School shootings and the brutalisation of boys


A few years ago I wrote here about how school shooters and spree killers are made.

Much has been written and said about the role of masculine conditioning and patriarchal beliefs in cases like Eliott Rodger and the role misogyny plays in charging and inspiring their crimes.

The standard feminist theory (most popularly expressed by Michael Kimmel in books like Angry White Men) is that these young men – and they are almost if not quite always young men – are the extreme fringes of toxic masculinity and ‘aggrieved entitlement.’ Basically they are overcome by anger at not getting access to all the rewards, such as sex, respect and status, that they feel they deserve for their role as white men at the top of the social hierarchy. They then take that frustration out on their peers, on the world in a murderous explosion of rage.  

My position has always been that this is probably true to a point, but misses huge chunks of the jigsaw. In particular, in every case where there’s enough biographical background to know, a spree killer does indeed feel disgruntled at their place in the world, but that is at most half the story.

The other half is that these men – these kids –  have lived through either extensive emotional, physical or sexual abuse or (more commonly) through extensive and extreme bullying at school.

This is not, generally, a popular opinion. I’ve been attacked in the past for expressing it, because it might appear to suggest sympathy with the murderer, even look like a justification or a rationalisation. Cases like Eliott Rodger, I have been told, don’t need or deserve ‘nuance.’ Whether or not they have been bullied or abused is irrelevant.

But this is an issue where I think the academic theory is not just rarefied intellectual bubblegum. There is an urgent need to understand why these mass murders occur, and if it possible that real world policies and interventions could significantly reduce the risk of future massacres.

Last week academic newswires reported a fascinating new study which investigated the ‘shared characteristics’ of 31 boys who had been involved in mass shootings between 1995 and 2015. The press release (I haven’t yet been able to track down the full report, so I’m trusting the summary is accurate) is a striking – and in my opinion shocking – illustration of what is wrong with this debate.

The press release begins as follows:

Boys involved in school shootings often struggle to live up to what they perceive as their school’s ideals surrounding masculinity.

When socially shunned at school, they develop deep-set grudges against their classmates and teachers.

The shooters become increasingly angry, depressed, and more violent in their gendered practice.

A shooting rampage is their ultimate performance, says Kathryn Farr of Portland State University in the US.

So, from the outset, this is being described in terms of the boys’ personal shortcomings. They “often struggle to live up to what they perceive as their school’s ideals.”

Farr’s analysis suggests that boys’ social status in middle and high school is determined in great part by peers’ acceptance of them as “appropriately masculine.”

Their guidelines for gender appropriateness are found in a set of Adolescent Insider Masculinity norms that describe masculinity as the ideal that men are cool, heterosexual and tough, shy away from “sissy stuff” and embrace activities, behavior and mannerisms that are typical of “guys.” Falling short of this ideal sets some boys up for school-situated problems and reactions that are typical of adolescents.

“Falling short of this ideal sets the boys up for school-situated problems and reactions that are typical of adolescents” Again, the problem is with the individual. If only they had managed to live up to that ideal, everything would have been fine. And apparently the reactions of their peers are entirely understandable, because hey, that’s just what adolescents are like, am I right?

The report goes on:

“Ten of the 31 shooters had a history of serious psychiatric problems, while another ten grew up in extremely abusive households. The remaining eleven boys tended to react explosively and inappropriately to incidents that they perceived as unjustly discrediting them. Twenty-five boys were white and all but one identified as heterosexual.

“Many of the adolescent shooters had personal troubles that affected their ability to manage their social performances at school,” explains Farr. “Moreover, the potential rampage of a boy with severe mental illness and rampage-related risk factors could be especially injurious.”

Most were repeatedly and publicly tagged with homosexual and feminized epithets such as being a “homo,” a “cry baby” or a “fag.” All 31 shooters were made aware of their failings through their classmates’ emasculating bullying, rejection by girlfriends, and marginalization in general. Some reported being physically and sexually victimized by their male peers.

And here, finally, we get to the meat in this poisonous sandwich. “All 31 shooters were made aware of their failings…”

That sentence is appalling. Unforgivable. Shocking. It vividly describes a situation of classic, brutal bullying and four-square sides with the bullies. It implicitly accepts that being inadequately masculine is indeed a personal failing and accepts the inevitability, arguably even the acceptability, of bullying in response.

Farr continues to wave completely the wrong end of the stick all the way to her conclusions:

Farr believes that schools should teach their students about such shooting incidents, and the possible warning signs that need to be reported. In-school and referral services should be provided. School curriculums should also address adolescent masculinity issues and discussion-based forums about issues of gender should be instigated.

In other words she appears to be asking for schools to be on the lookout for inadequately masculine boys who are being viciously bullied by their peers – not because they are themselves in need of help but because they are at risk of going full Columbine any day now.

“How often are adolescent boys given the opportunity to talk with one another about masculinity norms and their challenges, including norms embracing violence or the effects of emasculating bullying?”

Or here’s a really radical solution – how about we refuse to tolerate the inevitability or social acceptability of ‘emasculating bullying’ in the first place?

Such classroom-based discussions could also help schools identify, provide and give value to activities that appeal to boys whose interests and skills lie outside the norms of insider masculinity,” Farr says.

She warned against unnecessary stigmatizing of troubled adolescents: “Although many boys display at-risk behaviors and attitudes, very few will actually become school shooters.”


Oh, righty-ho, thanks for that.

There has been so much said about school shootings as a social phenomenon in the US. The debate understandably focuses on gun control, not just the access to weaponry but also the culture that fetishizes guns and gun violence, in a society that was largely built on frontier cowboy mythology. Much has also been said about masculinity, toxic or otherwise, patriarchy and male entitlement. I’m more than happy to be actively involved in that conversation.

However there are a couple of other conversations that also need to be held and are not happening. The first is about the culture of bullying that seems (to this outsider at least) endemic in the lives of young Americans, from schoolyards to sports teams to fraternities, with their hazing rituals and all the rest. I find it staggering that a report like this one can be written and at no stage does the author suggest that reducing the amount of bullying might be a – or even the – solution.

The second is a more theoretical point about how we discuss masculinity and the policing and socialisation of male gender norms. It seems to me that the feminist mainstream is eager to condemn the brutality of masculinity and the violent excesses of men, but surprisingly reluctant to concern itself with the violent brutalisation of boys that instils that brutality in the first place.

If we genuinely want to challenge male violence, if we want to reduce male violence, if we want to dismantle the very foundations of patriarchy, it seems to me that is precisely where we need to begin.

Kathryn Farr’s research has unveiled a strong and terrible finding. Of 31 mass murderers, ten were survivors of severe and extreme child abuse; ten were identifiably mentally ill; all 31 had been bullied by their peers. Those boys and young men were responsible for the murderous acts they went on to commit, but not one of them was responsible for having been abused, for having been bullied. Responsibility for that lies with the rest of us.

Comments

  1. ArmouredApple says

    Thank you for this. I think you’re right to be angry but I also felt what Farr herself was saying was in line with what you are saying – I guess I interpreted some of her wording differently to you. In what ways do you think the corresponding solutions she mentions (inclusion of “adolescent masculinity issues” in the curriculum, “discussion-based forums about issues of gender”, which would apparently provide the “opportunity to talk with one another about masculinity norms and their challenges, including norms embracing violence or the effects of emasculating bullying?” and “help schools identify, provide and give value to activities that appeal to boys whose interests and skills lie outside the norms of insider masculinity”) need to be amended or built upon? Those seemed like positive steps to me, including at getting at the root causes of the bullying, but I can see that it might not be enough (e.g. she doesn’t refer to punishment of bullies).

    One thing I found interesting from my own experience of middle school in Canada and then secondary school here in the UK, was that PSE (or “guidance and health” as we called it) in Canada included a lot more material on self-esteem, respect in relationships, assertiveness, de-escalating conflict, resisting peer pressure, etc. It was also continuous throughout the four years of middle school, versus the two weeks on sex and drugs we got in year 10 here. We didn’t talk about masculinity per se, I should note. It’s hard for me to draw any causal conclusions because the wider features of the school were very different (e.g. much smaller, more gender-balanced – I also went to what I now realise was quite an odd school here in the UK), but it did feel like quite a different environment.

  2. Ally Fogg says

    Yeah, the thing I find really frustrating about this is that in many ways I don’t think I am that far apart from Farr, it’s just I think she’s got her emphasis completely upside down and back to front.

    But it also cuts to a much deeper problem with a lot of this material, which is that it views gender-socialised behaviour as entirely the responsibility of the person exhibiting the behaviour, and doesn’t even attempt to ask questions as to how it got in there in the first place.

    In summary, I think she is coming from a very similar place to Michael Kimmel in that she feels that spree shooters are just the salient tip of a culture of entitled masculinity & if you want to prevent spree shootings you have to dismantle that culture of entitlement.

    I’m not disagreeing with that, especially, but I’m adding that spree shooters are the salient tip of a culture of brutalised masculinity & if you want to prevent spree shootings you have to dismantle that culture of brutalisation.

    I find it very frustrating that the Kimmelite tendency just can’t engage with that, because to do so requires us to see boys and young men as victims of patriarchal culture, not (just) pillars of it and the feminist mainstream refuses to engage with that properly.

