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On Weaponizing Suffering


Mar 29, 2010
Androgyne; they/them
Basic Beliefs
Natural Philosophy, Game Theoretic Ethicist
I have noticed something that I object to here. Something that indicates a problem that I daresay constitutes a violation of the principles of free thought and honest discourse. And that is the weaponization of suffering.

I see in many threads now, the use of suffering to leverage an opinion, absent any actual attempts to help the people suffering. In one thread, this consists of using groups which someone does not belong to as a rhetorical device against some other group that they dislike.

The most common one I have seen is the use of children as a weapon of leverage against gay people, trans people, or the general proliferation of sexual liberalism. "Think of the children". Notably, these same people seem to not care one white about the children when it comes to discussions of educational reform or funding. Some people who use such arguments even go to the extreme of supporting policies which put children in concentration camps.

I have also seen people, here and elsewhere, claiming that allowing trans people access to the bathroom opens the door for men to rape people in bathrooms... But the people banging on this drum are speaking elsewhere actively defend rapists from investigation!

Even on the newish social-media application NextDoor, I see people complaining about fireworks late at night trot out veterans with PTSD as a rhetorical weapon... Never mind that these same people clutch their pearls over drug activities and legalization, when MDMA, currently a schedule 1 substance, shows great promise for treating and curing PTSD.

Support our Troops, when it's time to go to war, they say, and then they fail to support troops when it comes to PTSD, Psychological support, Veterans funding/assistance, enlistment of willing/able applicants, and a hundred other issues actually relevant to soldiers and veterans.

Or for abortion, crying "suffer the little children" when it comes to 'saving them' from abortion, and then removing child support services and even vocally objecting to taxes to support children, even when such programs are already woefully inadequate.

I don't think these practices are OK. They reek of dishonesty, and frankly, of abuse. I don't think they should be accepted practices, to clearly use populations as rhetorical leverage rather than to have real principles that undergird consistent positions, then to abandon those same people when they themselves speak out with their needs.
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