So, this week Dan and myself went to the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop. There will be an after-action report on this, as well as my explanation of why I think this is is important, but first I want to talk about what happened elsewhere while I was busy learning about innovative methods of propulsion, theories of terraforming, and other fascinating subjects: that is, I want to talk about the incident that, somehow, in the realm of the internet, made me into a Lesbian, Thai, Social Justice Warrior.
How is that possible? You ask – I don’t know.
The whole thing had the characteristics of a nightmare where you’re walking along a familiar hallway and suddenly you realize that the hallway is not familiar at all, and that your tentacles are dragging along the wall. And then you think “tentacles?” which is when you wake up screaming.
Or perhaps the nightmare where you’re a little kid and go to the kitchen for some water, late at night, and mom is sitting at the table, having a midnight snack of live snakes.
You see, not only am I not a Thai, Lesbian, Social Justice Warrior, but I’d, in fact be more likely to become or pretend to be Thai or Lesbian than a Social Justice Warrior.
None of which saved me from being accused of being this uber-left social justice warrior who has been harassing our cultural adversaries by accusing them of secret hatred and of being insufficiently PC.
I’m still wearing my “Wait, WHAT?” face from when Amanda told me about the comment that said this troll – variously identified as Requires Hate and Winterfox and a two-part name I can’t even spell – must be me, because of the “similarity in our rhetoric.” I haven’t read the comment. It might magically suck me through the internet and I might find myself with my fingers clapped around this creature’s neck strangling him while demanding he explain what in heaven’s name he means. (Though I think I know, and I’ll explain later.)
Anyway, after this Requires Hate creature had abused them and called them names and caused them to grovel, and enlisted the cowed cooperation of Alex-no-binary gender and our old friend Damien so-dense-that-I’m-afraid-a-blackhole-will form around me, people started comparing notes and getting made, because they realized this creature was the same who under the two-name moniker had been sucking up to them. They also claim she had waged whisper campaigns to have them banned from conventions, that she tarnished their reputations with the same whisper campaigns and that she made some people give up writing altogether.
And of course their problem – as explained in this article – is not that she did all those things, but that she used the tactics against the “wrong people” i.e. fellow “social justice warriors”, people who want to eliminate patriarchy and who are sure white privilege is hiding under their bed, ready to pounce out as soon as they relax — People who think that everyone who doesn’t think like them commits thought crime and should be silenced.
That is, they are upset because tactics they sanction and use against people like us are being used against them.
As is said in the comments, in this Mad Genius post by Dave Freer, the revolutionaries are always surprised when the tumbril stops at their door.
It was that comment, and other comments in that post (which you absolutely should read) particularly the ones about how RH/Winterfox caused real suffering and about how some people are suffering from PTSD after being exposed to her tactics, and WHY her tactics worked with them, when they don’t work with us, that got me thinking about this post.
I quote Synova’s comment below on how pernicious accusations of thought-crime are, because she is absolutely right, and because it makes clear why communist societies (starting arguably with the French revolution as a pre-Marxist, but proto-communist attempt) eat themselves. It explains why the SJWs are inevitably headed for this same cannibal feast, why even if Marx’s cooky theories of economics worked – they don’t – the crazy attempt to build a “new man” free from the “capitalist taint” (they can’t – capitalism is inherent in being human. You can make it illegal and drive it underground, or you can allow it to lift all boats, but creating and trading, buying and selling is being human.) with its attendant tendency to criminalize thought crimes would still end in mass graves and mass misery.
Some of the comments by people who had been subject to the full treatment just made me want to cry. I didn’t think it was funny because the guilty parties and enablers aren’t the ones who are hurt. Yes, we can scoff at Scalzi when he makes a rational counter-argument and is made, ultimately, to retract and abase himself and agree in public and start proselytizing in public that no… you really can’t trust your own brain and if something seems wrong to you or you feel like defending yourself it is simply proof that you’re guilty.
But there were people who reported rather severe PTSD type reactions to even sitting down at a keyboard to write because they were so terrified of offending… again. Because *rationally* they’d done nothing wrong the first time, but they were forced to an irrational acceptance of their guilt. So now they’ve “accepted their privilege” and “checked it” and confessed and repented (they could come to the Dark Side and be welcomed, but they don’t know that, and have been taught that the Dark Side is evil, and that’s why shunning is so very evil within closed communities… being exiled is a horrific punishment) but since they had NO IDEA how they could have done something wrong in the first place, they also have no idea how to avoid it the next time.
Imagine doing this to a child.
The kid is walking through a room doing nothing much and suddenly POW… and then you tell the kid… well that was YOUR fault. You screwed up. You stepped on that spot on the floor.
So the kid looks at the spot and it looks like every other spot. But the kid is told that, no, the fact that she can’t even SEE the spot is what the problem is. You can’t SEE the spot… that’s why it is YOUR fault. Also, a good child will try to learn. You’re a good child, aren’t you?
So the kid says, yes… it was my fault. I could not SEE the spot. Not seeing the spot makes this my fault.
Afterward, it’s still impossible to see the spots, and walking across the room becomes fraught with danger. Sitting down at the keyboard gives this very “good” person the shakes and panic attacks… where are the spots? She still can’t see the spots but she MUST agree and believe that those spots exist.
I have a LOT of sympathy for those who were hurt, just like I have sympathy for any abused person.
For reasons and in circumstances I’m not going to get into here, I often found myself EXACTLY in the position of that child, growing up. It’s crazy making and it took me years (20 and a good marriage) to recover from it.
