When should one give up on trying to reason with the unreasonable?

When should one give up on trying to reason with the unreasonable?

Recently, The New York Times had a piece which asked the question of whether there is something wrong with democracy throughout the world? Countries with democratic forms of government have been sliding toward authoritarianism. Even in places once thought “stable” have seen the institutions thought to be the protectors of liberty and freedom be undermined, with significant portions of the population losing faith in the threads which bind the society together. In Plato’s Republic, the ancient philosopher considers democracy to be one of the worst forms of government. In his view, democracy eventually devolves into an anarchy of freedom, with segments of the populace pursuing selfish ends instead of the common good,  governance by fools and eventually giving rise to the worst form of government: tyranny.

Given the polarization of politics, we live in a country where the major ideologies can’t seem to agree the sky is blue or water is wet, so both sides live and believe in their own versions of reality that dictate reactions to “facts.” It is in this unyielding inability of some to accept two and two make four which has created the current situation we experience. The idiots who sit on TV and the morons who write opinion columns will decry the lack of bipartisanship and blame “both sides.” But what is the virtue of finding common ground with stupid people who can’t find the switch to turn their brains on? What is the virtue of reaching compromise with people who think two and two equal five, to make an agreement saying two plus two is four and a half?

At the end of the day, it’s still shit.

This got me to thinking about the point of no return in any conversation, relationship or societal bond. At what point is it just too much to continue trying to reason with people who can’t be reasoned with, and have no desire to have a reasonable discussion? The most prominent conservatives and Republicans, just like their base, don’t want to compromise. They don’t care about what we think, because we’re liberal baby killers and sexual “deviants” who are going to hell anyway. So why shouldn’t we recognize the other side for what they are? Call stupid stupid and instead of going through the motions of good government bullshit with the non-right non-honorable non-gentlemen, just treat them out of the same hand in the way they treat others, giving no quarter if and when power is retaken, instead of trying to have a dialogue.  

And, overall, the situation reminds me of trying to have a reasonable discussion with trolls when it comes to entertainment and media, where the arguments are over subjective bullshit and there’s no way to cut through it beyond ignoring the stupidity. Two of the biggest franchises in science fiction, Star Wars and Star Trek, have recently gone through fan backlashes against what segments of their bases who see changes and differences in form as a betrayal of the material’s legacy. While there are criticisms to be made and an argument to be had, sometimes the hate boils down to wasted time trying to shine light for people who refuse to see.

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