Rubber And Glue

I promised you to dissect trolls, and this is an examination of at least two types of trolls.

Fortunately, from the point of view of an anthropologist, we were given plenty of rich material in my blog over the last week.  I know you’re as overjoyed as I am.

It occurred to me while reading the endless string of name calling, that:

1- It’s a form of defense that has nothing to do with the subject matter being discussed.  It means the people name calling feel personally attacked.  When a post – like mine was – is philosophical and non-partisan one wonders why.

2 – They call one names they know very well aren’t true.

3 – There is the same amount of group thinking and incantation-like repetition of slogans that provoked the post to begin with, and remarkably little engaging with the point of the post.

4 – They try to assign you an ideological “side” so they can dismiss you.

There are blog posts aplenty in each of those posts, but I’m not feeling really well and I’d prefer not to let the circus freaks in again just now if it’s all the same to you.  Instead, I’ll concentrate on point two.

We’ve all seen them.  They descend on a blog and deploy a series of epithets.  Usually if it’s a blog or a post they perceive as right of center (and I’m still puzzled by what’s considered right or conservative these days – I must in fact have fallen through the looking glass and not noticed) they reach into the familiar insults: Sexist.  Racist.  Homophobic.

Part of this is merely what they’ve learned is bad, so that’s what they’ll fling.  But part of it is an effort to put the other people on the defensive.  And it often works.  I’ve seen them derail the discussion by calling a GAY Libertarian poster “homophobic.”

Why does it work?  Because it isn’t true.  And both parts of the exchange know it isn’t true.  It can’t be true for it to work.

Look, the reason this hit me was that some of the things that the trolls call me just roll off me, or make me smirk.  Take “Gender traitor” (please.  Someone has to.)  The idea that what’s between my legs should determine the way I think or where my social allegiance lies makes me laugh (and also a bit nauseous and a bit pitying for anyone who thinks this is a valid point.)  It makes me think of one of my gay friends asking “Why should I be a socialist because I like sleeping with guys?  I never got the connection.”  I too fail to get the connection between my being female and having to think a certain way.  And therefore that particular name calling is baffling and a bit sickening but not offensive.

Or take calling me stupid or submissive or whatever the heck they implied about me.  (Rolls eyes.)  I have the IQ test results to prove I could beat most of them with half a brain tied behind my back.  And also, I have the mastery of English as a foreign language and having become good enough to become a published author.  (I know my publisher reads this, so I won’t pretend I’m flawless.  She has seen the raw manuscripts!)  And besides, I have thousands of situations in which I was neither stupid nor supine – and the fact that talking back to established authority means I’m not submissive.  All of this just causes me to roll my eyes.

Or take “bitch” which is what the high schoolers called me.  It didn’t even dent.  While I’m not a female dog, I can very much be the world’s own b*tch, sometimes even without justification.  I’m one of these people who is very laid back and reasonable, until you kick the invisible trip wire that means I’m verbally going to burn your village, take your cattle and possibly salt the fields, and there will be no mercy till I’m done.  Do I like being called that?  No.  But mostly it makes me laugh ruefully.  Because… eh… what defense do I really have after I’ve unloaded a can of metaphorical pain on them?

However, note I did bridle at implications I was just “cleaving to the party line.”  Why?  Well, because I can’t even imagine what party line I’d be cleaving to.  What I wrote about the relative treatment of men and women comes from my own experience as a wife and a mother of boys.  What I wrote was the result of painful thought and careful research.  It has nothing to do with what any party is doing.  I know the kerfuffle is partisan, but my annoyance is the mindless repetition of a slogan.  I’m perfectly open to being persuaded on the subject, with reasonable discussion.  Unless there’s an anti-slogan party (Heck, I went off on a slogan on the Prop 8 thing, even though I agreed with the opponents) I’m at a loss at what party line I was following.  So, that stung.

THAT annoyed me because it wasn’t true.  And the same goes for the other things that trolls fling around.

Look, have you ever met a true male chauvinist?  Someone who is, from his heart convinced that women are inferior across the board?  (And before we get trolls, no I’m not.  I just think women and men are different.  DEAL.  Celebrate diversity.  How dreary would it be if we were all exactly alike?)

I have.  While it’s no longer the norm (I think) in Portugal, it was still pretty common when I was growing up.  Call a man who genuinely thinks women are inferior sexist, and what you get is a baffled look and a “Well, of course I am.  They’re stupid creatures and–” Same with racists (which is still more common in Europe than here, particularly openly expressed) and the same very much with homophobes (which was very much open last time I went to Portugal, possibly because of EEC and the cultural shock.)  They will look at you and say “Well, of course, as a right thinking person, I must think this.”