  3. Carnation says

    @ Ally

    Regarding school shootings, have you read Columbine? As ever, an in-depth look really reveals quite a lot. These guys weren’t bullied, they were popular kids, one of them hugely so.

    I think a lot of school shooters are extreme narcissists, and view themselves as in the mould of Natural Born Killers. And I think that a lot of UK home-grown terrorism is carried out by males of the same mould.

    This is another perspective, and I’m not contradicting the findings of this report, though I share your exceptions with the recommendations.

  4. Ally Fogg says

    Yeah, haven’t read that book but know the story. The Columbine pair are an unusual combination. As I recall, one of them pretty much did fit the profile of a school shooter (as above) to a T – including having been bullied, excluded etc. The other (Harris?) appears to have been a raging sadistic psychopath.

    That said, I’m not sure if anyone has ever got to the bottom of why he might have been a psychopath – there was a time when people thought psychopaths were “just born that way” but that view is becoming increasingly unpopular in psych circles, as I understand it, and I’ve never been convinced myself.

    There were also a lot of conflicting reports about them at the school, some people saying they had both been bullied a lot, others disagreeing.

    So yeah, I’d willingly agree that these things are never a straightforward equation A + B + C = XYZ & you’ll always find exceptions to any rule in behavioural sciences, but the raw findings of the 31 subjects in this study paint a pretty compelling picture.

  5. Ally Fogg says

    Oh, I’d add when we are talking about bullying etc, there are two confounding factors here which should be borne in mind.

    The first is that people who have committed terrible crimes – or their families & those close to them – will always look for excuses as to why it happened. It’s really easy to point to something like bullying at school & blame that, rather than the individual.

    On the other hand the second (which may be relevant to Columbine) is that those who perhaps were actively involved in bullying or otherwise persecuting someone who goes on to become a mass murderer have got a huge vested interest in saying (and believing) “No, no, no, he wasn’t bullied, he was actually really popular, we were all really nice to him…” etc.

    So we should always take individual cases and statements with a healthy dose of scepticism. At the same time, the findings about those 31 boys in the study above look strong enough that I think we can safely conclude something is going on there.

  6. Carnation says

    @ Ally

    Yes, there did seem to be some kind of toxic chemistry, with one of the boys in thrall to the other.

    I remember an interview with one of the lawyers for the boys who murdered Jamie Bulger – apparently, even at that young age, one was really quite dominant. If memory serves me correctly, the dominant one is the one who has never been heard of again.

  7. Marduk says

    I liked the Mark Ames book “Going postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond” (2005).

    He links it to the wider structure of capitalism and points out that while the FBI and CIA both concluded profiling shooters was impossible (apart from gender which leads to some simplistic arguments), its fairly easy to profile the workplaces and environments its found in, and he’d argue, produce it. Its just for some reason, you aren’t allowed to do this because its treated as shifting blame. While you might talk about the profile of a shooter, it generally ends up being a bit circular (someone who is ‘evil’ and ‘planed to do stuff’) which isn’t how they are supposed to work.

    He also, which caused him a lot of trouble at the time, pointed out that while the victims of psychopaths never express sympathy for the person who attacked them, survivors of shooting sprees often say later they feel sorry for the shooter and could suggest ways in which they they saw the shooter was driven to it. Ames suggests this is because in some ways, the spree killer is protesting or rebelling against something, normal murderers don’t have this element to their actions. This doesn’t make it noble or OK but it is quite a striking difference.

  8. ajay says

    Like all problems in real life there will be a range of causes and a combination of individuals and circumstances but I am sure bullying is a big part of it. When I lived in the US it seemed to me that the school culture especially those aspects related to school sports seemed to celerbrate rather than try to control or limit bullying. It was one reason to leave before my daughter reached school age.

    Gun culture in the US has to be mentioned as the major factor in the severity of incidents. I suspect it is also involved in the frequency as it is a culture in which guns/violence are seen as empowering and providing solutions.

    Blaming male gender (or any other) norms when analysing the perpetrators is pointless. The circumstances are common yet the incidents are very rare.

  9. smrnda says

    The idea of ‘look out for troubled kids’ because they might shoot up the school is similar to ways in which, after shootings, whether or not the shooter was mentally ill or not, mentally ill people are held up not as people to help for their own sake, but because they’re potential sources of danger to others.

    Marduk, that sounds like an interesting book. I read similar takes on ‘profiling’ earlier – many FBI agents pointed out that profiles generated did very little to narrow a field of subjects, or could fit so many people as to be totally useless.

    Ajay, I think you are totally onto something. Guns and redemptive violence are a big thing in the US.

  10. Callinectes says

    Apparently I fit the profile for an American school shooter.

    If 100% is the rate of being bullied by peers among school shooters, what’s the base rate? It’s probably high.

  11. mostlymarvelous says

    I’d also think there’d be value in looking at the similarities between school-age and adult mass shooters. One thing that’s becoming clear about adult males shooting several, or many, people in one event is that the great majority of them are also known as, or discovered to have been, violent or at least abusive or controlling in their domestic-personal-intimate relationships. One way of looking at workplace-based shootings is to see the violent behaviour as “spilling over” from the private to the more public arena. It might not pan out to anything useful, but it’s worth a serious think until it’s been properly looked at.

    As for school age shooters being bullied, I’d still look first at the home environment. If a student comes from a neglectful or chaotic or abusive or emotionally off-kilter household, they will often exhibit the kind of attitudes, postures or behaviours that bullies focus on when (mostly unconsciously) sizing up whether someone is already vulnerable and therefore an ideal target for a bully.

  12. That Guy says

    This is a difficult one. As said, any approach at nuance here can be perceived as trying to excuse or sympathise with the perpetrator. The Elliot Rodgers of this world are a particular sore spot not just because of their heinous crimes but also because they’re now beyond mortal justice, we can’t extract explanations or reparations from them.

    I think a little element of that feeds through into the style of writing of the report- IT’s impossible to see the shooter as a ‘victim’ because of what they later did, so it’s almost like the bullying is treated as justified because of the fact they were a shooter.

    That sentence “made aware of their failings” is a pretty disgusting euphemism though, and I’d be happy to never see it again in any bullying context.

    On a semi-related note, Ally, you mention there could be two halves here to what can be the cause of a school shooter. one is the culture of entitlement that is the result of patriarchy, and the other could be the product of abuse or bullying. Could it not be that the two feed and distort each other?

    We know that girls are often bullied at school, and this can result in a tragic suicide, so we know the bullying isn’t ‘not severe’ to girls, but there’s (I don’t think any?) female school shooters.

    In the case of a young white man, you have media telling him that he’s the best, he’s the hero, he should get the girl, he’s most important and should be having all the sex and making all the money.

    We all know that this isn’t realistic, and I’m sure some of us (men) have felt that it’s unfair that we aren’t in that situation, but big deal, you can recognise that everyone’s in the same boat, mostly, and you get over it. There’s nobody specific to blame, it’s a nebulous product of a marketing and consumerist society.

    Now, say for instance you’re still getting these messages, but you’re now in an abusive, isolated situation. You are now all alone, and everyone is being shit to you. Really shit. Now, instead of before where you can recognise that these messages are false, or at least everyone you meet is in that situation, it looks like your peers are actively preventing you from living the good life you deserve so not only is the bullying shitty because it’s a shitty thing to do to people, it frustrates that entitlement that you already have, and gives a perceived justification for action and a set of targets to work with.

    And of course, being the victim of abuse (with I’m guessing, little or no positive intervention from authority or role models) you know that the only way to ‘make things right’, or respond to these conflicts is with violence.

    I’d be interested to know if there’s any substance to the above, or its just baseless speculation.

  13. Ally Fogg says

    That makes loads of sense, That Guy.

    Yes, the ‘two halves’ was a clumsy metaphor because they are neither halves nor are they discretely separated.

    I think when we are talking behavioural psychology like this all the factors (those we have identified and doubtless many others) feed off each other and interact, they are not separate components so much as ingredients in a cooking pot.

  14. Carnation says

    Did anything catch this story?

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/youtube-conspiracist-accused-killing-dad-calling-nazi-article-1.3589448

    I think there are parallels with Ally’s article – although in this case, it isn’t so much teenage male angst or entitlement, it’s a 30 something man being radicalised by mischievous and malevolent internet scum.

    For a lot of conspiracy theorists, it’s all for lolz – for guys like Lane Davis is a reason to live, and to kill.

  15. mostlymarvelous says

    Not so sure about that, Carnation. I suspect he was fruit ready for the picking. Being sacked by Milo frickin’ Yiannapoulos for inadequate work and then threatening him doesn’t sound too promising.

  16. Carnation says

    @ 16, 17

    For some reason, I always thought the “I Don’t Like Mondays” song was about Charles Whitman.

    Ah, Bob Geldof. One good song, Live Aid, and then he disgraces himself by associating with F4J.

    Tragic

  17. Marduk says

    The problem with the Kimmel thing is that its based on a rather odd a priori supposition, it does not emerge from analysis. I don’t really think “aggrieved entitlement” really exists because I don’t think most men do feel entitlement to anything at all. This is arguably more the problem. I do however think liberal men find being accused of entitlement particularly cutting, and it is correspondingly likely to score you a reasonable woke-quotient if you self diagnose and recant of it.

    Its just a strange thing to pick anyway. The legitimacy of entitlement also varies inversely with your privilege points. Its well established at this point that the hated white male has no entitlement to anyone’s body/space/time/concern/acknowledgement. Now tell a “fat acceptance” community they have no entitlements like that either and see what you get back. At the very least you’ll see these rules don’t apply to everyone all the time.

    It doesn’t sound like a serious attempt to analyse the problem, it sounds like a serious attempt to use the problem. I do think there is an area of investigation here around disentangling the causes from the uses of these incidents. My reading is that precisely because they are extremely rare and in truth really variable, it is seen as legitimate to hook up one’s hobbyhorse to the cart. I feel as if Farr is actually admitting this: ““Although many boys display at-risk behaviors and attitudes, very few will actually become school shooters.” What she really wants is to reduce attitudes and behaviors she doesn’t like, it has nothing to do with actually preventing school shooters which is only the cassus belli.

    I would instead suggest that a bit more focus could be put on the fact that spree killings are also usually suicides. Suicidal people are typically not given to emphasizing the scope of their entitlements, they are instead more likely to feel they have literally no other options and even waiting for another option isn’t possible. Again, nobody wants to think of it like that because it implies sympathy for the killer, but its a clear fact of the situation in a way that banging on about “aggrieved entitlement” certainly isn’t.

  18. That Guy says

    @Marduk:

    Out of all suicides, a vanishingly small amount result in attempted mass murder. I’d frame it more as a kamikaze attack or attempt at martyrdom in the cases that end in suicide, or ‘suicide by cop’ (extralegal execution, by any other name). It’s worth noting however, that the fraction of school shooters that survive the chaos created by their crimes is not insignificant.
    I’m not really sure what your point is, anyway, your claim is that school shooters feel incredible desperation at society? I don’t think anyone denies that.

    Is your claim that there’s some kind of feminist society to turn men into meek and weak-willed individuals? coz that’s what it sounds like. Which is nutty in itself, without being accessorised with your casual hatred of chubby people.

  19. Marduk says

    20.
    It doesn’t really matter how you characterise their actions. Point is “entitlement” is a very cruel way of characterising anomie if indeed that is what it is, and no sociologist can claim not to have better language available to them.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_(book)

    I also don’t have a ‘casual hatred of chubby people” either, I’ve just pointed out (and you have now clearly confirmed) that entitlement is a very loaded word and doesn’t really have a place in serious discussions of serious events. Its actually the language of the right in case you hadn’t realised, its a scolding and negating term. Nobody every discusses your sense of entitlement to be friendly or helpful.

  20. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Marduk

    “The problem with the Kimmel thing is that its based on a rather odd a priori supposition, it does not emerge from analysis. I don’t really think “aggrieved entitlement” really exists because I don’t think most men do feel entitlement to anything at all. This is arguably more the problem.”

    I think this really is a blind-spot in a lot of feminist theorising. The masculine ideal is not, “I am a man, therefore other people owe me x”, but “I am a man, therefore through my own actions I should be able to obtain x,” whether x be respect, a woman, money, or whatever. You could make a much stronger case that this latter formulation explains much of the motive behind school shootings. The anger and despair comes not from being denied something which they felt they were entitled to, but their own inability to get it. This is played out in the most extreme way through shooting sprees. The most extreme possible form of action on the world and people around them, agency over the life and death of others, as a perverse way of conquering their impotence.

  21. squirrel says

    @H. E. Pennypacker

    I think your alternate formulation is pretty strongly discredited by the existence of incels (hate that word). These are men who expect women to have sex with them but take no action towards achieving it. In many cases they actively try to prevent it by insulting, disrespecting and harassing women.

  22. That Guy says

    @ Marduk,

    You do some terrible things to the english language in your comments. Please state clearly what your position is, as it is appearing pretty much at this moment that you are saying we should neuter our language when discussing spree killers to avoid hurting their feelings.

    Please confirm or deny.

  23. Ally Fogg says

    Interesting exchange.

    I think you are kind of on to something. I agree that the word ‘entitlement’ isn’t really correct, but I think Kimmel is describing something real (even if I think he over-plays the significance of it.)

    I think ‘entitlement’ is indeed the wrong word because it suggests an expectation that we WILL get all the sex & status & respect & other rewards that should be ours by right, and I really don’t think that accurately describes the mindset we’re talking about.

    I think the actual phenomenon under discussion is something more like “aggrieved disappointment.”

    So most of these men have long given up on their expectations. They’ve accepted that they will never get the sex, status, etc which (they believe they) need in order to be fulfilled & happy, that acceptance has warped into a bitter depression & anger & they decide that a spree shooting (or whatever) fulfills several functions:

    1. It will allow them to take out their anger at the world and humanity (sometimes specifically at the classmates & teachers who they believe have wronged them, more often just a generalised attack on humanity)
    2. It functions (usually) as a suicide when they are suicidal
    3. It offers them a shortcut to fame & status (of a sort) and a feeling of power that comes from terrorising others

    Now I think all those effects are real & I think that mindset is well worth considering in this context, but I am not sure “entitlement” is the correct noun to describe it. Unfortunately I am not sure the English language has a word that really captures it.

  24. Ally Fogg says

    squirrel [23]

    I’ll admit I’ve never been able to spend more than 5 minutes reading the ramblings of Incels, so I am no expert, but the impression I get is that they don’t expect women to have sex with them. They have long ago given up on the idea that any woman will ever want to have sex with them & so they have then wrapped up their misery & self-loathing into some kind of half-baked misogynistic philosophy.

  25. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @squirrel

    My understanding of incels is that they are people who have failed to win the affections of women and have decided that this must be because all women are terrible. Basically the same as what Ally said. I think your example of them being insulting and harassing is a far milder version of the same dynamic I suggested for school shooters. Harassing and insulting is a way of reclaiming agency over these women – even if the can’t make women like them, they can still act on women by making them hate them.

    Perhaps I should also emphasise that when I said “I think this really is a blind-spot in a lot of feminist theorising,” I specifically was not talking about all feminist theorising. Feminist scholars have written endlessly (and often illuminatingly) about a gendered ideal that men should act on the world rather than be acted upon, and the links between this ideal and male violence. Indeed, such writings are how I first came to think about these things. My point is not that feminists have got it wrong, but that much of the more visible feminist writing of the last few years ignores this better and more nuanced thinking in favour of a formulation that is simplistic and, in my opinion, incorrect.

    @That Guy

    Can you genuinely not understand what Marduk is saying or are you intentionally trying to (mis)read it in the least generous way possible? He’s saying:

    1. ‘Entitlement’ does not accurately describe what is going on here.

    2. Extending out from spree shooters specifically, just as Ally does in the OP, to a subset which many of them come from (i.e. boys/men who are socially marginalised and struggling to live up to other people’s expectations of them), saying that their problem is their sense of entitlement is not only inaccurate but belittling and cruel.

  26. That Guy says

    @ H.E.

    I largely agree with what you’re saying! Perhaps ‘Entitlement’ isn’t the best word to use, as it implies ‘getting something for nothing’, however, there’s a close relative to the concept, which I don’t have a word for, which is more like “expecting to get something for nominal effort”.

    What I mean by this, is that White, straight men, generally expect that as my ‘da’ would say, “if you work hard, you’ll get far in life” Which can be true… for white, straight men of a certain background. This notion is sharply disproven if you’re not white, and get racially abused in the street, or suspiciously all the jobs you apply for select another, less qualified candidate because ‘they’re a better fit for the team’. Similarly, if you’re a woman, then you can look forward to a life where the majority of high earning industries will treat you (at best) as fractionally lesser than an equivalent man, or (at worst) a disposable breathing sex aid.

    Maybe the word I’m looking for is something like a unawareness of how shit the world can be, that hard work doesn’t always get you there, and that this shock can hit hard, if you’ve never experienced it before, or there’s no clear reason. I’m not phrasing this correctly.

    In any respect, I would argue that I’ve never said that the problem is the group’s sense of entitlement, like it’s something they carry around, but rather it’s society as a whole’s fault for creating and instilling that expectation in a certain group. We as a society create an expectation, that cannot possibly be fulfilled for everyone, with dire consequences. I’d hardly think it’s cruel or inaccurate to say that, do you?

    What I would say is cruel and inaccurate is using these terrible tragedies to bounce gibberish right-wing screeds about how feminists are trying to secretly feminise boys and that white straight men are the real victims in all this. It would be nice, if I have to read this utter fantasy, if it was presented in a plain and clear manner so I could immediately ignore it, rather than having to search through drivel in the vain hope that there might be a sensible and empathetic point in there somewhere.

  27. squirrel says

    @H. E. Pennypacker

    okay, I think I can be on board with that definition.

    Just one thing, since we’re discussion language and nuance. To me, the claim “Harassing and insulting is a way of reclaiming agency over these women” sounds like it’s buying into the whole entitlement thing. I mean, you don’t reclaim something that isn’t yours.

  28. Marduk says

    24. It isn’t about spree killers, its about the rest of us. My problem is either we interpret extreme events as indicative of wider social phenomena (Durkheim showed how to do this), in which case we should be moderate in how we discuss ourselves. Or we treat them as special extreme events that have no connection with the rest of society and you can say what you like. Concluding that you That Guy, have an entitlement to other people’s sexual favors on the basis of the existence of Elliot Rodger is in my view unfair but that is the leap of reasoning, the logical fallacy, that this turns into.

