Imagine a society where roughly half of the people eat pistachios, and the other half don't. As a whole, pistachios are delicious, and eaters and non-eaters alike want to keep them around. But a small number of pistachio eaters choke and even die when eating these nuts.
In this world, I imagine this conversation has happened many times.
Person 1: is coughing while in lots of pain
Person 2: What's wrong?
Person 1: I almost choked on a pistachio!
Person 2: Whoa, are you okay?!
Person 1: Yeah...but I'm rattled and stressed out now. I'm feeling pretty shaken up.
Person 2: I'm glad you got through it, you are so strong! You won't let those pistachios beat you down. You will keep on persevering! I trust you to keep doing that without any help from me.
Person 1: Well, thanks, but I'm not some kind of superhuman. That pistachio could have killed me, I may have only gotten lucky this time. To be safe, we should try to make pistachios safer so fewer people choke.
Person 2: Whoa there, let's pump the brakes! Why are we roping all pistachios into this kind of extreme conversation? Not all pistachios are going to make you choke.
Person 1: Sure, but not all pistachios need to make people choke for some people to still choke on them. Even if a small number of pistachios make someone choke, that's still lots of choking.
Person 2: That's no reason to jump down my throat about it. We can only discuss this when everyone is as calm and rational as I say that should be.
Person 1: I don't get why you're so defensive to the idea of fewer people choking. It seems like something any halfway-decent person would support.
Person 2: Well...how do I know you're not making this up? It could be you imagined the pistachio was making you choke.
Person 1: Did you not see me choking on one a minute ago?
Person 2: No.
Person 1: You saw me choking with your own eyes and asked what was wrong.
Person 2: I don't remember it that way. Plus, you're too involved to have a rational view of the situation.
Person 1: Here's footage from a security camera showing you ask me that. I can't believe you need video evidence to prove something you admit you saw yourself.
Person 2: The pistachio may not have meant to make you choke. We shouldn't be so hard on it and make other pistachios suffer for one's accidental behavior. It never claimed to be a perfect pistachio.
Person 1: How is the pistachio's "intent" important? It's a nut, it has no intent or thought. Even if it did, it still made me choke, and that's enough on its own to try and change pistachios. Intent doesn't lower my risk of choking to death.
Person 2: I don't even understand what you're saying anymore. How do you even define "intent" or "death?" You're using too many words and explaining too many different things.
Person 1: That's because you're saying so many wrong things.
Person 2: Let's chill with the personal attacks! I'm only trying to engage and understand where you're coming from. It's mean of you to call me "wrong" instead of doing all my thinking for me.
Person 1: You want to understand what I'm saying without doing any thinking?
Person 2: Yes.
Person 1: So you want to waste my time and energy until I stop arguing we should make pistachios safer.
Person 2: Hmm, what?
Person 1: That way, you can keep living your life the same. You can keep avoiding others' troubles or how people eating pistachios are choking.
Person 2: See, this is why no one likes people that eat pistachios. They're so overemotional and wound up, not willing to have a real conversation.
Person 1: Screw this, I have better things to do.
Person 2: Did everyone here see that? They left in the middle of a rational discussion! It's because they have no arguments and aren't worth listening to at all! I'll spread the word so people know the truth! It's not all pistachios!
Person 1 then gets endless taunting remarks by people like those from Person 2. They call them either an overreaching pistachio shill or a lazy attention-seeker. Whenever Person 1 argues, they're dragged into another of the above conversations. This repeats until Person 1 gives up on lowering pistachio-related deaths.
Meanwhile, pistachios keep making people choke, and fewer people speak out each time. The public gets less and less aware of anyone who dies pistachio-related deaths. This pain and suffering get normalized in the daily news. Many pistachio eaters feel little choice but to accept it as the price of their existence. Non-pistachio eaters rarely think of it, and when it's in the news, they ignore it and wait for things to settle down.
It's an absurd way to maintain an unfair system, isn't it? It's also pretty damn effective.