Go to a far left blog and call the poster a communist.  You’ll get the same reaction.  At most you’ll get back a comment along the lines of “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”  (This doesn’t stop people from calling them communists, of course.  Some of us have trouble believing that most human beings wouldn’t consider that an insult, but I digress.)

So, names like that repeated and beaten into the poster only work to silence or put on the defensive people who are NOT racist, sexist, homophobe, or whatever the trolls are calling them.

Next time you have a troll invasion and people call you names, tell them that.  “You’ve just told me you don’t believe I’m any of those things.  Because if I were, I wouldn’t get upset.  And you want me to get upset.  You want me to shut up.  But you KNOW I’m not that.  So, thank you.”  Then go on with your life, and let them howl.

Like an incantation designed for the single purpose of shutting you up, they lose their effectiveness when you see how the evil magic is performed.

39 thoughts on “Rubber And Glue

  1. As usual, very thoughtful and well-reasoned. Thank you.

    Having spent my adolescence internalizing the Serenity Prayer — for good and pressing reasons at the time — I tend to find troll-battles baffling in general. I usually instinctively reply “So, you’re saying you have nothing to add to the conversation?” Although on rare occasions I like to respond with illustrative absurdity. My favorite answer to the “racist” bomb-throwers runs something like, “Well of course I’m racist. I’m so racist I carefully screened my prospective parents before I was born, to make sure I selected the *right* kind of people. Doesn’t everybody?” 🙂

    1. Stephen, with your permission, I’m stealing that response. I can just imagine the blank looks it would elicit.

      1. Kali — By all means.
        And the response to being called “sexist”, of course, is to assume they simply missed a letter while typing “sexiest”, and thank them. 🙂

    2. I’ve run blogs and forums on my sites since 1998, and faced many trolls. I’ve come to the conclusion that they are all just loony, and will keep on spewing their looniness, even if you say reasonable things to them. Sometimes, if you ignore them, they get bored and go away; other times, they get nastier and will turn to stalking you, hacking your site, or threatening you, in order to try to scare you into shutting up. I’ve only banned 3 people in all these years, and they were all doing at least one of those nastiest of nasty things. One of my friends used to have a great line in his signature, that I started using on trolls: “I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.” Even if it doesn’t stop the aggravating behavior, it gives everyone else a laugh. (^-^)

        1. Back in the 90s when I had leisure (and the optimism) to engage in internet debates I (along with friends) quickly learned there were some folk impossible to debate with because they were impervious to logic and had their own set of facts they employed.

          Eventually we created the “Carvile Cup”, awarded to the most illogical rant in a forum. Participant judges were even wont to post our evaluations of the rant, following tee mode of the Olympics (although I s’pose today the standard might be taken from American Idol.) Judging criteria ranged from “most innovative avoidance of logical coherence” to “You keep using that word; i do not think it means what you think it means.”

          If you can’t enter into dialogoue with ’em, you can at least make fun of ’em.

  2. Viz, as an example, the commenter on the HW thread at PJ who said she doesn’t like Heinlein because his women are only distinguishable by their breast size.

    Honestly, the only conceivable response to that, is “have you lost your fucking mind? Or is it that you’ve never actually read any Heinlein?”

    I could enumerate a list of Heinlein women who disprove the notion, from Star, Empress of the Twenty Universes, to G. Brooks McNye, radioman, but it’s pointless, because “sees women only in terms of their cup size” is a micro-slogan, a meme in the strict sense: an idea that propagates itsself, an intellectual or semantic virus.

    1. Chas — the idea, if you choose to respond to people like this at all, is to take what they give you and carry it *forward*, not push it back. As in: “Since you’ve *obviously* never read any of Heinlein’s female characters, yet feel compelled to comment on them, we’re left with no choice but to assume that everything else you say will be equally devoid of substance. Thanks for letting us know that, before we wasted valuable time reading it.”

  3. I’ve decided to just go with the idea that Larry Correia had it correct in his “Monster Hunter” series, the theory that internet trolls are *in fact* trolls. This makes them easy to ignore.

  4. What makes me despair of US political discourse is the contrast you find with the discourse exhibited in Plato’s dialogs. They probably never happened that way, but they provide an archetype of what reasoned discussion of differences should be. Socrates may be laying traps for the unwary, but he remains cordial and he seems sincerely interested in understanding the other side’s position and reasons for coming to it. If I hold a partisan position to your contrary, I believe that I should understand your position better than you do before I can engage you in debate.

