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Let's talk about the (mostly) false idea of "purity tests"

Dec 24, 2017
6,248
#1
Something you see both here and elsewhere on the internet often is the decrying of "purity tests". Generally, the term refers to some sort of behavior or stance an individual or group takes, and other individuals not being happy with it in some fashion and making that fact known.

Now, I'm not going to say it isn't ever ever a thing, or that sometimes it can't be counter-intuitive to people's ultimate goals, it very well could be. The troubling thing that I see though is when the expectation of very basic good behavior or ideals is defined as a "purity test". Not being racist, or sexist, or homophobic, respecting people, these are all basic things that we should all aspire to live up to and build our society around. Especially so in the political realm, where so many candidates have troubling baggage, it makes sense to hold people accountable for their words and actions, and to expect them to show the desire and effort to acknowledge whatever they did that was wrong and to change and learn from it moving forward.

I feel like what some people may think of as a "purity test", what it really is a lot of the time is a matter of accountability. For a long time, for most of the history of this country including the present day, it has been hard to hold people accountable for their actions or words. With the rise of the internet and social media, we are now more easily able to discuss both among ourselves and directly to the people in power or public figures when something is happening that is harmful. Generally, I believe that is a good thing and is one step to helping us progress as a society, and sometimes I feel like the backlash to "purity tests" are from people who are afraid of that, due to the likelihood of them being on the "wrong end" of the "mob".

So, Era, what is your input on this topic? Do you share my belief that the complaints about purity tests are misguided, or do you think they represent a real problem worthy of complaining about?
 
Oct 28, 2017
6,870
#3
I don't think they're a bad thing.
I feel the same way. We all use purity tests in making our choices for candidates. Even if it is something as basic as not voting GOP because they don’t represent your views at all, that is still a purity test.

Purity testing, the way it usually is used here on Era, is only in one direction. I’ve rarely seen leftists accuse others of being purity testers. Same for calls of unity. Always in one direction. Because, ultimately, the ones using these terms want their candidate or policy to be supported and nothing else.

It’s the same when people say “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” in regards to politics sometimes. I saw it said in one of the Ilhan threads. People were criticizing a more moderate politician, possibly Pelosi, and someone barged in to tell everyone to not let perfect be the enemy of good as if defending a black Muslim woman from islamophobic attacks is perfect.
 
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RedMercury
Dec 24, 2017
6,248
#4
Purity testing, the way it usually is used here on Era, is only in one direction. I’ve rarely seen leftists accuse others of being purity testers. Same for calls of unity. Always in one direction. Because, ultimately, the ones using these terms want their candidate or policy to be supported and nothing else.
I agree with this
It’s the same when people say “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” in regards to politics sometimes. I saw it said in one of the Ilhan threads. People were criticizing a more moderate politician, possibly Pelosi, and someone barged in to tell everyone to not let perfect be the enemy of good as if defending a black Muslim woman from islamophobic attacks is perfect.
And this as well.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,739
#8
I see it used here most when people are annoyed about how other users come into a thread about some great accomplishment for the sole purpose of derailing it by bringing up something negative about the subject.
 
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RedMercury
Dec 24, 2017
6,248
#9
I see it used here most when people are annoyed about how other users come into a thread about some great accomplishment for the sole reason of derailing it by bringing up something negative about the subject.
Ah, you're talking about Tiger Woods. This thread is not about that, but my response to that would be that those people are just as entitled to their opinion as you are to yours, and that if every negative or critical mention of an individual (or positive mentions in a generally negative thread) were to count as a "derail", there would be very few threads or topics here.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,739
#10
Ah, you're talking about Tiger Woods. This thread is not about that, but my response to that would be that those people are just as entitled to their opinion as you are to yours, and that if every negative or critical mention of an individual (or positive mentions in a generally negative thread) were to count as a "derail", there would be very few threads or topics here.
Ah I just mentioned it cause those instances are where I see that phrase thrown around the most.
 
Dec 22, 2018
130
#11
I’m opposed to purity tests to the extent they can divide an otherwise unified group of like-minded people (whom I agree with), or to the point they can lead to polarization and gridlock. Obviously I like purity tests when they divide the competition and/ or alienate extremists.

As for political candidates, there’s nothing wrong with purity tests if you’re looking for ideological consistency and accountability. Purity tests really only become a problem in this context when your test is so rigorous you end up disqualifying every viable candidate. I think a lot if third party voters in the U.S. where we don’t have a consensus democracy are “purity testers” and . . . well . . . it’s pretty obvious where that’s gotten them.
 
