I digress…

Avatar

Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

Related Post Roulette

142 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Stillwater asks:

    So, Al Gore’s educating people about climate change makes him a moralist?

    You’re adopting a pretty wide stance there yourself, JB.

    Do your attempts to educate people about smaller government make you a moralist?

    If not why not?

    I would say that education is not, in itself, moralizing. Statement of facts are statements of facts, after all and they’re either true or false (or a mixture, I suppose, if complex enough).

    It’s the exhortations of others, the “people shoulds” and, especially, the “you shoulds” that make this a moralizing situation.

    May we look at the end of An Inconvenient Truth?

    Each one of us is a cause of global warming, but each one of us can make choices to change that with the things we buy, the electricity we use, the cars we drive; we can make choices to bring our individual carbon emissions to zero. The solutions are in our hands, we just have to have the determination to make it happen. We have everything that we need to reduce carbon emissions, everything but political will. But in America, the will to act is a renewable resource.

    (I got that from the Wiki.)

    Now, I suppose, the question comes to whether this statement counts as an exhortation to act in a particular way… and, then, we can split hairs over whether Al Gore acts in that particular way.

    I assume you know my arguments… mind if I assume that I know yours *AND* that the audience (hey, audience!) is familiar with both of these arguments? Because, if so, I can jump straight to: Do your attempts to educate people about smaller government make you a moralist?

    And say, once again, my attitude about smaller government comes from the intuition that if *I* don’t have the right to tell you how to live then I don’t understand either how “we” have the right to tell you how to live nor how you have the right to tell me how to live and how I’ll need where that right comes from explained to me. For the most part my attempts to educate people about smaller government take the form of trying to get them to answer questions about whether and where their jurisdiction has limits. To bring us back around to environmentalism, they usually start talking about people pouring mercury in streams… but I like to think that, maybe, I’m planting a seed and maybe their voice will catch for a second the next time they feel like attacking someone who argues for individualism.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      So Gore’s quote doesn’t really show him as a hypocrite at all. I’m not seeing the answer to the question Still posed. You ask questions; questions with a purpose that are aimed at pushing people towards questions and answers you think are correct. That is fine as far as it goes, but it still seems you are advocating in your own way your beliefs. Does posing that as a question change it from a direct exhortation? Well i guess in a way but i don’t think in a significant way. Advocating is advocating; it can be done in many ways but it is still advocating. Asking questions only goes so far to finding a solution. In fact its really easy to ask leading questions. Asking questions doesn’t require dealing with externalities or complications or unintended consequences or answers. Coming up with workable answers, that is the hard part.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Greg, are there any actions, any actions at all, that would “we can make choices to bring our individual carbon emissions to zero” look hypocritical?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Really, Jaybird? That’s what you want to pin your argument on?

        BothSidesDoIt is aprioriorsomething.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        My argument is something like this: “if the numbers they dug up about his electricity usage weren’t painting an example of hypocrisy, I don’t know what would be”.

        You’re telling me that it wasn’t an example of hypocrisy. Fair enough.
        What would be?

        A house that uses 7 times the average amount of energy? A house that uses 10 times the average amount?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        I suppose its pointless to note that Gore buys renewable energy for his big ol house so if he uses a lot, he is actually making one of the those choices and living by what he exhorts others to do. He’s talking about making choices and moving in a direction to use less CO2 to get a good ultimate goal. Seems sort of like doing your best to move in a positive vector. He isn’t actually telling people not to do this or that but suggesting they aim for a certain goal.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Greg, part of the issue is always “how much changed after the behavior came to light?”

        I mean, let’s face it, I am sure that Ted Haggard smoked a lot less meth in 2013 than in years prior.

        Or another fun example using John Kerry. Remember when John Kerry bought a yacht and registered it in Rhode Island in order to pay little Rhody’s much, much lower yacht taxes? Well, after it came to light that he did that, he docked his yacht in Massachusetts and paid the higher taxes. It’s certainly possible to look at his behavior and say “well, nothing to complain about, he paid the taxes, didn’t he?”.

        I just wonder if you see how it’s possible to look at that and say “you know what, the optics for that are, in fact, not great. He’d have been better off had he done that in the first place.”Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        I just wonder if you see how it’s possible to look at that and say “you know what, the optics for that are, in fact, not great. He’d have been better off had he done that in the first place.”

        Optics? I thought we were talking about substance.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Of course we can talk about substance… but won’t that turn into a “that’s substantial!” “that’s *NOT* substantial!” “yes, it is!” “no, it isn’t!” argument?

        At the very least, coming out and saying “well, I technically might see how someone might come to the conclusion that Gore’s electricity bill did look bad, given his public statements about reducing carbon footprints, even though we both know that Al Gore is not a hypocrite and both sides do not, in fact, do it” will be good enough for me.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        what’s weird to me about this conversation is that you want me to concede that his light bill was bad optics and led to that judgment that he’s a hypocrite, yet you won’t concede that the issue upon which his hypocrisy supposedly rests rests (climate change and ways to mitigate it) is actually serious and real and that he deserves some credit for presenting it to people.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        yet you won’t concede that the issue upon which his hypocrisy supposedly rests rests (climate change and ways to mitigate it) is actually serious and real and that he deserves some credit for presenting it to people.

        Oh, is that what you want me to do?

        Climate change and ways to mitigate it is actually serious and real and Al Gore deserves some credit for presenting it to people.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        No i don’t remember that about Kerry but how much am i supposed to care. Not just about Kerry in general, but registering vessels in favorable places is super duper common to the point where almost all commercial vessels are registered in a handful of islands they have no connection to. I don’t really have a problem with pointing at someone hypocrisy as long as it is accurate and not strawman crap. The stuff about G’s electric use seems like a strawman and not accurate. But also at this point we are splitting hairs on Gore. Whatever about him has nothing to do with AGW or what we should do. However that is of course the point of throwing an extra carbon burning rock at Gore to make some vague typically silly claims about AGW.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Climate change and ways to mitigate it is actually serious and real and Al Gore deserves some credit for presenting it to people.

        So then, you agree that Haggard /= Gore, and Both Sides Aren’t The Same?

        Somehow I don’t think so.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Let me run this by you JB, see what you think:

        A moralist is someone who wants people to act a certain way, often enforced via the power of gummint, which they themselves have no desire to conform to.

        Is that your definition of a moralist?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        A moralist is someone who wants people to act a certain way, often enforced via the power of gummint, which they themselves have no desire to conform to.

        I don’t agree with that at all.

        I might see “hypocrite” use that definition, if you get the “enforced” clause out of there, but not “moralist”.

        I’d be fine with definition one of whatever it is that Google spits out:
        a person who teaches or promotes morality.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        a person who teaches or promotes morality.

        Hey, that’s you!Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Btw, I don’t think that’s a good definition of “moralist” either, but it seemed to follow from the comments you made about AG and the Hag.

        I agree with the definition, but I think there’s a colloquial usage which is more along the lines of “people who impose certain limitations on individual behavior derived from culturally determined (which includes religion!) beliefs about right conduct“.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Dangit.

        “I agree with the GOOGLE definition…”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Stillwater, it’s not the moralism that makes it funny. It’s the moralism tied together with the “bad” behavior that makes it funny. Heck, I am not even necessarily *OPPOSED* to whatever behavior any given moralist moralizes. It’s just that when they’re caught with their pants down, it’s funny.

        Of course, if I had a pet moral and a very important moralizer was caught with his pants down, I might find it *LESS* funny.

        But I understand that that’s on me.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Hey, that’s you!

        Dude, I conceded that I was not only a moralist but a hypocrite an hour ago.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, I guess I disagree that Al Gore got caught with his pants down. I mean, maybe they were slipping a little. Maybe some crack was showing. But the thing you’re accusing him of being depantsed by is so trivial (I mean, you had to look it up on Wiki!) that there really isn’t any comparison to Haggard. That dude was fully separated from his pants. They were, like, in the corner or something.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Dude, I conceded that I was not only a moralist but a hypocrite an hour ago.

        I know. For some reason I can’t let it go. But I will. Soon.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        This is one of the most amusing threads I’ve ever read here.

