Are conservatives more likely to be offended?

Whilst reading This article, I came to realise that it fits so well with the observed behaviour I see from conservative commenters no matter where I go on the web: they seem bitter, and seem to have huge chips on their shoulders, wailing with righteous anger whenever it wobbles even a tiny bit. So is it true here on the Boing Boing BBS as well?

Based upon comments made by @Salgak and others, I would speculate the answer is “yes”. (Here from Prison Profiteers: extracting billions by exploiting prisoners and their families) a prime example of the umbrage they show:

And still, all I see is name-calling. How about we debate positions, show references, cite facts ??

No, they’re not. They don’t give a damn.

They fake it, and manipulate emotions to get their way. This is my test for a true conservative. They’re not conservative in their expenditure of emotional energy to manipulate others.

Thanks for linking that article! I liked the last paragraph best, but the whole thing was interesting - although very short on facts that would allow independent evaluation of the study author’s interpretation. I hope to read more about it.

On bOINGbOING, whenever I’ve equally insulted so-called “liberals” and “conservatives” in the same sentence, one hundred percent of the time it has been the liberals who have taken offense.

For example, under my disqus userid I several times said things along the lines of “why can’t the occutards and teabaggers just get along?” and got flamed heartily - not for the sentiment, but for insulting the politically ineffectual Occupy movement! How dare I be so politically incorrect and… uh… politically incorrect!

I admit I did it for the lulz. But I honestly did try to make valid points, and also I honestly expected to offend both sides equally.

Are you sure you’re not testing for Scotsmen?


Doesn’t the very word “conservative” imply that one is likely to be upset at any deviation from the status quo?


Well, yes, but if we actually cared about the etymology of the labels we use for our primitive monkey cliques, we’d say:

Conservatives are unwilling to stop using methods that work, even if some other method might work much better. Knowledge of traditional systems, and conservation of resources (especially non-renewable resources) is their hallmark.

Liberals are always willing to try new ideas to solve old problems, even if some people are already being well served by old solutions. Innovation and free thought, and a certain disrespect for (and ignorance of) tradition, is their hallmark.

Note how these two are not diametrically opposed, and thus could conceivably form a working consensus far more functional than either one alone. But obviously, we can’t have that - modern politics is merely a systematic organization of hatreds (quoting Bronowski, I think, or maybe Maslow) to keep the plebs at each other’s throats, and the characteristics and positions of the labeled groups shift daily to serve the needs of the powerful.

Edit: Whoops! “Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, had always been the systematic organization of hatreds, and Massachusetts politics had been as harsh as the climate.” – Adams, The Education of Henry Adams

Haidt argues, in he and his collaborator’s “Moral foundations theory” that the answer is something close to ‘yes’.

They posit 6 axes, and he suggests that ‘liberals’ (and liberal theories of society, social policy, etc.) are based on an emphasis on three of them, while more conservative outlooks result from a greater emphasis on the axes that liberals are unconcerned with.

I don’t know what he makes of things like the fact that ‘libertarians’ and ‘liberals’ are both in favor of ‘fairness’; but mean totally different things by it, or why he describes conservatism as including all six, rather than considering flavors of conservatism based on fewer than that (or where one of the values is considered salient; but inverted, as in fascism’s enthusiasm for crushing the weak). It also isn’t clear how these axes interact with ingroup/outgroup scopes (Is, say, a liberal actually less in-group centric and hostile to outgroups than a conservative, or is the liberal no more ‘tolerant’ of things that he genuinely considers alien; but just can’t even understand why people would get worked up about homosexuals and hispanics or something.)

On the whole, I’m dubiously convinced (but I’m also not a social psychologist, and working from a tiny data set consisting mostly of anecdotes and my own opinions); but Hait struck me as a salient character in that he essentially does say that conservatives offend more easily(since they’ve got three axes you can tweak that a liberal would barely notice); but his treatment is not primarily troglodyte sniping, which is fun but distracting.


That is going to take some digesting. Thanks for the seed!

It does indeed. But that is the double-layer camouflage.

They’ll change anything at all for profit, but scorn with ‘conservatism’ anything that damages their interests.

I read somewhere years ago that the main measurable difference between cons and libs is that cons consider “loyalty” to be a virtue in itself and libs do not.

[There will be no citations here]

What I have seen lately, at least, is that cons are consumed by “the principle” while libs are consumed by “make it work, damn it.” Cons will bring everything to a halt based on a principle without regard for the real cost. We used to call people like that idealists, but I can’t make that leap in this case. The libs are left trying to craft a functional government without the support or real help of their conservative brethren.

If I were a born conservative I would be furious at these bozos for their fascination with their navels at the expense of everyone else. Right now the right is ruled by narcissistic madmen.

And yes, narcissists do get offended easily, but it is a strategy, not real emotion.

I disagree with your contention that the saintly yet unprincipled liberals had no part in breaking US governance and have no ideological sticking points. However I will wholly agree with your last two sentences, without reservations of any sort.

On the other claw, I consider loyalty to be a virtue… :slight_smile: and can’t fathom the mind of anyone who wouldn’t agree with that.

Edit: If that sounds like I’m trying to make this conversation completely about me, well, is anyone else going to stick up for conservatives? Because I can only really speak for myself, and I find the current leadership of the US Republican Party to be both appalling and fundamentally not conservative. They are pro-corporation radicals and further left than the Dems, they are practically anarchists at this point.

1 Like

I feel the opposite, sort of. Loyalty is something that should be quickly dispensed with when proof comes in that you have been wrong in your judgement of someone or something. I get the feeling conservatives hang on to bad ideas long past their expiry.


But acknowledge bias there. It would be great if we could work together. One can almost see the point even in this little exchange. :wink:

Hmmm… loyalty isn’t slavery or blindness or refusing to admit a mistake.

Loyalty works like this. If someone accuses your friend of a crime, and your friend says he didn’t do it, you have a choice. You can believe a possibly true accusation, and end up betraying a friend if the accusation turns out to be false, or you can choose to believe in your friend, and be betrayed by him if the accusation turns out to have been true.

A loyal person will take the possible bad outcome (be betrayed by a friend) on himself. A disloyal person will put the possible bad outcome on their (so-called) friend’s head.

I’m not sure humans can really be “loyal” to an idea or ideal - it seems to me something that is extended to another person or group, and not really to abstract ideologies. But even if you can, people who cling to disproven ideologies still aren’t “loyal” - I’d call them “brainwashed” or “fanatical”, personally.

I think this could be an interesting topic on its own, without singling out an individual commentor by name at the start as a “troll.”

I guess that ship’s already left, though…

1 Like

The headline could be restated as “Are liberals more likely to be infuriating?”


And which name, pray tell, did I call you? My mentioning you by name was to invite you to state your position, yet you take umbrage.


I believe you called him, conservative, seemingly bitter, and seeming to have a huge chip on his shoulder, wailing with righteous anger whenever it wobbles even a tiny bit.

At least that’s how I parsed it. Not very complimentary really, especially in context. I’d take umbrage too. Or maybe an umbrella, if it was raining.


True, that’s why I often use the term “authoritarian”. Oh, and I notice that the reply mask still has bugs when you switch orientation on an iOS device, otherwise the BBS looks good on an iPhone.