Oct 27, 2017
483
#12
""purity tests"" are not only good but everyone has them. In the same way basically everyone here would turn their nose away from a candidate who was iffy on LGBT rights or abortion issues, I want a candidate that stands unapologetically for things like single payer healthcare and won't support a candidate in a primary who opposes that. It's no less a 'purity test' when the standard is applied to economic concerns as it is when ordinarily applied to social issues.
 
Oct 25, 2017
844
#13
i'll just say that in a world where many of our thoughts and actions are catalogued in some way, and may be brought up and used to our detriment in the future, people need to learn to be more forgiving. you've all probably done pretty bad things in your past that you either can't or don't care to remember.
 
Apr 9, 2019
136
CLT
#16
i'll just say that in a world where many of our thoughts and actions are catalogued in some way, and may be brought up and used to our detriment in the future, people need to learn to be more forgiving. you've all probably done pretty bad things in your past that you either can't or don't care to remember.
Seconded, although I'm not opposed to purity tests to some extent when it comes to those serving in the public sphere. We can see this with activist communities "cancelling" people and marginalizing their own for what amounts to teachable mistakes.
 
Mar 18, 2018
3,292
#19
Purity test is often used as a short hand alt-right speaking point or strawman, but at the same time we can't pretend that a lot of people even here dont have some pretty ridiculous expectations of even ordinary people who generally avoid politics.

Things like refusing to ever vote for anyone but some minor hard left party because Dems or Labour or whoever ever said something middle of the line or whatever.
 
Oct 28, 2017
6,870
#20
Purity test is often used as a short hand alt-right speaking point or strawman, but at the same time we can't pretend that a lot of people even here dont have some pretty ridiculous expectations of even ordinary people who generally avoid politics.

Things like refusing to ever vote for anyone but some minor hard left party because Dems or Labour or whoever ever said something middle of the line or whatever.
Might be ridiculous to you, but to them it’s not. Instead of engaging with them, people are dismissive and combative. What does that accomplish?
 
Mar 18, 2018
3,292
#21
Might be ridiculous to you, but to them it’s not. Instead of engaging with them, people are dismissive and combative. What does that accomplish?
I am not being dismissive or combative. I am talking about people who are dismissive and combative with anyone who isn't 100% on their level.
 
Oct 28, 2017
6,870
#22
I am not being dismissive or combative. I am talking about people who are dismissive and combative with anyone who isn't 100% on their level.
I wasn’t saying you were, but I’ve seen many others.

And some people hold different values than others, sometimes drastically different.
 
Mar 18, 2018
3,292
#23
I wasn’t saying you were, but I’ve seen many others.

And some people hold different values than others, sometimes drastically different.
Ofcourse.

But as an example of what I was on about, we had a thing on the dating thread were a poster described how they were put off by a woman whose father was a police officer and argued with her that "all cops are bastards", telling her how most cops are domestically abusive.

That ain't a reasonable way to view other humans.
 
Oct 26, 2017
5,754
#24
I see more people who decry purity tests than actual purity testing now. It had its time in the mid 2010s but now it's just used to silence/dodge/downplay dissent.
 
Oct 28, 2017
6,870
#25
Ofcourse.

But as an example of what I was on about, we had a thing on the dating thread were a poster described how they were put off by a woman whose father was a police officer and argued with her that "all cops are bastards", telling her how most cops are domestically abusive.
Okay? A lot of people, especially minorities view law enforcement as a white supremacist and don’t want to entertain or be anywhere close to them. In the end, it’s his personal choice and doesn’t affect anyone except him.
 
Mar 18, 2018
3,292
#26
Okay? A lot of people, especially minorities view law enforcement as a white supremacist and don’t want to entertain or be anywhere close to them. In the end, it’s his personal choice and doesn’t affect anyone except him.
Most average people won't think that. To purposefully sink a date with someone over it, especially someone who has a cop in the family, is overboard cus you're gonna struggle to find people anti-police. Most real people in life who don't frequent left wing forums are gonna be pro-police and pro-military.
 
Oct 28, 2017
6,870
#27
Most average people won't think that. To purposefully sink a date with someone over it, especially someone who has a cop in the family, is overboard cus you're gonna struggle to find people anti-police. Most real people in life who don't frequent left wing forums are gonna be pro-police and pro-military.
That’s his decision to make.
 
Oct 25, 2017
9,078
#29
I mean I think there’s a difference between holding politicians to a standard and “purity tests.”

