Monday, June 14, 2010

Bump It Up

I was recently behind a car with two bumper stickers. One announced the driver (I presume) was a Christian opposed to "hate." The other proudly trumpeted the driver was "everything the Christian Right hates."

So here's someone who doesn't like hate, but is pleased to evoke it in others.

I later saw one of those "Against Abortion? Then Don't Have One" stickers. Do they think this will convince anyone who doesn't already agree with them?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes-it reframes the question for those who have casually adopted a position (iei people who can be influenced by bumper stickers)

3:53 AM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger QueensGuy said...

I always wonder whether folks who adorn their vehicles with "persuasive" bumper stickers have ever been persuaded to reconsider their position by someone else's bumper sticker. E.g. does a "your mother was pro-life" bumper sticker give that last person food for thought?

8:20 AM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I only look for humor in bumper stickers. Make me laugh or you fail.

8:35 AM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

The value of bumper stickers is that others who feel the same way, but who are feeling alone and isolated, will be made momentarily happy when they see that there are others who agree with them.

QG, I agree that the number of adults who have changed their opinions on contentious issues because of a bumper sticker is close to zero. But how many adults do you know who have changed their opinion on a contentious issue because of reading a book? or watching a documentary? or having a friendly discussion? or a heated argument? I think all of these are extremely rare, but does that mean that it's a waste of time to write a book that argues for some position on abortion or school vouchers or the Iraq War or national health care?

In my experience, the vast majority of adults who change their minds on important issues do so gradually, over several years or even decades, and it's almost impossible to pinpoint all the factors involved. Perhaps a strongly-held opinion is slightly shaken by new evidence (seeing war casualties, hearing Arafat reject a generous offer, viewing an ultrasound, being mugged in an alley), and this gradually leads the person to listen to other points of view, and then they go through a phase where they don't feel comfortable with either side, and then eventually a new development (another piece of evidence, or a new circle of friends, or a magnetic public spokesman for this cause) makes them feel secure in saying to themselves "My opinion on this issue has changed".

And perhaps, once or twice in history, a bumper sticker might have contributed a minuscule amount to the middle phase of this process.

9:22 AM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oppose Slaves? Don't own one!

9:39 AM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger QueensGuy said...

LK, I would count myself among those who have been persuaded to completely change my mind on a subject by a friendly discussion. Our very own ColumbusGuy and a couple of other friends convinced me that an individual right to gun ownership was the only logical and historically accurate view of the Second Amendment. Admittedly it took a few years, but the friendly discussion kept getting interrupted by the 51 weeks of the year when we were not at CrabFest. And I did go do some independent reading, but it was primarily the conversation.

5:03 AM, June 16, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Good to know! It gives me hope that rational discourse really does have value. (A happiness that is totally independent of the specific issue about guns, although I happen to agree with you on that point as well.)

Chesterton once wrote something along the following lines: "A man does not convert to a new religion because he reads four books. He converts because of one book, one battle, one friend, and one sunset." And I think that this is often true... but sometimes a book or an argument does suffice.

It's also very hard for me to trace exactly my own thought processes. I moved to the political right (generally speaking) in 1985 after reading a lot of Robert Heinlein, especially his later works when he was explicitly political. But was the impact of Heinlein in my life augmented by my awareness that my father was a big Heinlein fan (even though my father was apolitical, and hadn't read any of Heinlein's later stuff anyway)? I don't know how to answer a question like that. I spent a lot more time trying to figure out why I became a Christian in 1990, and finally gave up.

On the other hand, after drifting away from church, I returned in 1999 (and haven't missed a Sunday Mass since then except for the weekend that D.C. was under two feet of snow) as a direct result of an email exchange with LAGuy. Which I find endlessly amusing, by the way....

8:19 PM, June 16, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I guess if you want to change your mind about something you should argue with people who agree with you.

2:20 AM, June 17, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Actually, on that occasion we weren't arguing about religion. I think we were actually discussing the state of philosophy in the academic world. But it triggered a series of thoughts in my head. Or maybe God and you were both triggers? No way to know. (In fact, one can mathematically show that a mind cannot fully analyze itself.)

8:03 PM, June 17, 2010  

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