When offence is not an emotion, but a currency


There might just be one reason to be grateful to Katie Hopkins. With her column and comments about drowned refugees and her genocidal reduction of migrant people to cockroaches, she reminded me (and I’d guess a few others) how it feels to be properly offended. You know, that moment when you read or hear something so horrible that your solar plexus cramps up, you exhale a sudden whoa and your body seems to drop a degree in temperature?

Offence in that sense is a very real, human emotion. It seems to me that much of the time when we discuss issues of offence, it is not that kind of emotional pain that we are talking about. It is a more abstract, theoretical sense that someone has transgressed some fairly arbitrary line of acceptability. And most of the time, it seems to me, offence isn’t an emotion so much as a currency, traded for various advantages in ideological, political or economic power struggles.

This is not a partisan point. We are all guilty of it. The liberal/ progressive/ left is most commonly accused of manufactured outrage, often justifiably so. I doubt anyone was viscerally anguished by Matt Taylor’s shirt, but the ‘offence caused’ could be traded in for various points in debates about sexual objectification of women and workplace sexism, specifically in STEM. Whether you think that was a fair trade or not will probably depend on how much significance you attached to those issues in the first place.

Religions and the religious have, of course, mastered this over centuries. To this day in many countries we see brutal, murderous persecution, in the name of blasphemy, but in truth little more than the assertion of violent, ideological, totalitarian power. Even in comparatively secular democracies, religious interests of most flavours periodically use complaints of blasphemy and religious offence as a currency to buy influence and vie for position; cashed in for a slot on the news, a cancelled event, a letter of apology from someone… any demonstration of influence.

This week Breitbart and several other sites on the rabid right have picked up on a campaign run by a British MRA site called HEqual. They have had their claws out for a feminist called Sarah Noble. Who she? Well she’s a student activist with the LibDems (yes, apparently they exist) and sits on a few LibDem committees, including their Secular & Humanist and LGBT committees. She is also an angry young Twitter feminist with a predeliction for #KillAllMen #DieCisScum type outbursts.

[I should declare at this point that Sarah and I follow each other on Twitter, have had a few exchanges which have been funny and friendly, and while our politics are miles apart on some issues, I rather like her. I should also declare that the person(s) behind HEqual and I also follow each other on Twitter, we’ve had several friendly exchanges, and while I profoundly disagree with their politics and don’t really share their priorities in men’s issues, I’ve always found them to be respectful, thoughtful and honest, and have never seen them be aggressive, misogynistic or obnoxious – which sets them apart from most of the manosphere. In short, I have no particular grudge against either side here.]

The row was kicked off at the NUS women’s conference (yes, the jazz hands event) when Sarah tweeted:

We just voted to remove the word “men” from a motion re: razors. I said we need to remove men from society. #womcon15

Now, I hope I do not need to point out that this is a joke. Whether it is a good joke or a bad one, in good taste or bad is by the by. Any comedian or writer would recognise the structure – it has the set-up and the punchline, even the timing of a joke. It is structurally the exact same joke as when someone said corrupt ex-MP Neil Hamilton should be deprived of ‘the oxygen of publicity’ and the late great Linda Smith replied “I’m not even sure he should have the oxygen of oxygen.” Boom boom.

I have written before about the whole business of ironic misandry. For the most part I file it under the ever-expanding list of shits I could not give, but I think the bottom line is that if you are going to joyfully and ironically parrot silly slogans or make jokes about violence and hatred then fair enough, but you cannot reasonably complain if others assume you are violent and hate-filled. If your political territory is with Class War you can blaze that shit on your T-shirt, but it probably sits less well with the Liberal Democrats. HEqual is a site that mostly monitors perceived misandry and media portrayals of men, so I think it is just about fair game for such an activist/ site like to go after the issue in good faith.

What I found telling, however, was the tone of the Breitbart piece. Remember this is the site that gleefully champions the right to cause offence, indeed actively revels in it. It is the closest thing GamerGate has to a mainstream media champion. It is Fox News with an English public school accent. And yet suddenly here it is swooning like an Edwardian virgin at the sheer brutality of Noble’s language, her “string of sexist comments” and “multiple tweets of a disturbingly hateful nature.”

The latest HEqual blog includes a collection of the tweets sent to Sarah Noble after Breitbart’s Troll-in-Chief Milo Yiannopoulos tweeted about her. It’s an overwhelming torrent of outrage that is worth reading in full, but highlights include:

  • Hitler wanted to remove Jews from society. Looks like you’d be a good partner for him; you share similar ideals.
  • I’m like 80% sure you’re advocating genocide rn
  • Rid men from society, says “equality campaigner” and hatemonger @sarahlicity
  • Who the fuck actually thinks it’s a good idea to remove an entire gender from society? That’s worse than fucking racism mate.
  • Hey, fuckface, saw that you advocated for the mass murder of all men earlier at a women’s conference. The fuck you on about?

There are dozens more like this. Now call me cynical but I don’t believe for a second that any of the people involved were actually personally offended by the bad taste humour of an obscure Twitter feminist or, for that matter, believed she was genuinely advocating mass murder. I’m pretty sure what they were actually doing was exploiting a perceived transgression of the rules of civility – the very same rules of civility the same people routinely disparage, despise and flout in other situations – to pursue different and larger points. What points? They would probably say their point is that feminism is hypocritical. My hunch is that deep down the agenda is not to police the language of the feminist left so much as to undermine arguments against hate speech and discriminatory language elsewhere. The Breitbart piece pretty much acknowledges this, when it says:

The Liberal Democrats currently take a robust stance on hate speech. They are currently championing a policy that would ban homophobic chanting on football pitches. Critics of hate speech laws say that they are too broadly drawn, and confuse the hateful with the merely politically incorrect. But as long as the Lib Dems defends the existing consensus, members like Noble, who are far more than just politically incorrect, represent a serious threat to their credibility.

And this is what it is all about. When LibDems / feminists / progressives / whatevers condemn or confront the vicious homophobia on the terraces, the misogynistic bile on the GamerGate threads or the festering racism of Murdoch columnists, their advocates and protectors can turn around and say “Look! You are just as bad!”

Jokes along the lines of killing all men are, for the most part, a bit tiresome and puerile. For those of us who care and campaign on men’s issues in the real world, whether health and longevity, mental health and suicide or violent crime and victimisation, they are unhelpful at best and downright corrosive at worst. However to conflate that with true hate speech and violent bigotry is disingenuous and ignorant. Hopkins wrote a screed that all but celebrated the tragic deaths of hundreds of migrants while their bodies were still being picked out of the water. Her words appeared while politicians were debating whether or not they felt inclined to use available resources to pull drowning babies from the sea.

Real hate speech fires the hearts of the murderous and the violent and drives the willing to spit, swear and swing kicks at the disabled, the gay, the trans, the poor, the different. When all this is happening, to claim equivalence for a puerile joke is not just inappropriate, it is positively crass.

Comments

  1. Sans-sanity says

    “the vicious homophobia on the terraces, the misogynistic bile on the GamerGate threads or the festering racism of Murdoch columnists”

    The first two are far more akin to #killallmen then the the celebration of tragic deaths. The accusation of hypocrisy is apt – the affected outrage, however, comes with its own hypocrisy. Breibart would be better to congratulate Sarah Noble for getting into the spirit of things. What’s more, I think that that might have a far greater chance of causing her to reconsider her ‘misandrist and proud’ position, to boot.

  2. Sans-sanity says

    Oh, funnily, while I was previously looking into this kerfuffel-ette I came across an old (2013) Twitter thread where Penny Red was asking just what “KillAllMen” was exactly; I think you described it as “The thoughtless teasing the brainless” 🙂

  3. StillGjenganger says

    Exactly right. Sans-Sanity.

