12 April 2013

Obfuscated Judgmentalism

Why do I get the feeling that the people with the "Don't like gay marriage? Then don't have one!" bumper stickers would not only disagree with but also be bewildered by a "Don't like Wal-Mart's new program? Then don't participate!" slogan?
Hit & Run | Scott Shackford | Wal-Mart’s Proposed Customer-Assisted Delivery System: Brilliant or Predatory?

The problem isn’t really Wal-Mart. The problem is that some Americans don’t like the choices other Americans make and they blame retailers for offering consumers those choices.

You could replace Wal-Mart in that passage with about a thousand other things and be left with a perfect explanation of our social/political dynamics.

I feel like we were better off in many ways a few generations ago when people were willing to evaluate (and condemn) other people's choices openly. Now we're too enlightening and non-judgmental and afraid of confrontation to do so openly, but since deep down we're just as annoyed by people who disagree with us we spend our energy lobbying the State to condemn other people's choices for us. We get all the same satisfaction of telling other people how to live without ever having to get our hands dirty, appear mean, or risk getting punched in the nose.

How many Americans would physically interpose themselves between a shopper and a Wal-Mart entrance to prevent them shopping there? How many Americans would be willing to actively prevent a stranger from buying a large Coke? How many Americans would walk in to a store and confiscate all of their plastic bags and bottled still water?

How many of us are willing and more to direct our public servants to do those same things on our behalf?

As long as we're judging each other (and we are, just as much as ever) we ought to be honest about. I'd much rather have someone criticize the choices I make themselves than play these charades of blaming the guy who offered me the choice. At least when some scold personally tries to stop me from doing whatever gets their knickers in a bunch they don't simultaneously have the taxman pick my pocket in order to use my money to hire some badged thug to stop me.

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