20 February 2016

Random thought for the day

There seems to be a high correlation between the people complaining about "social justice", "political correctness", "feminism", people being accused of being "racist", and said people being or at least acting like assholes, particularly online. By making very sloppy and indecorous arguments, attracting a lot of attention for doing so (often negative attention), and then retreating behind friendly lines and watching the fire burn afterward. Usually quite unapologetically as though they did not realize there would be any problem.

Some or all of those causes have legitimate problems in their public presentation, factual points of agreement or disagreement, and acceptance of critiques along those lines. Some or even many of the people involved in those causes can be sometimes quite unpleasant to talk to. Indeed this is a common complaint leveled at: environmentalists, feminists, atheists, libertarians, conservatives, marxists, etc. That the people involved are often coming off as somewhat intolerant of dissenting views and other crimes against the use of public forums to try to win arguments. But most of the people pointing this out cannot help but to appear to be enormously smug bastards about it as though they are winning something other than this legitimate complaint. And they often seem to pick the more inflammatory or offensive method of expression to do so when something more mundane or polite would suffice. They thus appear to be winning mostly troll-ish opinion and flame wars.

Ordinarily such things don't matter in real life that some number of people might secretly be enormous assholes who are offended that they cannot say regressive things about other people any more. Except we have a Presidential candidate whose entire campaign seems based around taking this manner of argument and rhetoric to its logical conclusion and who seems to be fairing reasonably well in spite of this ordinarily disqualifying limitation. In general, I favor extremely wide uses of freedom of speech, relative even to the extremely wide uses that most Americans think they favor. That is that I do not favor using state power to silence people on almost any basis relating to "offensive speech", and I don't really care very much if we try to use soft power via things like boycotts to silence people we disagree with privately or in this context who we believe are "offensive". I think this is ineffective too most of the time. Idiots and assholes and misogynists and racists and other varieties of poor quality arguments should become self-identifying and self-recommending in that light by allowing them to speak and learning how poorly they have thought of their chosen subjects of speech. But the modern status symbol appears to be assholes "who will tell it like it is" for some number of people. Which is more concerning that there are apparently a sufficient number of idiots and assholes and misogynists and racists.
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