    I raise other communities not out of hatred but because really, the reason you got annoyed about that, was that its easier to feel compassion for some groups than for others. But actually, if you stop and think about it, the grounds for that compassion should really be universal.

    I mean, look at the discussion we’re having just above. We’ve agreed “Incels” need to STFU and get over it because they behave badly (it would be better and more compassionate to tell them to behave better but thats not what has just happened). Would we tell other communities who feel a similar lack of compassion and human contact to shut-up? Would we even “police their tone”? I think not. Whats the difference (and lets accept we’re going to do some wriggling at this point trying to avoid saying words like “earn” and “deserve” in reference to universal human needs).

    A lot of this isn’t to do with the underlying situation, its once again to rhetoric and often very unfair rhetoric. He wants to get his end away, he’s entitled, she wants intimacy, she’s a human being who wants to be accepted. This actually links back to the prior thread on depression. One of the reasons we don’t want to recognise it in boys is because the ways they express it aren’t photogenic, sympathetic or basically in any way, especially nice. They are still depressed though, same as other depressed people.

    I understand angry young men’s sexual proclivities aren’t exactly something even other young men can bear to think about. There was a very funny peak Guardian piece back in the day by someone who wanted to know what there are no arty “sexual awakening” films about straight men, the answer BTL was exactly what you’d imagine, “who wants to see someone jerking off into a sock accompanied by sweeping strings”. But maybe they want to be loved and maybe that isn’t actually ridiculous, worthy of mockery, wrong or a lesser feeling because of their gender.

    Again, we had a thread recently about how hard it is to discuss emotions in men, and here we are, sighing with relief because ‘bad men’ don’t count. Well I think they do.

  29. H. E. Pennypacker says

    Another thought on incels. There are probably few things less likely to push a socially awkward young man towards this questionable internet subculture than when, on expressing his pain at his lack of success with the opposite sex and saying “I’m a nice guy, surely I deserve love too,” he is met with, “stop being so entitled you disgusting, fedora-wearing, neck-beard!”

  30. Sans-sanity says

    @Ally 25.
    “Unfortunately I am not sure the English language has a word that really captures it.”
    Maybe ‘Resentment’ ?

  31. pocketjacks says

    @H. E. Pennypacker,

    “2. Extending out from spree shooters specifically, just as Ally does in the OP, to a subset which many of them come from (i.e. boys/men who are socially marginalised and struggling to live up to other people’s expectations of them), saying that their problem is their sense of entitlement is not only inaccurate but belittling and cruel.”

    @Marduk,

    “It isn’t about spree killers, its about the rest of us.”

    I agree with both of you.

    Perhaps one could make the argument that spree shooters specifically are entitled – that deciding for yourself the right to decide who should live and who should die is the ultimate expression of entitlement, or whatever, so anyone who kills is by definition entitled. There is some merit to that, I suppose.

    So killers have personality disorders of which entitlement could be one. Is anyone disputing that? We could pick out the worst-acting members of any other group who’ve self-selected themselves by committing a selfish, savage act and make the same conclusion. The real question is how that applies to, as Marduk said, the rest. Those who suffer from loneliness, isolation, and alienation, who aren’t killers, but are at risk for antisocial tendencies brought on by the very same alienation.

    An undercurrent within the OP and what Marduk has reinforced, is that men who have cripplingly low self-image, low self regard, suicidal thoughts, a feeling that everyone else thinks lowly of them, a feeling that they don’t measure up to others, having numerous experiences that back up these unfortunate prejudices in their mind – are among the least entitled of their kind. By the definition of entitlement. That even if we were to accept the contemporary progressive cant that members of a certain of a demographic group (white, male, straight, etc.) are by definition the most entitled, those among them who fall into these categories are among the least entitled within them. I believe that this

    The inability of too many progressives to appreciate this axis within men is the problem, and the reason behind the type of attitudes highlighted by the OP. Based on my experience with “progressives” like this, I think that Parr would claim, if she were here to defend herself, that she does believe that “[refusing] to tolerate the inevitability or social acceptability of ‘emasculating bullying’ in the first place” is something we in fact should do, but that the “context” of the report was that such a discussion was beyond its scope and that that was a discussion for another time, another place. I also think that she would claim that she wasn’t approving of the notion, that she was merely neutrally describing the context, and that she was in fact being somewhat ironic, when claiming that these boys were “made aware of their failings”.

    I believe that she believes that. I also think she wouldn’t dare segregate the “scope” of the discussion as so, nor be similarly “ironic”, were we dealing with any other group of at-risk, beleaguered youth who were facing cripplingly low self image, were crying out for help, and were at risk for suicide.

    People like this, they honestly don’t see what they’re doing or saying anything wrong. That is my experience. That is both an indictment and an exoneration of sorts, in the sense that I don’t think they are actively malicious. The sublimation of men and boys of low peer-social status is so ingrained, so ubiquitous, that we may as well castigate goldfish for not noticing water. If a boy or a man was ostracized and mocked for years for being too passive and the bullied type, they will write up a paper saying that the problem is the “conflict between his inward expectations of masculine rewards and his lived experience” or whatever, and that we should work towards a society where such conflicts don’t exist, or somesuch. They will honestly think that that constitutes compassion, and not see anything victim-blaming about such utterances. At worst, there will be no hint whatsoever that he shouldn’t be ostracized or mocked in the first place, no indication of moral condemnation of those who are either inflicting this or standing by and watching and thereby reinforcing. That the problem is not with his inward expectations but that other people need to treat him better. That he is not seeking “rewards” but is just asking to be treated like a freaking human being, and not among the 5% bottom dregs of humanity that it is okay to openly mistreat in public. That that 5% shouldn’t exist in the first place and should be 0%. At best, such sentiments will poke through like a caged animal trying to break free, but by no means will be the main focus of their screeds.

    The difference is that goldfish must live in water, whereas our society does not need to be configured the way it is now, with the hierarchies and bullying we enforce. So as hard as it may seem, we should press on, and I commend Ally Fogg for his tireless efforts in doing so.

  32. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk, have to pick you up on this:

    I mean, look at the discussion we’re having just above. We’ve agreed “Incels” need to STFU and get over it because they behave badly (it would be better and more compassionate to tell them to behave better but thats not what has just happened). Would we tell other communities who feel a similar lack of compassion and human contact to shut-up? Would we even “police their tone”? I think not. Whats the difference (and lets accept we’re going to do some wriggling at this point trying to avoid saying words like “earn” and “deserve” in reference to universal human needs).

    As far as I can see, no one has been telling ‘Incels’ to STFU and get over it. No one is criticising incels for experiencing ‘a lack of compassion and human contact.’

    People (speaking very generally) tend to criticise incels and other MRAs for saying and occasionally doing really, really, really terrible things. They criticise incels for advocating and expressing repulsive attitudes to women. They criticise incels for telling other men (particularly younger & more vulnerable men) poisonous lies which will be extremely harmful for their mental health & wellbeing. They criticise incels for perpetuating ideas which put women at greater risk of sexual assault.

    In that sense, incels are in a very similar boat to, say, white supremacists, who might very often be poor, working class, economically vulnerable etc. But they are not criticised for being poor, working class or economically vulnerable. They are criticised for propagating ideas which are extremely harmful to society and to people of colour in particular, they are criticised for telling poisonous, bitter lies, they are criticised for advocating really horrible, terrible politics.

    Or if you want a really direct comparison, people tend to be very, very critical & unkind about extreme rad-fem lesbian separatists, many of whom have doubtless had really terrible life experiences, whether male violence or whatever else, but people do not criticise them for being survivors of sexual violence. They do criticise them for perpetuating really ugly, corrosive politics which actively harm everyone from trans people to sex workers to male survivors.

    It’s a snide trick to try to conflate incels, as a self-identifying political and ideological movement, with single and lonely men, the vast majority of whom are not incels and would be horrified if you accused them of being so. People have no problem whatsoever (and may have all the sympathy in the world) with a man who is single, lonely, possibly depressed etc, but will lose that sympathy when he starts to blame other (entirely innocent) people for his situation & responds to his own self-hatred by turning it outwards into hatred for others.

  33. That Guy says

    @ Marduk, Do you have a deficiency that compels you to be as obtuse as possible? Nobody will be impressed with you writing ten times more than you need to to get your point across, it does not communicate an air of intelligence.

    At any rate, Nobody’s getting on at incels for being single, lonely, and depressed- they’re getting on at incels for having terrible ideas about women, and society at large. These ideas are circulated, amplified and have a corrosive effect on all they contact. I’ll let you in on a secret, I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time in the internet birthing pools where incels are made, and the frequency of posts or threads that are of the jist “I used to be like you, here’s some helpful advice, here’s how to improve your live, see a doctor, take care of yourself, get a hobby, etc etc” All well meaning advice that could be issued to anyone suffering from depression, is extremely high. The problem is that ‘incels’ are so far gone that they are at the point of consciously rejecting society, they no longer consider women as full humans. They revel in their status. Sympathy towards them is rejected.