    Ally:

    My hunch is that deep down the agenda is not to police the language of the feminist left so much as to undermine arguments against hate speech and discriminatory language elsewhere.

    Sounds about right. But

    And this is what it is all about. When LibDems / feminists / progressives / whatevers condemn or confront the vicious homophobia on the terraces, the misogynistic bile on the GamerGate threads or the festering racism of Murdoch columnists, …

    How is this different from saying “The things that offend me are awful, horrible and must be banned. The things that offend others are silly and pretend.

  4. Ally Fogg says

    Sans-sanity

    The first two are far more akin to #killallmen then the the celebration of tragic deaths.

    You may have a point with GamerGate, but not the first one, where there is a direct and immediate relationship between people chanting hateful attacks and actual physical homophobic violent attacks and discriminatory acts. There is simply no comparison to #killallmen etc.

    The accusation of hypocrisy is apt – the affected outrage, however, comes with its own hypocrisy. Breibart would be better to congratulate Sarah Noble for getting into the spirit of things. What’s more, I think that that might have a far greater chance of causing her to reconsider her ‘misandrist and proud’ position, to boot.

    Ha. On that I think you do have a very good point.

    I think you described it as “The thoughtless teasing the brainless”

    Haha, thank you. I had completely forgotten I had said that but I’m very glad I did.

  5. avern says

    This whole post is just an attempt at misdirection.The sexism and bigotry that runs rampant in the feminist movement is becoming so explicit that true believers like Ally now have to resort to tired “it’s just a joke!” and “there are worse things in the world!” style excuses.

    Shitbags like Sarah Noble do in fact hate men and their “men’s tears” jokes are just one expression of their constipated rage. “Ironic misandry” is a term invented solely to relieve them responsibility of their hatred since feminists are unable to take responsibility for anything.

    And Milo Yiannopoulos is awesome! Gay men are becoming the absolute forefront of the anti-feminist movement. I love it!

  6. StillGjenganger says

    Putting another 2 seconds of thought into this:
    Unlike Ally I think that an attack on the ‘hate speech’ movement in general is perfectly justified. And attacking progressives for their hypocrisy certainly is. But this kind of action is bad also because it adds justification to the idea of prohibiting speech you do not like. Instead of saying, as it were “we, too, must be protected against insults” they would be better off to maintain consistently that Sarah Noble was free to say what she wanted, and just claim the same right or themselves.

  7. Meggamat says

    @Ally Fogg- Unfortunately, just because a specific type of bigotry is not common now, does not mean that it will never become so. You say that mockery of heterosexuals is different to the speech of those who chant at football matches, forgetting that at one point in time, men (even powerful men such as AN EMPEROR OF ROME) who only pursued activities of an unmentionable nature with women were deemed deviant and worthy of mockery.

    Every terrible form of bigotry started off harmlessly.

  8. Ally Fogg says

    This whole post is just an attempt at misdirection.The sexism and bigotry that runs rampant in the feminist movement is becoming so explicit that true believers like Ally now have to resort to tired “it’s just a joke!” and “there are worse things in the world!” style excuses.

    Where do you go those glasses, Avern?

    You know, the ones that mean you read something on the page but the exact opposite meaning registers in your brain?

  9. John Welch says

    To me at least the “it’s just a joke, gosh” bit is only valid if all sides get to use it. It’s the fact that when people Sarah doesn’t like use language like hers and say “it’s just a joke, gosh”, the knives come out, and INTENT IS NOT MAGIC, et al.

    But when *she* does it, it’s okay. Just a joke. Lighten up man.

    I agree with you Ally, that the chances of her seriously promoting genocide are vanishingly small, and I also think it’s just a way to Attract Attention To Herself On Social Media. It’s little different from my cat knocking things over if he doesn’t think i’ve moved fast enough to pet him.

    But if she gets that justification, then when she tries to limit it only to “good” people, that’s when it turns to shit. If she gets to use it, so does people she dislikes. If they aren’t allowed to use it, then why is she given a pass?

    It’s even more disingenuous when she and others get so amazed that people who don’t know her think that “Gee, you talk about some hateful shit a LOT, maybe that really is who you are.”

    A little ethical consistency goes a long damned way.

  10. Ash says

    I’d like to hear how you describe an elephant Ally, is it a wall or a snake?

    Breitbart’s issue with Noble is over her being an admin of the block bot, the twitter blocking utility, that in the name of stopping abuse, making twitter safe from threats and abuse and jokes and mere disagreement, partitions out thousands of users for their stated disagreements and jokes.

    > She is also a former team member of the “Atheism Plus Block Bot”, a twitter program that allows you to block predefined lists of users. The Block Bot’s creators claimed that the program blocks “trolls, abusers, and bigots”, but it faces growing accusations that this is merely a smokescreen for targeting people who offend them, such as the biologist and author Richard Dawkins. In the wake of Noble’s comments, the question of whether the Block Bot is really against all forms of hatred and bigotry is sure to be raised.

    You toss in her speech (kill all men) with her behavior, being an admin of the block bot, and suddenly her little joke is not so innocent anymore. Add to that her status as student leader at a time when due process is being hounded out of universities, and I think Breitbart et. al., make their case quite well that joke or not, she should be an ill fit for “Liberal Democrats”.

    I assume then, that your upset over any offense at her jokes is matched by your upset over PZ’s and Jadehawk’s offense at the Slymepit jokes, or how they demand Atheist Ireland disassociate from such people who would make such rude jokes.

  11. Ash says

    How many times does she have to say “kill all men” before you think she is not fit to be a leader of the Liberal Dems?

    How many times do I get to say that certain bloggers at FTB could use a khitbash before you are terribly offended with my comments?

  12. Ash says

    Last one.

    As Calgary Expo shows, right now the SJW have tremendous currency, tremendous power. They are the ones whose bogus ideas are the default and cannot be discussed. And that occurs at a time when Sarah says multiple times, while a leader of the Lib Dems “kill all men”

    Where Jessica Valenti at the Guardian mocks all the issues you claim to fight for with “Male Tears” and says
    Where Slate defends Valenti.

    Raising attention of the Male Tears campaigns, the Kill All Men campaigns, and the rest of feminist hatred of men is part and parcel of supporting Due Process rights of men on campus, of rebutting claims of needs of trigger warnings and safe spaces and other free speech abuses, and of shining a light on all the ways we give feminists a pass and how women are largely equal while feminists abuse society.

    So sure, Sarah was making a joke about throwing rocks at boys. How very cute of her. Girls are so cute.

  13. Carnation says

    @ Ally Fogg

    “Where do you go those glasses, Avern?

    You know, the ones that mean you read something on the page but the exact opposite meaning registers in your brain?”

    I call it the MRA gaze. Possibly the Daily Mail haze? Rage disrorted analysis ways? Failing all his days? As sophisticated in thinking as the Krays? Kids that silly shouldn’t be allowed online to play?

    I’m on my smart phone enjoying this sunny day. Got bless you all, even the wretched MRA.

  14. Chaos Engineer says

    It’s okay to make violent and hateful comments if you’re part of the self-appointed ‘oppressed’ class. But when OTHER people do it, it’s hate speech.

    Why would anyone appoint themselves to an oppressed class? Usually what happens is that other people assign you to the class. That is what the word ‘oppression’ means!

    Other than that I think you’re accurate. It helps if you break it down to the basics: If a commoner tells “The Story of the Clever Farmer who swindled a horse from the Foolish Nobleman”, then that could very well be funny. But it’s pretty much impossible for a nobleman to tell “The Story of the Clever Nobleman who swindled a horse from the Stupid Farmer” without coming across as mean-spirited.

    That said, it’s probably a mistake for a commoner to tell the “Clever Farmer” story in earshot of the mean-spirited sort of nobleman; nothing good can come of that. But that’s not the story’s fault; it’s the nobleman’s fault.

