Why we can’t resolve to be more civil
Here’s a riotously funny clip from The Daily Show in which a journalist who heads “The Civility Project” is asked about a column she wrote calling the Tea Partiers “economic terrorists.” Isn’t that just a little bit uncivil, asks John Oliver? No, she says, as her inner press secretary (the rider) kicks into action to find justifications for the moral judgment made by her automatic intuitions (the elephant). She doesn’t realize her own flagrant hypocrisy.
The clip illustrates two of the three main principles of The Righteous Mind:
1) “Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second. Harrop’s reasoning is so clearly devoted to justification, not truth-seeking. She even recommends just telling the Tea Partiers directly that their “name calling is not making them sound intelligent,” but doesn’t grasp the irony when Oliver says that to her directly. You can’t change people’s minds with reasons if their intuitions point the other way.
2) “Morality binds and blinds.” Harrop is such a partisan liberal that she can’t think clearly. She can’t see what’s happening, either with the Tea Partiers or during her own interview with Oliver.
This is why we at CivilPolitics.org do not endorse civility pledges. Pledges are made by riders, and they have no effect on behavior. We endorse more indirect methods and institutional changes to change the “path” that the elephant is traveling.