    Contrast the shouting of bumper-sticker slogans on a cable news show and share my despair.

    Name calling messes with my Zen. I don’t tolerate it. it is a “shut-up” response to disagreement. When I hear it I stop, smile, acknowledge the nature of discourse, and talk to someone else.

  5. Sarah, *not* disagreeing with you (especially about the trolls who visited here), but John Ringo had an interesting article (in Bar Newbie FAQ 1b) on types of trolls.

    Quoting John Ringo

    A Discussion on Trolling and Argument

    [Ed. Note: While the below addresses Ringo’s conference,

    what he says is generally applicable to the entire Bar.]

    From: John Ringo (Ringo’s Tavern)

    The first thing to understand is what a “troll” is.

    “Troll” is not the root in this case. The root is

    “trolling”, the noun in this case deriving from the verb.

    “Trolling” comes from the phrase “trolling for newbies.”

    This is a puerile sport popular on USENET in which a

    person finds a new poster, reads a couple of posts and

    then comments on one of the posts in a way to cause the

    newbie the maximum possible anger. The general term for

    this is “flames” and the intent is to start another USENET

    favorite, the “flamewar,” which consists of various


    There are several types of trolls.

    Type 1: Immediately joins conversations and does

    everything possible to start and maintain a flamewar.

    Rarely has actual convictions. By and large just wants to

    make people angry. The equivalent of the kid in school

    that just had to moon people because he was desperately in

    need of attention and couldn’t get it any other way.

    Type 2: Starts out seeming reasonable but posts become

    more and more dogmatic and erratic until the person is in

    full blown flame mode. More a person of convictions but

    also likes to anger opponents rather than have truly

    rational discussions. Especially begins saying things to

    anger the “other” side when losing the argument.

    Type 3: Starts out reasonable and generally stays

    reasonable but so dogmatic in position (which is generally

    far out) that they are horribly annoying. They generally

    tend to refuse to drop a subject, even after it is beaten

    to death and return to it in virtually every posting. They

    also tend to follow people around from discussion to

    discussion attacking them for whatever reason they have.

    Sometimes those reasons have some validity. The attack dog

    method generally does _not_.

    Type 4: Very close to a Type 2 but in fact a Type 1. The

    person starts reasonable and often maintains reasonability

    but uses subtle passive aggressive attacks instead of

    direct attacks to anger their opponent. Often has large

    numbers of sympathetic supporters who “rally around” when

    someone points out that they are truly vile people.

    (There’s a very funny cartoon database of the various

    on-line personalities including the various forms of

    trolls: )

    End Quote

  6. Ms. Hoyt,
    quite by accident from following a link on Instapundit, I found your blog. Went and bought the Baen Bundle that had Darkship Thieves. Enjoyed reading it and stayed up all night to do so, start to finish.

    (Starts out reasonable; type 3 troll). but I’m no stalker, and I prefer to bury the dead horse once it has been beaten to a pulp. Dogmatic, Well, ok, so I’m a bigot. It’s because I’m right and there’s no reason to listen to the ‘other side’, even though I do. Once the other side has demonstrated it’s error, there is no reason to continue the engagement.

    So I have to ask, who is your audience? For whom do you write? That Witchfinder chapter reads like it’s written for a preteen valley gurrlll. (Provocative and inflammatory.) Just ask’n, you see. So you gonna ban me now? (Insert smiley face, eyes twinkling, laughing to show that I come in peace and mean you no harm.)

    1. I don’t have any clue what you’re trying to say. I don’t ban anyone unless they call names and/or are clearly trying to repeat everything that has been said before.

  7. Oh, and I have no band of loyal followers to rally in support, nor do I use sockpuppets. I’m like that annoying Ranger character, Marcus from Babylon 5. It’s not intentional.

  8. In the movie M*A*S*H, during the football sequence, one of the players on the ‘home team’ becomes distressed because he has been called a racial epithet. It is explained to him that the purpose of the remark was to put him off his game. It was further suggested that what he needed to do was to tell the original name caller that he had heard what was being said about that players mother…

    Now I don’t think that turn about is fair play. Just remember what Ken Hamblin, a melatonin endowed American, noted: once someone calls you the ‘N’ word it is admitting that they no longer have any other valid arguments to make and are defeated, which goes for any other kind of name calling.

  9. While Ringo has the right of it in terms of types and origin, I think the issue has become somewhat worse over time. Although there are many blogs and sites where rational discussion can be held, there are also sites where the community is young, kind of full of itself, and ticked off at the “intolerance” of the rest of the world. Over time, those communities realized that flames are a good way to stop “dissent,” and began to pile on to anyone whose opinions weren’t acceptable.