        Thank you.

        And as to the definition of moralist: there’s a reason those dudes on the Jesus Shows stand up there, their hair all a-sculpted, their wive’s faces all a-painted, looking up at the ceiling with their palms raised, begging: “Forgive me Jesus, for I have sinned,” as the toll-free number for donations flashes on the bottom of the screen.Report

  2. Avatar Stillwater
    Ignored
    says:

    I’d say that the topic bifurcates along pretty standard lines. You think that using the power of government to intrude on individual sovereignty in ways that can’t be justified on “moral” grounds.

    All Gore thinks that the consequences of climate change have serious effects on individual lives and therefore that mitigating or preventing those likely effects can be justified on “moral” grounds.

    You think he’s a moralist because you think his policy positions can’t be justified on moral grounds (or perhaps more importantly, are justified on quote-unquote (scarequotealert!) “moral” grounds). But his arguments are based, as you say, on empirical evidence that, while not definitive, at least follow from that evidence and take as a given climate-change related disasters will be morally (as well financially) disasterous for actual real people and the societies they live in.

    As to the question of whether you’re a moralist or not by merely advocating for certain views, I’d say that the in principle the argument’s you both employ are identical: both are based on empirical evidence, both presume a moral framework or platform upon which that evidence is viewed and evaluated, and both propose solutions consistent with the evidence and assumed moral framework. So I think the distinction upon which you’re trying to hang your hat doesn’t really exist. It’s just a competing (not necessarily competing, mind!) moral framework.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
      Ignored
      says:

      You think he’s a moralist because you think his policy positions can’t be justified on moral grounds (or perhaps more importantly, are justified on quote-unquote (scarequotealert!) “moral” grounds).

      Not necessarily so. Also from the Wiki:

      “My fellow Americans, people all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis. It’s not a political issue; it’s a moral issue.”

      That’s an excerpt from his speech that he gave at the Academy Awards. I think that he gives me a bit of an in to say that he’s arguing from moral grounds given his language choices.

      Do you disagree?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, now we’re down in the weeds, no? By your lights, you aren’t being a moralist when you advocate for certain views and policy positions, while by your lights he is.

        I’m trying to go past the *words we use* and get to the underlying content being argued. You think that in your advocacy you’re not being a “moralist”. *I* think you are. The fact that he views climate change as a moral issue is part-and-parcel of liberal politics and policy. Heck, even you think you have a moral obligation to meet the needs of people when they can’t meet those needs themselves. He’s talking about the same obligation, Jaybird.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh, let me clarify: I am, of course, being a moralist. My moralism, however, tries to take the form “leave stuff that isn’t within your jurisdiction alone” and I try to get people to think about how not-far their jurisdiction really extends.

        I imagine that hypocrisy for that would be something like “using roads” or “paying taxes willingly”.

        It’s absolutely possible to be a moralist without being a hypocrite. It’s pretty rare, of course, roads being everywhere… but I do think that we can do stuff like look at, say, the Dalai Lama and say “okay, he’s cool” or look at Pope Frank and say “okay, he’s cool” and then look at Ted Haggard and say “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (deep breath) ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.”

        Right?

        If not, I’m afraid that I don’t understand the importance of pointing out that I’m a moralist too. Is it because I’m a hypocrite too?

        Conceded. I don’t know what the big deal is for that, though.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        The thing is Jay i’m a bad evil liberal who is completely fine with the idea of leave stuff alone that isn’t in your jurisdiction. The big question is about jurisdiction, that would be where we would disagree a bit. That is the hard part that questioning people doesn’t answer.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        The big question is about jurisdiction, that would be where we would disagree a bit.

        My go-to question (if we’re talking about the Federal Government, anyway) is “Can you name five things that aren’t Interstate Commerce?”Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        What i do with my personal ding dong.
        Where i go skiing.
        Per Kazzy’s recent post, whether or not we have cats.
        What i have for dinner.
        Whether or not i use linux or not.
        Andrew Luck’s terrible jam band lead singer beard.
        Okay that last one was snarky, true, but not serious.

        Plenty of things aren’t interstate commerce. I’d also tend to think it is appropriate to view ISC a bit differently from the late 1700’s given we live in The Future.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        If not, I’m afraid that I don’t understand the importance of pointing out that I’m a moralist too.

        Well, because you’re entire critique of Gore and Haggard was that it’s fun to laugh at (quote) moralists with their pants down.

        Who amongst us, I ask you, doesn’t have our pants down from time to time? Al Gore flying to a speaking engagement or owning a large home doesn’t constitute having his pants down. At least, from the perspective I’m viewing him from. Haggard? He had his pants down.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Who amongst us, I ask you, doesn’t have our pants down from time to time?

        And yet we can somehow agree that Haggard’s pantslessness was funny. Or, if we can’t do that, we can agree that we can see how someone out there might find it funny without having to make caveats pointing out that someone out there finds Rob Schneider to be funny.

        Or can we even agree on that much? Does the acknowledgement that we understand that someone, somewhere, might find Ted Haggard’s pantslessness funny require that we acknowledge that someone greenlight Deuce Bigelow but, no, it’s not obvious at all why someone might laugh at that without benefit of a little something to smoke, maybe a backrub…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        What i do with my personal ding dong.

        According to Wickard and Raich, I’m pretty sure that that’s not the case.

        Where i go skiing.

        Not obvious at all.

        Per Kazzy’s recent post, whether or not we have cats.

        Do you plan on feeding them?

        What i have for dinner.

        According to Wickard (and, yep, Raich too), no.

        Whether or not i use linux or not.

        How did you get the distro?

        Andrew Luck’s terrible jam band lead singer beard.

        Facial Hair. Perhaps the one thing we have left.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Do you plan on feeding them?

        Do you plan on shaving them is the more likely question.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Well i get my linux distro off of the intertoobz which the Feds helped to fund and develop thank you very much.

        I’ve never had the feds get involved with kicking of the cats. I’ve checked this out. They haven’t done squat.

        Unless i’m actually screwing on a state line in the middle of an interstate, i’m not see much Fed involvement. I’m still guessing that would a be state trooper kind of thing.

        Let me go to the local quic e mart and see if the FBI repels down the side of the building to tell me what to eat.

        But really A) there a plenty of things that aren’t ISC and B) the times are a bit different that the late 18th century.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Unless i’m actually screwing on a state line in the middle of an interstate, i’m not see much Fed involvement. I’m still guessing that would a be state trooper kind of thing.

        Presumably, if you don’t take care of it yourself, you’d take care of it on the black market which has, I understand, market rates. Heck, even if you went to a bar and got lucky, that affects the market price due to the fact that you’d presumably go to the black market if you couldn’t get some from going to a bar.

        Wickard and Raich, again.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater
      Ignored
      says:

      I dunno. If the choice is between planning for genocide, and doing what Gore wants?
      I feel a bit skittish about deriding Gore.

      Maybe this is really, really self-interested on my part.

      But I find it morally objectionable for first world countries to be plotting genocide.Report

  3. Avatar Shazbot9
    Ignored
    says:

    Ugh.

    The differences between Al Gore using more energy than he says we should use and a homophobic politician who is gay are manifold and obvious to all but those who want to troll environmentalists.

    For one thing, what Al Gore says is correct. What he does is wrong in a small way. A person should aim at using less energy, but we can all be forgiven for not living up to lofty ideals at all times. (Gore does often practice what he preaches, even if he isn’t perfect.)

    By contrast, what vile homophobes like Ted Haggard say is horrible and pernicious. It hurts people that some people accept what Haggard says. He is harming people. Even worse, Ted Haggard should know that there is nothing wrong with homosexual sex, given that he has had homosexual sex. He should know that being gay is not a matter of choice. Yet he goes around saying the opposite, harming people that he should know he is harming.

    I’m a vegetarian but I’ve had slips in using leather, eating stuff I shouldn’t. That doesn’t mean my claims about vegetarianism are false. It just means that I am having trouble living up to high standards that I have (a matter for another post) good reasons to accept. That’s pretty understandable.

