Not My Side

So, let me talk about the hypocrisy of both sides — and potentially all sides — in pretty much every debate of consequence that we’re having in the world today. I’ve already talked about this before, but let me highlight it in light of a specific comment at Pharyngula on Laci Green in the context of the VidCon mess. It’s short, so let me quote it in full first:

A useful concept, “de facto”. It’s legal if that matters.

Basically no matter what the intentions the result in reality is X. So we have two examples of one person receiving a large amount of negative and violent attention. They are not the same. The “criticism” that people like Anita receive comes from a very different source. She receives a base cultural reaction from a large group of people that resort to personal language, often violent and gendered personal language.
It’s not just Sargon. If not Sargon than some other people trying to apply social pressure about people they want to control. It’s not just Anita, it’s Brianna, it’s Chanty, it’s Hillary.

So the second person is Sargon. He got socially criticized by the first person so that is a defining characteristic. Because he triggered a focus of movement towards Anita means he’s an example of the kind of person who is going to have to be criticized of one wants to shift a society in a more moral direction. Sexed and gendered social abuse requires a response towards such abusers at multiple social levels.

It’s why we focus on Trumps awful personal habits of mind and behavior. He’s the top example. There are others below.

Let me translate this: “Look, we use the same sorts of social criticism against those we disagree with as they use against us. But, hey, they’re bad people, and immoral, and so it’s right for us to do that, because we have to stop their immorality. But when they do that against us, that’s bad, because they’re trying to promote immorality, unlike us, who are promoting morality. You must see the difference, right?”

Let me highlight one particular part:

Because he triggered a focus of movement towards Anita means he’s an example of the kind of person who is going to have to be criticized of one wants to shift a society in a more moral direction.

But who says that what you think of as a “more moral direction” really is? Why do you get to decide that? Many of those critics that she justifies this sort of “criticism” towards — remember, this is calling him a “garbage human being” and stuff like that — think that their criticisms are, at least, defending a moral society. Both sides think that their view of society is the more proper and more moral one. So if they think their criticism justified because it’s moral, and she thinks her criticism is justified because it’s moral, then don’t we just end up with both sides sniping at each other and claiming that the other side is wrong because it’s immoral? Who decides what really counts and moral and what doesn’t?

Remember, in the context of Trump we’ve had people at least marginally on Brony’s side advocating for open violence to shut down speech, with the whole “Punch a Nazi!” thing. Even if we accept that open violence to stop someone from speaking is justified, there’s the little issue of defining “Nazi!”. Even in the comment, Brony tries to justify it based on the necessity of shutting down sexed and gendered social abuse … but defining that is the problem. Does the privilege concept and using that to shut down speech — telling white, cis, men to shut up and listen because their “privilege” means that they can’t understand the issues — count as sexed and gendered social abuse? Or is it a reasonable — if potentially angry — request? If someone uses a term that is sexed or gendered and is seen as a sexed or gendered insult, does that count as social abuse? Does that count even if the person doesn’t think of the term that way? As an example, I went to high school with a literal bastard. And yet I still use the term as an insult. This is not because I see the state of being illegitimate as any sort of negative character trait or as an indication that they are a bad person in any way, but because I no longer associate the word — when I use it as an insult — with that original usage. To me, it’s just a term for a bad person, not someone who is bad like someone who is illegitimate. So, am I being abusive or not? Should we consider the term with its original connotation, or the connotation it now as which is much more neutral? And who gets to decide? The people with the most social power?

This is where the hypocrisy shines. Both sides are flat-out willing to admit that they will use the same tactics as those they hate — and the tactics that they hate being used against them — in service of what they consider “the greater good”. And as I said in my linked post, I know that I don’t see the “greater good” as being what they think of as the greater good. I disagree with both sides. And I know that as soon as I do, whichever side feels offended by my words will muster all of the social pressure they can to either make me change my ways or, at least, to get others to shun me and exclude me from society. Which for me probably isn’t that big a deal, because I don’t really like people anyway, and so if fewer people bug me that might actually be a blessing. Losing my job would be more annoying, though … and both sides are willing to try to get people to lose their jobs and/or incomes if they find their views suitably offensive.

What this results in is there being no room for any sort of moderate. Alt-Right people like Vox Day are explicit that they are opposed to moderates, but those on the Left who castigate anyone who disagrees with them on any matter they consider serious enough are at least doing that implicitly. As soon as someone breaks from what the overall group considers to be the ideology, they immediately apply the same “punishments” to that person as they did to those on the far opposing extreme in an attempt to at least quash the dissenting view, if not the dissenting viewer. This is what is happening to Laci Green right now.

And what is most interesting about these sorts of shifts is the shift in attitude towards the methods and the people who use them. Long ago, I was in a Google group talking about Atheism and Christianity, and there was one poster there who was constantly and continually abusive to the — mainly religious at first — people who opposed him. He was considered quite popular among the atheist side … and obviously less so among the theists. This lasted right up until the point where he had a disagreement with some of the more prominent atheists, and unleashed the same vitriol on them as he had towards the theists. Suddenly, those tactics weren’t so funny or so good anymore, and his posts suddenly didn’t seem like classic criticisms anymore to those atheists … and yet remained as such to those atheists who agreed with him on that topic. And we’ve seen this repeated over and over again in the Deep Rifts of the atheist movement, in the rift in feminism between white and black feminists and cis and trans feminists, in the “cucks vs conservatives” divide, and so on and so forth. Invariably, once the bullying tactics are turned against someone that person is generally far less appreciative of them than they were when they were turned against their enemies.

I really don’t know what to say or think about this. As I ponder it here while writing, for the most part I think I need to do one (or maybe two) things for my own personal sanity. First, I really need to strive to ensure that I never think of or believe that I have actual enemies, at least when it comes to positions on topics. All that exist are people I disagree with and people who are bullies or who are bullying me, and thus I need to respond accordingly. But those who hold different positions from me or even people who bully me are not out-and-out enemies; they are people who, in this instance, are perhaps antagonists that I need to address. And the potential second point is that I don’t have allies either; all I have are people who happen to agree with me on a topic and who aren’t actively bullying me right now, even though all of that will or could change on a whim. The reason for doing this is to hopefully avoid falling into the same trap of identifying people as enemies and others as allies, and cheering the bullying of the allies while decrying the bullying of the enemies. I’ve been trying for the past year or more to make sure of this, and noticing that sometimes I find insults tossed at people I disagree with “funnier” than insults tossed at people I agree with. But insults are never clever, and bullying remains bullying no matter what side it’s in favour of, and I need to make sure that I remember that.


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