So I went to the chiropractor’s office this morning and played with his dog Spot, a charming little Lhaso Apso, while I waited. (I’m very grateful that he agreed to let me pay him after I get my settlement.) When he came in the room, he handed me a photocopy of a column about Michael Vick, and how people shouldn’t forget what he did to dogs.
I told him I certainly understood why he felt that way, but that I didn’t agree. I said it was my understanding that animal abusers had usually been abused or neglected themselves, that Vick had done a lot to rehabilitate himself, that Eagles owner Jeff Lurie and his wife were huge animal lovers and talked to Vick for several hours before deciding his regrets were sincere. I told him I preferred to wait and see if he was as changed as he appeared to be.
This segued into a discussion about rehabilitation, how the politics prevented DAs from funding programs that worked because voters seemed to prefer the “lock them up and throw away the key” philosophy.
I think it was at this point that he proudly proclaimed himself “an independent. I just stand on the sidelines and observe.” I was lying on the mechanical massage table at this point, but I still had enough breath to tell him he was kidding himself.
“Look, if you watch a baseball game but you don’t know anything about the strategy, you can figure out that the point of the game is to hit the ball and run the bases,” I said. “But you won’t really know what’s going on if you’re not informed, if you don’t know how to interpret the different levels at which the game is played.
“It’s the same with politics. I read this crap all the time, and it just drives me nuts when people who are not very well informed act as if their opinions are equivalent to my facts.”
Ah, he said. But the people who opposed me felt the same way about their facts.
“No, that’s absolutely not true. That’s a false equivalency, because they’re not usually dealing with facts. They have opinions based on their emotions, and then try to justify them. My opinions are based on actual information,” I said. “I weigh things, I analyze them. When you’re talking to someone who quotes Fox News, Newsmax, or right wing websites, those aren’t facts. That’s propaganda. When someone insists that the president is a Kenyan, and not an American, that’s just crazy.”
He said he just figured even if Obama wasn’t born here, his kids were, and he would want to make the country better for his kids. (Which means he wasn’t informed enough to know how insane that accusation is.)
I reminded him that regular doctors had pretty strong opinions about chiropractic medicine that they firmly believed were grounded in fact. “When someone refuses to educate themselves with the facts, but insists he knows the truth, that person’s opinions are not equal to yours,” I said.
He admitted that it “made him crazy” when people did that about his specialty.
“Then you have to understand: I have a large body of knowledge, grounded in specific types of experiences, I read more than any human being should in one day — which is why my neck and shoulders are so screwed up — and I have enough understanding to interpret it,” I said.
“I also have a pretty long track record of being right. So while someone may have opinions, it is unlikely it’s grounded in anything like the same depth. I’ve spent much of my life feeling apologetic about being smarter and more perceptive than most people, and I’m just not doing it anymore.”
So then he asked me about the Catfood Commission report, and whether I thought they were really going to get rid of the mortgage interest deduction — because he was looking at houses.
“No, that’s just to make the other stuff seem reasonable,” I said. “They’re really using this as cover to go after Social Security.” That was when I explained to him it was in his economic self-interest to support social programs like unemployment benefits.
“I promise you this: If things go on the way they’re going, we’ll end up like Brazil: The people with money in armed, gated communities, and poor people kidnapping them and holding them for ransom.”
“Really? That’s what Brazil is like?” he said.
Yep, I said. And we’re well on our way if this keeps up.