Do Good Friends Let Friends Publish Garbage On Social Media? The Duty to Knock Down Irresponsible Opinions

“Stop quoting Maxine Waters!”

I just arrived at Virginia Beach Double Tree after a four hour plus drive in the dead of night. This gave amble time to obsess to the point of madness on Facebook post I saw from a friend. This is a smart, educated person; published in fact. Yet the post was (I am paraphrasing):

“I don’t understand Republicans. They must prefer Pence to Trump: why won’t the join Democrats in impeaching the orange bastard? I don’t get it.”

This post garnered many likes in the Facebook echo chamber, and several theories.

Now, this is not just an uninformed opinion. It is a dangerous opinion. It misinforms everyone who reads it and who has reason to trust and respect the writer. It is written in complete ignorance of the Constitution, and an irresponsible misinterpretation of what American democracy is.

I shouldn’t have to explain this further, but what the hell: if the Founders intended for our system to be a modified parliamentary arrangement where the public can try to elect a President but if Congress decides it prefers someone else, like the Vice-President, it can veto the election with a sufficient majority, then Madison, Mason et al. would have made that clear. Instead they made it clear that an elected President can only be impeached upon a guilty verdict in a Senate trial for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which means unequivocal, serious and substantive wrongdoing, usually criminal. Yet a frightening number of progressives, driven to fantasy by listening to irresponsible and incompetent elected demagogues like Maxine Waters, actually embrace an imaginary version of our government that, if real, would render democracy a cruel fraud.

Incompetent, misleading and factually mistaken opinions are dangerous because they make our already perilously lazy and doltish public more doltish still. Eventually, as Madison, Adam Smith and others have written persuasively, democracy is only as viable as the public it serves is civically literate. Since the schools no longer do their job of making sure citizens understand our values, the duty falls to all citizens to identify really bad, illogical, undemocratic opinions, and be prepared to squash them like the virtual vermin they are. This is why free speech is vital. This is also why every citizen must accept the responsibility of actively working to keep the worst distortions of our values and principles from taking hold.

And what if this mean embarrassing a friend on social media? I didn’t enjoy telling this friend, in the mild and inoffensive manner frequent readers here are familiar with (I’m paraphrasing again),

“What the hell are you talking about? Republicans don’t just decide to impeach the President because they may like the Vice-President better because there is a law. It’s called the Constitution, and it specifies what will permit an impeachment, and “we like someone better” isn’t one of the criteria. Surely you know better than this, and if you don’t, why not? And why are you circulating incompetent opinions that undermine our constitutional democracy? See, the Senate can vote out a Senate leader, and the House can vote out a Speaker of the House. The entire nation’s people elect the President, however, and that’s what makes the office special The Founders used a lot of scholarship, debate and creativity to come up with our system, which has worked remarkably well. What threatens to kill it is widespread ignorance about how and why it works, fertilized by uninformed opinions like yours. “

My friend babbled back something about there being legal authorities who support the “elections don’t count” version of our government, which is only plausible in the sense that there are legal authorities right now who will pledge fealty to Satan if it means getting rid of Donald Trump, or if one regards Maxine Waters as a legal authority, rather than what she is, an idiot. My friend didn’t sound in possession a real argument accept the old “I have a right to my opinion!” to which my response is, “And since your opinion is misleading and irresponsible, I have an obligation as a responsible citizen to show you and everyone in danger of being confused by it that it’s crap.”

As do we all. This duty includes several others that have been discussed here, like the duty to confront, the duty to prevent harm, and the duty to fix the problem. If you are uncomfortable being ready to respond forcefully to all incompetent opinions, then start gradually, like when anyone says that hate speech is unprotected by the First Amendment. After you are comfortable with that, move on to being ready to strike when someone says that our borders should be open to all.

My progressive friends don’t realize it, but they are embarrassing themselves, and worse, planting rot in the foundation of our great nation. Real friends will do what they can to stop them.

Real friends of our nation, too.


23 thoughts on “Do Good Friends Let Friends Publish Garbage On Social Media? The Duty to Knock Down Irresponsible Opinions

  1. Good show Jack! There are far too many ignoramuses spreading these dubious propositions for change in the American system. It takes courage to call them on it even if it is done in privacy as you might lose a friendship.

  2. Okay. I have lost enough (casual) friends to be able to say I’m a pro at the first two, “hate” speech and open borders, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to do a Grand Jete down on the subway tracks to pick up a homeless man, even if he is spouting treason.

  3. Nicely done, but just how quick did it take for either your friend to defriend you or for his friends to jump all over you?