    Many rich people could give more to charity, even when they give a lot. That doesn’t make them hypocrites of the same sort as Ted Haggard. It just means that it is hard to live up to good moral standards and we all fail from time to time.

    I suppose I would be willing to be harsh with Gore if he consistently spoke of himself as a moral paragon on the issue of energy. But I don’t think he does.]

    Moreover, I think people like Gore and Buffett want to say that we need to use the power of the state. That individuals can’t do this on their own with moral actions. Gore says we need energy taxes and regulations to reduce CO2 and inefficient energy use. Buffett says we can’t expect people to give money to the poor. We need to tax the rich, systematically. That is a logically consistent position. “I will keep my money or I will use energy inefficiently, but I believe the state should restrict me and others from using energy inefficiently or the state should tax me and others for redistribution.”

    Having said all this, I feel it important to note that all of it is obvious. The attacks on Gore are a kind of trolling.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Shazbot9
      Ignored
      says:

      It’s not just Al Gore (indeed, I was more thinking of the carbon footprint left by jet setters in my original comment but, yeah, I was thinking of Uncle Al too). The argument that “YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE (but I don’t need to change mine)” is one that you see from Elmer Gantry, sure, but you see it in plenty of places if you’re willing to look.

      “You should pay more in taxes! (But I shouldn’t)” is a fun one. The drug war is filled with hypocrisies of people in government who tell stories of the form “I believe we need to keep the laws that I didn’t follow because it’s important that children that do what I did should go to jail.” There are tons.

      But the funny ones are the ones where the moralizers are found with their pants ’round their ankles. Mostly because pants around one’s ankles prevents such things as “wide stances”.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot9 in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        You totally missed what I was saying.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot9 in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Is a moralizer anyone who argues “People should do X?”

        ???

        I believe that we should give money to charity. There are times when I should’ve followed that rule and didn’t. So what?

        Gore is perfectly analogous to me in this way.

        But Gore and I are not analogous to people like Haggard who argued for a pernicious claim “Gay people are bad” that he should have (and very likely on some level did) know to be false because of his own behavior and life.

        Haggard is like Bounderby in Dickens’ “Hard Times.” He says that everyone should be a “self made” successful man and you deserve what you get, including a life of abject poverty, if you aren’t self-made. And he constantly lies that he is a self-made man, when in actuality he had every advantage in life. (He may even believe the lies on some level.) This is lying (including maybe to yourself) to promote an agenda that may benefit you in the short term that harms others.

        Gore didn’t do that. What Gore did is what we all do.

        What Bounderby and Haggard do is so awful that it is pathetic. Really, I empathize with these devils.Report

  4. Avatar J@m3z Aitch
    Ignored
    says:

    I don’t give a fig for Al Gore, but both sides here might benefit from more accurate information about his home/office and his energy efficiency efforts with it.

    Of course we could tear down every old building in the U.S. and replace them with ultra-efficient construction. We’ll just have to agree to turn a blind eye to the energy costs of doing so.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to J@m3z Aitch
      Ignored
      says:

      It’s cases like this where it seems worthwhile to me to separate the message from the messenger. It’s hard for me to take messengers seriously about the perils of global warming when they talk about reducing our personal footprints when theirs dwarfs mine (and needlessly, in many cases, private jets being a great example). But it doesn’t actually make the science underlying their statements any more or less true or false.

      But boy, it awakens my class-resentments something fierce. Just not the in way that liberals would prefer.

      Linky no worky, so it’s hard to know where I should place Gore on this axis.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Trying linky again. It sheds good light on Gore’s energy usage and efforts to make his very old and large house, which also serves as his offices, more energy efficient.

        But as I said, if his efforts aren’t satisfactory, we could just demand he tear down this beautiful old building. Or alternately we could demand he sell it to make himself more pure, perhaps to someone who wouldn’t try to improve its efficiency.

        I don’t like Gore, but the facts don’t seem to me to support the claims of hypocrisy; at least not in regards to his house.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        It sheds good light

        Yeah, but for a thousand bucks, I’d hope the lighting was good. In any case, the truth of the email was sinople rather than merely red… and, again, I don’t know how to measure the changes that happened after the behavior was made public.

        Much like John Kerry’s explanation that he only registered the yacht in Rhode Island because it was getting maintenance there and he, seriously, intended to pay the (higher) Massachusetts taxes, we can only speculate.

        I imagine that people on this team will assume that he would have and people on that team assume that the sunlight changed the subsequent behavior. They would.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        The fact that Gore uses his residence as a business headquarters definitely qualifies as a mitigating circumstance. I think when people hear about how much energy Gore’s “house” uses, that isn’t taken into account.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        14,000 square feet. Do we know how many of those square feet were used for “office” or just that the 14,000 square foot home also held the offices?

        Because I’d hope that if it turns out that 12,000 feet of the home were used for office space that Jaybird would APOLOGIZE and, if, instead, it turns out that 1200 square feet were used for storage space for those white boxes and a laptop, that someone else might acknowledge that, okay, maybe 10,000 square feet for a house was one hell of an opportunity for someone who wished to reduce his carbon footprint to do so.

        Do we have those numbers? My googling doesn’t show much except for pictures of “Al Gore’s Office” which is, lemme tell ya, a very nice room.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Isn’t the point about obsessing about everything about Gore to avoid talking about his message. After all he left his tv on when he wasn’t in the room.

        I’ll ask again; how did his electric bills get released? Is that public info? Did he release them?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        So which is better Jaybird: Al Gore living in a 12,000 square foot home and promulgating evidence of AGW, or another guy who lives in a 12000 square foot home who’s an active AGW denier?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        That’s sort of how I feel when people say “Look! The senator from New Mexico who is against gay marriage has an illegitimate kid!”

        That’s the commonality.

        But your point is why I don’t generally bring up such things, because they mostly serve as a distraction from the discussion. However, once Gore is brought up, I will usually say something along the lines of “It doesn’t undermine his message, but it isn’t irrelevant regarding the messenger if the guy telling us that we need to conserve isn’t even taking rudimentary steps to do so when it’s inconvenient.”

        (“If” being important here. Maybe Gore is flying on the same planes that I am, and Aitch brings up a fair point about his “house.”)Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Isn’t the point about obsessing about everything about Gore to avoid talking about his message.

        Inference to the best explanation would say “Hells yeah”.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        For what? Something the spokesperson is doing?

        I’d argue that if I had a spokesperson for my point of view, I’d hope that he’d not use roads and, preferably, be in Somalia when he’s not using them.

        Applying that to this, I’d say that a spokesperson who is hypocritical (or, for some reason, is doing something that would look hypocritical to a huge chunk of the country) would be something I’d want to change beforehand.

        Then again, I’m not in the 5-figure square footage club.

        I’ve got 1600 square feet in mine (not a typo).

        Maybe I’m not in the target audience for the people Al Gore is trying to get to change.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        For what? Something the spokesperson is doing?

        Not exactly what I had in mind. I was thinking more along the lines of rising seas; chaotic weather; desertification.. Those sorts of things.

        I realize you live at altitude in a semi-arid desert, but cmon.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        how did his electric bills get released? Is that public info? Did he release them?

        The article that I’ve read said that they were available under the FOIA.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Those sorts of things.

        Golly, I don’t know! I would hope that I’d be able to look at the people who argue that these things are going on and see what they’re doing and maybe take them as examples that I could follow!

        Because, golly, if the people in charge of telling me how important it is have larger carbon footprints than I do by an order of magnitude, I might be suspicious that something else was going on.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        I would hope that I’d be able to look at the people who argue that these things are going on and see what they’re doing and maybe take them as examples that I could follow!

        Why tho? What does their behavior have to do with the content of their message? Aren’t the two things completely distinct? I mean, I already know the answer to that.

        And I guess you do to.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Golly, I don’t know!

        Exactly!Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Jaybird,

        Say you own a 10,000 square foot 19th century home (and can afford it). What do you to reduce energy usage?

        1. Tear it down (despite it being a lovely historical artefact) and rebuild smaller (and what is the energy cost of doing so)?

