I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. I’d say I’m your average-smarts kinda girl. No super genius by any means. So, how come I understand that not only is virtue signaling not virtuous, as explained in part 1 of this series, but that it’s also downright dangerous?
Really, clear-thinking people need to smash this repellent practice when they see it by unapologetically confronting the negative signalers and their grievous deeds. Virtue signaling must become socially unacceptable if we are to hold on to the fruits of our civilization.
Let’s retain logos in order to smash the current chaos under which we live. The veil of ignorance must be thrown off.
One of the reasons virtue signaling is so sinister is due to its sheer simplicity. It’s easy to conform. It’s easy to echo popular opinion. And since when was anything that was worthwhile and noble easy?
“Our culture replaces ‘goodness’ as the summit of virtues with ‘tolerance’ — a tolerance always subject to the whims of fashion and standing within a world which knows no unchanging moral compass,” writes Father Lawrence Farley.
“Those whims might dictate almost anything. One season eating meat is declared unethical, and the next the wearing of fur. But apart from these arbitrary declarations of fashion, pretty much everything is tolerated — except, paradoxically, true goodness.”
“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”
— G.K. Chesterton
Seeking truth is hard, putting in the effort to uncover it is even harder, and then championing it is the hardest of all. Fighting against deception and for principle has always had high costs, and virtue signaling only intensifies the risks.
Virtue signaling is lazy and emotional. It relies on people consuming status-quo soundbites of misinformation and regurgitating them in a self-congratulatory manner. It discourages research and deep introspection. Why do your homework if making hysterical proclamations and giving histrionic ultimatums can propel you among the saints?
“The activist ethos” and its bastard cousin virtue signaling are “an abdication of responsibility with the mask of social virtue,” remarks psychologist Jordan Peterson. Recklessness cloaked as altruism should not be celebrated nor condoned by civilized people.
It’s effortless to go off on nice people who question the popular narrative. People of good faith who want to engage and debate. Mannerly people who believe you should know what you’re talking about before you engage in the marketplace of ideas. Decent folk who abhor sophistry and high-time preference.
And it’s even easier to pile on against the detestable du jour. Punch a Nazi, right?
Journalist H.L. Mencken once said, “The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”
Yes, advancing liberty often requires you to advocate for those the totalitarian mob discredits as “untouchable,” some of whom may even stand in opposition to particulars of your own belief system. But these days, nearly anyone can become a social pariah if he doesn’t fully ascribe to the tenets of political correctness.
“Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred.”
— Jacques Barzun
Legit bad dude or not, a person who challenges the precepts, the data, the intentions, the logic, the tactics, the conclusion, or the remedy for whatever is the supposed ill or injustice is immediately maligned and marginalized as an ill-redemptive sinner, not worthy of human dignity, much less freedom of conscience.
Denounce or be deemed a scoundrel. Applaud the shallow public pronouncements or become a pariah. Bear false witness or be castigated a hater. Post, like, and share inflammatory and “contextualized” Tweets, or be called a racist. White supremacists use nuance and all the cool kids gaslight, don’t ya know?
Virtue signaling encourages this charade. The purveyors of “acceptable opinion” who run academic, corporate, media, and government institutions invent fallacies that perpetuate progressivism. By pushing false narratives completely void of real context and fact, lies become “truth” and legitimate truth becomes intolerable.
It’s like a secular progressive version of Islam’s doctrine of taqiyya: lie to gain trust, advance your cause, and then smash the enemy. It emboldens the unfolding of deception in the public square, in the workplace, in education, and in lawmaking. It’s malevolence masquerading as benevolence, and it’s not nice.
“Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated are confident they are acting on their own free will.”
— Joseph Goebbels
The loud and knee-jerk virtue signalers serve as the propaganda foot soldiers of statism. They drown out counter voices and help to create the illusion that dissent or even any modicum of evaluation on the purported societal good is outrageous. Unthinkable. Hateful.
Virtue signaling is a poisonous paradigm that doesn’t require mass public approval, but rather only requires mass public passivity. It’s a sick social regimentation, exalting group-think and the hive-mind of leftist identity politics over the individual, civilized behavior, and common damn sense.
It promotes a culture that positively reinforces the sophists, and negatively reinforces those who use reason, research, data, and dialog. But virtue signaling is not just morally tone deaf and intellectually comprising, it’s also physically and spiritually menacing.
“I hate silence, when it is time to speak.”
— Saint Kassiani
By twisting words, holding language hostage, and creating an atmosphere of trepidation among citizens, virtue signaling impedes the free and open exchange of ideas. In other words, it normalizes censorship.
