Ed West Ed West

Writers tend to the Left because they have imagination, not compassion

I apologise for writing a blogpost about a tweet, which can look a bit like over-analysis, but I was intrigued by a couple of things that writer Graham Linehan wrote last week.

He was responding to some complaints about bias on the BBC, and as Linehan has written some brilliant television comedy, his opinion is listened to.

Our minds naturally respond in a hostile way to views we find opposed to ours, which is why I highly recommend Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind to anyone who strongly agrees, or disagrees, with Linehan’s statement (and Linehan himself, if he’s reading). Haidt, a liberal, found that people on the Left tend to have a very poor understanding of what their political opponents actually believed in, far poorer than their opponents’ understanding of them.

Conservatives did not lack compassion, he found, but had a wider array of ‘moral flavours’, some of which were not shared by the Left. (In fact studies in the US show that conservatives give more of their money to good causes than liberals, but I suppose that could reflect their attitude to the state, and I don’t know how else one might measure it – by blood donations?) If conservatives have any personality failing, it is a stronger sense of fear.

But Linehan’s view is fairly common, because people on the Left tend to stereotype conservatives.

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