    Now, I don’t mean that the community does this as a whole. But it does foster a culture where the people who do this feel perfectly at ease doing so. And unfortunately, those sites leak.

    My sister calls this effect the “loud bias,” because when a small minority of Internet users feel that it is okay to a) mock, b) threaten, c) insult, d) follow a person’s posts and then go to their workplace in real life to tell them how wrong they were on a website (yes, the last has in fact happened because of Internet stalkers), then everyone else tends to shut up. And unfortunately, I think this only emboldens the loudmouths. It isn’t a far step from following someone to their workplace to following someone to their home address. And at some point, the rest of society is going to respond.

    Sarah’s only “sin” was that she implied that not all of humanity is perfectly equal/same/interchangeable widgets, and that this is okay. Better/worse is then assumed — by the loudmouths, not by her. So they try to derail rational discussions, insult Sarah and those who agree with her, and generally try to make Sarah give up in disgust and shut up. Because at that point, the loudmouths win.

    1. Susan, you left out the problem inherent in the last step of the loudmouth position, and the most fun one to point out to them. If “everyone is interchangeable”, then my opinion, by their logic, MUST be as valid and valuable as theirs … 🙂

      1. If “everyone is interchangeable”, then my opinion, by their logic, MUST be as valid and valuable as theirs …

        I can see it:
        Sputter… sputter … cough … choak. How dare you use logic! Don’t you know that logic is so DWEM!

        I Love it. I just love it.

  10. “I’m one of these people who is very laid back and reasonable, until you kick the invisible trip wire that means I’m verbally going to burn your village, take your cattle and possibly salt the fields, and there will be no mercy till I’m done. ”

    Ooooh. I am _so_ stealing that.

  11. I am not an SF author, but it seems to me that the Trolls are merely an inconvenience. The serious harm is being done by most of the large SF publishers. They are far-left zealots who are knowingly and aggressively abusing their positions to crush non-leftwing SF authors, by refusing to publish them.

  12. I don’t know that I’ve met any across-the-board chauvinists, but I’ve met a few who were at least partly on their way there, and, yes… if you confronted them with it, they’d be “of course, didn’t I just *say*…” etc.,

    I’ve never known a chauvinist, (or racist, or homophobe, or whatever) that wasn’t perfectly willing to let you know what they thought about it.

    I don’t know that I completely agree that people who call names like that also know that real racists or sexists are those things because they don’t think there is anything wrong with their opinions, and so they are not ever coy about those opinions. But maybe I’m just being generous.

    1. There has always been exerted pressure to control the conversation by keeping certain ideas from being discussed ‘in polite society’. The excuses for this practice vary, but as a general rule they has to do with the matter being held to be settled or protecting someone.

      In my experience there are many chauvinists, etc. who will keep a lid on in at the work place or in social situations in this country, because their ideas are presently held to wrong and therefore rude. On the occasions that I have been present when someone opened up I have noticed that they really believe what they say. Why this should surprise? If their beliefs reflect those of the society where they come from, it is unsurprising that they hold them. If their belief runs counter to the rules of their surrounding society they would have to hold to their beliefs strongly to risk the probable backlash.

      Which kinda circles back to Trolling. Most people chose to hangout with people who affirm their beliefs, and not those who challenge them. This doesn’t give them much practice in polite debate. The anonymity of posting allows posters to express things in ways they probably would not in a social situation. I have yet to see someone get punched in the nose for a rude, insulting, out of line post. (It might happen, but I haven’t seen it.)

      I openly deplore certain television debate formats, they bear too much resemblance to the Saturday Night Live Point/Counter-point routines with Chevy Chase and Jane Curtin. Therefore, I will assert that it is all their fault that society cannot have a civil discussion of our differences. (So, I am prejudiced here, get over it. And don’t bring up things like the unCivil War, my mind is made up, don’t bother me with the facts. 😉 )

  13. Sarah….about a week before reading your column on males and females, I had an interchange with a college friend I haven’t seen in 30 some years. He’s apparently of the opinion that women are still being oppressed in the U.S. and his “evidence” was the disparity of sex among billionaires. When I pointed out to him that individual choice played a part in that kind of thing, and that since I refused to make the choices that many billionaires do in order to get that wealthy, I thought the disparity told in favor of the women who aren’t billionaires…..