  15. says

    I think this is quite a thoughtful article, and your point on “offense as currency” is both original and perceptive. I also liked how you pointed out the hypocrisy of Milo’s article. Still, I have to agree with your other commenters who aren’t so sanguine about the “kill all men” jokes. I’ll grant that those aren’t as ugly as migrant jokes at this point in time. Still, I think such “jokes” can foment a chilling attitude towards men’s problems and needs that makes them outrightly invidious rather than merely obnoxious. In a culture where, as you pointed out not long ago, male rape victims as treated as they don’t exist, “ironic misandry” contributes to this culture of neglect, and the victims of that culture will likely not appreciate the “irony.”

    This, of course, is not to jump on the MRA/manosphere bandwagon, but to make the point that “ironic” misandry can hurt those who actually care about and want to help men, not just troglodytic manospambots.

  16. Jacob Schmidt says

    However to conflate that with true hate speech and violent bigotry is disingenuous and ignorant.

    Do you have a definition for ‘true hate speech’ Ally? Or is this a “I know it when I see it” thing?

    I don’t really have a problem with the latter, but it does make things a mite more difficult in telling other people they are wrong.

    “ironic misandry” contributes to this culture of neglect

    I’m not convinced it does. If such ironic misandry was routinely targeted at male DV/rape victims, I would agree. It would be playing into and enabling structural pressures against men. So far though, most of it seems pretty orthogonal, either deliberately mocking accusations of misandry, or other perceived silliness.

  17. Ash says

    > If such ironic misandry was routinely targeted at male DV/rape victims,

    During my divorce, I became a victim of a false accusation of DV, and false accusations of being a danger to children. These are well documented tactics used against men to obtain restraining orders, separate them from their children, bias the courts, and prevent shared custody. And it works too. As one example, a court psychologist testified in court to the effect “There is no evidence of any sort to the claims that the former Mrs Ash makes against Ash regarding his being any sort of danger to his children. **Nevertheless** the accusations themselves are so strong that I cannot recommend increasing Ash’s parenting time at this time and suggest it wait for six months and then I examine them again.

    Now, right off the bat, I suspect many readers just reading that graf assume where there is smoke there is fire.

    But that’s the sort of screw that has completely corrupted family courts. No psychologist, no judge wants to be the psychologist or judge who gave custody to a man who later did do something horrendous to his children. And so all men, all fathers suffer.

    Kill All Men. Male Tears.

    When I have personally blogged about this, and added comments to that extent to media articles, or feminist blog comments, using the exact same somewhat anodyne tone I have hear, I have personally experienced:

    a) having those comments, my speech, my experience, removed
    b) been banned from those sites
    c) been accused of derailing, whataboutthemenzing, not all menzing, mansplaining
    d) been called a rape apologist, a wife beater, a likely pedophile
    e) been threatened not just with doxxing but by having the judge and court psychologists (and employers) called up

    > If such ironic misandry was routinely targeted at male DV/rape victims,

    #Kill All Men, #MaleTears

    > If such ironic misandry was routinely targeted at male DV/rape victims,

    It is.

  18. Jacob Schmidt says

    That’s a very unfortunate experience, Ash. Less unfortunately, it does literally nothing to address what I wrote.

  19. avern says

    @Ally

    “Where do you go those glasses, Avern?”

    Thankfully not at the same place you get yours. You know, the ones that keep you from using correct spelling.

    “You know, the ones that mean you read something on the page but the exact opposite meaning registers in your brain?”

    Lol. I accuse you of misdirection and what do you do? Misdirect. Maybe one day you’ll learn proper argumentation.

    @Carny

    “I call it the MRA gaze. Possibly the Daily Mail haze? Rage disrorted analysis ways? Failing all his days? As sophisticated in thinking as the Krays? Kids that silly shouldn’t be allowed online to play?”

    Awww, Carny, the resident feminist worm has decided to use playful rhymes to sugarcoat his bile-covered rage-posting. Sorry, but it only makes your rhetoric cloyingly disgusting. Oh, and you misspelled distorted.

    “I’m on my smart phone enjoying this sunny day. Got bless you all, even the wretched MRA.”

    Lol. Why do you keep mentioning your smart phone? Do you think it makes you seem cool? And the fact that you’re on your smart phone spreading your bile on a message board instead of just simply enjoying that sunny day is pathetic beyond words.

  20. Ash says

    That’s right Schmidt it doesn’t.

    Because in your mind, it has to be addressed to male DV victims, male rape victims.

    Of course, society doesn’t mock male rape victims (rape!? you were lucky!)
    And society doesn’t mock male DV (you got beat by a woman!)

    And in your mind, false accusations aren’t a thing to care about, and ironic misandry of Kill All Men, or You Were Lucky or Beat By a Woman, or environments that condone all of that along with likely a pedophile, a wife beater, rape apologist are all just men whining about their Male Tears.

    So sure, nothing addresses what you demand to see, and nothing ever will.

    It’s all just unfortunate stories. Certainly not enough to make you rethink your position.

    #MaleTears

  21. Carnation says

    @ Avern

    “Lol. Why do you keep mentioning your smart phone? Do you think it makes you seem cool? And the fact that you’re on your smart phone spreading your bile on a message board instead of just simply enjoying that sunny day is pathetic beyond words.”

    Ahahahahahahahahhahahahaha. LOL. Ahahahahaha. Ho ho ho. Ahahhahahahahahaha, LOLOLOL. Ahhaaahahahahaha.

    That’s fantastic.

  22. Ally Fogg says

    Ash [11]

    I cannot express the unfathomable depth of my indifference to the existence and administration of the Block Bot, Perhaps the only issue that concerns me less than the existence and administration of the Block Bot would be complaints about the existence and administration of the Block Bot. No one is obliged to listen to anyone else on social media, and anyone is entitled to use whatever arbitrary systems they like to decide who they do and do not hear from on social media. That entire debate ends there. [as indeed does this one. Any further comments about the BB that go beyond the OP above will be deleted as OT]

    That said, from what I understand (correct me if I am wrong) Sarah Noble is not an active or even current administrator of the BB so I struggle to believe that is really anyone’s primary concern here.

    assume then, that your upset over any offense at her jokes is matched by your upset over PZ’s and Jadehawk’s offense at the Slymepit jokes, or how they demand Atheist Ireland disassociate from such people who would make such rude jokes.

    Read my post again. I am not upset at any offence at her jokes. As far as Breitbart is concerned, I pointblank refuse to accept there is any genuine upset over her jokes. They are not upset, they are grabbing an opportunity and exploiting it. That is the entire point of the blog above.

    I have literally no idea what you are talking about re: Slymepit, Atheist Ireland, PZ and Jadehawk and have literally zero interest in finding out.

  23. Jacob Schmidt says

    Because in your mind, it has to be addressed to male DV victims, male rape victims.

    To some extent, yes. The statements “eat the rich,” and “kill all men,” don’t necessarily support narratives about subsets of either group. They conceivably could, and I laid out a fairly simple scenario where I concede that they did (i.e. the statements actually being used in such a way to support a given narrative). It’s not even that hard a standard to meet.

    Here, I’ll give you an example: take the phrase “what about the menz?” On it’s own it encapsulates a fair point. However, if it were to be used against men in response to their complaints, complaints that were not derailing discussion, it would be problematic. At that point, rather than targeting derailment, it would be targeting the idea that men have legitimate complaint at all. At that point, I would take issue with the phrase.

    So do the same thing with ironic misandry. Establish routine use of ironic misandry to dismiss e.g. male rape/DV victims.

    Until then, I’ll stick to focusing on phenomena that actually harm men.

    Of course, society doesn’t mock male rape victims, etc

    I would suggest not making things up.

