cares.”
I encountered this rationalization in a roundabout way. I was reading the Mediaite account of Clinton paid liar Lanny Davis attempting to explain away Hillary’s blatant lie in the Recent CNN interview about how she “never had a subpoena” regarding the e-mails on the personal server she used to avoid transparency. The subpoena she was sent in March was promptly mad public by House Republicans, so Lanny was dispatched to the media dutifully spin Hillary’s lie away.
After hearing Davis argue that Clinton was speaking of a time when she had not received a subpoena yet, or maybe that she misunderstood the question,
Newsmax TV’s Steve Salzburg unfairly played the video of Clinton specifically saying “I’ve never had a subpoena.” Unfortunately for Hillary and Lanny, words have meaning. It is true that Hillary didn’t have the subpoena when she destroyed the e-mails involved; it is also true that she knew the Benghazi committee wanted them. PolitiFact, biased and Democratic excuse-making “fact check” service, tries to cover for Hillary by claiming…
“On the other hand, House Republicans seized on Clinton’s claim without regard for the nuance of the question she was responding to — leading people who did not watch the interview in full to think Clinton said something that she really didn’t. They should be very familiar with the timeline here, as well. Suggesting that Clinton deleted emails while facing a subpoena contradicts what we know about the controversy so far.”
But she WAS facing a subpoena when she deleted the e-mails, because she knew one was coming. And “I’ve never had a subpoena” is what Clinton said. Regardless of the “nuance” of the question asked, that statement means I HAVE NEVER HAD A SUBPOENA. She didn’t say “I didn’t have a subpoena.” She didn’t say “I never HAD a subpoena,” both of which would have sustained the interpretation Lanny and PolitiFact—who aren’t all that different, come to think of it—are trying to claim. But I HAVE NEVER HAD A SUBPOENA is unambiguous. It means not then, not now, not ever—never. That’s what it means. It cannot mean anything else. See, this is where Hillary is no Bill. Bill’s deceit is plausible; his sneaky sentences can be translated fairly to mean what he claims they meant, even though what he said was meant to deceive listeners into believing something else. “Oh, you thought that by “sex” I meant oral sex? Oh, no, I don’t consider oral sex to be sex. Sex is sexual intercourse where I come from!” That’s Bill. Hillary’s statement, however, means only one thing. That one thing is demonstrably untrue. Thus, when Salzberg confronted Davis with the video, Lanny hung up.
It’s going to be a long, long year for Lanny. Pray for him.
I read the comments to the article, as I find Mediaite comment threads depressing, hilarious and revealing—they deteriorate into name calling and partisan slogans and talking points almost immediately. Several Clinton stalwarts, however, kept repeating the same defense, As one particularly adamant one phrased it.
“Nobody cares about the e-mails. But Faux News keeps trying to make it into another fake scandal.”
I realized that I hadn’t been hearing this argument as the proof of brainwashing, or perhaps scruples-washing, that it is. Scandals are misdeeds a public figure should be ashamed of. The first defense against a potential scandal is hiding it; the Clintons are good at that. Their theory is, however, that if they confuse, muddy and bore the public sufficiently with doubletalk, deceit, and technical quibbling, the public will tune out, because it won’t be willing to devote the time and energy necessary to understand why what was done is wrong.
The Clintons have a back-up argument, however, that is sinister. They argue that they shouldn’t have to be ashamed when the public doesn’t regard what they did as shameful, no matter how unethical it may be in the abstract. If the public isn’t making them feel ashamed, then the conduct isn’t scandalous, and if it isn’t scandalous, then there’s nothing wrong with it. This is the epitome of ethics corruption. Sociopaths, who have no empathy or conscience, think that way: if I don’t think it’s wrong—and I think nothing is wrong that benefits me—then it isn’t wrong. To defend the serial lying, manipulating, law-skirting Hillary Clinton, one has to begin thinking like a sociopath. When the entire public, or a substantial portion of it, has been trained to shrug its collective shoulders over wrongdoing, the Clintons can justify unethical conduct as benign, because nobody cares about it. If nobody cares, the conduct can’t be wrong. Thus anyone trying to make the public care is pushing a “fake” scandal. Brilliant!
Please welcome Ethic Alarm Rationalization #50: The Apathy Defense, or “Nobody Cares.”
Rationalization #49 is kind of a reverse #1, which is, of course, “Everybody does it.” The Apathy Defense doesn’t hold that wrongful conduct is right because lots of people do it. Its dark genius is to confuse consequences with values. What nobody will hold you accountable for must not be very wrong, or even wrong at all, since people are good, and good people care about right and wrong. Therefore, if a wrongdoer can successfully convince the public or society not to care that they are doing wrong, that wrong no longer exists, at least as far as that wrongdoer is concerned. It’s not wrong, because nobody gives a damn.
The Apathy Defense is at the root of many other rationalizations, like The King’s Pass, The Saint’s excuse, and even “the ends justify the means.” It is, in fact, one of the most dangerous and corrupting rationalizations of all. Politicians are taking bribes? Who cares? What matters is whether they make the government work. So taking bribes becomes acceptable. Leaders are lying to the public? Nobody cares! What matters is that he’s our guy! It only matters when their guy lies! Now leaders know they can lie with impunity, without consequences or shame.
Our Jewish neighbors who are being shipped out of the country are being liquidated? Who cares? Things are getting better here.
Naturally, the next step is to mock and deride anyone who says we should care.
When a wrongdoer or a wrongdoer’s allies use Rationalization #49, be afraid…for yourself, and your culture.