Personally the difference for me is if a standard is applied selectively, it’s a purity test. It’s a point someone makes against a candidate they already don’t like, but won’t knock a candidate they do like for the same thing. E.g. a friend of mine telling me in 2016 he absolutely could not support Clinton because of the 94 crime bill, and then immediately spinning Sanders’ support of the bill away by saying “well that’s okay because he’s changed, plus he had to vote for the bill to get the good stuff in it passed.” Essentially making both arguments for and against the bill in order to support an agenda.

That’s purity testing to me. Blatant hypocrisy and cheerleading.
 
Oct 25, 2017
9,142
New Jersey
#30
Its clearly just an excuse to deflect from an argument being made on a principled basis in the context its currently being used in the American democratic party.

There's such thing as being too fringe and extreme as the right always illustrates, but nobody on the progressive left in America advocating for politicians being better has ever gone to such lengths. In the global perspective, social democrats are broadly seen as moderates infact.

When people say they dont want their politicians to be corrupt, that's not a purity test. When they say they want them to focus on issues important to the electorate, that's not a purity test. When they say they dont want politicians who horrible records on pretty much every issue in the past few decades, that isnt a purity test. that's When they say they dont want politicians who are weak and ineffectual and unwilling to challenge the status quo, that isnt a purity test either.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,983
#31
Now, I'm not going to say it isn't ever ever a thing, or that sometimes it can't be counter-intuitive to people's ultimate goals, it very well could be. The troubling thing that I see though is when the expectation of very basic good behavior or ideals is defined as a "purity test". Not being racist, or sexist, or homophobic, respecting people, these are all basic things that we should all aspire to live up to and build our society around.
It's easy to say that we just expect candidates to not be racist, sexist, or homophobic, and generally everyone here would agree with you that those are dealbreakers. The issue is that what qualifies for any of those things changes from person to person and the term "purity test" tends to get thrown around when some people think other people are blowing something about a candidate out of proportion.

Take for instance Beto's recent gaffe where he joked that his wife is the one mainly taking care of his kids. People saw his as sexist, and if it was it is pretty low on the sexist-meter. However, given that the comment is technically sexist you could claim that Beto doesn't meet your standards of not being sexist and isn't worth your vote. Many would claim you're guilty of purity tests and roll their eyes at you throwing stones at a candidate for a minor infraction when we're all working together to defeat someone who's a raging 10 on the racist, sexist, and homophobic scales.
 
Aug 27, 2018
278
#32
I mean I think there’s a difference between holding politicians to a standard and “purity tests.”

Personally the difference for me is if a standard is applied selectively, it’s a purity test. It’s a point someone makes against a candidate they already don’t like, but won’t knock a candidate they do like for the same thing. E.g. a friend of mine telling me in 2016 he absolutely could not support Clinton because of the 94 crime bill, and then immediately spinning Sanders’ support of the bill away by saying “well that’s okay because he’s changed, plus he had to vote for the bill to get the good stuff in it passed.” Essentially making both arguments for and against the bill in order to support an agenda.

That’s purity testing to me. Blatant hypocrisy and cheerleading.
Exactly.
I’m opposed to purity tests to the extent they can divide an otherwise unified group of like-minded people (whom I agree with), or to the point they can lead to polarization and gridlock. Obviously I like purity tests when they divide the competition and/ or alienate extremists.

As for political candidates, there’s nothing wrong with purity tests if you’re looking for ideological consistency and accountability. Purity tests really only become a problem in this context when your test is so rigorous you end up disqualifying every viable candidate. I think a lot if third party voters in the U.S. where we don’t have a consensus democracy are “purity testers” and . . . well . . . it’s pretty obvious where that’s gotten them.
Also this.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,892
#33
Ah, you're talking about Tiger Woods. This thread is not about that, but my response to that would be that those people are just as entitled to their opinion as you are to yours, and that if every negative or critical mention of an individual (or positive mentions in a generally negative thread) were to count as a "derail", there would be very few threads or topics here.
I think that speaks as much to EtcetEra culture than to your overall point. :P
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,053
#34
If there's a primary and I am trying to decide who to vote for, of course I am going to use their voting record and things they have said in the past and present to make a decision about whether or not I want them to represent me and to get an idea if they will push policies I stand for. I don't consider that a "purity test", that's how representative government works.

Now if you don't vote for the lesser of two evils when there's a general election, that's different.
 
Aug 22, 2018
697
#38
"Purity tests" is a term used solely by people who can't fathom the idea of applying morals and standards consistently rather than using them as a means to attack people outside their group and conveniently ignore when it comes to public figures they support.