        2. Sell the house, without regard for whether the purchaser makes any attempt to reduce the building’s energy use?

        3. Invest in efforts to improve its energy efficiency and buy offsets, to minimize the net effects of the energy use you can’t efficiency your way out of?

        4. Do nothing?

        5. Some other alternative I haven’t thought if?

        Which course of action would you take? Which would give Gore some legitimacy to talk about climate change, or is it too late and there’s nothing he can do?

        It’s easy to lob general criticism, but lets get serious about his real-world alternatives, and take a stand on what we think is his best–mist responsible and respectable–course of action.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Is there any carbon footprint that he could have that might make you say “okay, I can see why someone might be distracted by this carbon footprint”?

        We’ve established that the numbers Snopes agrees are accurate aren’t enough to do that.

        Personally, those numbers are over my threshold but, hey. Different people have different tolerances, I guess. Could you give an example of a house size/electricity bill size that might get you to say “yeah, I can see why this guy giving that speech might result in poor optics”?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Jamez (I’m going to start going with Jamez, to differentiate between James K, and to avoid all those pesky characters) is rocking this thread, totally. He’s got me thinking about this more than I have in a while.

        I like the idea of converting mansions into apartments and office parks, which I saw done out in Redstone where all the rich people left. Energy use aside (which I have to admit would be, even in the worst circumstances, only a tertiary factor), I have to admit a bit that a puritanical, class-resenting part of myself looks at super-large houses and says “Is that really necessary?” (Doesn’t necessarily apply to Al Gore, since I don’t know the particulars of how he uses his house as an office) but I recognize that view of mine as being problematic.

        I’d also say that it makes a difference whether this was a home that Gore inherited or whether he went out and bought it. If enough people declined to buy these homes, they would be converted into something else. But that is certainly a collective action issue for which I don’t know how much we can hold any one individual responsible (I suspect if we can, it’s very little responsibility).

        None of this is to say that it’s incumbent on rich environmentalists to do this. I think one of the big reasons the private jets burn me so (haha… burn) is that it is one of the least complicated examples of fuel-consuming extravagance. Excluding specific cases like the President, of course, and some others.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Will,

        For the record, I’ve avoided commenting on the private jet issue because a) I haven’t looked up info on that, so I don’t know if it’s a real, regular, thing for him; and b) if it is, I’m with you on it being different, and less justifiable.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Then again, how much of a pita must it be to fly commercial when you’re thst famous and recognizable? Hardly a moment of peace when you’re not an object for public display, I would think. And if you don’t respond pleasantly to everyone, twitter alive with “news” of what a jerk you are in person. And the Instagram pics of you spilling your drink on yourself when the plane hits turbulence?

        Face it, the public sucks, and flying private is a dream come true. 😉Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Jamez, I assume that someone like Gore* does not travel alone and that would mitigate it significantly. I can sort of envision the tediousness of sitting next to Joe Public and getting an earful (even a supportive earful would get tiresome) for three hours while you’re trying to do work or relax. But if you’ve got a buffer, I think that mitigates it to a fair degree. If he is traveling alone, I would certainly understand if he purchased two tickets and arranged with the airline that the other not be given to someone on stand-by.

        Fun fact: Mom once flew on a plane across from Treasury Secretary James Addison Baker. In coach! Blows my mind.

        * – To clarify again, I do not know Gore’s travel habits. So I mean “someone like Gore – or even Baker, for that matter – in terms of notoriety.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        To be honest, I think that Al Gore is a much better spokesperson today than he was then. Al Gore talks about how, yeah, sometimes he charters a private jet but, hey, he doesn’t *OWN* one. He flies commercial now. He’s actively doing stuff with his mansion to make it green as heck. From recent articles, it seems like it’s a lot more space than he needs… but I don’t say that in the “HE SHOULDN’T HAVE MORE THAN HE NEEDS” sense but in the “it’s probably not good for him to be in such a big empty place”. But, hey, it’s his money.

        My criticism of Al Gore is *NOT* “he’s a horrible spokesperson!”

        It’s “it was funny that he released that movie and then what he did in his private life came out”.

        Since then, he’s turned the heck around and become an exemplary environmentalist spokesperson.

        Perhaps, much like Haggard, he’s an example of the good that can follow silly hypocrisies being pointed out to the world. Haggard’s a much better Christian leader than he used to be (though, sadly, it looks like he no longer acknowledges being bisexual but sees his homosexual tendencies as arising from trauma from his past… which is too bad… but, hey, he’s *TONS* better than he used to be). Al Gore is a much better environmentalist than he used to be.

        And given that we know how important the problem of environmentalism is, it’s good that Al Gore is better than he used to be. Not just for the issue itself, but for the planet.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        So he privates a charter jet sometimes but tries to fly commercial? That seems pretty reasonable, provided that it’s not ridiculously skewed in the charter direction. Flying private charters at least sometimes would have to be really, really tempting.

        I also agree that the changes and efforts he’s made do make him a better spokesperson.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        My criticism of Al Gore is *NOT* “he’s a horrible spokesperson!”

        It’s “it was funny that he released that movie and then what he did in his private life came out”.

        You’re assuming that what was released about his private life was fully accurate–the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but–and not misrepresented in some fashion to score political points.

        Since then, he’s turned the heck around and become an exemplary environmentalist spokesperson.

        You’re assuming none of that was in process of improving before and at the time the movie came out.

        I haven’t seen any evidence that makes clear those assumptions are warranted. If you have, I’d be interested in seeing it.

        Otherwise, it all seems pretty chickenshit to me.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        You’re assuming that what was released about his private life was fully accurate–the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but–and not misrepresented in some fashion to score political points.

        Let’s merely assume that the stuff that Snopes says was accurate was accurate. That’s still 14,000 square feet, thousand dollar electricity bills, and somewhere around 12 times more than the average family.

        That’s what’s agreed to be true, according to Snopes, the source *YOU* provided.

        You’re assuming none of that was in process of improving before and at the time the movie came out.

        I can only repeat what was said in the source you provided as evidence. Maybe he was totally turning everything around and suffered the worst timing in the world to have the last days of before the turnaround made public.

        That is totally possible. Sure.

        You seem a lot more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt than I am. Rock on.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        @jaybird

        That’s still 14,000 square feet, thousand dollar electricity bills, and somewhere around 12 times more than the average family.

        Thank you, a perfect answer. Because it brings us back to my question above that you did not answer. What would you do?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        I would refrain from telling other people how to live.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        But, if that weren’t an option and I did tell people that “we need to change, we need to have smaller carbon footprints” and then my lifestyle was made public?

        I would bust my butt to get my stuff as green as possible as quickly as possible, money allowing, of course. With Al Gore’s bankroll, I’m sure that I’d do stuff very similar to what he did.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        You’d do just what he did, nevertheless you find him a hypocrite. Sounds like you’re about as hypocritical as Gore, then, both because you’d do the same as him and because you criticize him for doing just what you’d do.

        At least that’s how it appears to me. I’d like to produce a more charitable interpretation, but I’m not seeing it, whether because I’m blind or because I’m just a jerk I’ll leave to others to decide.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Dude, we all hammered out that I was a hypocrite yesterday.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh, so we get to gigglesnort at you and dismiss the issues for which you’re advocating. Thanks for the update.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        And a moralist. (/Palinwink!)

        Following a bit on what James H’s line, I wonder to what extent you’re applying a standard to Gore that just can’t in fact be met. I also wonder why it actually matters if his crack was actually showing, or to what extent he’s “telling people how to live their lives”. I mean, he made a movie about a serious issue and presented various arguments and conclusions. Folks can listen to those arguments and accept or reject it on the merits independently of the actions he might or might not take.

        Why would his actions matter in the slightest with respect to the substance of what he’s arguing?

        You’re whole point seems to be that in order to motivate people to act in a certain way (that, I guess, is where the “he’s telling people how to live their lives” charge comes in) he ought to be a better example. Well, sure, fair enough as far as it goes. But your standard of “better example” seems to me to be pretty rigid. In fact, it seems to me like you’re just trolling the Al Gore Archives looking for opportunities to pull his pants down, which is different than getting caught with your pants down, it seems to me.

