Creative misanthropy

Are you “deplorable” gentle reader? I know I am. The estimate that half of Republican voters are deplorable strikes me as low. I would think nearer 75 percent would be more reasonable. I would put the deplorables at around 80 percent for the Democratic Party. In both cases, about 20 percent are excused by the usual Pareto distribution: too spacey to know what they are doing, and thus “not deplorable” on a technicality.

But then, as that logician, Bill Clinton would point out: it depends what we mean by “deplorable.” I tend to fall back on the dictionary definition, founded upon plorare (something like “wail, bewail, lament”), prefixed with the Latin (or Gaelic) preposition for “down,” in the sense of “going down” — to the bottom, into the dregs. One might imagine a stream or spillway, with six inches of muddy water, flowing over several feet of immovable sediment.

“You know, just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic  — you name it.” By Mrs Clinton’s account, if one continues reading, the other half are merely losers, with whom she could potentially empathize.

A quick Internet check reveals that there is now a word, “generalistic.” The comparatives are, “more generalistic,” and, “most generalistic.” I would think it is a recent coinage, and I would add, most deplorable.

Is she — could we say? — “judgemental”? That is not for me to judge.

But I would think so. Speaking only for myself, I love bandying about numbers and proportions, especially those I have invented for the purposes of argument in a public bar. (“As studies have shown, 73.7 percent of statistics are made up on the spot.”) The economist Hayek once complimented the economist Keynes for being “always willing to guess at a figure.” There was some sarcasm in his observation, however. (Hayek was notoriously prim with statistics.)

A less judgemental view would post an estimate of 100 percent for deplorables in all parties, where the survey has omitted Our Lord — who, anyway, never voted. (Should we not follow His example?) But humanly, I don’t think it would be wise to consider everyone as equally deplorable, in view of our need to put some people in gaol. (Mrs Clinton, for instance.)

Wise, wiser, wisest: to my mind, it would perhaps be better, in the Natted States Merica as elsewhere, to let more things pass. It is probably true that most people are racially prejudiced (minorities are the worst), misogynist (especially the women), and “phobic” or fearful of pretty much everything. I know I am; and moreover, extremely unsystematic.

I try to take people one at a time. This is hard enough: in the mass, I find they are just too much for me.