    Sadly, I haven’t heard from him since….but I did find Kathleen Parker’s 2008 book: Save the Males, in my library and re-read it. When I read your piece, I cut and pasted it into an e-mail to him, saying that this was what I’d tried to say to him, only done much better….and then offered him Parker’s book if he were interested.

    Still no reply, but I highly recommend the book to anyone who wants a better picture of what’s actually going on!

    Thank you so much for your insightful post.

  14. Bill Whittle has ably addressed this point in a video I cannot locate (several, actually, but I still can’t quickly identify the specific ones. What the heck — ALL his videos are well worth watching, whether on Youtube or PJTV — try this one:

    The key element is exactly the one Sarah observes. As Whittle argues, call a Nazi “racist” and he’ll agree. It is only those FALSELY accused who are distressed.

    Orwell addressed this in an essay, pointing out that Fascist! had become devoid of any connection to its original meaning and expressed, even by the 1950s, nothing about the political-economic theories held by anyone so accused. It means: A person I must dislike. It means: Unclean! Unfit for society.

  15. Well, I tried to post this last night but for some reason it disappeared. I shall try again. I read the “War is Hell” blog yesterday and thought about it for some time, then I saw this one, and thought maybe I should share a point of view that (hopefully) is not political or extreme or vitriolic regarding the issue of the “War on Women” under discussion.

    I don’t know how old you are, Sarah, but I do realize you were probably not here in the US in the 50s, 60s and 70s. I was. For all the years before 1972, abortion was illegal here except for one very narrow instance – if three physicians independently agreed and swore that the woman’s health was threatened if she continued the pregnancy, and would result in injury or death. This basically meant that the only way a woman in America could obtain a medical, safe abortion was to be wealthy enough to fly to Puerto Rico or Europe to obtain one, which, of course, ruled out the majority of women in this country. (Many doctors performed safe, medical abortions at the risk of losing their medical licenses, because they disagreed with the antiquated, dangerous laws of the time, but their services were only a drop in the bucket of need.) The net result of the prohibition against abortion was that women were faced with four choices: 1) ingesting some substance which (they hoped) would cause a miscarriage – everything from combinations of herbs to mercury (widely used in the Orient in centuries past – apparently heavy metal poisoning being incompatible with pregnancy – and then hoping the substance didn’t do anything worse; 2) attempting to perform an abortion on themselves with whatever instrument they thought would work (but usually only caused damage and/or death); 3) going to a “back-alley” abortionist who preyed on pregnant women and used unsterilized “medical instruments,” charged as much money as they thought they could get and generally caused injury, infection and sometimes death, often leaving the women sterile; or 4) having to carry a baby to term they were (for whatever reason) not prepared or able to care for which, if they were lucky, would be adopted, but mostly were not because the supply of babies available for adoption was far higher than the demand at that time. In this day and time, I know how hard it is to believe that this was the prevailing reality in this country, but I was there and it really was that bad.

    In the late 1960s (after a considerable amount of controversy), birth control pills became available in the United States, bringing down the number of unwanted pregnancies radically. Free clinics were set up all over the country by doctors and medical students from medical schools, (without help or funding from the government) in order to make the pill available to the women under the age of 21, who wished to control their reproductive rights. The patients were there for 3 basic reasons: a) to get a prescription for birth control pills; b) to find out if they were already pregnant; and c) to see if they needed to be treated for venereal disease. The rate of teen pregnancy dropped significantly and, thus, the need for access to abortion in the impossible situation described above. There was no such thing as “sex education” in schools, except the brief section in health class that discussed the reproductive organs and how they worked (if the teacher wasn’t too embarrassed to cover it). I think it is fairly obvious that the “abstinence only” method of sex education has resulted in an explosion of STDs and teen pregnancies, especially since “Just Say No” has worked on teenagers SO well over the history of the human race.

    In the late 1960s, a case was brought in Dallas, Texas styled “Jane Roe v. Henry Wade, District Attorney of Dallas County, Texas” contesting the right of the state to arrest and file criminal charges against doctors who performed safe, medical abortions and their patients who sought them. In 1972, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the ban on abortion was unconstitutional, denying women the right to control their own bodies and reproductive rights. Since that time, the same groups who are presently advocating that access to birth control and abortions be denied to women have been working to chip away at those rights.