  24. Ally Fogg says

    Ash [12]

    How many times does she have to say “kill all men” before you think she is not fit to be a leader of the Liberal Dems?

    LOL

    Sarah is not “a leader of the Lib Dems”

    She is one of about precisely seven students (approximate estimate) nationally who still belong to that sad rump of a party. I don’t know how you imagine the LibDems organisational system works, but having experience of similar kinds of organisations, I’d hazard a guess they are desperate for anyone to do any kind of job (such as sitting on a committee) at all. Sitting on the “Yorkshire and Humber regional executive” is about on a par with being treasurer of the local bridge club when it comes to status.

    That said, as the article points out, I very much doubt that “kill all men” and “die cis scum” will sit very naturally with the party and I’d be very surprised if she is allowed to continue with any kind of role or responsibility without a lot of deleting and apologising. I won’t go as far as saying whether she should or should not, because frankly it is none of my business and I don’t much care either way.

  25. Ally Fogg says

    Gunlord [16]

    Thanks for a kind comment.

    Still, I think such “jokes” can foment a chilling attitude towards men’s problems and needs that makes them outrightly invidious rather than merely obnoxious. In a culture where, as you pointed out not long ago, male rape victims as treated as they don’t exist, “ironic misandry” contributes to this culture of neglect, and the victims of that culture will likely not appreciate the “irony.”

    I don’t disagree with that, except possibly slightly on degree. It is why I am careful to say that such slogans are not harmless, not inoffensive, not free of consequences.

    I’d be really interested in, and supportive of, a serious debate about the impacts of such slogans – what harm do they really cause to vulnerable people and the political narrative? But quite blatantly that is not the debate that Breitbart wants to have because quite clearly they don’t give a fuck about any of that.

  26. avern says

    “Ahahahahahahahahhahahahaha. LOL. Ahahahahaha. Ho ho ho. Ahahhahahahahahaha, LOLOLOL. Ahhaaahahahahaha.”

    Oh my god. Carny has finally lost what was left of his mind. I imagine this story will appear in tomorrow’s papers:

    Local man went insane at city park, ranting incessantly about “MRAs” after spending hours typing on his smart phone despite the beautiful sunny day, witnesses report. Authorities read the messages the man typed under the name “Carnation” for insight into what caused his madness, but they were too incoherent to read. Authorities then tried to contact his family and friends but it turned out the poor man didn’t have any.

  27. Ally Fogg says

    Jacob [17]

    Do you have a definition for ‘true hate speech’ Ally? Or is this a “I know it when I see it” thing?

    I’d say it is speech that in intent or effect, directly or through incitement, contributes to the oppression, violent subjugation and discriminatory treatment of social groups or sections of society.

    “ironic misandry” contributes to this culture of neglect
    I’m not convinced it does. If such ironic misandry was routinely targeted at male DV/rape victims, I would agree. It would be playing into and enabling structural pressures against men. So far though, most of it seems pretty orthogonal, either deliberately mocking accusations of misandry, or other perceived silliness.

    I’m not convinced by that. I think what those slogans do is bolster an ideological position that says men and their problems are inconsequential, irrelevant, insignificant. Again I reiterate there is no comparison to the grotesqueries of Katie Hopkins or the rants of violent homophobes, but that doesn’t mean there are not issues to address.

  28. Jacob Schmidt says

    I’d say it is speech that in intent or effect, directly or through incitement, contributes to the oppression, violent subjugation and discriminatory treatment of social groups or sections of society.

    Fair enough, thanks.

    I think what those slogans do is bolster an ideological position that says men and their problems are inconsequential, irrelevant, insignificant.

    I’m conceding that they definitely could, and I could be wrong in thinking they aren’t, but I’m not seeing that they necessarily do. How the slogans are used and the context in which they are used matters. In response to something like a high profile sexual harassment case wherein a man is accused of harassing women, the tag #killallmen would signal:

    a) that the speaker sides with the women;
    b) that the speaker blames the problem on men as a class;

    It doesn’t signal that the speaker doesn’t care about mens problems, or that one shouldn’t care about mens problems.

    In contrast, take a similar case where a woman is accused of harassing several men. The use of the tag #maletears would signal:

    a) that the speaker sides with the woman over the men;
    b) that the men are childish and deserve mocking for complaining about harassment in the first place;

    That would support damaging structural pressures that men face. And as far as I can tell, there is a dearth of the latter usage.

  29. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally28

    I’d say it is speech that in intent or effect, directly or through incitement, contributes to the oppression, violent subjugation and discriminatory treatment of social groups or sections of society.

    Would it follow that since e.,g. white people are not oppressed, violently subjugated, or discriminated against, nothing said about them could possibly constitute hate speech?

  30. Sans-sanity says

    @Ally, I see your point; homophobic chants at the footy may not ever elevate to actual violence (I.e. the crowd rushing the field to gay bash a player), but it does ‘refer’ to actual violence and death – therefore, as you say, a different league to the other two which mainly do not. Thanks!

  31. Ally Fogg says

    Jacob [29]

    I broadly agree. I think all of this is laden with contexts, subtext and semiotics and on any given occasion it could be this or it could be that. What I would say is that this stuff is not self-evidently fine and unproblematic.

    Gjenganger [30]

    I wouldn’t be that absolute about it. I could easily imagine where, for example, a Farrakhan-type figure incites violent hatred against white people as a race, based on nothing other than skin colour and associated culture.

    I would agree that there is a much higher bar, as it were, for something to constitute hate speech against white people (or men, or straight people or cis people or whatever) than for the alternatives.

  32. Ally Fogg says

    I keep coming back to this point, Gjenganger, but I’m not that interested in equality. In a society that is so wildly unfair in so many ways, I really don’t even know what equality means.

  33. Ash says

    Thanks Ally, you’ve made it clear the elephant is a wall and you have no interest in seeking out other perspectives on that. The guy who said it was a snake was being disingenuous. The guy who claimed it was a spear said that for the outrage.

    So you know more than anyone about why Breitbart attacked her, even disregarding what Breitbart says in the article, and heaven forfend you examine the clear recent history between Milo and Noble, you just know more and have no interest in doing the research, but that won’t stop you from telling us the elephant is a wall.

    OTOH

    > That said, as the article points out, I very much doubt that “kill all men” and “die cis scum” will sit very naturally with the party and I’d be very surprised if she is allowed to continue with any kind of role or responsibility without a lot of deleting and apologising. I won’t go as far as saying whether she should or should not, because frankly it is none of my business and I don’t much care either way.

    OTOH, you’re apparently relatively okay with Breitbart exposing what she has said and the effect on her, you just dislike the reasons you impugn to Breitbart and hate the notion they might have reason and agency that you might have to do some research to understand.

    Blind leading the blind, if that’s not too ableist.

  34. Ash says

    Matthew Harrison Brady: I do not think about things I do not think about.
    Henry Drummond: Do you ever think about things that you do think about?

  35. AnarchCassius says

    This is great. The complex layers of hypocrisy make this a hard issue to explain but I think you did a great job here.

  36. Bugmaster says

    @Ally #34:

    I keep coming back to this point, Gjenganger, but I’m not that interested in equality

    Huh, that’s pretty interesting — but maybe I’m just missing some context. If you are not interested in equality, then what do you see as the end goal of social justice ? Is it something like, “continue improving the social status of minority groups relative to its current level” ?

  37. LeSchlumb says

    Now call me cynical but I don’t believe for a second that any of the people involved were actually personally offended by the bad taste humour of an obscure Twitter feminist or, for that matter, believed she was genuinely advocating mass murder

    I can assure you that you’re wrong on both accounts.
    There are rabid haters on Twitter (what a surprise) who have a habit of getting away with the most heinous smears and calls for violence in the name of some dopey feminism and/or progressivism. And more and more people are just fed up with it, to the very brim.