        I mean, there are plenty of things to dislike Al Gore about, but his electricity bill seems like a real outlier. (I know you disagree, of course, which is why we’re still going round and round about this.)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Stillwater, please understand that, from my perspective, I said something to the effect of “I think it’s funny when moralizers are caught being hypocrites. Whether it’s anti-gay spokespeople being caught smoking meth with gay prostitutes or champions of ending global warming being found to have 4-figure electricity bills, it’s funny.”

        That, to me, is a throwaway line. It’s not an essay explaining why you need to turn your back on Al Gore. It’s not an essay explaining that his current home isn’t green. It’s not an essay at all. Hell, I didn’t even name him by name. I didn’t think it was *THAT* important.

        Seriously, you can go back and read my original comment and see if I got into Al Gore at all.

        It was the followup of “HOW DARE YOU JUDGE AL GORE???” that turned into this (silly) sidebar.

        I honestly didn’t think it was *THAT* big of a deal.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        It was the followup of “HOW DARE YOU JUDGE AL GORE???” that turned into this (silly) sidebar.

        In all seriousness Jaybird, is that how you viewed the pushback to your equating Haggard and Gore on the hypocrisy scale? As folks saying “how dare you”?

        Is that how you interpreted my comment? I find it interesting that you did when that was the furthest thing from my mind.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Alsotoo, the comment that generated this subthread (and my response to it) was about your use of the term “moralist” as a judgment of those two guys, and a question of whether or not you were a moralist.

        None of that has anything to do with a defense of Al Gore perse, it had to do with a disagreement about your framing of the issues and the conclusions you drew from that framing.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Allow me to rephrase: I saw it as a throwaway line. Hypocrisy is funny whether it be a preacher or an environmentalist (no names named).

        And the response came “LEAVE AL GORE ALONE”. Dude. It wasn’t intended to be a treatise on Al Gore’s carbon footprint and the extent to which he cared about making it smaller before his electricity bills were made public. Asking about how I equated them on the scale is to seriously put a lot more into the comment than I did. Now you may see Al Gore’s lifestyle at the time of his movie as agreed to be true in the Snopes email as nothing even close to hypocrisy. That’s awesome. I’m glad we were able to put that out there.

        But, seriously, I thought I was making a small comment on behalf of the humor to be found in the hidden hypocrisies brought to the light.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, again, the fact that you believe this:

        And the response came “LEAVE AL GORE ALONE”.

        reveals quite a bit about how you view these types of things. I don’t think anyone was defending Gore in either of the threads, and most certainly they weren’t saying to leave AG alone. They – we – were criticizing your views and arguments.

        Two entirely distinct things there, tho I realize that they collapse for you given your special Liberal Decoder Ring and all. 🙂Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Yes, Stillwater, it’s the moralism where the funny comes from.

        A guy drinking a whiskey sour? Not funny.

        The guy who argues for Prohibition drinking a whiskey sour? Comedy gold!Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Amazing. It’s like this whole thread never happened…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        They – we – were criticizing your views and arguments.

        Yes, by basically arguing that I should not see Al Gore’s lifestyle as depicted in the Snopes email as incongruous with his exhortations to others to the point where it ought to count as hypocrisy.

        Which, believe you me, looks a lot like a defense of Al Gore. To the point where I can’t comprehend how you could say “I don’t think anyone was defending Gore in either of the threads”.

        I mean, here’s from Greg: “Isn’t the point about obsessing about everything about Gore to avoid talking about his message.” (Which got a “hells yeah”)

        Please understand me when I say that my not talking about his message was due to the fact that I thought I was talking about the humor to be found in the exposure of hypocrisies when we were discussing the benefits, if any, of outing.

        Seriously, I didn’t intend the comment to be a discussion of Al Gore. I certainly didn’t intend it to be a discussion of my views and arguments of Al Gore.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        zJaybird, the nice thing about interpreting the words people say instead of just reading them is that you’ve veered off into a fact-free world where your views cannot be challenged. I mean, I could saythat I was criticizing what I viewed as an inconsistency in your views, and that you were displaying a little bit of hypocrisy yourself, and I could even go on from there and repeat every argument I’ve made on this thread, but …

        it wouldn’t matter because, you’d just view those expressionsthru your filter as well. So it’s impossible for me to convince you that you’re interpretation of (at least) my arguments is wrong,wrong,wrong. There is nothing I could do or say, no evidence I could give, that would suffice to convince that I’m not arguing what you think I am.

        It’s pretty clever on your part, I suppose, but it’s impossible to have a discussion with someone who responds to what they think I’m saying rather than what I’m actually saying. It’s like a big reverse conspiracy theory, where each piece of evidence I might present to show you that you’re wrong merely confirms that you’re interpretation of my arguments, beliefs and views is ultimately correct.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Eg:

        Jaybird’s Liberal Decoder: Isn’t Stillwater’s claim that he wasn’t defending Al Gore exactly what an Al Gore defender would do? Mwahahaha…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, is “hypocrisy” one of those things that is measurable or does it allow for gut feelings?

        Mike Schilling did a good job of arguing how someone could look at Ted Haggard and not see any hypocrisy. Whether or not you agree with Schilling, I’d like to think that you’d agree that it’s possible to have that viewpoint and have it be just as reasonable a viewpoint as the one that says the opposite.

        Both X and Not X, perfectly reasonable positions.

        Which, right there, tells me that a lot of this stuff has more to deal with “gut feelings” than with measurable units.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Which, right there, tells me that a lot of this stuff has more to deal with “gut feelings” than with measurable units.

        ??? Aren’t you doing exactly what I just objected to you doing, which is circularly attributing a view to me that fits with you’re preconceptions?

        Yeah, this isn’t going to get any better from here on. I’ll just let my final thoughts on it (until there’s some actual substance to discuss) be the those last to comments.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, I’ll look for a question you’ve asked that I failed to answer and see if that helps.

        Why would his actions matter in the slightest with respect to the substance of what he’s arguing?

        There are two answers to this.
        The first, of course, is that the truth of Proposition P ought to be independent of whomever is saying it (assuming, of course, the proposition isn’t about the speaker… “I am hungry” is true for this person and false for that one but a proposition about a state external to the speaker is either true or false no matter who says it). So a statement about Global Climate Change is true (or false) whether or not Al Gore says it, and whether or not his house is this big, that big, or an apartment on the outskirts of town.

        The second, of course, is that if you are attempting to get someone else to change his or her mind on a subject or, worse, get someone else to change his or her lifestyle, there are issues such as “credibility” that affect the degrees to which someone is willing to change. If you want someone to change a little (“buy this sham-wow!”), you don’t need a lot of credibility. If you want someone to change a lot, you need a bit more. When it comes to telling people that they need to change their lifestyles, something like Kant’s Categorical Imperative might come in handy. “What if everybody lived the way that you do?”

        At that point, you’ve got a choice between living in a way that you would want everybody else to live or explaining how your circumstances are extraordinary but how your extraordinary circumstances shouldn’t distract from your message. Experientially, the argument that “my circumstances are extraordinary” is one that doesn’t go over well because most people are under the impression that their circumstances are extraordinary. It might get people to agree with your argument about how other people need to change (but my circumstances are extraordinary) at large and then you’ve got a bunch of people who agree in theory on Proposition P but not in practice.

        And that’s why his actions back then mattered in the slightest.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        But, to be perfectly honest, the above strikes me as obvious to the point where it’s not particularly interesting. It strikes as something that everybody would, more or less, agree with (perhaps some nits to pick around the edges but, for the most part, would inspire not much more than a shrug because everybody already knows that).Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Jaybird, you don’t have to keep repeating your argument. I know what you’re arguing. And I disagree with it.

        Of course, the problem is that you don’t think I’m disagreeing with your views, you think I’m merely defending Al Gore come what may … or something, anything, whatever it takes to interpret my words into something different than what they explicitly say.

        There really isn’t any reason to persist in this, is there? You have you’re views, and just about everyone on this thread disagrees with them. That’s fine, isn’t it?