    It seems that you all have a bee in your bonnets about the word ‘entitlement’ in particular, like this is somehow a value judgement against a certain demographic. As far as I can see, a lot of the kickback here is similar to the kickback against the word privilege. Here’s the rub. It’s not a value judgement. It’s a statement of fact, using the most accurate language at my disposal. It is not cruel to say so. Observe this case in point.

    on expressing his pain at his lack of success with the opposite sex and saying “I’m a nice guy, surely I deserve love too,”

    Emphasis mine. Here’s the thing, being a baseline decent human being is not enough to earn someone’s devotion to you. To think that being generally OK entitles you to someone’s love is absolutely entitlement. It’s a harsh truth, but it needs to be heard. Is it the fault of the said ‘nice guy’ for holding this opinion? I’d say only partly. We are bombarded with media that re-enforces the myth that everyone ‘deserves’ someone to love them (usually a woman, who will devote herself entirely to said man without question) provided they’re not terrible people.

    What’s the solution? We need to extensively de-program this persistent myth, because at it’s heart is that other people (usually women) are a commodity who owe you love. The reality is that every romantic partner you interact with is a full fledged human with their own hopes, desires, motivations, fears and fetishes. Sometimes, the stars will align and you’ll meet someone ‘just right’ and you’ll get on like a house on fire, other times, you’re not the perfect person for your perfect partner, and they’re just not interested. That’s life, unfortunately.

    I’ll repeat my earlier comments in short form- myths like this, reflect a culture of entitlement. The people who feel entitled are a product of a society that nurses and nurtures that entitlement. The best thing for those people that they can do for themselves, is to recognise that sense of entitlement and begin a life with their expectations better adjusted. The best thing we as a society can do for those people, is stop breeding that entitlement, stop creating impossible standards that not everyone can live up to and create a society that doesn’t glorify power and the abuse thereof. Is it cruel to say this? No, rather it’s essential it be said.

  34. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    Right, now imagine a woman in a “fat acceptance community” detailing her heart-breaking history of trouble finding romance ending with “I’m a nice woman, surely I deserve love too.” I’m assuming you would not feel the need to start telling her that her pain was caused by the fact she’s so entitled and she needed to get over the myth that anyone owed her love just because she’s a decent human being. Or perhaps you would?

    As Marduk points out, this is the language of the right. “The people who feel entitled are a product of a society that nurses and nurtures that entitlement,” would sound natural coming from the mouth of a particularly heartless Tory. Would you respond to a homeless person saying “surely everyone deserves a roof over their heads” by telling them society had sold them a myth that other people owed them a house and the real solution was to get over their sense of entitlement? Now, of course this example is slightly different because we can give the homeless person a house but we can’t just give the lonely man or woman a partner. People are different to houses. The solution is much more difficult, but it might start with accepting and sympathising with their pain rather than yelling at them about how entitled they are. This is largely what incels are selling them, acceptance and sympathy, except it comes with a huge side-order of misogyny.

  35. Carnation says

    @ H. E. Pennypacker

    The glaring difference though, H. E. Pennypacker , which you must be an exceptional dullard not to see, is that the Fat Acceptance Community doesn’t foster extreme hatred of an entire class of people.

    “I’m assuming you would not feel the need to start telling her that her pain was caused by the fact she’s so entitled and she needed to get over the myth that anyone owed her love just because she’s a decent human being. Or perhaps you would?”

    The term “incel” has nothing to do with love, does it? But that’s a side issue. Anyone who wants to be loved should first love themselves. Incels, by their words, beliefs and (mercifully limited) actions understand that they belong where they are; the lunatic fringe of the internet and a stunted, bitter component of the stunted, bitter, solipsistic manosphere.

    The manosphere is many things, but one thing it is not is a place where anyone, save perhaps for the leaders making a paltry living off of it, is a place where people heal, improve or find any happiness. They find degraded people and degrade themselves in a community of degradation, one those lashes out on occasion to try and feel power.

  36. That Guy says

    @ H.E.

    Are you two people? You accuse me of being a heartless tory because I don’t think it’s right that people expect that they are entitled to someone’s love ‘just because’.

    Now, of course this example is slightly different because we can give the homeless person a house but we can’t just give the lonely man or woman a partner. People are different to houses. The solution is much more difficult, but it might start with accepting and sympathising with their pain rather than yelling at them about how entitled they are.

    But then you answer your own question? Maybe you need to take a step back and read what I’m saying with a cooler head later, and you’ll see that we’re proposing the same thing. I absolutely sympathise with the pain of loneliness, and I would never endorse yelling at someone because of it. Can you tell me where I yelled?

    My solution is that we re-engineer society to dispel the *requirement* that people need to have a significant other to feel worthwhile. Why is that remarkable?

  37. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Carnation

    You seem to be having some problems with reading comprehension.

    @That Guy

    I don’t understand why you think I might be two people, or why you think that I’m angry or upset, perhaps you could explain?

    Anyway, this is actually the more pertinent part of my post:

    “Right, now imagine a woman in a “fat acceptance community” detailing her heart-breaking history of trouble finding romance ending with “I’m a nice woman, surely I deserve love too.” I’m assuming you would not feel the need to start telling her that her pain was caused by the fact she’s so entitled and she needed to get over the myth that anyone owed her love just because she’s a decent human being. Or perhaps you would?”

    I assume you wouldn’t think this woman was saying that she was entitled to someone’s love just because. I expect, like me, you’d understand her, not to be saying “this person owes me love”, but to be expressing the general sense that she is worthy of finding love somewhere, that not meeting some particular beauty standard shouldn’t mean she didn’t deserve to find happiness with someone.

    If you respond to one thing in this post, respond to this:

    Do you disagree with me on this? Do you think it would be helpful to tell her to stop feeling so entitled, or write articles about “fat female entitlement”?

    I’m not accusing you of being a Tory, I’m saying that you’re using the language of the right, a language that is specifically utilised to deny sympathy. I should have been clearer with the yelling part, I wasn’t actually accusing you, just referring to a tendency on some parts of the feminist internet to rage about or mock men who express sadness at their lack of luck in love and the fact that this reaction to these men finds legitimacy in the fact that these men are entitled. As I’ve pointed out, this is not only cruel but will push some people (not all obviously) towards misogynist ideologues.

  38. Marduk says

    35. Well see, post 36. But I’m not conflating anything, I’m arguing against conflation. Its possible to separate causes, claims and behaviours and feel compassion for people even if they behave appallingly. The problem, as I see it, is a logical fallacy that because people behave appallingly, now their claims are believed to be false and any discussion of wider causes ended. And furthermore, those claims and causes are now not legitimate even for people who behave absolutely decently.

    It does seem to me that men do have to “earn and deserve” things in a way that other groups in society don’t and that is little examined because its obscured by the unequal use of rhetoric and the confusion of universal human needs with privilege and anti-privilege arguments. Consider for example Ms. Valenti. She doesn’t owe you the right of recognition in a public space, you are a bad person for making her invisible however. And thus having excluded half the human race from society itself, she complains they aren’t pro-social enough. Which brings me onto the topic of…

    36. I can’t take that seriously when you are inventing your own quotes (your emphasis) and going full bore with the rhetoric. “Devotion”, you mean like a dog to its master? Sounds terrible, who’d want that, not that anyone except you has used the word. What about a retired old lady, alone and housebound with a disability. Is it reasonable for her to want some human contact? Is it reasonable for her to feel bitter about not getting it? I feel you wouldn’t say the same thing to her and would probably complain about someone quoting your words “policing” her feelings.

    Incidentally, the problem with your “nice guy” is that he thinks he can earn things that can’t be earned. The feminist-approved distaff version of this incidentally can be found in complaints that professional women find putative partners of the same professional class to be ‘intimidated’ and thus the awful insecure child-man seems to prefer waitresses and secretaries to his equals, possibly out of a need to dominate etc etc. Its the same problem, they think their professional credentials should qualify them for something, but they don’t. Its a category error in both cases. But you won’t argue someone out of that mindset by telling they’ve disqualified themselves from the competition they think they have entered. Its more cruel that way which seems to be the aim, but you’re just making it even more real for them.

  39. That Guy says

    @ H.E.

    I strongly feel that you’re projecting the persona of a straw feminist onto me. I can assure you, I’ve never dyed my hair, I’ve never been harassed on t’internet about my opinions on video games, I haven’t got a blog and I’m nowhere near hip nor on trend enough to fit that category. So, for additional clarity, what I’m *not* doing, is this-

    I should have been clearer with the yelling part, I wasn’t actually accusing you, just referring to a tendency on some parts of the feminist internet to rage about or mock men who express sadness at their lack of luck in love and the fact that this reaction to these men finds legitimacy in the fact that these men are entitled. As I’ve pointed out, this is not only cruel but will push some people (not all obviously) towards misogynist ideologues.

    You’d be hard pressed to find anyone more sympathetic to the plight of the adolescent awkward male trying to navigate the confining landscape of masculinity.

    ASIDE

    Have you heard of ‘Nice Guy’ syndrome? It’s the behaviour particularly common amongst young men of a certain social standing- the behaviour has sprouted from the seed that “people are often friends before romantic partners”, but has become warped that some young men think that if they’re sufficiently ‘nice’ to a girl, for a sufficient length of time, that they’ll eventually become romantically involved. Now, because love, lust and sex isn’t so simple a social transaction, this doesn’t pan out as they would expect, and confessions of romantic feelings to the subject of ‘nice’ behaviour is often met with the gentle put down of “You’re such a Nice Guy, but you’re not for me…” or some variant. This behaviour is a form of entitlement, in which ‘niceness’ is given on the implicit understanding that they’ll be rewarded with sex later. Which, makes it not very nice?

