Tenderness leads to the gas chambers – again

Tenderness leads to the gas chambers – again

Fr Longenecker offers an modern example for one of Flannery O’Conner’s most famous quotes.

Flannery O’Connor’s is famous for saying “tenderness leads to the gas chambers”. It was borrowed by Walker Percy in his novel The Thanatos Syndrome, but what did O’Connor mean?

The plot of Percy’s book involves a group of well meaning scientists who discover a drug that makes everyone happy. It calms people down, eradicates their stress and guilt. The results are terrifying and hilarious. The local community begins to disintegrate into crimes of passion, but no one really cares because everyone is “happy.” This idea is even played out as a completely unrelated recent horror game called We Happy Few.

Both O’Connor and Percy are not opposed to well meaning tenderness per se. They are opposed to tenderness or compassion as the only virtue. It appears today that anyone that dares to make a statement that is critical of anyone else – then that person who has made the observation, stated an opinion or even simply stated facts–will be excoriated, vilified, cancelled and censored by the thought police.

When the tenderness police take these steps they do so with a terrifying self righteousness. The gas chambers are operated by people who believe they are doing something good. They are ridding the earth of the unworthy–those who dare to not be tender enough. If you think this is an exaggeration ask yourself about the attitude of those who already censor, use emotional blackmail and attempt to silence and exclude those who are deemed incorrect. Do they not go about their campaign with their heads held high–confident in the righteousness of their cause and confident also in their own superior virtue?

What happened to the old adage: live and let live, or respect different opinions, or using reasoned data based debate and arguments to decide the best ideas (instead of emotional appeals and the use of logical fallacies)? I guess that’s where the phrase “Evil preaches tolerance until it becomes dominant – then it silences good”

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