        Or you can keep struggling to find that thing you’re right about to make sense of all this.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        So it’s a “I think this.” “Well, I disagree!” situation?

        I can live with that. (I thought it was a “I think this.” “Well, you’re wrong!” one.)Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Lord forgive me…

        One other thing: this thread was generated by a claim you made – that it’s funny when moralists get caught being hypocritical. There was lots of discussion, argument, back and forth, this and that, until you finally admitted that you are a) a moralist and b) are act hypocritically.

        At that point you didn’t just admit that you’re argument and views were incorrect in your initial views, you shifted them to something else – something about role models and such – which no one apparently cares about given the context of the OP.

        Should Haggard and Al Gore been better role models? Well sure, I guess. Who among us shouldn’t be a better role model, you know, if we’re in the role model business and all.

        Sure.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        finally

        Finally? I did that pretty early in the conversation.

        (Much like the stuff above, I would think that the fact that I’m a moralizer would be pretty obvious. As for the hypocrisy, the only discussion would be whether it was above or below the “funny” baseline (which, I think would be non-controversially described as being likely to be different for each person).)Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        if we’re in the role model business and all.

        It’s like theater. It’s easy to get into if you’re content doing it for free. But only a few manage to make the big bucks.

        Personally, I think we need a stronger role models union.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Finally? I did that pretty early in the conversation.

        I seem to have missed that. The “early in the conversation” part.

        Jaybird, I still have no idea what you’re arguing at this point. Hanley busted you on the “hypocrisy in the messenger undermines the message” angle; and you admitted that the “moralist” distinction was invalid.

        Maybe you should write up a post about what you were “really” trying to argue here and we can start the ball rolling again. I’ll make an argument, you can interpret into your favored terms and attribute a bunch of views I don’t hold to me, I’ll respond by I don’t hold those views… And so it will go.

        It’ll be fun, yes?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Personally, I think we need a stronger role models union.

        Not a bad idea. It could also be improved with better representation by private role-modeling agencies.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Maybe you should write up a post about what you were “really” trying to argue here

        I wasn’t really trying to argue much of anything at all. I created this sidebar thread as a response to a threadjack on Russell’s post. I say as much in the body to this post. What I said over there was (link). What I said here was (link). Other people disagreed here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (links).

        Now, honestly, I don’t agree that Hanley “busted” me on the message being invalidated by the messenger because I never held the position that a message would be invalidated by the messenger. I suppose I should give this part of his comment a better response:

        You’d do just what he did, nevertheless you find him a hypocrite. Sounds like you’re about as hypocritical as Gore, then, both because you’d do the same as him and because you criticize him for doing just what you’d do.

        Well, to that, I can only say that if I were Ted Haggard and I were caught smoking meth and having sex with male prostitutes that, I imagine, I’d do many of the same things that Ted Haggard did in the days, weeks, and months that followed.

        But to respond to that by saying “Sounds like you’re about as hypocritical” fails to take into account my lack of not only telling people to not have sex with other men, but also my lack of smoking meth and having sex with male prostitutes.

        Now, perhaps, you might see that as a silly distinction to me but, believe you me, from here it seems to be an essential difference to the entire situation. When it comes to Al Gore, in the same way, I’d like to think that the fact that my argument that I wouldn’t do what he did before I got where he got should be taken into account even as I admit that, if I woke up in his shoes on that fateful day, I’d do the same thing.

        But I don’t see how that’s particularly interesting. (I honestly suspect that most of us would do what Gore did in the days and weeks and months that followed.)

        As for the last part, here you go: it seems to me that you disagree, though you can see how Al Gore’s electricity bill might look bad under certain circumstances, you’d like to point out (and get me to agree (which I would!)) that Al Gore’s message remains trenchant and important despite any theoretical looking bad and isn’t his message much more important than whether the message’s messenger screwed up? Which shouldn’t be seen as admission of Al Gore’s screwing up. Because it’s not. It’s certainly not something that should be mentioned in the same breath as meth-smoking evangelical anti-gay marriage preachers who dally with male prostitutes.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, that’s something like common ground.

        A quibble: and isn’t his message much more important than whether the message’s messenger screwed up?

        No, that’s not really part of my argument. It’s that the two are distinct things, and insofar as his actions constitute an example of hypocrisy which people think is important (I don’t), it’s because they conflate the message with the messenger. One thing I like to criticize in Republicans, for example, is conflating the message with the messenger, and their correlated belief that tearing down the messenger invalidates the message.

        Ironically, you seem to agree conservatives about that, and your proposed solution to the problem this presents is for messengers to be better role models. My solution is to just keep the two things distinct. Prior to this discussion I’d’ve thought you’d see things that way too.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        And of course, people of all isms conflate the two for purely polkitical reasons. It’s certainly not limited to conservatives. When I wrote that conservatives engage in that practice in the above comment I was thinking specifically of climate change.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        fails to take into account my lack of not only telling people to not have sex with other men, but also my lack of smoking meth and having sex with male prostitutes.

        Then again, you seem to be telling people not to be hypocritical moralists while you (by your own admission, it seems) are being a hypocritical moralist. No?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        your proposed solution to the problem this presents is for messengers to be better role models

        Personally, and this goes back to one of the comments I considered obvious, it seems to me fairly important to avoid the “but my circumstances are extraordinary” conversation if one is trying to get large groups of people to not only change their minds but change their lifestyles.

        I don’t know how achievable “above reproach” is but something as close to it as possible is better than not. (Look at Pope Francis, for an example of a Pope doing what he can to not be that ostentatious. He’s the freaking Pope… but imagine he told people to live simply. I think it’d go over well. Now imagine Benedict saying the same with his red shoes. Different response entirely, I imagine. Now, assuming you’re still with me, if it’s possible to have a freakin’ Pope be able to say “live simply”, I think we can agree that it’s possible to find a sufficient spokesperson for any message.)Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        seems to me fairly important to avoid the “but my circumstances are extraordinary” conversation if one is trying to get large groups of people to not only change their minds but change their lifestyles.

        Why? Is this something you experience in the way you come to your own beliefs and practices, for example, you would have been an ardent AGW supporter activist except for the fact that Al Gore has a big house?

        Or is this a classic Jaybird argument where you’re crawling into the heads of a bunch of people you don’t know and ascribing thought processes to them that you have no reason to believe are accurate?

        I’m going with option two.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Then again, you seem to be telling people not to be hypocritical moralists while you (by your own admission, it seems) are being a hypocritical moralist. No?

        “Keep it under the baseline” seems to me to be achievable.

        Why? Is this something you experience in the way you come to your own beliefs and practices, for example, you would have been an ardent AGW supporter activist except for the fact that Al Gore has a big house?

        No, not exactly. I know that in any given conversation about the importance of changing one’s life, the topic of “okay, what do I need to do?” will, eventually, come up. When it comes to environmentalism, I can give you a small list of what Maribou and I have done. We’re a one-car family because one of us walks to work (we’re going to be a two-car family soon, however, but only for a few months). We recycle. We have a smallish (1600 square feet) well-insulated house and keep the thermostat low in winter. We buy the “green energy” from the electric company (more expensive by 4 bucks per kWh). We have the low-flow fixtures in each of our bathrooms. We have electricity efficient appliances. Until recently, I didn’t fly at all (and for years). Sadly, my job recently required travel on my part but, until recently, I was also able to say that I didn’t use airplanes to travel. My vacations were staycations and that minimized my footprint a great deal. Oh, and we don’t have children.

        I’d like to think that my environmentalist bona fides could go up against most folks.

        Or is this a classic Jaybird argument where you’re crawling into the heads of a bunch of people you don’t know and ascribing thought processes to them that you have no reason to believe are accurate?

        I am pretty sure that I have reason to believe that there will be a fairly vocal response of “OH? WHAT DO YOU LIVE LIKE?” to such things as Al Gore giving the speeches he gave and, if it comes out that Al Gore has (insert snopes link here) that a huge chunk of people will laugh him off as a hypocrite.

        Quite honestly, I don’t know why that’s particularly controversial.

