Skepticism of institutions is not the problem; the institutions are the problem

When I first saw this tweet, my immediate reaction was, “You consider this to be a bad thing… why?”

There is nothing inherently bad about wanting to abolish government agencies or wanting to impeach and/or imprison government officials. Whether wanting such things is good or bad depends entirely on whether the agencies or officials have done anything wrong to deserve abolition, impeachment, and/or imprisonment. Yet the author of this tweet is ridiculing Republicans for their wishes with regards to government agencies and officials. And while doing this, he is not even bothering to argue that these government agencies and officials are good, and therefore not deserving of abolition, impeachment, and/or imprisonment. He is simply presuming that wanting to abolish, impeach, and/or imprison government agencies and officials is intrinsically bad. This viewpoint is disturbingly authoritarian. According to Filipkowski, trusting and respecting the government is inherently good, and disliking or criticizing the government is inherently bad. According to Filipkowski, the government is apparently worthy of trust and respect merely by virtue of being the government.

If the FBI, CIA, IRS, and Department of Education are acting wrongly, then they deserve to be abolished. If the President, Vice President, DHS Secretary, and Attorney General are acting wrongly, then they deserve to be impeached. And if the NIH Director is acting wrongly, then he deserves to be put in prison. In my opinion, all of these agencies and officials are, indeed, acting wrongly, and therefore Republicans are correct in wanting their abolishment, impeachment, and imprisonment. Instead of criticizing Republicans in this situation, one must ask what, if anything, government agencies and officials have done to cause people to hold such negative attitudes towards them. One must at least consider the possibility that the government agencies and officials in question are actually to blame for people’s negative evaluations of them, and therefore that the negative evaluations are correct. In my opinion, this is exactly what is the case in this situation.

Below is another example of the illogical and authoritarian attitude that societal institutions are inherently good and inherently worthy of trust and respect:

As you can see, Alex Young has taken it upon himself to ridicule the completely valid and reasonable criticisms that the Firearms Policy Coalition makes of the institutions of the ballot box, jury box, and soapbox. He demonstrates the same type of disturbing authoritarianism as Filipkowski does. By ridiculing the FPC for expressing disillusionment with societal institutions, Young is presuming that societal institutions automatically ought to be treated with reverence, merely by virtue of being institutions. To Young, if someone voices criticism of societal institutions, that reflects badly on said person, and makes them deserving of dismissal and ridicule. Like Filipkowski, he fails to even consider the possibility that it is actually the institutions that are flawed, and that the person making the criticisms is therefore correct in doing so.

In this case, the FPC is indeed correct in pointing out that the ballot box, jury box, and soapbox do not serve as effective “boxes of liberty.” What Young states so flippantly and dismissively is actually true. Indeed, it is a bummer that people’s fundamental rights are subject to majority rule, that the jury box is illusory, and that large corporations have the power to decide what speech is acceptable. These things are actual problems that need to be taken seriously, and it is both despicable and bizarre that someone would react to a problematic situation not by criticizing it, but by criticizing (particularly in such a flippant and dismissive tone) the organization that is pointing out the problem. Young needs to acknowledge that what is going on in our society actually is a bummer, to put it lightly. Instead of flippantly dismissing the FPC’s observations and ridiculing the organization for making them, Young should be praising the FPC for drawing attention to real and important problems with our government and society.