Saturday, April 18, 2015

Unpopular views; weirdness points

I found a couple of interesting, not-quite desperate, but not-quite similar enough to call a trend articles on "weirdness points" or being defined by one's unpopular political beliefs.  Of the former, Ozy makes a good point about "weirdness points" being relative to group identity:
First, weirdness is relative to your social group. Hurford mentions that “punk rocker vegans” are spending their weirdness points fighting lookism. This is true if you are a punk rocker vegan and everyone you interacts with wears khakis and plays basketball. However, most punk rocker vegans are friends with other punk rocker vegans. If they took Hurford’s advice and cleaned up and dressed in a mainstream fashion, they would be the weird ones and they would pay the price of weirdness for small benefit. Similarly, endorsing guaranteed basic income among my friends doesn’t cost me anything, because pretty much everyone thinks of GBI as a reasonable thing to advocate for.
Unless you have the privilege of being fully ensconced in a single social circle (and very few people do), your position changes as you navigate throughout various groups.

Looking over Ilya Somin's "unpopular views," I don't see any that I find particularly controversial except selling bodily organs on the open market. I'm in favor of decriminalizing illegal drugs, lowering the voting age to 16, and it just seems practical to let would-be immigrants have a say in their own rights. None of those things are beyond the pale in lefty circles. Point six may be a little more difficult to convince someone raised on identity politics, but here I agree too: no one should feel a moral obligation to identify as anything, for any reason.

My own unpopular beliefs fall into anti-authoritarian, anti-statist camp, which, in progressive circles reads "libertarian douchebag." (I don't deny having strong civil libertarian leanings, but I don't identify with big-L, American-style libertarianism. I'm still closer to Noam Chomsky than Ron Paul politically.) For example, I support same-sex marriage because it's unconstitutional to deny those rights to same-sex couples, but I'm not a fan of marriage by trade, and I don't think the government should be in the business of of defining people's relationships. It's an argument I've seen made by anti-assimilationist gays, anarchists, libertarians, and some right-wingers who might want to support same-sex unions without alienating their base. I know this is not very pragmatic, and people are still going to want to get married irrespective of what I think. I don't support hate crime legislation mostly because I'm against "tougher on crime" laws in general, but hate crimes are difficult to prove and laws that purport to punish the thought behind the crime amount to a lot of signaling. They also, like nearly all tough on crime laws, disproportionately target poor people and people of color. (The Sylvia Rivera Law Project makes a better argument against hate crime laws than I can.) Taxing things like sodas and junk foods is a another point where I diverge from liberals, or what I think the left viewpoint should be. More unnecessary regulation that disproportionately targets poor people, nay, shames poor people.

What I've learned to do, I think, is make acceptable arguments within my "in-group," though if I'm being entirely honest, I don't really have an ingroup. I think a lot of people find themselves in that weird limnal space, which speaks more of the limitations of the American political spectrum of left and right, and if you're not one, well then, you must be the other.