    This phenomenon is well documented, googling ‘nice guy’ will get you a tonne of posts and stories, but IF you want confirmation from the class of people responsible of this behaviour that this is a real thing that happens, you can find endless material in the toxic manosphere under terms like ‘beta orbiter’ and ’emotional tampon’.

    /ASIDE

    ANYWAY, you were polite enough to ask me a direct question, (albeit with a faulty premise) so I’ll answer you as clearly and directly as we can.

    I assume you wouldn’t think this woman was saying that she was entitled to someone’s love just because. I expect, like me, you’d understand her, not to be saying “this person owes me love”, but to be expressing the general sense that she is worthy of finding love somewhere, that not meeting some particular beauty standard shouldn’t mean she didn’t deserve to find happiness with someone.
    If you respond to one thing in this post, respond to this:
    Do you disagree with me on this? Do you think it would be helpful to tell her to stop feeling so entitled, or write articles about “fat female entitlement”?

    So Two things- I don’t tell single men to feel so entitled, and I don’t write articles about male entitlement. No hairdye, no snark, no body of straw, remember?

    Second thing- I’d say the most helpful thing, is rather than saying that everybody deserves to find happiness with someone, which conditions her worth as a person on the entirely unreliable and unpredictable whims of people over which she has no control, it’d be better and more helpful to say that finding a way to be happy on their own terms will make them happier in the long term. Find a hobby, learn a language, do things for the fun of it rather than getting hung up on doing things to find a partner. It means that that person has worth and happiness that’s not conditional on external factors, and into the bargain, people who are happy with themselves are generally considered to be more attractive, so she might find that once she’s found a way to love herself, and be happy for who she is, that she finds a partner ‘by accident’.

    For the record, this is the exact same advice I’d give to every single young nerdy boy who has bad skin, stutters around girls and spends all his money on warhammer.

    Implicitly, this advice is about letting go of that notion that you ‘deserve’ or ‘need’ a boyfriend/girlfirend to be happy, and hence about losing that sense of entitlement.

    It’s also what I’ve said several times above, but since I’ve addressed it to a hypothetical unlucky in love fat person/adolescent male directly, maybe it seems more compassionate.

  40. That Guy says

    @ Marduk,

    Please learn to read. Then after that, learn to reason in good faith. Then we can have a conversation about real people and making a better society for them to live in. Otherwise, please proceed in your confusing vendetta against any woman that writes for the guardian.

  41. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    I specifically said I wasn’t accusing you of doing those things. My point is that those things draw their legitimacy from the idea that these men are entitled. But you can strongly feel I’m projecting some straw feminist persona onto you if it makes you feel better.

    They also draw there legitimacy from the whole idea of Nice Guy syndrome. Now, I’m sure there are some young men who do view this as a “social transaction”, but I suspect there are a lot who don’t give ‘niceness’ only because they assume it will be rewarded with sex. They like someone and so they are nice to them, and they hope that such feelings will be reciprocated. This doesn’t need to follow the logic of “I was nice to her, therefore she owes me sex”, and I would imagine this logic is fairly rare among those labelled “nice guys” (of course, those calling it a syndrome always specify that these men are actually only after sex, never affection or intimacy). But even in situations where your model is correct, we’re not talking about entitlement. Your straw Nice Guy believes he has to earn sex through niceness, not that he is entitled to it. You’re twisting yourself in knots to hold onto this word.

    Anyway, it feels like you are rather attached to the idea that men who are struggling and unhappy with their situation feel entitled. As you say, to you it’s an objective fact rather than a value judgement, so I assume we’re not really going to get anywhere with this debate.

  42. That Guy says

    @ H.E.

    It’s frustrating because I feel like we share a lot of common ground but you’re automatically discounting what I say on the basis that some other people somewhere have been cruel because of similar reasons. Other people’s behaviour, bad or otherwise does not impact the truth of my assertions.

    What explicitly, clearly, is the issue with what I’m saying? Do you think that my assertion is that this entitlement is the fault of only the men who are unhappy? Do you think that I’m saying they *deserve* to be unhappy? because I have emphatically and repeatedly denied this.

    Quick example. We now live in a world where Unicorns are hot shit. Every sunday the radio plays songs about people who are happy because they have a unicorn, or people who are devastated because their unicorn left them or is playing with someone else. Every film has got a unicorn sub-plot where the protagonist, finds a unicorn, and feels fulfilled. Entire genres of fiction are written about unicorns and how people are happy once they have a unicorn. Unicorn hunting apps are a billion dollar industry, the rich and famous own ranches of unicorns.

    Now, some people have got unicorns, but some people, no matter how hard they try, just can’t find a unicorn. Maybe there’s no unicorns where they live, or maybe none of the unicorns they meet want to play with them for whatever reason.

    These people are deeply sad, because they’re immersed in a culture that says to be worthwhile you need to have a unicorn. If you don’t have a unicorn, something must be wrong with you, you fucking weirdo.

    Now, In this example, do I think that the despair, sadness and confusion of the people who don’t have a unicorn is less real, because they don’t actually need a unicorn to be happy? No. Absolutely not. Do I feel that they’re responsible for wanting a unicorn so bad? Not really, because they’re immersed in a culture that makes the process of finding unicorns seem both compulsory and laughably easy, when in reality it’s optional and much, much harder.
    Do I think, that their unhappiness seems to hinge on their unicorn desire, perhaps unicorn entitlement? Yes.
    Do I think they are pieces of shit or bad people for feeling this way? No. Do I think that they don’t deserve happy, fulfilled lives? Absolutely not.

    Is this any clearer?

    My solution, is not to continue the myth that everyone deserves a unicorn, they’ll find one eventually, because that’s a platitude that doesn’t in any way rectify the problem. People are still genuinely upset because they don’t have a unicorn, and if they don’t find one, they’ll feel that they’re dysfunctional in some way. You continue to create an atmosphere of unicorn entitlement where people’s happiness and self worth is based on this entirely unpredictable quantity.
    Rather, I’d put pressure on society, to recognise that unicorns aren’t the only path to happiness, and some people who have unicorns are deeply unhappy anyway. This doesn’t mean shouting at people who are sad they don’t have a unicorn, but it does mean trying to influence society to stop putting so much pressure on everyone to have a unicorn, stop showing unrealistic portals of unicorn in media, and stop showing “unicorn Actually” on the telly every fucking Christmas.

    Anyway- HEre’s my last statement- I’m going to ask you a direct solution.

    We’ve discussed the problem at length- that there’s a group of people, including young men, who are unhappy because they feel romantically excluded. My solution is described above, in several different ways. It involves getting society to present more realistic portrayals of relationships, and the treatment of women in films, music videos etc as full fledged beings, rather than a goal to be attained that guarantees happiness.

    what is your solution?

    Please tell me, directly and plainly, if you had infinite power what you would do to alleviate the problem of people feeling desperately sad because they cannot find a suitable significant other.

    Your solution can be as outlandish as you like, it can involve free sex bots, the government becoming the romantic partner of last resort issuing lobotomised homeless people as state girlfriends/boyfriends, government arranged partnerships, or any other bonkers and/or horrific solution.

    The only rules are as follows

    1) It must be actionable. No matter how weird and wonderful it is, it must be something that can be realistically considered. That is, it must have steps that are achievable and explicit.

    2) You must treat people as they currently are. That is, you have to understand that the people in your solution are humans with their own free will and thoughts and feelings. No magic mind control powers.

    I’m looking forward to your answer, We are both talking about the same problem, and we are both empathetic towards the people suffering as a result, but only I’ve given a realistic solution. What’s yours?

  43. Marduk says

    43. I’ve explained to you why your use of rhetoric and choice of examples makes it difficult for you to make a fair argument that convinces me. I have also been specific about why. You however have now claimed I can’t read, I can’t write, I’m filled with hate and am perusing a vendetta. If this is your idea of arguing in good faith I’d like to see what you’d consider bad faith.

  44. That Guy says

    @ Marduk,

    I’m sorry that the conclusions I have drawn from your poorly written and misogynistic fantasies upset you.

  45. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    I don’t believe top down solutions from an individual wielding infinite political power is a good way to solve problems. I think the problem we are discussing now is particularly ill-suited to being alleviated by such solutions.The fact you seem to believe the opposite once again points to the fact that there may not be enough common ground for us to get anywhere.

    “What explicitly, clearly, is the issue with what I’m saying?”

    My problem is you treating groups of people who have some similarity in their situation as relatively homogeneous and then ascribe beliefs/intentions to them based on this using language which contains a negative value judgement. You then proceed to confuse your judgement with the objective nature of reality.

    So anyone who is lonely and unhappy about that loneliness is entitled. A man who is nice to a woman and hopes she will be interested in him romantically has “Nice Guy Syndrome” and believes if he’s nice to people then they owe him sex.

