I Don't Much Bother with Television News

18 March 2010

There is a hugely important difference between consent within a system and consent to that system.

Some examples:

  • Many people object to some matters being decided by bullet; they think that such violence is a Bad Thing. But that doesn't make them hypocrites if they respond to shooting or to the threat of shooting with bullets of their own.
  • Some of us object to some things being decided by ballot; we feel that some things (such as the ability of consenting adults to marry) are rights that cannot be taken (though power may be taken) no matter how many people object. But that doesn't make us hypocrites when we respond to voting or to the threat of voting with ballots of our own.
  • Quite a few people think that Social Security is a Bad Idea. But that doesn't make them hypocrites if they accept it when offered; they were forced to pay into the system, and they may conclude that refusing to take the money may have no marginal effect on whether it continues.
It is a separate issue whether returning fire, voting in elections that one feels should not be held, or consuming entitlements that one believes should not exist would be wise practical responses; the point is that none of these actions is hypocritical.

Okay, I'm going to presume that all my readers recognize the class of distinction upon which I'm focussing.

So, to-night, I saw NBC News present a report on United States Senators and Representatives who have voted against stimulus bills, yet had subsequently sought to get some of the monies therefrom for their respective districts. The report treated these people as hypocrites. The reporter repeatedly claimed that they'd somehow reversed themselves, and quoted others representing them as hypocrites; and no one was quoted offering any sort of explanation of why this would not be hypocrisy. The only defense quoted was merely that of one congressman, allowed to explain that he thought that seeking monies for which his constituents had paid was in their interests.

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