    That was the time in this country when women were fighting for their own right to be treated equally to men in employment, in obtaining individual credit, in not being considered “wards” of their husbands (who were considered to be the woman’s “legal guardian” until she was over 21) and access to the same educational benefits available to men (plus many, many other rights guaranteed by the constitution). At that time, yes, it was a “war.” Not only were we attacked physically at demonstrations, but discriminated against by employers, schools and government entities. The police (almost entirely male at that time) ridiculed women for “wanting to wear the pants in the family” and refused to take action on reports of physical attacks, property damage and harassment when it involved “feminist dykes who don’t know their ‘place’ is at home raising babies.” Any woman who supported women’s rights was automatically considered to be a “feminist ‘lesbo'” and subjected to epithets far worse than any “troll” repeating bumper-sticker slogans provided by people who still believe women should be controlled by men, both in their personal and public lives.

    Most of this controversy is caused by groups who believe that “freedom of religion” means everyone is free to practice only ONE particular religion in this country and that religion should also control the political decisions and laws controlling human rights.

    I personally do not care what religion someone chooses to practice or if they choose not to practice one at all. I would like to be afforded the same courtesy. Unfortunately, it appears that many people feel that their own personal spiritual beliefs should control people who do not share those beliefs. These are the same people who are presently advocating against birth control and abortion in this country. Every tiny chip allowed to be made in women’s rights is a step down that famous “slippery slope” that we worked so hard to climb all those decades ago. Has some of the hyperbole been “over-the-top” regarding the present situation? Yes. But maybe you can understand a little better why some people do feel this is a “war” and that we are under siege by groups who do not believe anyone has the right to disagree with their spiritual and religious beliefs, because theirs is the only “right” religion.

    You stated that some of the information put forth in response to your previous blog was simply unnecessary worry about some “proposed” laws in some state governments that would be watered down by moving through the political process. Unfortunately, that is not true. Ohio has passed (and the governor has signed) a law that forces doctors to give women totally false information that birth control and abortions cause breast cancer — a nonsensical idea that was disproved long ago. Texas already passed the law receiving so much publicity in Virginia requiring every woman to undergo trans-vaginal ultrasounds when they want an abortion – a medical procedure that is completely unnecessary (unless the pregnancy is already at such an advanced stage that it would constitute a “late-term abortion”) AND the woman is expected to pay for the privilege, sit through a lecture consisting of ridiculous “scare tactics” put together by politicians, not physicians, in order to attempt to “guilt” her out of choosing an abortion when her own personal beliefs do not match those of the people forcing these laws into existence.

    Believe it or not, most of us do NOT want preferential treatment due to our gender. That is just another way of saying “oh the poor little woman can’t prove herself equal to this task, so let’s take care of it for her…” What we were trying to say in the 70s was “let us take care of ourselves, make our own decisions, rise or fall on our own merits – just give us the same footing and opportunities that men have.” That was all. Not “we’ve been picked on and discriminated against for so long that we deserve preferential treatment now.” Any woman who thinks that is the real “gender traitor” because it tars us all with the same brush. I also personally happen to like men as friends and lovers and as the most interesting other sentient species on this planet. I don’t believe they are all “male chauvinist pigs” even though I was actually chased around my desk by a boss in the 70s.

    All I’m asking is that you don’t denigrate the fact that some people feel very passionately about these issues, especially when we vividly remember the way things were before women had the rights we fought so hard to obtain and are now in danger of losing.

    1. Muse of Hell,

      I think you may be at cross-purposes here. The elephant in the room of the current “war on women” is not the idiotic attitude of some of the loudmouths who think that any woman using birth control must be some kind of slut. It’s the fact that health coverage is tied to the place of employment. This guarantees freedom of religion issues. The employer’s religion states that item X is immoral so does not cover it. Employee – who really doesn’t have all that much choice right now – believes with equal sincerity that item X is essential to his/her spiritual well-being but can’t afford it without health coverage. Who wins?

      Abortion is its own thorny issue that will never have a “right” answer. It’s easy to pull the emotive examples, either for or against, but ultimately no matter what decision gets made there’ll be problems.

      I would say, look past the noise and the shouting. Look to see who is voting for things that really do limit the ability of women to make their own choices – tax rules that discourage marriage or having children, employer-based health coverage, reducing the effectiveness of HSAs, and so forth. Look at what gets ignored in all this smoke and noise.

      Whether or not there is a “war on women” will become irrelevant if the economy collapses and people are reduced to begging for food. The ease with which all parties bought into the whole distraction suggests to me that they’re happier to pretend all is well as the whole circus putters merrily over the cliffs of insolvency.

      Should that happen, you’ll see “war on women” in a sense much more like it’s happening in the Middle East. I sincerely hope none of us gets to experience that.

