My friend Jon Haidt’s work on the moral foundations of different political views started, I recall, with his work on disgust. This week’s news gave me some personal insight into this feeling that I thought I largely lacked. Having worked as a hospital orderly back in the day, I thought nothing much disgusted me given what I had seen during operations or after road accidents.
But then Cecil the Lion story hit and I realized for the first time, that this action of buying the right to kill and butcher a fine lion by a bloody dentist, disgusted me at a deep level. Though it was no doubt, as others have pointed out, very far from the worst crime of the week it hit home in a very visceral way: “ah this is disgust” I realized.
But then I started reading Daniel Schuman’s interesting, fair, insightful and even sympathetic biography of the Koch Brothers, “Sons of Wichita”. And I found the way this family is, disgusting. Here are three brothers who inherited a fair amount of money and great technical talent they have used to amass much bigger business and personal wealth. And for ideological libertarian reasons, they are now using this wealth to try to destroy the safety nets that provide income in old age, medical care in old age and poverty, unemployment insurance and the whole range of programs that mean the difference between security and anxiety, life and death for millions of Americans. Sociopathically…reckless, indifferent to others pain and manipulative to tick three criteria for sociopaths.
And knowing this destruction isn’t likely to win democratic approval in elections, they are using their wealth to corrupt the whole political system to achieve their sociopathic ends. Buying Presidential candidates willing to carry out their evil bloody project. So like the Cecil killing dentist, the Brothers Koch disgust me at a deep visceral level, and I am not sure I can finish reading the book, though I guess I should to better know our enemy. And so yes the Brothers Koch make me puke. As does Cecil’s killer…