        Now if “what happened” isn’t sufficient evidence for reasonably holding the position that I think certain similar things would happen, I don’t know what would be. Maybe I’ve got an analogy using the Popes around here somewhere…Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        The Al Gore thing is confusing me. I have *never* heard Al Gore demand I use less energy. (Telling me *how* to use less energy is not the same thing.) Al Gore instead appears to run around telling *governments* they should figure out how to use less energy.

        And reducing home electricity use for *existing* homes, while a good idea, is pretty damn far down the list of useful energy saving things(1). So if Al Gore is a success, we will end up with a government that takes climate change seriously and makes various laws determined to reduce it. These laws almost certainly will not harm Al Gore’s ‘lifestyle’, and probably not affect his house at all. At best, there will subsidies for repairs to make it more efficient, or add solar panels, which he can ignore if he wants. (I’m pretending that Al Gore *wants* an inefficient house.)

        That’s not really the same thing as the anti-gay politicians who are really gay, who seem to start with the promise that gay-ness is morally wrong, and here are some laws forbidding it, or making it harder. These laws, hell, the rhetoric itself, do certainly harm the gay politician, and all other gays.

        1) Actually, home energy use in total is pretty far down the climate change problems. Residential use in total is only 11.4% of total energy use. To stop climate change, the best place to start is the massive 27% of energy used for transportation (And more than two thirds of that is just wasted to start with) and 23% used for industry.

        See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States#Consumption_by_sectorReport

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        I have *never* heard Al Gore demand I use less energy.

        Have you heard him say that our carbon footprint is a moral issue?Report

      • Avatar Rod in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        @jaybird , you do realize that “energy use” and “carbon footprint” aren’t actually synonymous? The Venn diagrams overlap considerably, but both sets contain substantial members not found in the other.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Yes, yes. And my original statement was about people who do “stuff like whirlwind trips to the other side of the world or have four-figure electrical bills for their homes”.

        I think (I *HOPE*) we can agree that those things are likely to not be carbon neutral if, perhaps, someone who isn’t Al Gore does them.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Heh, I deleted exactly my paragraph about ‘moral issue’ from my post because I thought it was getting off-topic. Let me recreate and expand:

        ‘Moral issue’ for society does not mean ‘I am calling you immoral’. Saying a society-wide problem, like poverty or lack of health care or human trafficking, is a moral issue means it is immoral for humanity *as a whole* to not respond to it.

        Just because there are people out there who are poor, and poverty is a ‘moral issue’, does not demand that you, personally, give them all your money. It demands that we, *as society*, do something about those people. It demands we push for societal change.

        A moral issue for society is not the same as a moral issue for a person. There are plenty of things that it is *really* stupid for society to do (For example, gutting our manufacturing base) that is rather hard to pin on any individual person, and the problem isn’t any individual instance of it…the problem is that it happens so much. (In this example we have ended up with an entire society supported by loans instead of actual production.)

        Incidentally, both sides seem to misunderstand when the other side says ‘moral issue’. For example, if the religious right says gay marriage is a ‘moral issue’, it does not incidentally follow that they are saying any individual gay person is immoral, or even that a married gay couple are immoral, and the left should nor assume that. Saying it’s a moral issue just means they think there is some collective harm to society that we, as society, need to deal with.

        Of course, that caveat is ruined by the fact the religious right often do immediately go on to say that individual gay people are immoral. 😉 I’m just saying it could in theory be a moral issue without them asserting anyone in particular is immoral. (For example, if we were experiencing a plummeting population that threatened extinction, it might be a moral issue that people were in gay marriages, although it would be saner to make the plummeting population itself the moral issue, because that makes solving it much easier.)

        I’ve often noticed that conservatives often seem to have ‘moral issues’ with societal change that they aren’t very good at explaining the bad results of. And so, unable to explain why the results are bad, they then start asserting that the people doing them are Bad(TM), full stop. This isn’t to say all conservatives do that, but it’s enough of a pattern to be a pattern. (And there are a few places liberals do the same thing, but nowhere near as often.)Report

  5. Avatar Tod Kelly
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m not entirely sure I get the parallel.

    One situation involves people who believe they recognize that society is making poor choices, but continues to be part of that society while attempting to make changes. The other involves people pretending to not be part of a minority, then attempting to drum up fear and hatred of that minority in order to be given money and power.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I am seeing apples and oranges here.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      One situation involves people who believe they recognize that society is making poor choices, but continues to be part of that society while attempting to make changes.

      That argument works with my buddy who is really concerned about the environment but takes showers longer than he knows he should. It holds less sway when someone isn’t just doing what I do, or is imperfect, but are doing exponentially worse damage to the environment than I could ever conceive of.

      Or put another way, lecturing people about SUV’s is one thing when you’re driving a compact instead of a hybrid or you’re still driving instead of riding a bike… but it’s another thing if you’re lecturing people on SUV’s and you’re riding on private jets to save a few hours and a whole bunch of hassle. Unless you can explain why private jets are so critical to what you do.

      I agree that there are differences between that and the secretly gay demagogue. But they share in common that their status as a messenger is undermined by their actions (even if their actual message isn’t really affected).Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      Well, keep in mind my response. It’s not “THEY OUGHTA” as much as “gigglesnort”.

      And if that example doesn’t move you, perhaps John Kerry’s yacht registration choices will. Please keep in mind: this is a reaction on my part. If you don’t see why someone would see Al Gore’s electric bills being made public in the moments following An Inconvenient Truth being released as, yeah, kinda funny… then, well. You don’t see them as funny. That’s cool. I hope you can see why someone else might giggle.

      It seems to me to be found in the same part of the produce section as the chuckle at the news that the president of the National Organization of Evangelicals (or whatever it was called) was found smoking meth with a gay prostitute.

      If your grocery store ain’t set up that way, it ain’t set up that way. It’s cool.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      Perhaps Gore’s electric bills being released was part of a well funded campaign to stop any action on AGW. Haggard becoming news wasn’t actually part of campaign to destroy Christianity. If Gore was paying extra to use renewable energy would that make him more trustworthy?

      Do people trust Ed Begley Jr more on AGW because of his actions? Somehow i doubt it.

      As an aside since i really don’t know, but how does a persons electric bills get released? Could the news get my electric bills?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Haggard becoming news wasn’t actually part of campaign to destroy Christianity.

        Are you aware that the guy who outed Haggard talked about why he did it? According to The Wiki, “Jones claimed that upon discovering the real identity of the man he knew as “Art” (Haggard’s middle name is Arthur), and finding that Haggard was a major public figure in opposition of gay marriage, the hypocrisy drove him to reveal the situation.”

        As for whether people trust Ed Begley Jr. more, I can only speak for myself when I say: the dude sure lives as if he believes the words that come out of his mouth. Whether I agree with him or disagree, you’ve got to give him that.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        umm yeah the Haggard outer did so because the guy was a hypocrite. He didn’t seem to be trying to destroy Christianity. Meanwhile the anti-do something about AGW movement is actually trying to eliminate any effort to do something about AGW.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, gee, Greg. Does the internet have information from the guy who leaked the information about Al Gore’s house? Did he say why he did it?

        From http://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/feb/28/film.usa2

        “A little-known group based in his home state, the Tennessee Centre for Policy Research, had the idea of looking up Mr Gore’s energy bills for his large home in the Belle Meade area of Nashville to see whether he practised what he preached.”

        and, from a couple paragraphs later:

        “The group released the information on Monday night under the title “Al Gore’s personal energy use is his own inconvenient truth”. Its president, Drew Johnson, told the Guardian that he had no objection to someone spending $30,000 on energy to light and heat a multimillion dollar house. “I only have a problem with that person telling us what light-bulbs to buy and that we should get a new low-energy refrigerator. That’s hypocrisy, and I’m proud to have exposed it,” he said.”Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        This may surprise you Jay, but i didn’t know electric bills were a public record that you could get with a FOIA request. Seems odd to me and i’m not sure why that is okay. Are you okay with anybody being able to get your electric bill if they don’t like your politics.

