Salon Links Sterling to Rush, Fox News: 'Button-Down' Psychopaths on the Right

Liberals seeking examples of conservative craziness often look for the wrong thing. That's the word from California writer Paul Rosenberg, who in a Thursday piece for Salon stated that "the wild-eyed kind of crazy we’ve all been led to expect" is much less common than "the button-down, conservative kind we heard in the Donald Sterling tape — or that we can hear on [Rush] Limbaugh’s radio show, or see on Fox News any day of the week."
 
It gets worse. Rosenberg notes that "conservatives as a group routinely score significantly higher" for a personality trait that's linked to psychopathy, and reports that some in academia "are beginning to ask, in effect, if [right-wingers are] actually defending, even promoting, evil."

From Rosenberg's piece (emphasis added):

Defending wealth, power, privilege, hierarchy — it’s just what conservatives do. Now, however, some folks — including social scientists — are beginning to ask, in effect, if they’re not actually defending, even promoting, evil as well.

Sterling’s self-immolating drama vividly illustrates what the questions involve. It’s not just that Americans — unbeknownst to Sterling, Cliven Bundy and Limbaugh — have come to an overwhelming consensus that racism itself is evil, though that’s certainly enormously important in and of itself. But there’s also the additional factor of interpersonal depravity — psychopathy, if you will, which people are increasingly coming to see as significantly overrepresented in the 1 percent.


Let’s start with what I said about Limbaugh simply being a good conservative when he rushed to Sterling’s defense. That’s not just a liberal canard. It’s not just me trying to do to Limbaugh what Limbaugh does to liberals. It’s what conservatives themselves have said repeatedly over the years. The defense of hierarchy is what conservatism is all about...

What’s more, the differences between how liberals and conservatives think are reflected in a range of divergent cognitive processes...

...[T]wo [factors] in particular have been shown to explain the lion’s share of intergroup prejudice: right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and social dominance orientation (SDO). John Dean’s book “Conservatives Without Conscience” focused on the combined workings of these two factors. While there is some overlap between the two, RWA is more predominant among followers, who would probably make up the main bulk of Limbaugh’s audience, while SDO is more prominent in folks like Sterling...

...[SDO is] not one and the same thing as conservatism, but it’s an integral part of the mix, and conservatives as a group routinely score significantly higher on SDO than liberals as a group do.


But what about the connection to evil?

...[I]t's fairly straightforward to measure and compare psychopathic tendencies and SDO. And that’s just what [Victoria University of Wellington professor of psychology Marc] Wilson has done.

“The research shows that SDO and psychopathy have a reciprocal causal relationship over time — as people become more social dominant, they become more psychopathic, and vice versa,” Wilson told me...

Crazy artists? Try crazy businessmen. Crazy stock-traders. That’s what Wilson’s research shows you’re far more likely to find. Not the wild-eyed kind of crazy we’ve all been led to expect, but the button-down, conservative kind we heard in the Donald Sterling tape — or that we can hear on Limbaugh’s radio show, or see on Fox News any day of the week.

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters