Obligatory trigger warning because HOLY FUCK.
There is, suddenly, a lot of to-do about TJ Kincaid, also known as The Amazing Atheist, a provincial and prejudiced man who believes himself to be superior to others by virtue of having figured out the question of God (e.g., “there isn’t one”). A lot of people who have otherwise ignored his rants are tuning in now that he’s flamed out so spectacularly over at Reddit, you know, like you do. And most of the criticism is, as it turns out, about the fact that he appears to be suffering from a bigotry version of the Dunning Kruger effect. I think this is close to the mark, but does not go quite far enough.
Russell Glasser of The Atheist Experience passed around the Freethought Blogs back channel a preview of his most recent post, where the events over at Reddit are covered in excruciating detail. Among other things, he said the following to a rape victim (below the fold):
Yeah. Well, you deserved it. So, fuck you. I hope it happens again soon. I’m tired of being treated like shit by you mean little cunts and then you using your rape as an excuse. Fuck you. I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal. I hope you fucking drown in rape semen, you ugly, mean-spirited cow. Actually, I don’t believe you were ever raped!
Emphasis mine. All this and much more because he was taken to task over a comment that he doesn’t believe in “triggering language“. As though post-traumatic stress disorder is something we should be skeptical of.
What kind of lack of empathy does it take to completely fail to understand that some people have been through extraordinarily traumatic experiences, and those experiences might in fact be relived after someone expresses a desire to do exactly the thing that traumatized those people in the first place? This is the sort of man who might be expected to wander around war veterans’ hospitals popping paper bags behind the victims’ heads. TJ intentionally seeks to cause offense, and holds it as a virtue.
He apparently believes that anyone fighting for women’s rights and anyone fighting to end rape culture and anyone fighting to undermine privilege is de facto attacking men — that feminists laugh about instances of misandry when in actuality the vast majority of us see it as every bit as execrable, and stemming every bit as much from the existence of present-day gender roles and the artificial divide between men and women in our culture. His pushback against feminism is evidently, in his mind, about dogmatism, as if it is some sort of doctrinary and ideological point that the concept of patriarchy exists and that the concept of privilege exists. Both of these constructs actually describe our society quite well, and make specific predictions that are borne out statistically, to the point where it would take extraordinary evidence to show that these constructs are NOT accurate models of our society.
And still, he thinks he is amazing. Really, all he is is what his profile on Youtube describes: a surprisingly popular angry little man ranting in an empty room and fully intending to disgust or amuse by turns.
TJ Kincaid does not represent me as an atheist. He does not represent the majority of us as atheists. It makes me sick that such a narrow minded and hate-filled toad is followed by over 290,000 users on Youtube. And all because he got that one question right, and he does a decent impression of Lewis Black only, you know, minus the funny.
But then, it’s almost no surprise. Penn Jillette is still super-popular, despite calling a woman a cunt publically, even where Michael Richards’ career ended over him calling a heckler a nigger in a not dissimilar context and level of public exposure. Perhaps there is a huge audience for people who do not care about causing offense to women, even where people are already over the racism tipping point. This is a sad commentary on our society, if this is the case.
The take-away lesson I’m getting is, if you want to get popular, bash women. Or, get popular, then it’s okay to bash women. I’m not sure which way the causality arrow goes. Either way, the inability TJ displays to comprehend the very simple and basic fact that words actually have consequences outside of ourselves, and that what we’re doing by writing is in fact attempting to effect social change by changing others’ minds with these words, is staggering. And the corollary implication that he denies privilege while exerting said privilege to say what he wants about women because, you know, bitches ain’t shit, is damning. It says that the people calling this a bigotry Dunning-Kruger are right, in addition to my assertion that he actually does not understand the whole point of social activism and that we’re trying to effect social change here. I mean, that’s the whole point of what we do when we blog or vlog or podcast or whatever.
That we are all commenting on his inability to see his own reflection in the mirror is good — maybe if enough of us say it, maybe his popularity will wane. Maybe TJ will be a Michael Richards, instead of a Penn Jillette. It would be a good way to teach him that sometimes your words have consequences you don’t intend, and sometimes those consequences will cut your own knees out from under you. Maybe once he’s found out that his words can hurt HIM, maybe then he’ll learn that his words can hurt OTHERS, too. Maybe then he’ll learn that there’s a huge difference between satire and offense, and while that line might be different from person to person, what he’s said is so far over that line for almost everyone involved that there should be absolutely no doubt that he has intended to do damage to that person well beyond merely insulting them. In such a concentrated attack, he succeeded in showing exactly how little wordcraft he possesses.
And it all comes down to the difference between freedom of speech, and freedom to speak without consequences. Funny how it’s always the same sort of people who mix those up, and forget that those consequences always extend beyond yourself.