Monday, June 20, 2022

The Mike Pence Fallacy

There is a popular argument that Mike Pence was no hero because he was merely doing his job and obeying the constitution.

This argument is fallacious.

Heroism is doing right under duress. And no one can argue that Mike Pence wasn't under world-crushing duress. And there's no such thing as "merely" doing right. Right-doing is morality, especially under conditions where "right" becomes strenuously distant.

In any given moment, 10,000 bureaucrats are passively not-accepting bribes, which is moral (they'd all love Teslas) but not notably so. But if one is actively offered $10,000,000 - while everyone else in his office flagrantly accepts pay-offs and threatens to destroy him for making a fuss by refusing - his refusal is an entirely different thing from the passive complacency of non-criminality.

Heroism is actively doing right amid elevated effort and repercussions. It's evidently distinct from mulish passive compliance.

So Mike Pence behaved heroically.

Some point to the heroism Pence did NOT demonstrate to devalue the heroism he did exhibit. This is nonsense. When a fireman "just does his job" to pull you from a burning house, he doesn't also need to be nicer to his kids and cut back on drinking and philandering to deserve credit for heroism. If a person needed to be morally impeccable on every front to get credit for a heroic action, there would be no heroes on Earth, ever.

And the twisted notion that there exists a higher moral choice than "merely doing the right thing" has long been the source of much evil in the world.

There's a political stratum the Right mocks as virtue seekers. Discontent to be "merely" moral, they stridently, belligerently attack ("call out") those who engage in an ever-shifting and ever-growing portfolio of taboo thoughts, phrases, or behaviors. Such people see themselves as super-extra moral.

Their impetus is identical with those on the Right who reject being "merely" good Christians, framing themselves as super-extra good Christians by ferreting out witches for burning or "sexual deviants" for punishment.

Always try to avoid super-extra good people. They will fuck you up. They practice an ancient human trope: screaming, seething, accusing, and attacking in the name of morality. One might seek to be so Christian as to become obviously unChristian and so anti-racist as to become plainly racist. Vanity masquerading as lofty moral aspiration manifests as savage immorality. So the extremes of both Left and Right are perennially afflicted by super-extra virtuous types for whom everyday morality seems like such weak tea as to scarcely warrant attention while they grandly set their sights on towering moral heights.

In fact, those are the very ones currently shrugging off Mike Pence's genuine heroism on that one day. For them, doing right is weak tea.

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