And not just the kind in which people are legislated or coerced in the workplace or on campus into silence. “Speech codes,” “hate speech,” and “mandatory diversity and sensitivity” training are dire enough.
Virtue signaling and the climate of intolerant “tolerance” it undergirds often scare people into self-censoring. Some people go so far as to actively work against their self-interest. You see it all the time, do-gooders conceding for the sake of “unity” and “healing,” yet propping up the very ideas that increase division and spread lies.
For instance, the R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington, Va., recently stripped Lee from its name. In an effort to not be “misunderstood” or “divisive,” they caved to the mob, although church leaders admire Lee as a reconciler and a man of honor. So unprincipled and weak. Sounds a lot more like vice than virtue to me.
By limiting ideas and impeding critical thinking, sophistry creates a kind of “rhetorical paralysis,” as philosopher Stefan Molyneux stated in an interview about his book, “The Art of the Argument.” While discourse is supposed to improve culture and “catapult society through darkness and into light,” censorship casts a lifeless shadow on truth.
Humans possess the God-given ability and yearning to learn (grammar), contemplate (logic), and discuss (rhetoric). In classical education, this is known as the Trivium. And when you deny people that natural inclination, disastrous things can happen. Like Molyneux says, “You just can’t get beauty with discordant notes.”
“A society in which provocative speech could be punished would be a society without controversial politics, or art, or ideas.”
— Ben Wizner, ACLU director
It’s telling that the people who scream about “progress,” “reform,” “change,” and “moving forward” are the same ones who retard society by undercutting the very thing that defines civilization: “our willingness and ability to use words instead of fists,” explained Molyneux. And “in the absence of reason, violence rules.”
Civility is under attack. Dishonest signalers use selfish and gratuitous displays of post-modern piety to subvert the entire population by buttressing the state and the mob’s anarcho-tyranny. Add the irrational activists (who believe speech is violence) with government (which is force), and that’s bad news for a free and prosperous people.
Indeed, free expression is often used as the pretext for the PC oppressors’ brutal tactics. They can promote Soviet communism, raise Antifa flags at city hall, assault people in the streets, lawlessly topple statues, even attack cops all without resistance. I like to call it #MarxistPrivilege, and it is by design.
“Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.”
— Psalm 73:16
They have faux-PTSD conniptions over trolled-up grievances, like alleged “fashy” haircuts, “Nazi” hand gestures, white-supremacist frogs, and racist “It’s okay to be white” signs. And when they’re not being duped and shown to be fools by 4chan and /pol/, they’ll just fabricate bogus “hate crimes” as a way to try to silence non-leftists.
“But one girl died in Charlottesville,” they angrily retort, red-faced and bulging-eyed. Yet they ignore (with the mainstream media’s help) two-plus years of Antifa and BLM violence, shootings at the Family Research Council, the Republican softball practice, and a church in Tennessee.
Now apparently libertarian senators are being assaulted at their homes. Hell, the Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs are still in “motives unknown” mode,” which most likely means the shooters were good comrades carrying out Marxism to its terminal end: death of innocents. The lunatics are running the asylum, and I want out.
Virtue signaling upholds an environment that roundly assaults people’s freedom of conscience. This platform denial to citizens who wish to air their beliefs, question the status quo, and debate important issues of the day will have negative consequences for everyone. There is no “safe space” in which to hide from truth.
“Truth crushed to earth is truth still and like a seed will rise again.”
— Jefferson Davis
Let’s work together to make discourse celebrated and safe again. Let’s galvanize around truth, and shed ourselves of this perilous parroting of propaganda.
Virtue signaling not only has its unwitting adherents, but it also has its defenders, who claim that people critical of the collectivist practice are the ones hijacking public discourse and that “such cynicism is dangerous.” This progressive is half right.
Challenging a practice that bolsters lies is dangerous for the liars. Fighting a system that encourages censorship is dangerous for the censors. Resisting an ritual that foments hate and violence is dangerous for the violent haters. Using the Trivium increases virtue and supports civilization, so yes, it’s dangerous for the cult of incivility.
“You have to push as hard as the age that pushes against you.”
— Flannery O’Connor
As Robert E. Lee wrote in a letter to his son, “Hold on to your purity and virtue. They will proudly sustain you in all the trials and difficulties, and cheer you on in every calamity.” And that, my friends, is some advice worth taking and a battle worth fighting. Virtue is good, virtue signaling is bad, m’kay?