    “Entitlement” and “Nice Guy Syndrome” by their very nature are judgements rather than objective facts. They are a way of framing and categorising people involved in actual, real objective processes. In some cases they may be fairly accurate and useful, in many they are not. These abstractions are often used to legitimate mocking, bullying behaviour towards the people they are ascribed to. If you believe they are statements of objective fact about the world, then clearly you are not using them critically and contribute to a culture of unthinkingly applying them in situations when they are not useful but damaging.

  46. That Guy says

    @ H.E.

    Here’s the thing- I’ll ask my question again- what can people do to make society better for people

    We’ve described the problem numerous times, what is the solution? What do you want to happen?

    The point of this conversation to me is to figure out what is the best way to prevent the creation of deeply unhappy individuals who may end up resentful and having corrosive effects on society. What is the point of the conversation to you? Is it just to chastise me for using the closest available word in the english language to describe a phenomena? If so, I can give you a list of much better reasons to be mad at me over the internet, and that would avoid confusion at least.

    So, if you don’t like the word entitled, then what word would you have me use, if you think it carries too much baggage?

    You haven’t denied that people are unhappy, in particular, young men, because the media and culture around us gives the impression that happiness can be achieved though the attainment of sexy ladies, whom are also often shown in this culture of having no agency of their own. You haven’t denied that this is an impossible standard to set, that can only have negative outcomes.

    Do you believe the above is true? If so, do you believe the notion that romance or sexual conquest is a requirement to have a fulfilled life is a healthy one? If not, what word would you have me use to describe the collection of feelings, despair, sadness and longing for the realistically unattainable?

    So, in the following,

    So anyone who is lonely and unhappy about that loneliness is entitled.

    Please replace the word in bold with a word that describes what I described above.

    As for this,

    A man who is nice to a woman and hopes she will be interested in him romantically has “Nice Guy Syndrome” and believes if he’s nice to people then they owe him sex.

    Allow me to amend, perhaps I wasn’t clear

    A man who is nice to a woman for no other reason that she will be interested in him romantically has “Nice Guy Syndrome” and believes if he’s nice to people then they owe him sex.

    this Is an example of a pervasive behaviour that follows from the above statements wrt. culture and “””entitlement”””. This is a thing that happens with surprising frequency, and I’ve given you the search terms to find people saying that this was done to them, but also, incels and similar people saying they have done this, for these reasons. So yeah, you can be nice to someone without the secret motive of penising them, but if that’s your only motive for being nice, then its an example of that behaviour above.

    Also this:

    These abstractions are often used to legitimate mocking, bullying behaviour towards the people they are ascribed to.

    Is bizarre. Does that mean if I send rape and death threats to flat-earthers nobody can claim that the earth has curvature, because it legitimises my behaviour? If so, I will enjoy using my newfound powers to fuck with society large-scale.

    Tl:dr, don’t dodge the question this time, what is your solution or process to improve the lives of young men who are lonely, depressed and at risk of acting out? Do you have one, or do you just want to be mad at me over the internet for reasons?

  47. Carnation says

    @ H E Pennypacker

    “So anyone who is lonely and unhappy about that loneliness is entitled.”

    No. People who discriminate against an entire class of people because of their own feelings of inadequacy are prejudiced. Sad, pathetic and quite possibly entitled, but mostly prejudiced and stupid.

    “A man who is nice to a woman and hopes she will be interested in him romantically has “Nice Guy Syndrome” and believes if he’s nice to people then they owe him sex.”

    No. People who discriminate against an entire class of people because of their own feelings of inadequacy are prejudiced. Sad, pathetic and quite possibly entitled, but mostly prejudiced and stupid.

    You are a classic example of manosphere victimhood. You are quite simply a fool who has fallen for some of the crudest and most ridiculous conspiracy theorising on the internet.

    Well done, and keep Redditing.

  48. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    And as I’ve said I don’t think it’s a problem amenable to simple solutions and I don’t claim to have such solutions. As for your use of the word “entitlement”, you can keep using it if you want, but you seem to have come to a rather idiosyncratic version of it that differs markedly both from how it is used on the feminist internet and from how it is used in everyday speech. There are other words that would be a better fit, you yourself mention some of them and I think disappointment and resentment were suggested upthread. Also don’t think that you need one word which can accurately capture or explain all the people who roughly fit this phenomenons feeling about it.

    This brings us back to nice guy syndrome. Are you claiming that all guys who get labelled as having nice guy syndrome are only nice to women because they believe then women will be obligated to have sex with them? I’m not claiming that nobody has ever done this, but I am highly sceptical that most people labelled Nice Guys think and act in this way. I’ve seen plenty of feminist blogs where it is deduced from a very small quantity of completely ambiguous evidence that a guy wasn’t just nice, he had Nice Guy Syndrome. This is my problem with your uncritical use of these models. Once you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. Once you have a theory or a model, it is very easy to interpret a situation with reference to your model; you will notice the ways in which it fits the model and discount other interpretations. So when a Nice Guy ™ has his advances rebuffed and responds with “but I’ve been so nice” it seems like rock solid evidence that he has the syndrome and the whole time he was being nice it was just a scheme that he thought it would get him sex. But in reality it’s more likely to be one last, ham-fisted attempt to convince her to like him or a spur of the moment reaction in the grips of emotion. And sure, for some Nice Guys maybe there’s some element of transactional logic in there too but that doesn’t mean their niceness was all just an act that they thought would help them get laid.

  49. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Carnation

    You’re going to have to explain what on earth you’re on about. You seem to be extremely confused and your confusion is confusing me.

    Are you actually claiming that anyone who is lonely and said about it is, “discriminat[ing] against an entire class of people because of their own feelings of inadequacy are prejudiced [sic]”? It seems like quite an incredible claim. Most of the lonely people I’ve met don’t seem to discriminate against anyone as far as I can tell.

    “You are a classic example of manosphere victimhood.”

    Manosphere? Victimhood? What?

    “You are quite simply a fool who has fallen for some of the crudest and most ridiculous conspiracy theorising on the internet.”

    What conspiracy theorising? What conspiracy have I alleged, and where or by whom was I tricked into believing it?

    “Well done, and keep Redditing.”

    What does reddit have to do with anything?

  50. Carnation says

    @ H E Pennypacker

    You are conflating “incels” with lonely men.

    You are conflating decent men approaching women with “incels.”

    I am pointing out that you are doing this and that, in doing so, are attempting to promote idiotic manosphere myths.

    “Incels”, like “MGTOWs” and indeed “MRAS” are statistically invisible. In the case of “MGTOWs” I don’t believe they exist.

    Men who hate women because they are scared of them have existed for millennia. The internet hasn’t. That’s the only reason this trash collective get any attention. That and because people like you, for whatever reason, try to promote and defend them as something they aren’t.

  51. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Carnation

    “You are conflating “incels” with lonely men.”

    Where have I done this?

    “You are conflating decent men approaching women with “incels.””

    Where have I done this?

    “you, for whatever reason, try to promote and defend them as something they aren’t.”

    Where have I done this?

  52. That Guy says

    @ H.E.

    So, for clarity, you’re not all that interested in combatting the systematic inequalities, the confining straitjacket of masculinity, the fetishisation of power and abuse thereof and the militarisation and stoic mask that men have to wear in order to survive in this current society, and is the cause of the vast majority of male-specific hardships that exists, but you really really want to talk about what some undefined feminist said on the internet about some hypothetical ‘nice guy’ and how that will just not stand.

    You really don’t want to have a conversation that is rarely had and massively beneficial about how we as a culture abuse and hijack the concept of masculinity, with harmful effects for everyone, and how best to increase net happiness for everyone, including ‘nice guys’ of the world it seems. Instead you would much rather defend the hypothetical actions of a person who may or may not exist, who literally says , I quote

    So when a Nice Guy ™ has his advances rebuffed and responds with “but I’ve been so nice”

    That he feels entitled to intimacy and a relationship with someone on the basis that he’s adhered to baseline human behaviour, because he might be ‘awkward’ or ‘ham fisted’. For added fun, this guy who may or may not exist, you are determined to shield them from the effects of niche feminist bloggers who also, may or may not exist.

    Your priorities are all fucked, and it seems I was wasting my time trying to gain something by talking with you.

  53. Carnation says

    @ H E Pennypacker

    In your post, earlier. Twice. Once with your foul “fat acceptance” analogy, and then further down.

    I can’t be bothered looking into this any further, That Guy has slaughtered you and I think you’re a fairly typical manosphere troll, probably getting off on the attention you’re receiving here.

  54. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    Maybe you need to take a step back and read what I’m saying with a cooler head later.

  55. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Carnation

    You clearly lack the most basic skills of reading comprehension. Most of this conversation has not been about incels, I know very little about them, but I did make it clear that I understand them to be misogynists. If you did look back further you would see that my initial disagreement with the overuse of “entitlement” was that feminists have already developed much sharper analytical tools than this. You seem to think anybody who deviates from your position to be part of this “manosphere” you’re so paranoid about. If you can conduct yourself more civilly, you might get another response, but if you continue with your ludicrous, poorly-constructed rants, I’m going to ignore you.

  56. Carnation says

    @ H. E Pennypacker

    “If you can conduct yourself more civilly, you might get another response, but if you continue with your ludicrous, poorly-constructed rants, I’m going to ignore you.”

    As they say in Glasgow; gonnaue taking a runnin’ fuck tae yerself?