    Now, I hope I do not need to point out that this is a joke.

    Nope, doesn’t fly. Not in general, and especially not in this particular case. Not everything that looks as if it were built up like a joke, is one – not if its malicious content does adequately reflect the actual opinion of its maker. Intent is context. Context matters greatly.

    However to conflate that with true hate speech and violent bigotry is disingenuous and ignorant

    You have yet to explain whence you got the magic mindreading powers to assure us that all the hateful bigotry in her timeline isn’t exactly what she wanted to put into it.

  38. StillGjenganger says

    I would agree that there is a much higher bar, as it were, for something to constitute hate speech against white people (or men, or straight people or cis people or whatever) than for the alternatives.

    As that stands, I would agree (maybe without the ‘much’). Groups that are and have been the victims of violent and murderous campaigns (Jews, US blacks, …) clearly need a higher degree of protection.

    I’d say it is speech that in intent or effect, directly or through incitement, contributes to the oppression, violent subjugation and discriminatory treatment of social groups or sections of society.

    I can still see some problems with that. Examples:

    – Men and women. Women are not a minority, and in many fields they are doing rather better than men. Now (not a hundred years ago) you could hardly call them oppressed or violently subjugated. But on the face of it you could indeed argue that pornography is hate speech, because it ‘contributes to the discrimination’ (if not oppression) of women.

    – Transsexuals. Anybody saying that a woman in a male body is not fully equivalent and interchangeable with a woman in a female body, even in the most polite and respectful terms, is setting transsexuals apart and branding them as abnormal and inferior. That would ‘contribute to the discrimination’. against them.

    – RadFems. They are part of an officially discriminated group (women). So, is it hate speech to say nasty things about them? Does it matter if the speaker is from a ‘more powerful’ group, like a man, or a group with a higher victimhood score, like a transsexual?

    – Paedophiles. They are often described in hateful and violent terms, as evil, disgusting etc. People revel in saying that they should be castrated, or imprisoned forever in various imaginative ways. And they are discriminated against, oppressed, and pursued by violent vigilantes, as well as the law.

    I could probably agree a lot with the way you, personally, applied that particular definition. But as a stand-alone definition I think it leads too easily to the victimhood Olympics: Anything bad or harmful said against a group with approved victimhood can easily be dismissed as hate speech. I miss some provision for true statements (be it against transsexuals or paedophiles, Rotherham child groomers or Tower Hamlets politicians), or for proportionality (men v. women). And I have problems with the way very similar statements are either innocuous or hate speech depending on who says them. And maybe we should have a rather higher bar for what can count as hate speech, regardless of the target.

  39. sheaf29 says

    Jacob Schmidt

    In response to something like a high profile sexual harassment case wherein a man is accused of harassing women, the tag #killallmen would signal:

    a) that the speaker sides with the women;
    b) that the speaker blames the problem on men as a class;

    It doesn’t signal that the speaker doesn’t care about mens problems, or that one shouldn’t care about mens problems.

    What if someone tweeted in the wake of the UVA rape allegation case #oppressallwomen or something to this effect?
    It signals

    a) that the speaker sides with the man;
    b) that the speaker blames the problem on women as a class;

    But the overall hostility towards hostility swinging in that comment would also heighten a probability estimate that the tweeter “speaker doesn’t care about womens problems”. Why is #killallmen different in this regard? I would suspect that someone tweeting #killallmen in such a situation is a predictor towards their attitude towards males and that it is negative.

  40. Ally Fogg says

    Bugmaster

    Huh, that’s pretty interesting — but maybe I’m just missing some context. If you are not interested in equality, then what do you see as the end goal of social justice ? Is it something like, “continue improving the social status of minority groups relative to its current level” ?

    There’s a similar discussion going on over at the open thread, about spending on healthcare.

    Social justice takes many forms:

    Civil and human rights
    Ending economic exploitation and unfairness
    Ending cultural exploitation and unfairness
    Removal of unfair obstacles to personal accomplishment and achievement
    etc etc etc.

    This maxim was written to explain economic justice but I think it works for all kinds of social justice…. “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.”

    Equality is fine as an ultimate objective, but it is absolutely useless as a day-to day ethical principle, if you have two people who are beginning in entirely unequal circumstances, and then treat them “equally” all you are doing is reinforcing and sustaining existing inequalities.

    So it is not that equality is a bad thing (quite the opposite) it is that most of the time it is not a very constructive quarry.

  41. Ally Fogg says

    LeSchlumb [39]

    There are rabid haters on Twitter (what a surprise) who have a habit of getting away with the most heinous smears and calls for violence in the name of some dopey feminism and/or progressivism. And more and more people are just fed up with it, to the very brim.

    Oh I don’t doubt they are fed up. But go back and read the first couple of paragraphs of the blog above. If you are telling me that you felt the kind of visceral, physical repulsion I describe re: Katie Hopkins to those comments, then all I can say is that you have got your priorities wildly askew.

    You have yet to explain whence you got the magic mindreading powers to assure us that all the hateful bigotry in her timeline isn’t exactly what she wanted to put into it.

    Eh? Of course she wanted to put all that hateful bigotry in her timeline. That’s why she typed the words. But dude, you seriously need to check your irony meter, coz it is malfunctioning badly.

    I mean seriously, which of these two scenarios strikes you as more likely?

    1. A sociopathic, nihilistic fascist is so filled with hate for half the human race that she decides to implement her evil plan for mass genocide by joining the Liberal Democrats, or…
    or
    2. A young political activist student likes to show off to her friends by making ironic jokes and parroting slogans that derive their humour from wildly exaggerated performative extremism?

  42. Bugmaster says

    @Ally #42:

    If social justice takes the form of “ending unfairness”, then doesn’t that mean that its goal is to achieve “fairness” ? If so, how is “fairness” different from “equality” ?

    Furthermore, you say (ok, technically Marx said it, but you know what I mean):

    “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.”

    If I understand you correctly, you believe that instead of trying to treat people equally (for some definition of the word “equally”), we should follow this principle — because, unlike our vague notions of “equality”, it is immediately applicable.

    But doesn’t Marx’s maxim suffer from the same flaw ? Who determines what each person needs, and what that person’s abilities are, and how is this determination made ? As far as I see it, this question is exactly as difficult to answer as the question, “what does it mean to treat people equally”. Actually, if anything this principle is even more vague than the principle of equality, which, roughly speaking, says “treat people how you would want them to treat you”. It may be grossly biased, as you say; but at least it contains some hint at a plan of implementation.

  43. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger [40]

    I’m not for a moment saying that there is a clear and obvious distinction distinction as to whether something is and is not hate speech. Some of what you say is entirely valid…. “XYZ could be considered hate speech but is it really?” – the first couple of those are perfectly legitimate points of debate and some will say yes, some will say no. Often it comes down to subtleties of tone etc.

    Although I would strongly argue that attacking people on the basis of what they say or do (so political groups, whether Radfems, Tories, MRA, feminists) or criminal offenders (paedophiles) can never be hate speech in the sense I use the phrase.

  44. Ally Fogg says

    Bugmaster

    But doesn’t Marx’s maxim suffer from the same flaw ? Who determines what each person needs, and what that person’s abilities are, and how is this determination made ?

    It’s not a flaw but nor is it a shortcut.

    Politics is not a scientific formula into which one can feed the factors and calculate the correct answer. We determine those kinds of questions between us, through debate, discussion, fighting our corners etc etc etc.

    The problem with debating stuff on the grounds of abstract “equality” is that you quickly get into ridiculous, infantile, kindergarten-level logic that “He’s got something so I want it too.”

    A good example would be any time the Black Police Officers’ Association is mentioned, someone will pop up and say “Why isn’t there a white police officers’ association?”