Which is why it’s a particularly evil thing to do to a single person.
But in a greater sense, it is literally what certain kinds of revolutionary doctrines, be they religious or political can do to a human being.
Note, these are usually doctrines (again, religious or political) that not only think they can remake humans, but think they can remake them into flawless creatures. I was going to say they can come from the right or the left, but only if you accept that all religious extremism is from the right, which I don’t think makes much sense.
There is a certain tendency in conservative/libertarian circles (if that’s what we’re calling “right” this week) to assume that humans come with some natural flaws, one of them being a thirst for power, another being a need for recognition. There is also an understanding that life isn’t fair.
It is only certain feverish religious states (well, the sects call themselves Christian, I have issues with them, and no, I’m not talking about any recognizable mainstream Christian sects, though there were certainly some interesting heresies in that direction in past centuries) that partake the illusions of the left (itself a fevered religion, albeit a godless one) that you can infinitely remake humans and use that change to create a paradise.
Here is the thing: every society has rules by which its members are judged. Some are sensible rules and we can applaud them. Some are batsh*t insane rules, and we’re jaw-dropped about them. And some are indecipherable to our current mentality.
Some of the things that bring condemnation on characters in Jane Austen’s novels, for instance, I only understand are “bad” because I studied the period. I’m sure blundering into it, I’d make a million gaffes. I find the morality police that whips the ankles of women who show them in Saudi-Arabia repulsive, but it is a rule and the women know about it. I understand rules about things like not eating from other people’s plates, not insulting strangers, etc.
BUT and this is very important, the point is not that those rules are fair. The point is that if you grow up in those societies, you have a reasonable expectation of knowing WHAT the rules are. I.e. if I’m strolling in a mini-skirt in a Saudi Arabian souk and get whipped, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. It can come as an outrage, but not a surprise.
Revolutions like the US, which changed governance but didn’t presume to change the way people worked, in their minds and hearts, don’t turn into cannibal feasts. OTOH revolutions like the French, where people descended/aspired to changing the names of the weekdays and the months, in order to construct a completely different humanity, inevitably end up in a pile of blood-soaked corpses.
So do revolutions like the Russian and the Chinese, and others.
The difference is this: these revolutions make functioning as a normal human a crime. This requires changing your very thoughts and the way you process reality. And they presume to divine from your smallest actions, your most casual lapses, that you have commited a thought-crime.
This, of course, requires special people who can look into the actions and every day assumptions of others and tell them where they went wrong.
The process is bad enough when done by a minister or another nominally trained person. (I am not talking here of ministers in normal denominations, who are usually trained and don’t want to remake humanity, just get it to behave a little better.) In extreme cases, it creates Jim Jones. It is nightmarish when done by the left, which means it is done by people given power and authority to do this by the grace of totally arbitrary characteristics: where they were born/when/what pigmentation their skin has/what happens to be between their legs/whom they like to sleep with. This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you an idea that none of these attributes is magical, and none of them should confer the authority to discern and judge the secrets of other’s hearts.
But the SJWs believe it does. They believe someone who is born with more victim cards, even if the person was in fact born very wealthy and never experienced a day’s hardship, immediately can judge them and tell them when they’re exhibiting “privilege” which is a taint that attaches to other seemingly arbitrary characteristics, no matter how poor or downtrodden people born with them are.
This sets them up to be abused in exactly the way that Synova describes. Worse, it sets them up to join the mob and wail for the blood of innocent people in whom one of these “anointed ones” discerned guilt. Not to do so, might mean they were tainted with the guilt themselves, after all.
By this process, they saddle themselves with psychopaths as leaders (yeah, some of the anointed ones are merely true believers, but that kind of power inevitably attracts psychopaths and sadists) and make any organization, place, country or government they take over into hell on Earth, instead of the utopia they imagine.
The state of irrationality is demonstrated by the commenter who thought I was RH because of our “similar rhetoric.” There are in fact not even mild similarities between an extreme leftist and myself. BUT both of us made him feel pain. So, therefore we are similar and possibly the same.
That means the commenter had the ability to think/react/avoid pain of a nematode, if that high.
I would enjoin those people caught in the vortex of accusation/appeasement/abasement to take a good look at what they’re doing.
A society where the rules have to be divined by special individuals (no? Would any rational human being think of “lady” as an insult, till the SJWs declared it so?) is not conducive to liberty. It’s not conducive to kindness. It’s damaging to the ability to think.
In the end it makes you animals, joining a mob to avoid being killed.
I suggest if you are caught in it, or suspect you might be, that you re-read Animal Farm. And then evaluate the goals of your movement. You can demand that women be given opportunities in business and art. You can’t get into anyone’s heads and demand that they never have a bad thought.
You can establish that pinching a woman’s butt against her will is bad. You can’t establish that men shouldn’t be allowed to look at naked women or wear art showing a naked woman. And you have to decide whether female nudity is empowering or demeaning, btw.
The rules need to be clear and well established. They can be changed, but if they are, they need to be proclaimed so everyone in the society/group/cult knows them.
And no one should be condemned by inference/whispers/accusation without a fair chance to defend him/her/dragon self and confront his/her/gerbil’s accusers.
That is how you stop cannibal feasts. You start by admitting humans aren’t infinitely perfectible, and that even the “anointed ones” can have flaws like a search for power.
The alternative is that you tuck your napkin under your chin and dig in.