A while back, Malcolm wrote a post about Scott Adams talking about his desire to slowly and painfully kill people opposed to legal euthanasia. The gist of it was that Adams said this hot on the heels of his father dying, without the state being allowed to step in and just plain kill him.
For a lot of people, Adams practically had the right to say what he did, for one reason: he was experiencing an apparently emotionally troubling event in his life. That's putting it mildly, even clinically, but it's true: his father had just died after suffering from a painful illness. Adams is, understandably, upset about this. He's emotional. Therefore, if Adams happens to say something horrendous, lashing out and blaming who he perceives (even wrongly) to have had a hand in his father's suffering... well, don't hold it against him.
Because he's feeling very emotional right now.
I can understand the motivations behind that kind of reply. To a degree, I even agree with them. No, I don't think it's a good idea to talk about estate taxes with a widow right before she walks into or out of the funeral. No, I don't think it's reasonable to push the guy who just lost three of his children in a car accident about when he's going to have the TTP reports done because the deadline is in two days. Multiply the examples if you like.
The problem is that what seems like a pretty normal, well-adjusted attitude to have towards people is quickly, and easily, regarded as yet one more rhetorical vantage point to work from, both on the personal level and on the large scale.
We saw some of this in the recent Ferguson shooting (didn't that one fade quickly), where you had marches and riots, complete with everyone repeatedly re-enacting the supposed versions of the incident over and over and over in front of cameras. But when footage of Michael Brown robbing a store 15 minutes before the shooting is released, well, that's a horrible thing that should not be done because it will only inflame the community. It's character assassination. Saying that the cop who shot Brown did so in cold blood due to being racist? Not character assassination, apparently. Maybe it's the good kind of character assassination?
The key here is this: the appeal was based on emotion. 'Don't release that evidence: the mother isn't done grieving!' 'Don't release this evidence: the mob will be angry!' In the latter case, the appeal was partly a threat: some people are so emotional that if you bring up evidence they dislike, they will riot and loot stores and possibly kill or at least beat some people.
I suspect a good number of people, if not exactly encouraging of this state of affairs, at least tolerate it. Few people ever talk about the responsibility for a person to control their emotions. Fewer still suggest that people unable to control their emotions, even in situations where most other people seem entirely capable of it, may well be defective. "Oh, they're just an emotional person."
That needs to end.