    If your objective is pure equality, that will look like a reasonable question. If you look at it from a needs-based perspective the question will look (and indeed is) utterly ridiculous.

    We also see it in practise with stuff like domestic violence provision, people arguing that, for example, if there is one DV shelter bed for every X hundred female DV victims, it is only “fair” that there should be one DV shelter bed for every X hundred male victims.

    In practise that is nonsense, because male and female victims often have different needs. So the question should not be, do male and female victims have the same services, it should be do male and female victims both have the services they need?

  45. StillGjenganger says

    The problem with debating stuff on the grounds of abstract “equality” is that you quickly get into ridiculous, infantile, kindergarten-level logic that “He’s got something so I want it too.”

    Absolutely agree. In the context of the MRM it is what I call ‘feminism envy’.

  46. Marduk says

    The people now claiming their words were “ironic” are the same people who told us that “irony” was not an excuse for anything under any circumstances, ever.

    Remember? “The biggest irony about ironic sexism is that it’s not ironic at all.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/04/back-to-ironic-sexism-but-without-irony

    Trying to shame men for ‘tears’ is particularly cruel in an environment of suicide rates spiralling out of control and I don’t think its OK. Again, don’t the same people tell us that the true test for offensiveness is the relationship to a structural issue? What is more structural than the highest suicide rate in 15 years? I do take that seriously, I do think it is offensive, I’m not prepared to laugh it off. How am I “conflating” anything?

    And look, bottom line, the SJWs made everything legalistic game playing and trip wires nobody can ever avoid (not even each other) and if other people want to turn that on them with full force, tough shit. Same goes for those who back illiberal restrictions on speech. Is it a story? I don’t like Breitbart but yes, it is. Jo Swinson handled it well but if the party fumble this at any point they have a problem.

    I think its you who is missing the point here.

  47. Ally Fogg says

    Sorry holms, but I’m going to delete the post above. As we all know, I’m not averse to a few snaps and swipes in the midst of a debate, but I draw the line at extended character assassinations. It is unhelpful, but more to the point it gets really tedious.

  48. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk [49]

    Maybe I’m reading you wrong but your comments seems to be assuming that I’m saying ironic misandry (or whatever you want to call it) is AOK. Far from it.

    And look, bottom line, the SJWs made everything legalistic game playing and trip wires nobody can ever avoid (not even each other) and if other people want to turn that on them with full force, tough shit. Same goes for those who back illiberal restrictions on speech. Is it a story?

    Don’t you see the hypocrisy when those who argue furiously against restrictions on offensive speech and who argue that it is impossible for words to cause harm in the real world (as Milo Y wrote at the height of GamerGate) to suddenly start demanding action to stop or punish offensive speech?

  49. Marduk says

    I don’t see any hypocrisy at all.

    The Breitbart article says nothing more than “disturbingly hateful” which is a fair characterisation. What Breitbart hasn’t done incidentally, although you are acting like they have, is to write a set of Valenti/Jess Killallmen (and its you that always throws the elbow there Ally, I can read the comments as well!) think pieces rending their garments over what it means for wider society.

    Beyond that is it not just ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’?

    Take an example from the other side of the aisle, I’m as liberal as anyone, I thought ‘Back to basics’ was nothing but hate and I don’t think people should lose their jobs over their sexuality or personal lives. Do I shed a tear for the Tories whose careers ended at the time when they couldnt’ live up to their own proclamations? No. I’m not a hypocrite either, there was nothing better to show how bad those ideas were at the time and its noteworthy nobody has really tried a US-style ‘cultural conservative’ platform since. This has been a good thing for the country and a good thing for people who share my values.

  50. Ally Fogg says

    I don’t see any hypocrisy at all.
    The Breitbart article says nothing more than “disturbingly hateful” which is a fair characterisation.

    How many “disturbingly hateful” comments are made on Twitter each day, and how many of those earn themselves a thousand words of fingerwagging, tutting disapproval on Breitbart? Now, ask yourself what it is about this one particular person that merits that honour?

    What Breitbart hasn’t done incidentally, although you are acting like they have, is to write a set of Valenti/Jess Killallmen (and its you that always throws the elbow there Ally, I can read the comments as well!) think pieces rending their garments over what it means for wider society.

    I honestly don’t know what you are getting at with the ‘throw the elbow’ thing there – spell it out?

    But I disagree that Breitbart aren’t editorialising. The paragraph I quoted is stating that efforts to prevent hate speech have their credibility threatened by a LibDem activist behaving like this. That claim might be true (I think it probably is) but it is still an opinion. That paragraph is also a fine example of journalistic mischief-making. When we hacks say “this thing I am writing about undermines the credibility of X” what we actually mean is “in writing this piece I am hoping to undermine the credibility of X”

    Beyond that is it not just ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’?

    Well yes. On both sides. If you are going to champion untrammelled offensive speech then write a piece that seeks to destroy someone for using offensive speech, then you are going to look hypocritical and opportunist.

  51. sonofrojblake says

    If you are going to champion untrammelled offensive speech then write a piece that seeks to destroy someone for using offensive speech, then you are going to look hypocritical and opportunist.

    Not necessarily. I’m all for untrammelled offensive speech. Why? Because I believe in giving my opponents the rope. And if they fold the rope, make the knot, put the noose around their neck, tie off the other end and stand on the chair, it is not opportunist or hypocritical of me to kick it away.

    Example: hordes of SJWs decried Nick Griffin’s appearance on the BBC’s Question Time. I was all in favour of it. It was a disgraceful stitch up on many levels (they couldn’t find a British non-politician to appear? They couldn’t find a Conservative who’d ever won an election to anything? They couldn’t find an audience which accurately represented the demographics of Britain?). And yet, despite the BBC in many ways handing Griffin a sitter, he was, as I predicted at the time, too stupid to make anything of it. That appearance was the absolutel high point of true far-right politics in Britain, and everything since has been a massive self-destructive trainwreck. Giving Griffin that platform and then flattening him for using it was not hypocritical – it was absolutely the right and proper thing to do.

  52. says

    The Block Bot’s creators claimed that the program blocks “trolls, abusers, and bigots”, but it faces growing accusations that this is merely a smokescreen for targeting people who offend them…

    Well, yeah, a program that blocks trolls, abusers and bigots will be used to target trolls, abusers and bigots who offend people. Duh. Not sure why this is a problem…

  53. says

    …when Sarah tweeted…

    NEW RULE: Opinions expressed on Twitter, and only on Twitter, are not serious and not worth anyone’s time or attention. If you want people to take your opinions seriously, post them in a forum where they can be discussed, attacked and defended at length, with no technical limitations to hide behind.

  54. polishsalami says

    This is real life. What you say is read by another person — a real, living human with thoughts and feelings exactly like yourself. People who consider what happens on the internet to be a game are deluded. If people online acted like the other person were in the same room rather than on another continent, we would have a fraction of the squabbles we seem to have.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________

    Raging Bee #56:

    I was never a fan of the BlockBot, though there are some people (like Anita Sarkeesian) who I think would need a strong filtering device on Twitter. But for low-profile folks I always thought manual blocking was enough.

  55. proudmra says

    The right to not be offended; it’s not here yet, but the radfems and similarly befuddled SJWs are pushing for it…. and the hell of it is, people are taking them seriously.

  56. Holms says

    Sorry holms, but I’m going to delete the post above… I draw the line at extended character assassinations.

    I can only assume you do not read posts by that person then.

  57. Koken says

    ‘Although I would strongly argue that attacking people on the basis of what they say or do (so political groups, whether Radfems, Tories, MRA, feminists) or criminal offenders (paedophiles) can never be hate speech in the sense I use the phrase.’

