Monday, January 16, 2006

Sociological Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is a common concept in psychology. It is typically defined thus:
Leon Festinger called cognitive dissonance ". . .the distressing mental state in which people feel they 'find themselves doing things that don’t fit with what they know'".
Examples are common enough to find; a recovering alcoholic taking a drink, a husband cheating on his wife, a consciously honest student cheats on a test. In all cases, the person committing the act then suffers from anxiety stemming from the disconnect between the action taken and the previous mindset.

Dissonance is then resolved by either altering the action, or altering the thought process that predated the action. For example, the philandering spouse might rationalize that his wife was a nagging, frigid ice queen and he had to have some release. Truth is not quite so much the issue here as resolving the mental conflict.

Catholics refer to cognitive dissonance as "guilt." Perhaps some of us have heard of this concept before.

Sociological dissonance is the phenomenon where an entire culture engages in an action that is antithetical to its morals, and either radically alters its thinking to lessen the dissonance, or it manufactures alternative moral issues as a means of avoiding the guilt associated with the primary violation.

Example of primary violation: (see this link for illustration):
1: Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist grabs the baby's leg with forceps.
2:The baby's leg is pulled out into the birth canal.The baby's leg is pulled out into the birth canal.
3:The abortionist delivers the baby's entire body, except for the head.
4:The abortionist jams scissors into the baby's skull. The scissors are then opened to enlarge the hole.
5:The scissors are removed and a suction catheter is inserted. The child's brains are sucked out, causing the skull to collapse. The dead baby is then removed."

Any reasonable culture would consider this action to be murder. Worse, infanticide. Yet through the wonders of sociological dissonance, culturally we ignore the horror of the mutilated child and instead focus on the sad story of birds who are "tortured" in the making of foie gras.

Associated Press
OLYMPIA-For bird sympathizers concerned with the practice of force feeding, a trip to a swanky French restaurant may soon become easier to swallow.
Rep. Brendan Williams (D-Olympia), has proposed a meaure that would ban the process of harvesting bloated livers -known as foie gras, or "fatty liver"- and would remove the delicacy from state restaurants.
It can be difficult to stomach the methods used to make this delicacy. A few times each day, waterfowl are force-fed high-energy food-usually corn- via long tube attached to a pressurized pump.
The process can balloon a liver to 10 times the normal size-a swelling that can often be deadly.
"Torturing an animal to make it tastier is not a proposition I support," Williams said. "There has(sic) to be some limitations on decadence when it comes to what we eat or what we do to animals.
No farms in Washington currently produce foie gras, although most French restaurants provide the indulgence on the menu.
"Banning the production immediately is proactive and won't disrupt the practices of farmers," Williams said. Restaurants would have until 2012 to remove the item from the menu.

Representative Williams (Evil Party, Olympia) I am sure at some point, has wrestled with the horror that is abortion. Yet, to stay in office in this putridly liberal state, he must bow to the wishes of the abortion lobby, so he supports the infanticide. Perhaps he soothes his dissonance by claiming that he personally is against abortion, but supports the woman's right to choose. (How similar this sounds to those German Protestants who secretly abhorred Kristallnacht and other examples of Nazi persecution of the Jews, but felt that the State did have the right, after all, to choose how it dealt with the Jews).

However, Mr. Williams apparently felt the need to go farther still, and is further reducing his dissonance by protecting the helpless waterfowl whose livers go to soothe upscale palates in uppity French restaurants. After all, as he said: "There has(sic) to be some limitations on decadence when it comes to what we eat or what we do with animals."

Indeed, Mr. Williams. While you address the minor problem of subject/verb agreement, ask yourself this: What of the decadence we as a society bless when we torture and kill our own children for the sake of decadent convenience? Perhaps once you answer this, then I might join you on your anti-foie gras campaign.

First things first, anyone? Or are birds more worthy of saving than humans?

For more on the general societal decay that leads to this insane contradiction, visit Suicide of the West.
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