    2. The discussion in the War is Hell blog was subject to an attempted hi-jacking. Many of us believe that slogans are detrimental to reasoned discourse. The cry that one particular group was holding a War On Women prompted the blog. The blog itself was an intelligent and reasoned discussion of the effect of society’s prevailing views upon the young men who are now or have recently been in our educational system — concluding that what we have here is not good for men and boys. (Some of us, including myself, argued that what we have is bad for everyone.) This became lost to many who attempted to make it an argument about the necessity to abrogate the first amendment protection of religious liberty by forcing some institutions to underwrite what they believe to be murder. All this because some people hold that the only way a woman can be a full and equal partner in society is to have someone else pay for what is already legally available to her.

      1. Magnificently summarized CACS (may I call you CA? 😛 )
        And for anyone trying to revive this discussion in other threads sometimes by broadly missing the point — I will not answer. You want my answers, go read that post. If you don’t GET it or think I’m attacking your pet theory, that’s your privilege. It is however not your right to highjack my comments. And to M.O — the sheer hubris of assuming because I disagree with you I must be ignorant left breathless.

        And CACS — we agree on its being BAD for EVERYONE. I think if I had a daughter I’d be even MORE worried.

        1. Yes, you may call me CA, although what it brings to my mind is a certain state, which I hope I am not. I’d rather be Wyoming. 😉

          I have a daughter, and I am.

          (Who, in response to your reading suggestion for her, sent her father and I the following to share with you:

          (Dad, feel free to add notes, additional titles/comments on Leinster and Nourse)

          Murray Leinster, This World is Taboo (possibly there are others in the series)
          “, Pariah Planet

          Alan Edward Nourse, Star Surgeon (Others, including Bladerunner–avoid the Burroughs movie treatment, movie rights were bought so the film ver of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep could use the title)“, Ounce of Cure

  16. Wow! So, because Sarah was in a different country, she can’t possibly know what went on here? Being an exchange student here, having friends who have lived here all their lives — you think you are giving her some information that she never had access to, previously? Oh, excuse me – that was a not very subtle attempt to sneak an entirely one-sided, off topic diatribe of your own onto somebody else’s widely read blog. And you thought she wouldn’t notice? >snickers<

    In nature, that would be a cukoo's egg. Not only do you plant your onesided egg, you sit back and wait for Sarah to defend (you hope) your egg against anybody else — because, you know, it's on her blog, so *of course* she will have to respond to whatever responses it generates.

    In my opinion, you are off topic, and off the rails when it comes to history (I was here in the 60s. I was in college in 72. I know about that situtation, but all the girls I knew who were taken away for an abortion were taken to Japan. And this was from Omaha, in case you think it was something only for the west coast. I won't go through the other bits, because there's no point).

    I wouldn't have approved your cukoo's egg in the first place, but our Hostess was feeling a bit magnanimous. Don't think for minute that will extend to other such attempts – you don't know where you are in relationship to her trip wire.

  17. I gather I missed out on the fun. My own sites have moderation turned on. I learned the hard way than when you write about inflammable topics, like politics, that it is a necessity.

    As to the “War on Women”, it goes back to the Equal Rights Amendment. All the Canadian Women I know are amazed that American Women haven’t “Voted The Bastards Out” for not enacting the Equal Rights Amendment.

    The Republican Party is committing political suicide with their policies. When you deliberately set out to alienate 50% of the electorate, you aren’t going to gain a majority in either house, or gain the Presidency.

    Politics is so much fun. That’s why I love writing about it.


    1. Erm, Wayne – that ERA thing ended during the *Reagan* Administration. Most of us have moved on, realizing that it’s not needed. It doesn’t take a Constitutional Amendment, which was the “A” in ERA.

      This is not the place. Especially if you’re going to drag us back thiry years in time.

      1. Thank you, Lin. And no, this is not the place. However, I’ve learned Wayne MUST be allowed his “Canada is better” Tourettes as well as his occasional startlingly stunning example of NOT getting it, and it’s best to ignore him. Like Popeye, he is what he is.

  18. My 2 cents on Trolls.

    While the original Trolls still do exist I do think some are giving what the newer breed of Troll truly is way too much credit. Many are simply ignorant. I too have been on forums where you see someone who has repeatedly admitted they were gay (or which ever word they chose to express that) attacked for being homophobic. I’ve even seen male posters being degraded as the poster put it “just being female”. Wait, what?? It kind of makes you do a double take. On the first hand you have to wonder if they even know what the word homophobic means and for the other you get the impression they are not actually following the conversation at all, but just want an outlet for their hate.