    Of course sometimes what you are and what you do can be pretty hard to separate: Trans people need to stop acting like what they aren’t, Muslims need to stop practising their vile religion etc. (not my views, obv.) Do you want to exclude the term hate speech from being capable of applying to commentary about these groups?

    Of course, at the same time one does not wish the shield of identity to protect genuinely harmful actions from merited criticism. This makes it hard to establish a general rule of permissible speech without first answering the disputed questions about what are good and bad ways to live, and to treat people.

    I have no good answers.

  58. Bugmaster says

    @Ally #46:

    I understand what you are saying about “needs”, but again, who gets to determine which group has which needs ? You say “it’s a shortcut”, but you can’t achieve anything real (other than arguments on Twitter, perhaps) without specifics. For example, if your budget us X million euros, and there are M men and F women living in your city, how much money do you spend on female vs. male DV shelters ?

    I’m not saying you personally have to answer this question right now; nor am I pretending that real policy decisions are as simple as this; I’m just using this scenario to illustrate my point. I agree that “we give X * M / (M+F) euros to men, and X * F / (M+F) euros to women” is not a great policy — because, as you said, men and women have different needs — but even this terrible policy is, IMO, better than something like “I’ll just let the spirit of Marx inspire me” or “let’s give it all to women for now”.

    That was DV shelters, though. I think that, in matters of speech (and other forms of expression), the issue is so difficult to figure out that the policy of equality (which is not the same as total permissiveness, mind you) wins by default.

    By the way, not to keep harping on the same point, but your statement below is pretty much one of the reasons I would never count myself as a member of the modern social justice movement:

    Politics is not a scientific formula into which one can feed the factors and calculate the correct answer.

    I mean, yes, I agree that if my friends and I are just chatting about politics over our lunch, there’s no exact formula for anything. But when government officials are assigning budgets and designing laws which will affect the entire country (or maybe even just one city), they’d better have some sort of a measurable goal in mind — as well as a description of how their proposed measures will help them reach that goal. Naturally, I am not calling for omniscience here; human lives are always uncertain. But when you are passing a law that will affect millions of people, you can’t afford to say “let’s just do whatever and see if it helps”, because “one million people” is a very real number that will not go away regardless of how strongly you want it to.

    So, for example, “we need to make women’s lives better” is not a measurable goal. If you are a politician, and this is your policy, then I will not vote for you, and I wish you’d stop. However, “reduce the number of domestic violence incidents with female victims to at most X% per capita” is a goal that I can support. We may argue about what value X should have, or how much money we can afford to spent, but at least we can now argue about something meaningful. This is not the case with platitudes.

  59. StillGjenganger says

    @Bugmaster 63

    That was DV shelters, though. I think that, in matters of speech (and other forms of expression), the issue is so difficult to figure out that the policy of equality (which is not the same as total permissiveness, mind you) wins by default.

    Yes!

  60. Lucy says

    Sans Sanity
    ““the vicious homophobia on the terraces, the misogynistic bile on the GamerGate threads or the festering racism of Murdoch columnists”
    The first two are far more akin to #killallmen then the the celebration of tragic deaths. The accusation of hypocrisy is apt”

    Ally Fogg:” you may have a point with GamerGate”

    Right because Elliot Rodgers was a puppet not a real boy. And women aren’t getting attacked by men in their hundreds of thousands each year. And we’re not all walking around feeling like we’re taking our lives in our hands if we park our cars next to a fence with gaps in it or a van and might have to do overtime.

    Does offence count if it raises your temperature and heart beat rather than lowering it by a degree?

    No they’re not.

  61. Lucy says

    AllyFogg: “You may have a point with GamerGate, but not the first one, where there is a direct and immediate relationship between people chanting hateful attacks and actual physical homophobic violent attacks and discriminatory acts. ”

    Yes, I too have been struck by the strange phenomenon whereby homophobic, racist, Muslim extremist, anti-Semitic, Islamaphobic, disablist, transphobichate speech has a direct and immediate relationship with hate attacks and must therefore be monitored, censored and offset by government prevention strategies in schools and universities, while sexist hate speech has no, or an indirect and non-immediate relationship with sexist attacks at most and needs no such strategy.

    This surely is the wisdom behind the illegality of homophobic, racist, religious extremist, disablist and Goth hate speech, and the legality, nay the profitable unchecked proliferation of the misogynist kind.

    Somebody really should study the special Magic powers of women to resist the effects of hate speech and bottle it for men so they don’t need all those expensive protections they have from behind which they lecture women on their right to free speech.

    Though it’s odd that attacks and murders of women are higher than the racist, homophobic, Islamaphobic, anti-Semitic, disablist, Goths kind. I suppose those are the exceptions that prove the rule.

  62. Holms says

    #66 Lucy
    “This surely is the wisdom behind the illegality of homophobic, racist, religious extremist, disablist and Goth hate speech…”

    What in the world is ‘goth’ doing there??

  63. StillGjenganger says

    @Lucy 66
    You are rather supporting my point, that once you define speech that ‘indirectly contributes to discrimination’ as hate speech, there is nothing you cannot ban if you try.

  64. LeSchlumb says

    AllyFogg [43]
    You deserve an honest answer, but what I would tell you, is inherently unfit to be published to your audience (any public audience,really). I can send it to your private mail acc, and maybe you can use it to make better judgement calls in the future.

  65. Sigil says

    “the misogynistic bile on the GamerGate threads”

    I’ve been lurking where they organize and read many of their thread over the last sex months.

    I have never seen any misogny and the general theme is exactly what they say they are about. The only sources for negative reports about them are feminists, who are increasingly getting themselves known for basing a large portion of their activism and narratives on false accusations.

  66. Lou Levov says

    Ally Fogg

    You claim you were offended by Katie Hopkins comment, but you weren’t, unless:

    1) it’s possible to be offended on someone else’s behalf..or in this case on behalf of a poorly defined class of persons (it isn’t…it’s certainly possible to feel disgust but that is very different)
    2) you are personally offended at the thought of sharing the planet with someone as disgusting as Ms Hopkins…in which case you would be in a permanent state of offence and would have been so from the moment you became aware that humanity partly consisted of such individuals…which can’t realistically have been any later than your early teens. If this is the case then offence would have no meaning other than a normal constituent of most people’s consciences which would gradually wither away with normalisation.
    3) you are an economic migrant who entered Europe on a boat (I’m assuming this is not the case although please advise me if I’m wrong)

    However, I see from the site’s ‘blurb’ (is that the correct term?) that you write a weekly column for CIF which I assume means you are contractually obliged to dispute point 1…where would they be without such a viewpoint? None the less, if ‘offence’ in this sense is to have any real meaning, point 1 must stand. You did not feel offence.

  67. D506 says

    @ Lou Levov 71

    As someone who was offended by those comments, how about a 4th option:

    As a person, I am offended when other people are dehumanized and considered not to be worth the rights to life, safety, opportunity and dignity.

  68. Lou Levov says

    @D506
    So are you in a permanent state of offence or simply when another instance manifests itself? People have been dehumanised in that way since the beginning of recorded time. Are you offended when you read most history books or simply when one of the liberal left’s popular pariahs expresses these sentiments in a perticularly crass manner…not that I suppose such sentiments can be expressed in a manner that isn’t crass.
    Besides, I thought I’d covered this in point 2. Sorry but offence in this sense can only be taken when intentionally directed toward particular individual or group; otherwise one is projecting. One can’t be offended on another’s behalf, not even if you are closely involved with the intended recipient…and there must be intent. ‘Offence’ taken when none was intended is just conceit.
    Claiming such and such a statement was ‘offensive’ is fine. This is not the same as ‘being offended’ unless you wish to deny the particular concept of being personally and deliberately offended on account of one’s personal history or one’s personal attributes.