        The article also noted clearly irrelevant details like he is putting solar panels on house and buys renewable energy credits. Wouldn’t those things count at putting his money where his mouth is. But i know that doesn’t matter.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        [T]he Haggard outer did so because the guy was a hypocrite. He didn’t seem to be trying to destroy Christianity.

        They’re both cases of trying to undermine a messenger of an opposing viewpoint and/or undermine the message by undermining the messenger. This is not, to me, a trivial similarity.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Are you okay with anybody being able to get your electric bill if they don’t like your politics.

        This is the other side of the coin of arguing that his office is in his house. If he’s a public servant and he’s using his house as his office, then that’s something that is publicly available.

        Now if you want to argue that his carbon footprint isn’t any of my business… well. I suppose I’d be willing to listen to your argument.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Well he was a private citizen at that point, wasn’t’ he. I don’t know maybe as an ex-veep that made his records findable under the FOIA.

        When we start to talk about what we put into the environment we can pretty quickly get into big differences abotu jurisdiction which circles back to where you started this sidebar. Lead gas was outlawed, so were CFC’s due to the hole in the ozone. Individualism got sporked in those cases didn’t it, because individual choices were leading to serious problems that affected our commonly shared environment.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        The data was taken from 2005-06, long after Gore left office. I’m not sure why that information is receivable under the FOIA. I’d think that it has something to do with it being an “office building” or something, but I really don’t know. I’m not comfortable with it either way, though I could be convinced it was okay if there is some angle I am not considering.Report

  6. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    I have to agree with Shazbot that this just seems like a way to troll environmentalists and Tod brings up an excellent point as well.

    Also gigglesnort is an awfully juvenile way of viewing the complexities of policy and politics.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      Also gigglesnort is an awfully juvenile way of viewing the complexities of policy and politics.

      I can only plead guilty and hope that the court is mature enough to not drop its duties when it comes to sentencing.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      Despite my comments above, I think that going after messengers rather than messages is rather distracting. This applies to the former senator of New Mexico as much as to a jet-setting environmentalists. What I have difficulty swallowing is the notion that it should be considered completely irrelevant that someone who claims great concern about the environment takes a private jet. That isn’t a knock against the message, really (because most environmentalists don’t do that), but I cannot find it irrelevant when it comes to the messenger. That would also apply to the former senator from New Mexico. Which, try as I might, I don’t see as totally different.Report

      • Avatar Rod in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        I think the difference to me is that AGW isn’t really a matter of personal morality. Rather, it’s the mother of all collective action problems. The actions of any one person, no matter how profligate, are just a drop in the ocean of the carbon footprint of 7+ billions of people. It takes action by groups on the order of major nations to make a discernible difference.

        Furthermore, comparing Mr Gore’s footprint to some average suburban homeowner is ridiculous. He isn’t just another private citizen commuting to work and sitting around picking his nose and watching TV on the weekends.

        It’s like… I’m an environmentalist, too. Don’t you think it would be a little unfair to criticize me on the vehicle I drive for work? Sure, it only gets about seven miles to the gallon but that’s hauling up to 23 tons of freight. Compare that to some yutz hauling his 150 pound ass to work and back in even a hybrid, do the math on a ton-mile basis and get back to me.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Is there any amount of energy consumption you would look at and say “You know what? I don’t think this guy has room to talk to me about my carbon footprint.”

        I don’t think your truck, or your career, harms your standing at all as a messenger of environmentalism. I’ve also mentioned elsewhere that since Gore’s home is also his office, that also cuts him some slack. And if Gore flies around a lot for his job, hey then that’s his job. Where I start getting raw is when they fly around on private jets. I don’t know if Gore does that or not. Some of that is rooted in class resentment, but I just find it really hard to listen to someone talk about my car when they are burning weeks of fuel on a single trip (compared to the fuel they’d be burning by flying on the planes I do).

        I don’t view the distinction between private morality and collective action problem as being a complete deal-changer as you do, especially given that most environmentalists do more than talk about changing laws. It seems rather plain to me that both situations are attempts at undermining a messenger – and possibly the message by extension – by pointing out their personal behavior. Attempts to draw distinctions where it’s completely okay to use someone’s sexual behavior to undermine their views about sexual behavior but wrong to use their energy consumption behavior to undermine their views about energy consumption, or vice-versa, ring pretty hollow.Report

  7. Avatar Wardsmith
    Ignored
    says:

    Hmm my last comment stuck in moderation?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Wardsmith
      Ignored
      says:

      I just checked, couldn’t find anything.Report

    • Avatar Rod in reply to Wardsmith
      Ignored
      says:

      I’ve had problems before with comments disappearing into the ether for no apparent reason.

      Restarting my phone fixed it. Maybe clear your cache or restart your browser? (Android is sorta different about such things)Report

      • Avatar Wardsmith in reply to Rod
        Ignored
        says:

        iPad air here (early christmas present), blame iOS?Report

      • Avatar Rod in reply to Rod
        Ignored
        says:

        Damned if I know. Some weird interaction is my guess.

        I would compose a comment, hit Submit, and… nothing. It wouldn’t show up in “Gifts of Gab” or in the comments. Then I back-buttoned my way to where the combox with my comment was and hit Submit again. That yielded a response from the site saying it was a duplicate comment! So I figured it was a moderation thing despite having no links or anything. I couldn’t even post a short request to have someone check on it for me. Like I said, restarting my phone seemed to fix it but that may have just been a coincidence.Report

  8. Avatar Wardsmith
    Ignored
    says:

    Gore’s house is only 6000 sq ft, don’t know where the 14k came from. My house is also 6000 + sq ft and I have never spent close to what Gore has on energy bills! even though I believe AGW is a bunch of hooey. That Gore is a hypocrite goes without saying.
    More interesting is the new hypocrite du jour and Dr. Turney and Clitanic. The calculation on oil waste on both the boondoggle and rescue is enormous.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Wardsmith
      Ignored
      says:

      How old is your house? If it’s fairly new construction I’d imagine it’s inherently a lot more energy efficient than a house that (it looks to me from the picture) is a century or more old. As a guy renovating an 1875 stick built house, I’m too aware of the energy inefficiency of old houses and the costs of improving them.

      On a more personal note, why a 6,000 square foot house? It’s one of those preferences-other-people-hold-that-I-just-can’t-quite-grasp. Which isn’t to condemn it; I’m just not sure what that preference entails, and I’ve never asked a person with a 6,000 square foot house before.Report

      • Avatar Rod in reply to J@m3z Aitch
        Ignored
        says:

        I’d have a home theater that looked like the bridge from the Enterprise circa STNG. Make it so!Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch
        Ignored
        says:

        I could go for a velodrome. Or an indoor whitewater run, but I think I’d need a minimum of about 10k for that.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to J@m3z Aitch
        Ignored
        says:

        Yeah I don’t get why people need that much house either even if they have large families.

        But I don’t like the craze for ultra small houses either. 1500-2500 square feet seems like a good sized house. 2-4 bedrooms with 2.5 to 4 bathrooms.Report

      • Avatar Wardsmith in reply to J@m3z Aitch
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ve talked about my house before, don’t like how big it is but love the view (and wildlife) that came with. Problem is view lots cost so much they can’t put up a little house and make their money back. It is a percentages game.

        Funny thing I built a pretty cool theater room with Thx stereo system and frankly never use it anymore. Can’t really explain it either.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch
        Ignored
        says:

        So you use less energy than Gore because you have, like, 75% of the house closed off and only use 1500 square feet? 😉

        Just kidding, I hear you. I love a good view, too (not that I actually have one these days, although my tree filled backyard does look very pretty with all the snow).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to J@m3z Aitch
        Ignored
        says:

        In the past five years, energy efficiency of houses has doubled.
        We are getting REALLY REALLY good at building houses right.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Wardsmith
      Ignored
      says:

      That ship’s name needs the hyphen, or it gets confusing.Report

  9. Avatar Jim Heffman
    Ignored
    says:

    If it doesn’t matter that Al Gore uses so much electricity while telling us it’s a moral imperative to use as little as possible, then it shouldn’t matter that CEOs make way more money than regular employees while telling us it’s a moral imperative to pay people what they’re worth.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *