Libertarians: A little less douche
I realize the derogatory label of “douche” seems a rather vague term. In fact, this video by Daly Show TV seems to play upon its obscurity as an insult and deserves credit for inspiring the title of this article. I found myself using it lately to describe someone’s behavior and it caused me to ponder for a moment what I meant by it. I’m not going to look it up on Urban Dictionary and get hung up on semantics. I’m simply going to clarify for the purpose of this article what I mean by the term.
A douche, it seems to me, is someone with an inflated sense of themselves. They have an ego that far exceeds how most others perceive them. The college frat-boy with rich parents who wears a polo shirt with the collar up and hits on women clearly out of his league and then declares them lesbians when they don’t acknowledge his awesomeness, is a douche. When Kanye West says “I’mma let you finish but…” he’s being a douche. Douches inspire eye-rolls followed by an enlargement of one’s own personal space bubble specifically with regard to them. Since their superiority complexes seem to have roots somewhere in their own minds rather than in any kind of evidence that exists in objective reality, it can seem hopeless to try to point out their douchiness to them. Thus we just do our best to tune them out and maybe occasionally poke fun at them, mostly behind their backs. Yet here I am trying to reach some of them. Flying Spaghetti Monster help me. I’m going to fix myself a stiff drink and then I’mma let myself finish.
There’s a particular kind of douche I want to focus on right now. It’s the moral high ground douche. This is someone so thoroughly convinced they are right and that anyone who disagrees with them is wrong that they practice douchery with a religious fervor. They’re often part of a small minority that shares their viewpoint preaching to a much larger chunk of the world whom they see as morally inferior. They get up on their moral high ground and preach to people. They condescend to people who don’t share their beliefs as if they’re stupid and ignorant and in need of their guidance. Some examples that come to mind are vegans, feminists, and members of the Westboro Baptist Church. What do these groups have in common? While I think they’re absolutely full of shite, that’s beside the point. I’m trying to stay focused on their douchery, and for that purpose, it doesn’t matter if they’re right or not. What makes someone a douche isn’t about what they’re saying. It’s about how they’re saying it. They’re essentially engaging in the logical fallacy of begging the question. What they have in common is openly demonizing and denouncing the behavior of a majority of the population based on a philosophy or premise that a majority of the population has not accepted. Starting to sound familiar?
Disagreeing with their respective philosophies makes you immoral. Dare I say “evil”? What they have in common is an intense guilt-trip tactic. You may empathize with animal suffering but vegans describe meat-eaters as full-on murderers. You may seek gender equality and an end to forced gender roles but feminism has as a foundational principle that men are actively oppressing women through the patriarchy in order to exploit them for their own benefit. If you haven’t sold someone on your premise, such as animals have the same rights as people or that there’s a creator of the universe who hates homosexuals, then your guilt-trip attempt is empty and likely to be ridiculed. You’re not going to sell them on your premise if they’re tuning you out, the typical reaction to acting like you’re clearly better than most people and being preachy and condescending toward those people. Vegan tantrums have inspired backlash ridicule like For every animal you don’t eat, I’m going to eat three. Such tantrums inspired me to share dreams about chasing down prey, ripping their throats out with my teeth, and waking up with an erection, which didn’t actually happen by the way. A feminist slut-walk inspired this backlash reaction. I’m going out on a limb here, but while they might seem popular with those who already share your religious fervor, maybe these sorts of guilt-trip tactics don’t generally work well for converting new people to your point of view.
You can probably tell from the title that this article is directed at libertarians and you might be asking why. If I disagree with all those other douches, why am I picking on the douches that I generally agree with? Exactly! I’m a libertarian myself and I think libertarians are generally right. I don’t care if vegans, feminists, and members of the WBC act like douches. I actually want them to sell their messages badly. I want libertarians to communicate successfully.
Note that I said “I think” libertarians are right. I’m restraining myself from the temptation of saying “I know”. That’s a kind of egoism that I’m trying to avoid lest I risk being a douche (again) myself. As soon as you embrace a religious righteousness about your beliefs, you make yourself ripe for embracing douchery. And if you turn this into an argument of right or wrong then you’re looking for justifications to be a douche, and guess what. That makes you a douche! If you attempt to argue for your right to be a douche by arguing how you’re right and other people are wrong, you’re just making my point for me. I will call shenanigans on you! I’m open to discussions about right or wrong and we should continue to have those discussions… another time.
Meanwhile, I spent most of my life as a statist. I don’t have any business being a douche to people for being (from my point of view) imperfect. If you’re a libertarian frequently hanging out in libertarian circles, you should know we have our own lingo. It’s like a foreign language to anyone who hasn’t been sharing our extensive conversations on these subjects. We tend to forget that. Most people don’t even fully understand what we mean when we bring up the N.A.P. They certainly don’t grok its far-reaching ramifications in human societies, and that’s just one expression. We have many others. You don’t just shout the non-aggression principle (N.A.P.) at people like it’s a magic phrase and convert them. Think back on the time you spent as a non-libertarian and try to have some empathy for those who feel differently.
If you’re wondering if you might be a libertarian douche, here are a few questions to ask–
Do you treat the N.A.P. like a fundamental law of the universe like the law of gravity? If that’s the case, and regardless of whether you’re right about that or not, just be aware that it’s become a kind of religion for you and it’s going to be very hard for you not to sound like a preacher up on his pulpit when you talk about it.
Is the term “statist” practically synonymous with the word “criminal” in your vernacular? Do you hate statists? Let me put it another way. Do you hate most of the population of the Earth for not being libertarians, i.e. for not sharing your political philosophy?
Do you point out to people how they’re violating the N.A.P. in order to make them feel guilty when they clearly don’t even fully understand what it is, or they don’t accept it as a foundational principle in the way you do? Do you casually use libertarian terminology around non-libertarians, like describing National borders as “arbitrary lines on a map” and decree them idiots when they don’t understand you?
The truth is, I’ve had plenty of my own libertarian douche moments. Hell, you could search through this very blog and find some. I’m not going to delete them. I’m growing and learning and I don’t want to forget my past. It’s an embarrassing place to find yourself in–realizing you’re being a douche. I feel like that frat-boy at the party when his good friend finally has the courage to take him aside for his own good and say “Calm down, man. You ain’t all that.” So I’m flipping my proverbial collar down and wading back into the proverbial party with a pleasant smile on. I’m trying to have my ears open a little bit more and my mouth flapping a little bit less. I will continue being an activist for positive change and hopefully I’ll get better at it if I can stay open-minded. I’ve never had all the answers and I still don’t but at least I’m a little smarter than I was a few years ago and I can continue to learn if I can just keep my ego in check.
I’ve said it to myself many times and now I respectfully offer it up as constructive advice to my fellow libertarians–“Let’s try that again. This time, a little less douche.”