But, but…

Victor Davis Hanson is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it any more. He offers us another entry in the genre of “weasel-word” complaints. In this installment, he fusses over arguments that employ the conjunction “but,” which to him signals weaseldom but for the learned often signals a proper understanding of the complexity of human interaction. Hanson says:

The current proliferation of these words reflects the popularity of equivocation, of covering all bets. Or maybe it is deeper–proof of an insidious relativism that now infects our thinking generally. There must be various explanations why so many of us cannot flat-out distinguish between right and wrong, smart and dumb, evil and good, or stasis and action–period.

This rant would be a lot more useful, even entertaining, if his long list of examples had been actual quotes instead of a legion of straw men. But, then, dealing with actual quotes would have meant dealing with actual (complicated, contextualized) thought.

I am not attacking his ultimate point, which I take to be that he’s upset that some people don’t see the world objectively or “as it is.” This argument among the various POVs has been going on for at least 2,500 years and will continue, as a student of mine recently put it, “as long as man exists finitely.”