Punchinello’s Chronicles

Seeing Shades of Gray

I had a chance to listen to a modern-day progressive articulate the ideological disagreement with Sarah Palin, 2008 Republican candidate for Vice President. He compared Palin with George W. Bush, calling them both extremists, and referring to the term as being religious fundamentalists. “People should be cautious around extremist fundamentalists,” he warned, all with the arrogant tone of intellectual superiority.

Expressing religious views apparently thereby also makes someone a fundamentalist (as in religious fundamentalist). So the question is how to define fundamentalism: “Seeing a world of black and white,” was the bottom line of the discussion. What exactly does that mean?

All my life I’ve heard that I see things in black and white; that I don’t allow for shades of gray. I’m told that these two metaphorical ways of viewing reality are the ONLY two ways. If I make an immediate analysis of something, I’m seeing things in black and white. People tell me I need to think “outside the box,” or some such stupidity.

What about seeing in color?

Liberal intellectual elitists are fond of telling the rest of the world that objective reality doesn’t exist. Everything is relative, including morality and ethics. Then they want to set up ethics committees so as to have a group of relatives (?) figure out what’s ethical on a day-to-day basis. The result is the mortgage industry collapse, the never-ending political scandals, and so on ad nauseum.

We’re told that anyone who makes decisive statements is an extreme absolutist making “snap judgements.” Absolutes, we’re told, don’t exist because nobody can ever “really” know reality. The philosophy is so convoluted that it takes a lot of argument to refute. And that’s only if we know it’s even a philosophic argument in the first place!

Modern progressive educators and professors tell us that “shades of gray” is a metaphor for taking into account differences of opinion. Being too quick to judge means we’re seeing things in black and white. They tell us that pronouncing such instant judgements is arrogance, failing to look at nuances of differing perspectives.

We’re told that value systems cannot be absolute. All values must be flexible, relative to the opinions of others around us. If we yank a blind person out of the road just before they’re hit by a bus, we’re being “reactionary.” We have no right to impose our “opinion” on someone else, and certainly not without first considering how life must be from that blind person’s point of view!

So instead, let’s just take a look at pictures of reality. Here we see a highly contrasted green star in a red background. Ask anyone, “Do you see anything in all this red,” and they’ll instantly, decisively, and without the slightest doubt tell you they see a green star.

Seeing Color in Shades of Gray

Seeing Color in Shades of Gray

Now, to the right of the star picture, take a look at the exact same image converted to shades of gray (grayscale). Do you see a star? Do you see anything at all, other than a uniform field of gray? Of course not!

Well okay, maybe it’s just a bad example. After all, “shades of gray” supposedly means being able to see nuances and details, maybe like this next image.

Seeing Details in Gray

Here we have a more complex image of many different colors and shapes, also converted to a grayscale. All we see is a broken star, some vague outlines of what might be other images, and some ragged edges. The difference this time is that we reduced out color saturation. We’ve dimmed down the color to “get along” with color-blind people.

If we see things only in shades of gray, we do notice that the star has a flaw of some sort. Since nothing else is showing, it must be a flaw in the star, right? How often are we told that the “absolute” reason for a social problem, political problem, educational problem, health problem, or any other problem, “must be” intrinsic to the victim ā€” in this case the star? It can’t possibly be something else causing the problem, nor can it possibly be failed judgement on the part of the viewer!

Who would want to believe that seeing things in shades of gray is better than seeing in 16-million colors? Of course conservatives can instantly make decisions and comments! It’s a simple matter to see an immediate and stark contrast between green and red! It’s only the limitations of grayscale vision that introduce problems.

We also hear constantly about how liberals strive to be “color blind.” They mean it in some screwball racial metaphor, but in fact, they simply want to eliminate one of humanity’s most profound capabilities. They want conservatives to stop being so “quick to judge,” calling the capability of seeing red against green (or other color contrasts) simply “judgemental” mud-slinging.

God forbid we should see things in black and white! But more often than not, that’s the only way liberals can develop confidence and certainty. Pity the person who only sees shades of gray. It’s tragic that they cannot make decisions easily, searching endlessly for philosophies or scientific tools to help them extract the green from the red, yellow from blue, purple from orange, and so forth when they can’t differentiate based on color.

Modern day progressive liberalism is a handicap, which perhaps is why there’s such a pleading outcry that society should spend more and more on disabled people. The real terrorism is that these are the teachers and social leaders of our children. Enraged by their inability to see clearly in a rainbow world of color, these monsters want to maim and destroy everyone else’s natural joy in seeing life the way it’s meant to be seen.



  1. What is is. Randy Pausch “The Last Lecture” wrote “if you run your life the right way, you’ll wear out the black and white (crayons) before the more nuanced colors.” He admitted to being a black-and-white advice giver, mostly because true and false ruled the computer world in whuch he lived and worked. Like Randy, I like sniffing all the crayons in the box, because they all smell the same and remind me of my childhood. However, when drawing more than conclusions, I use black and white for a base to build upon and use the rest of the colors to fill in the blanks with dramatic detail. Without eyes that suddenly see, blind minds are color-challenged anyway. Nice to see you haven’t lost your voice.

    Comment by Unavocce — September 21, 2008 @ 9:19 pm | Reply

  2. More of a rant. šŸ™‚

    Comment by Punchinello — September 22, 2008 @ 12:22 am | Reply

  3. I’ve always held that greys are merely insipid blacks and dirty whites… and frankly, I avoid them. Wishy washy thinking is not my style. Viewing the world in greys, thinking in those dirty whites and insipid blacks, in my opinion, is just an excuse to keep from making that hard, concrete decision to step up to the plate and actually DO something.

    Terrific writing!

    Comment by Mari — May 28, 2011 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

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