  4. My first assumption upon reading that post would not be that the speaker thinks Republicans should impeach Trump for the sole reason that they prefer Pence over him. I’d assume that the poster has other reasons for believing Trump should be impeached, and can’t understand why Republicans won’t get on board, since they don’t like him anyway.

    But since impeachment is such a serious thing, anyone advocating impeachment should be clear about their reasons each time they bring it up. I want Trump gone because the daily chaos he inflicts on our country makes us weaker. He is intentionally divisive, pitting members of his own team against each other, sabotaging his own Sec of State’s efforts to negotiate with North Korea, golfing and tweeting during national disasters, and generally behaving like a toddler. He is an incapable leader, and we will be a better, more serious, and more competently led country the moment he is out of office.

    On the other hand, impeachment is chaos too, and I’d rather not inflict *that* process on our country unless we absolutely have to. I’m of the opinion that “high crimes and misdemeanors” is not well-defined, and can essentially mean whatever Congress wants it to, but that it is best to wait for actual crimes. Hopefully the Mueller investigation comes to a swift conclusion; last I heard the Steele dossier is being taken more seriously again.

    • A lot of those same allegations could have been leveled at Obama, especially the divisiveness part, but I’m sure you would disagree, though I’d characterize him as more a thin-skinned teen than a toddler. Either way, neither rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, and impeachment would do more damage than good. In the meantime, more and more idiocy from the left makes it more and more likely he will be a two-termer.

      • Obama did more to divide the races than to unite them: the latter of which was our fondest hope. I dare anyone to find a high crime or misdemeanor (a la Nixon) in ether Trump or Obama: bad presidents maybe — and bad, ineffectual presidents have abounded over history — and promulgating divisiveness in the Union, yes, but impeachable? “I hate him” is not an impeachable offense or even an intelligent attitude to drive impeachment discussion.. How many people really, really, really hated FDR, who before Pearl Harbor actually did commit impeachable offenses to help Britain fight Hitler: the difference, of course, was that he was proved right. And now he is a hero. Jury is out on Trump, and will be for some time. And Obama will remain a major disappointment: if only because he was a wimp and ordained Hillary to be his successor.

  5. I think an argument can be made that Trump is discharging his duty to confront in many of his tweets. Jack, you’re a presidential historian. Have we ever hand anything closer to a Citizen President? This is really “Mr. Trump Goes to Washington.”

    • There is no duty for the president to confront NFL players, mayors of ravaged cities, or indeed half the people he chooses to target in his tweets, not even if they’re really mean to him. Nor is Twitter the proper dueling ground to confront them. He’s the President of the United States. If he wants to confront Rex Tillerson about how diplomacy with North Korea is stupid, he should do it to his face, not humiliate his own Secretary of State in front of the entire goddamn world.

      Really, the rationalizations I’m seeing to defend Trump here are getting out of this world.

      • Sigh.

        There is no duty for the President of the United States to take Cambridge MA cops to task for questioning someone who is picking a lock, and asking for identification to prove they live there but…

        Obama couldn’t keep his mouth shut, either, he was just more articulate than Trump. Is that why it never bothered anyone?

        • I mean…yes. That, and he did it less often. Still bad, but obviously Trump calling players sons of bitches and picking fights with every high-profile individual who criticizes with him is going to bother people more than Obama’s relatively few acts of pique. (And I never saw anyone argue that Obama had a duty to speak out about Gates.)

          • I know it did, I’m sorry. I remember! That was sloppy. I had in mind the total silence regarding any of Obama’s gaffes on my social media account, contrasted with dozens of daily posts about ’45’ recently. I well remember you addressing so many of those issues, and agreeing with you.

  6. The only social media I “do” is a ‘neighborsnextdoor’ site, which is something I feel obligated to follow as unofficial “Block Captain.”

    Bre Payton (The Federalist): ”Facebook Is Enabling ‘Troll Mobs’ to Censor Conservative Content”

    Something similar to this happened at a local site where Zoltar Speaks! and I used to post quite often.

    They began a new “moderating” system a while back where if a post was flagged 4 times, it was auto-deleted.

    I know, I know; what could possibly go wrong, am I right?

    Welp, Conservative posters comments started getting mass deleted, prompting me to implore the moderators:

    “Conservative posters (myself included) are regularly deleted by one or a couple of Lefty posters that incredibly seem to think that spiking Inconvenient Truth will somehow make it go away. Lefties (most, not all) are an intolerant bunch of GUTLESSLY PATHETIC illiberal free expression haters.

    “Due to cerebral similarities, @XXXX XXX & XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, et al, have developed some sort of witlessly weak-minded conspiracy theory they dreamed up while watching their favorite programming: Jesse Ventura & “Finding Bigfoot.” In all fairness, that’s only when “Three Stooges” reruns & cartoons aren’t available.

    “That theory? Conservative posters are deleting their own posts so we can repost them. Far-fetched? Only to those with synaptic connectivity. But not when you’re operating from an intellectual, emotional, psychological, & existential abyss located in a lower-level-below-grade-maternally-owned-housing unit.

    “It’s also been hilariously suggested that editors/moderators are the ones doing the PATHETICALLY GUTLESS deleting. Not the case, it’s one person, maybe two or three, that are the PATHETICALLY GUTLESS serial deleters. Terminally contemptible morons whose pitiably pathetic existence draws some measure of control by pushing the delete button in a flaccidly feeble attempt to control what everyone gets to read.

    “The fair-mined wouldn’t leave that determination up to some imbecilic, addlepated simpleton, preferring to make their own choices; don’t want to read it, scroll on past.

    “Copy your posts and repost them, it’ll drive the deleting nitwits batty, short trip notwithstanding. Lefty sees your posts as a menace to the Lefty Way, which relies on bright, shiny, seductively moving stimuli to capture the dangerously short attention span of the pudding pated, requiring they only choose from pre-approved selections from the Lefty World View Cafeteria. You only get flack when you’re over the target.”

  7. I avoid facebook like the plague. Only open updates from my kids to see photos of the grandkids. Surprisingly, almost all the facebook posts I’m alerted to from high school classmates are senseless lefty posts. And we’re all in our mid-sixties. You’d think oldsters would have more sense. But maybe having been kids in the mid-sixties almost fifty years ago has had a too long-lasting effect.

    But no, I don’t confront lefties in social situations. I just keep my mouth firmly shut.

    • ”I don’t confront lefties in social situations.”

      I don’t “confront” them either, unless I find them particularly annoying (a paltry ~ 90 % of the time) or they’re spreading untruths.

      I prefer to “enjoin” them. Heck, if everyone’s thinking alike, no one’s thinking, am I right? If someone’s not a complete blithering addlepate and sees things differently than me, I’ll hear them out; I’ve learned more from people with whom I disagree than from those with whom I’m ideologically aligned.

      Living where I live (77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality) with an extended family that’re all career Lefties, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Lefty.

      My family all knows where I stand, but, and this may come as no surprise, I’m a “people person” and often engage complete strangers in all manner of dialogue.

      If the conversation is getting past the weather, the Packers, the Badgers, (GO BUCKY!!), or how beautiful my good Golden Girl is, I will calmly inform them that I lean to the right.

      Why? I don’t want them to find out that I’m an EVIL Conservative AFTER they’ve concluded I appear human. That can create too much cognitive dissonance and self-doubt.

      One thing I have found with Lefties (most, not all) is that two things happen when they find out you’re not a true believer: first they automatically assume you’re wrong, second they feel threatened.

      And as a self-confessed weak man, at times I encourage the second, which often produces a hilarious, spittle-flecked slobberfest of high dudgeon.

      All in good fun though, right…?

      • Having done a tour of duty in the Midwest (four years in South Bend, IN) myself and worked around a lot of transplanted Midwesterners, I’ve observed the common behavior of Midwesterners: If you say something they don’t agree with or something of which they even violently disapprove, they won’t call you on it, they’ll just never speak to you again. Nowadays, the only response I’d get if I were to say anything perceived as unorthodox would be “Trump!” or “TRUMP!” or “Bigot!” or “Racist!” So, I just keep my mouth shut, Paul.

  8. Jack: It may have already been mentioned in this thread, but did you try to send to your friend using Facebook’s Private Message feature?

    I mean, you don’t HAVE to put your counterpoints into a comment on a friend’s thread in Facebook.

    I had that very same situation happen this weekend, with a friend with whom I work saying something about the country being no different now than it was before the Civil War (with respect to slavery), in context of some musing about NFL owners requiring their employees (players) to behave a certain way (like, during the National Anthem) at certain times. I toyed with joining in the comment thread with a counterpoint musing of my own…then, considered sending what I meant to say in a private message, lest I embarrass the guy (or appear as if I was trying to shame him). Since he and I have very little overlap in our Facebook friend populations, I opted for “not intervening.” I know the guy; he will still hate Trump and Republicans, and vote straight ticket for Democrats, no matter what I or anyone else says.

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