    These Trollus ignoramus as I like to call them are generally easy to spot. Their most telling feature is their total lack of any Human Cognitive brain function and solely rely on the primate part of their brain. Where by the continue to fling poo at any thing they deem a thread. This secondary characteristic can often be spotted in two ways. They often will either slink away once their ignorance is pointed out or if they are simply venting their hate they will continue to argue the same point in spite of learning the truth (if I remember right it took the one I remember 3 pages before he quit calling him a homophobe). As dangerous as it might be your only real course of action is to ignore them.

    I really think it has to be a disease because it is continuing to spread exponentially and rather than cure it our society seems to be fostering it. What ever it actually turns out to be it has become extremely resistant to the standard treatment of remedy of knowledge. So once applied one should never feel safe that this traditional cure will take effect. Take comfort in the fact that they don’t seem to suffer once they contract the disease….only you will.

    Joking aside there really does seem to be a certain ignorance behind a lot of what I see as trolling now. There will always be those that do so for whatever enjoyment they get out of it, but honestly those are not the ones that scare me.

    1. I think that what you describe comes from the common mistake of treating persons as part of a monolithic class, where you become identified by a particular characteristic, be it race, color, creed, place of national origin, biological bits, sexual preferences, or whatever have you. This results in the opinions you hold and the arguments you make meaning more than who you are as an individual. Under these conditions you easily can have a poster calling an actively gay person a homophobe or calling out a man for ‘just being female.’

      (Frankly this problem really is not new. Bad guys wear black hats, good guys white. Within my lifetime if you met a gay character in literature they were usually comic, feckless, pitiful, slimy, part of the underbelly of society or a combination of the above. What they weren’t were nuanced or whole.)

      These trolls appear to have been inoculated from the discipline of logic. I repeat, paraphrasing from elsewhere, I can see these their heads exploding, ‘How dare you use logic! Don’t be so DWEM!’

      It is in reaction to this, in part, that the Human Wave SF movement formed. One of its tenets is not to treat any single or specific identifying feature as defining or dictating the whole of a person.

      1. “I think that what you describe comes from the common mistake of treating persons as part of a monolithic class, where you become identified by a particular characteristic, be it race, color, creed, place of national origin, biological bits, sexual preferences, or whatever have you. This results in the opinions you hold and the arguments you make meaning more than who you are as an individual.”

        I’ll have to think on that. I feel that there is another more root cause, but thinking about what you said I can no longer deem it simply ignorance. That just doesn’t really define it correctly.

        Otherwise I can’t disagree with what you said. And I rather like the phrase “inoculated from the discipline of logic”.

        1. Ignorance is an absence of data. Instead we see a (conscious or not) misinterpretation of data to fit into a particular Worldview.

          It is an unfortunate characteristic of our species that we are prone to think in categories and brand outliers of those categories as inauthentic. It is easiest to provide examples of this in the political arena (Bill Clinton as 1st Black president; Sarah Palin is not a woman, she’s a Republican) but the best I’ve read was the Nazi who hated Jews (as a group) but when asked about Moishe the baker or Shmuel the tailor he will say “Oh, he’s different, he’s a swell fellow — not like the rest.” Contrariwise, a person might “Love Humanity” but consistently treat people like crap.

          This is a problem of failing to distinguish people from their category. It leads to calling people traitors to their race or gender — typically categories they never voted to join, never voted for the leadership of and were never given a vote on the party platform.

          In my youth this type of categorical thought was an aspect of High School, although I suppose it has moved to lower grades now. But it wasn’t until High School that I recall people becoming identified according to their identity group: jocks, freaks, geeks, etc. Psychologically, might it derive from the development of generalized thought?

          Of course, some people outgrow it and some don’t, and some never enter into it. When the Deranged Daughter was quite young she started working on this order of thinking and formulating categorical characteristics based on superficial attributes (e.g., “Black people …” or “Women are …”) and Beloved Spouse and I were forced to explain to her that there is no point in hating people wholesale, they’d give you ample enough reason retail … and you might miss out on some really fun friends from the wholesale route.

            1. There must be something in the water. From Andrew Klavan today:

              Or consider the finely crafted argument, “You’re a racist!!!!” (or a homophobe or a sexist or Islamophobic or whatever you like). What purpose does such a comment serve besides silencing the opposition? And what purpose is there to silencing the opposition except to obscure the fact that it might be in the right? If someone says behaviors in the black community are destroying black families and increasing their generational poverty… or redefining marriage is dangerous to the social structure… or women are less rational than men or Islam is a degrading philosophy… these statements are either true or false, useful or not useful, important or unimportant. The character of the person making them is largely irrelevant — but the fact that someone resorted to the argument ad hominem should make a warning light go off in your mind.

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