You can’t just judge people that easily, I commented, stuck in rainy traffic on the M25 north of Heathrow. The car speaker crackled and cut but I could just hear my friend make their point; a single, well-chosen question could tell you a lot about someone’s outlook and character.
What question would you choose to ask?
Five words to describe Sarah Palin.
The way that someone aligns themselves with or against an extreme personality like hers would, inn fact, reveal a lot about their political and social views. An answer like “She’s just what we need,” predicts opinions on a lot of other issues.
It wouldn’t necessarily rule anyone out as a friend, but agreement would certainly raise a yellow flag. (unless, of course, I was in a mood to push a few buttons to liven the evening).
And I do have very close friends with conservative views who think Ms. Palin is just fine, thank you. I’m otherwise very fond of them, but I’ve needed to put some topics off-limits. Otherwise, the subsequent conversation goes “Our intelligent friends hate Obama. You’re intelligent. Why don’t you hate Obama?’
Before you know it, I have to be >Tightly Smiley<.
As a filter, then, the choice of Ms. Palin may work for some and not for others. “Does that extend to objectionable racial, misogynistic, homophobic views?” No. Alignment with, for example, Geert Wilders would be a ‘walk-away-now’ offense for me. Ms. Palin skirts that line, but I take the point that the question should be tailored to suit individual tastes.
These interpretations only filter outlooks, though, and I really need a test that gets closer to character. It’s here that Ms. Palin may be the better choice. She is, as a person, cruelly intolerant of people who don’t share her views. Her insults are straight out of junior high-school social circles: there was always someone, backed by a giggling chorus, who made sure that everyone knew exactly who was socially worthless and explicitly why.
So, my five word reflect character rather than politics:
Loath her sarcastic simplistic mouth.
Anyone who finds her personally inspiring or high-fives her put-downs, likely has severely attenuated genes for empathy and compassion.
I would run, not walk, to meet a different face at the party.
We wrapped the the conversation as I pulled off the M25 with the latest car-load of household goods to drop off. I’ve recently lost some confidence in my ability to gauge people’s character, failures at building judgments based on first hand interactions through conversations and activities. A simple filter that works more quickly and sensitively would definitely be nice.
‘Probably impossible … but definitely nice.