In this episode, I talk about the “care bullying” phenomenon in which emotional manipulation and threats are used in place of arguments. Once you know the format, you’ll see it everywhere. A written version of this PSA can be found below.
If you cared about survivors of sexual assault, you’d believe Dr. Christine Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh.
If you cared about the health of the poor and middle-class, you’d support single-payer health care.
If you cared about our children’s future, you’d support free college tuition.
If you cared about workers, you’d support a Federal jobs guarantee.
Day in and day out, the authoritarian left and their groupies in mainstream media and Hollywood inundate our Twitter streams, Facebook feeds, and Google News pages (and anywhere else they can find us) with messages like these. The glaring subtext?
If you cared about X, you’d be on my side regarding Y.
Make no mistake, this isn’t an argument, and it’s not meant to be. It’s a threat. Its sole purpose is to intimidate you into shutting up and falling in line on any one of a myriad of issues. It’s about manipulating your feelings. No one who actually cares wants to be perceived as cold-hearted; as not caring even one iota about survivors of sexual assault, or the poor, or children. The purpose of the threat is to imply that if you don’t agree, everyone will think that you don’t care. You’ll be publicly ridiculed as an irredeemable, uncaring slime, and promptly adorned with your virtual scarlet “A” (only this time the “A” will stand for “asshole”). You’ll be a pariah, and you can kiss your social life goodbye.
Instead of falling victim to this kind of emotional blackmail—which I call “care bullying”—if someone tries this tactic on you first stop and ask yourself a few questions:
- Upon what kind of person is care bullying intended to work? In other words, if you really didn’t care, would the threat work on you at all? Of course not. If you really didn’t care, you’d simply respond by saying, “you’re right, I don’t care.” The threat only works on you if you care in the first place. Threats like this use your own caring against you. People who make them are relying on the fact that you actually do care in order to intimidate you into professing support for their position. It’s an unscrupulous tactic, but people who can’t win via argument often resort to any means necessary.
- Is the care-bully premise true? In other words, if you cared about X, does it logically follow that you must agree regarding issue Y? Or course the answer to this is almost always “no.” You might care about survivors of sexual assault and at the same time care to live in a society in which a high standard of proof is required in order to destroy someone’s career, one which requires more than suspiciously-timed, vague, uncorroborated, and unsubstantiated claims from 35 years ago. You might care about the poor and middle-class, but believe that ultimately they will fair better in a free-market healthcare system as opposed to a socialized one. If you can care about X but have a legitimate disagreement about Y, then the premise itself is false.
- Why would someone try to convince you using such a dishonest tactic like care bullying? The first and obvious answer is that they think it will work on you, probably because they believe that you actually care about X. But why not simply make a rational argument supporting their position about Y? Why resort to emotional bullying? Of course you can’t be sure why someone is using one tactic over another, but often the reason people use emotional bullying is because they have no convincing arguments to support their position. Simply put, emotional manipulation (or outright coercion) is all that’s left to them. Often, if they had good arguments, they’d make them. If they’re trying to “care bully” you into agreeing with them, chances are they’re out of actual reasons.
Unsurprisingly, these care bullies aren’t actually about caring. All they really want is for you to pay lip service to their conclusions, or at the very least shut the hell up so they can go on bullying other people. Since their premises aren’t true to begin with, pointing out the hypocrisy of care bullies is generally trivial. #BelieveAllWomen? Great, how about Juanita Broaddrick and Karen Monahan? Do you want us to believe them, too? Then again, what about Emma Sulkowicz and Crystal Gail Mangum? You asked us to believe them, but didn’t they turn out to be disgusting liars trying to promote themselves and their leftist agendas? Care bullies never have decent responses to these questions.
So the next time you encounter them, stand up to care bullies. True, if you don’t capitulate to them the authoritarian left may try to force you to wear a scarlet, “A,” but if they do, you’ll be in good company. Besides, once you call care bullies out on all their hypocrisy, the letter “A” can feel surprisingly comfortable.