  69. Holms says

    #73 Lou Levov
    So are you in a permanent state of offence or simply when another instance manifests itself? People have been dehumanised in that way since the beginning of recorded time. Are you offended when you read most history books or simply when one of the liberal left’s popular pariahs expresses these sentiments in a perticularly crass manner…

    While I’ll agree to the extent that “this offends me” is a phrase that gets overused such that it is coming to mean “I disagree with this”, it is still entirely possible to be offended at something without needing a personal stake in the offending act or statement. This in no way implies that I am going to be offended by every dehumanising act that I ever hear of, especially as there is a distance between historical and contemporary acts that reduces or removes the sting.

    Besides, I thought I’d covered this in point 2. Sorry but offence in this sense can only be taken when intentionally directed toward particular individual or group; otherwise one is projecting. One can’t be offended on another’s behalf, not even if you are closely involved with the intended recipient…

    It’s actually called ’empathising’ and is entirely possible.

    …and there must be intent. ‘Offence’ taken when none was intended is just conceit.

    Completely wrong. Comments that show a casual, unthinking disregard for a person or group can be just as offensive as a deliberately insulting rant, and if you buy it when a person starts with “no offence, but…” and then proceeds to be an obnoxious shitter, then I have a bridge to sell you.

  70. Lucy says

    Still Gjenganger

    “@Lucy 66
    You are rather supporting my point, that once you define speech that ‘indirectly contributes to discrimination’ as hate speech, there is nothing you cannot ban if you try.”

    Except it’s not my definition, it is the definition. It’s the definition that we use to protect men from discrimination, the one that is currently being used to ban Islamic hate preachers for example.

    And it’s the right defintion; Hitler didn’t just have to give one anti-Semitic speech to achieve his aim, he had to give many. First you have to create a symalthetic climate to incitement, only then you can deliver the direct incitement.

    Besides I take issue with the claim that there is only an indirect and unimmediate link between misogynist hate speech and actions. Does anyone think women get beaten as unchaste, burned as witches, stoned as adulteresses, gang sexually assaulted by silent groups?

  71. Sigil says

    Lucy.

    I don’t think men as a group were protected by hate speech laws. That’s why feminist speech about men isn’t recognized as hate speech while the equivalent speech about everyone else is.

  72. Lou Levov says

    Holms@74

    Sorry. I’m not buying that…unless you want to claim that offence can be routinely interchanged with disgust, dislike, repugnance etc. you can do this if you like but then you are dispensing with the specific situation when somebody is attacked directly with the intent of causing hurt based on their personal circumstances. When you witness such an attack, you may not be happy that this scenario is playing out but the reaction it induces in you is qualitatively different than than that aroused in the intended recipient.

    As for the ‘casual, unthinking disregard’, again the reaction is of a different nature. You may well be unhappy…disgusted…furious…that such a statement was made but again there’s a difference in that there was no intent and that you nor anybody else was an intended recipient.

  73. D506 says

    [b]Sorry but offence in this sense can only be taken when intentionally directed toward particular individual or group; otherwise one is projecting. One can’t be offended on another’s behalf, not even if you are closely involved with the intended recipient…and there must be intent. ‘Offence’ taken when none was intended is just conceit.[/b]

    Even if I granted your creative definition of offense, I consider both myself and those referenced in the article to be part of the same particular group: people. As for your definition, it makes no sense. Neither dictionary nor common usage support it. Even if it did, what would your point be? That I should call my reaction to those statements ‘disgusted’ rather than ‘offended’? What does the semantic distinction have to do with the discussion at hand?

    To your second point that intent must be present for offense to be caused, consider the follow statement spoken by two speakers:

    “Blue People should be exterminated or enslaved for the benefit of Orange People.”
    Speaker 1 hates Blue People, and he wants them to know it.
    Speaker 2 believes Blue People are sub human. His statement is practical and without malice, in the same way we cut trees to build houses. He does not mean to offend them because he does not believe they can feel offense.

    How exactly does the speaker’s outlook dictate to Orange People whether or not they can be ‘truly’ offended? Intent is not magic.

  74. Holms says

    Sorry. I’m not buying that…unless you want to claim that offence can be routinely interchanged with disgust, dislike, repugnance etc. you can do this if you like but then you are dispensing with the specific situation when somebody is attacked directly with the intent of causing hurt based on their personal circumstances. When you witness such an attack, you may not be happy that this scenario is playing out but the reaction it induces in you is qualitatively different than than that aroused in the intended recipient.

    No, disgust is disgust and offense is offense… and offense can be felt due to personal attack or on behalf of another. If you want to coin a word that differentiates between those two scenarios, go for it, but the word offense as it stands is widely understood – and used – to mean either. However, insisting that people have to use the word your way is a fools game.

    As for the ‘casual, unthinking disregard’, again the reaction is of a different nature. You may well be unhappy…disgusted…furious…that such a statement was made but again there’s a difference in that there was no intent and that you nor anybody else was an intended recipient.

    Nope, it’s definitely possible to offend unintentionally, I’ve experienced by sides myself. Again, you are trying to set a particular interpretation of the word in stone, in complete defiance of the fact that word meanings are not prescriptive.

  75. sonofrojblake says

    @D506, 79:

    what would your point be? That I should call my reaction to those statements ‘disgusted’ rather than ‘offended’? What does the semantic distinction have to do with the discussion at hand?

    The intention is clear (to me).

    If statement X is offensive (i.e. has legitimately caused actual offense to some one or many), then it is reprehensible and that kind of speech should be controlled. If you are offended by it, then you have a legitimate grievance and justification for taking action on the basis of it.

    However, if statement X is merely disgusting, if you are merely disgusted by it (since the new definition of “offended” no longer allows you to use that word for what you felt), then as a person who is merely disgusted you have no legitimate grievance against someone who accidentally disgusted you, and you have justification only for sucking it up and growing a pair. Disgust is YOUR problem.

  76. StillGjenganger says

    @D506, SonOfRojBlake

    If statement X is offensive (i.e. has legitimately caused actual offense to some one or many), then it is reprehensible and that kind of speech should be controlled.

    Without getting too far into the semantics part of the discussion, I think that this is a quite problematic statement. Offense is a feeling, and as such private. Arguably it is not up to anyone else to argue whether person X is or could or should be offended by some statement. But – exactly because people’s feelings are private – it cannot follow that any speech that anybody finds offensive is reprehensible and should be controlled. In other words, we need to distinguish between speech that is offensive to person X, which is his decision, and speech that is reprehensible and should be controlled, which is a social matter, and for the entire society to decide.

  77. johngreg says

    Ah. c’mon gang. No one has the right to not be offended. Or disgusted, for that matter. And free speech is free speech — outside of the legal definitions of “hate speech”.

    The ever-increasing drive to limit speech, to codify good vs. bad speech, to create these bullshit safe spaces, etc., is all so bloody Orwellian, and reeks of the sad tears of special snowflakes melting in the sun ’cause Daddy took the sticky candy away.

  78. Holms says

    “Ah. c’mon gang. No one has the right to not be offended.”

    Just as well no one argued for that then.

  79. John P says

    Way down at the bottom of the thread, but was the use of the word “puerile” (given its etymological provenance) an ironic sly dig, or is that an accident? I take the general point to be that the intelligent response to such fatuous provocations is not to be provoked, and it’s up to the individual to decide whether they want to be wound up or not. If it is, then I wholeheartedly agree.

  80. Alex Cockell says

    Sarah Noble was a Cabinet Minister. I am a civilian. I am a straight white autistic male. One who would pattern-match to the people known as Nerds/Geek/Gamer. “Killallmen”? If I were to take her words at face value, Sarah openly called FOR MY DEATH for the crime of possessing a penis and having Asperger brain wiring. As part of a planned genocide. I’m sorry – bigotry is bigotry.

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