Thursday, March 02, 2017

Moral Outrage (Getting One's Undies in a Bunch) a Sign of an Unhealthy Conscience

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Hey,hey! Ho, Ho! Kelly Anne Conway's Pumps Have Gotta Go! Some folks losing sleep over feet on the couch?  Not this bag of smelts.  And I doooooooooooo love smelts!

I sleep like a log.  Some might say. "well, so do psychopaths."  Yeah?  Name two.

Sleep is the benefit people cash-in because brave men and women stand guard over all of us. Better men than me have said so -

We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. George Orwell

I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’beer,/The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here./”The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,…/O makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep/Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;/An’ hustlin’ drunken sodgers when they’re goin’ large a bitIs five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.   Rudyard Kipling

Orwell wrote an essay on this Kipling  1890 poem Tommy Atkins and noted:
A humanitarian is always a hypocrite, and Kipling’s understanding of this is perhaps the central secret of his power to create telling phrases. It would be difficult to hit off the one-eyed pacifism of the English in fewer words than in the phrase, ‘making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep’.
This here sleeper is as  yellow as a duck's foot, but  honors the people who stand watch over his crib.

Moral outrage works well with 'humanitarians' - people who wouldn't give a starving blind girl a Confederate dime - and seem to ignite great group fuses of carbon foot-prints.

My moral outrage pencil-detonator must not be American made.

Michael Moore neither amuses, nor impels the Hickey moral tinder to spark.  Fat old guys in baseball hats scare little kids off the playground. Stranger Danger!

A recent study that I found in a magazine from the UK, the home of Orwell and Kipling, points to some interesting and telling features about folks who get morally outraged with every Tweet.
Feelings of guilt are a direct threat to one's sense that they are a moral person and, accordingly, research on guilt finds that this emotion elicits strategies aimed at alleviating guilt that do not always involve undoing one's actions. Furthermore, research shows that individuals respond to reminders of their group's moral culpability with feelings of outrage at third-party harm-doing. These findings suggest that feelings of moral outrage, long thought to be grounded solely in concerns with maintaining justice, may sometimes reflect efforts to maintain a moral identity.
No problem where I come from - guilt and shame are the real breakfast of champions.

I get yelled at by family, friends and neighbors whenever bumptious, boorish, or boastful bad old me surfaces.  Stay moral and stay at peace.

This study by Bowdoin psychology professor Zachary Rothschild and University of Southern Mississippi psychology professor Lucas A. Keefer in the latest edition of Motivation and Emotion is most telling.

Here's a list of their finds from Reason magazine.

  • Triggering feelings of personal culpability for a problem increases moral outrage at a third-party target. For instance, respondents who read that Americans are the biggest consumer drivers of climate change "reported significantly higher levels of outrage at the environmental destruction" caused by "multinational oil corporations" than did the respondents who read that Chinese consumers were most to blame.
  • The more guilt over one's own potential complicity, the more desire "to punish a third-party through increased moral outrage at that target." For instance, participants in study one read about sweatshop labor exploitation, rated their own identification with common consumer practices that allegedly contribute, then rated their level of anger at "international corporations" who perpetuate the exploitative system and desire to punish these entities. The results showed that increased guilt "predicted increased punitiveness toward a third-party harm-doer due to increased moral outrage at the target."
  • Having the opportunity to express outrage at a third-party decreased guilt in people threatened through "ingroup immorality." Study participants who read that Americans were the biggest drivers of man-made climate change showed significantly higher guilt scores than those who read the blame-China article when they weren't given an opportunity to express anger at or assign blame to a third-party. However, having this opportunity to rage against hypothetical corporations led respondents who read the blame-America story to express significantly lower levels of guilt than the China group. Respondents who read that Chinese consumers were to blame had similar guilt levels regardless of whether they had the opportunity to express moral outrage.
  • "The opportunity to express moral outrage at corporate harm-doers" inflated participants perception of personal morality. Asked to rate their own moral character after reading the article blaming Americans for climate change, respondents saw themselves as having "significantly lower personal moral character" than those who read the blame-China article—that is, when they weren't given an out in the form of third-party blame. Respondents in the America-shaming group wound up with similar levels of moral pride as the China control group when they were first asked to rate the level of blame deserved by various corporate actors and their personal level of anger at these groups. In both this and a similar study using the labor-exploitation article, "the opportunity to express moral outrage at corporate harm-doing (vs. not) led to significantly higher personal moral character ratings," the authors found.
  • Guilt-induced moral outrage was lessened when people could assert their goodness through alternative means, "even in an unrelated context." Study five used the labor exploitation article, asked all participants questions to assess their level of "collective guilt" (i.e., "feelings of guilt for the harm caused by one's own group") about the situation, then gave them an article about horrific conditions at Apple product factories. After that, a control group was given a neutral exercise, while others were asked to briefly describe what made them a good and decent person; both exercises were followed by an assessment of empathy and moral outrage. The researchers found that for those with high collective-guilt levels, having the chance to assert their moral goodness first led to less moral outrage at corporations. But when the high-collective-guilt folks were given the neutral exercise and couldn't assert they were good people, they wound up with more moral outrage at third parties. Meanwhile, for those low in collective guilt, affirming their own moral goodness first led to marginally more moral outrage at corporations.
Hell, I ain't mad at nobody.

Love my straight eight.

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