  57. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    “So, for clarity, you’re not all that interested in combatting the systematic inequalities, the confining straitjacket of masculinity, the fetishisation of power and abuse thereof and the militarisation and stoic mask that men have to wear in order to survive in this current society, and is the cause of the vast majority of male-specific hardships that exists,”

    When did I say that?

    “you really really want to talk about what some undefined feminist said on the internet about some hypothetical ‘nice guy’ and how that will just not stand.

    Well actually, my initial point was that the concept of entitlement is a poor tool for understanding the violence of marginalised men. You seem to think I have some kind of bee in my bonnet about feminism just because I criticise some aspects of some feminist thought. I originally said:

    “Perhaps I should also emphasise that when I said “I think this really is a blind-spot in a lot of feminist theorising,” I specifically was not talking about all feminist theorising. Feminist scholars have written endlessly (and often illuminatingly) about a gendered ideal that men should act on the world rather than be acted upon, and the links between this ideal and male violence. Indeed, such writings are how I first came to think about these things. My point is not that feminists have got it wrong, but that much of the more visible feminist writing of the last few years ignores this better and more nuanced thinking in favour of a formulation that is simplistic and, in my opinion, incorrect.”

    It was you who deviated from entitlement and violence and bright up Nice Guys, but I played along because it’s related to the idea of entitlement. Then you wanted me to play your game of imagining to be an omnipotent dictator and decreeing a solution to loneliness which seems like a completely pointless exercise to me so I decline. Your reaction to this goes back to my point about mental models. You have a model of “guy who hates feminism and feigns concerns for men’s issues as an excuse to criticise feminism”. You’ve interpreted everything I’ve said through this model come to the conclusion that I don’t care about inequalities, or the pitfalls of certain types of masculinity and that I hate feminism. This is not true, at all. I do care about those things and I’m a big fan of feminism; I learnt most of what I know about gender from the analytical side of it, and the side of it that’s a social movement has improved the lives of people around me as well as my own. It’s rather ironic that earlier you were accusing me of imputing views to you because I thought you were a straw feminist.

  58. That Guy says

    I’m not really interested in talking to someone who prioritises getting upset at feminists over proactive (or even abstract) discussion about helping the most isolated men in society. You’ve made it abundantly clear which is more important to you, and it’s not the one that’ll leave society in a better state than you left it.

  59. H. E. Pennypacker says

    Yeah, it’s abundantly clear you’re not arguing in good faith at this point. You stick to saving the world by playing your “If I were dictator…” games, I’ll stick to calling out unhelpful language.

  60. H. E. Pennypacker says

    You’re just embarrassing yourself now. I’m going to stop because I suspect Ally doesn’t particularly want this cluttering up his comment section.

  61. That Guy says

    “H.E. Pennypacker’s eyes bulged.
    ‘MOOOOM! MOM GET UP HERE YOU LAZY BITCH’
    The sheer audacity of that internet commenter, responding with an ad hominem of all things!
    H.E. Pennypacker adjusted his enormous bulk on his ikea office chair. The heat of the argument had raised his blood pressure to an uncomfortable level and he could feel the telltale moist pulsing between his two sets of man-breasts.
    There was a gentle knock at the door, it eased ajar, sending a blade of unwelcome sunlight scything through the gloom of the upstairs bedroom.
    ‘yes dear?’ H.E. Pennypacker’s Mother was a frail woman, long broken and worn caring for the leviathan man child affixed to her home.
    ‘MOOM he’s used a FUCKING AD HOMINEM! Doesn’t he understand that assaults on my personal character don’t change the substance of my argument?’
    ‘Honeybunches, you shouldn’t get so excited- remember what Dr Malone said…’
    ‘HE’S THE SHITTEST AT ARGUING MOM! HE’S NOT ARGUING IN GOOD FAITH!’
    H.E. Pennypacker’s vigorous shrieking set his jowls undulating- the waves of rippling flesh dislodged a shower of dandruff from his matted neck-bristles. A number of nits, rudely awakened by this activity, scuttled for refuge in the dank warm area between his chins.
    ‘MmAybe you should take a break from the internet sweet-pea.. maybe play one of your games for a bit?’
    ‘THIS ISNT A FUCKING GAME MOM! HE’S EMBARRASSING HIMSELF! God I’m so ANGRY!’
    H.E. Pennypacker slapped a meaty fist on his desk, toppling a collection of lewd anime figures onto the floor. Thankfully their fall was broken by the layer of crusty crumpled cleenex that carpeted the room.
    ‘If I wasn’t such a good feminist MOM, I swear I’d fucking threaten to RAPE HIM DEAD”
    “that’s.. that’s not very nice dear..’
    H.E. Pennypacker’s Mother fought to keep the quaver out of her voice, last time her son suffered a rage like this, it all ended up with two teams of paramedics lifting him into a special oversized ambulance for emergency heart surgery.
    “MOM, Mom, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you like that, it’s just, these people make me so MAD”
    The purplish tinge began to fade from the flabby flesh of our hero, he was suddenly aware of the sweat rapidly cooling on his forehead and amongst his flaps. The moist feelings caused him to accidentally release a little urine.
    “It’s just, .. If only Stacey had dated ME instead of that loser, I mean, she said I was such a nice guy! the frigid bitch, and after all the times I drove her to restaurants, and did her homework, and bought her nice things…
    I’m a nice guy? Aren’t I Mom?”
    “Yes son, you’re … a nice guy”
    H.E. Pennypacker’s eyes misted over- “Just like Elliott Rodger, He was such a gentleman, if only, if only he’d gotten the love he deserved”

    Later that night, the entire neighbourhood was awakened by a noise that at first blush, sounded like the distressed wailings of a dying sperm whale.
    “MOOOOOOOM! HE’S WRITTEN A STORY ABOUT ME CALLING ME FAT!”

  62. mostlymarvelous says

    The solution is much more difficult, but it might start with accepting and sympathising with their pain rather than yelling at them about how entitled they are. This is largely what incels are selling them, acceptance and sympathy, except it comes with a huge side-order of misogyny.

    But they _don’t_ offer acceptance or sympathy. They offer reinforcement of ridiculous and often pernicious ideas.

    Firstly about women. If you read a bit of their stuff, you’ll find their “standards” for women are startlingly high and largely unrealistic. They have to be young, slim, good-looking, well-groomed – without looking as though they’ve spent any time, effort or money on getting that way. And they should or, for far too many of these clowns, must be a virgin. They should also have no achievements or ambitions of their own apart from wanting to please these never-satisfied men. (The one thing that women find most amazing of all, is that they seem to believe that any and every woman can find a sexual partner any time at all. Apparently there are no lonely, sexually frustrated women in the world – ever.)

    Secondly about themselves. If you see any photographs of any of these blokes, you’ll see that they’re not repulsively ugly, nor weedy, nor grossly fat or unusual in any particular way. By and large they’re, like most of us, smack in the middle of the very wide range of ordinarily attractive people – though smiling would help a great deal. When you read their comments, however, you find obsessive focus on how unattractive or weak or too short or somehow inadequate they look.

    You get the impression they’ve never walked down the street nor gone to the movies or a pub and seen couples, happily together, where neither party is remarkably good-looking or stunningly well-muscled or tall (or dainty) or otherwise stands out from the crowd by their appearance. Having realistic views about themselves and other people would be a big improvement. Having activities and ambitions apart from getting laid would also improve their lives, their personalities and their limited conversation topics immensely.

  63. Eric L says

    “As Marduk points out, this is the language of the right. “The people who feel entitled are a product of a society that nurses and nurtures that entitlement,” would sound natural coming from the mouth of a particularly heartless Tory.”

    I do agree with this part. For an example of the concept of entitlement in its native habitat, see former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney:

    “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for [Obama] no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

    I mean, this is what the word is *for*. It is for opposing egalitarianism and supporting hierarchical outcomes by suggesting it is a moral failing of the have nots to believe they should be closer to the haves. And you can think the universe owes you whatever so long as it’s something you have and take for granted; to use the love example, surely the ranks of people with love lives they are satisfied with are full of people with the same beliefs about deserving love and it being vital to happiness, but in what situation would they ever be called entitled?

    This doesn’t necessarily mean the concept of entitlement doesn’t belong here; there are good reasons to prefer a libertarian approach to love and sex rather than an egalitarian one, but the use of the concept in an otherwise egalitarian ideology comes across as very adorable hoc to me whereas the notion is very much at the core of the conservative worldview. (And, to the subject of the OP, I’m horrified at the description of anyone as “entitled” for believing they shouldn’t be bullied our that society owes them better than watching and laughing.)

    @That Guy
    I’m surprised to hear anyone thinks the word doesn’t carry a value judgement about the person being called “entitled”. Maybe we’ve just heard the word used differently, but it’s quite commonly used to state a value judgement and you shouldn’t be surprised to find people take it that way. If that isn’t your intent then I would just describe what you’re describing as “unrealistic expectations”.

  64. That Guy says

    @ Eric L

    entitled
    ɪnˈtʌɪt(ə)ld/Submit
    adjective
    believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

    In this specific instance, the special treatment we are referring to is someone else’s love. Love is not so simple a quantity it can be treated as a fungible asset in a capitalist society. It inherently requires the active participation and attention of another person, unlike housing or food for example. Additionally, romantic relationships are not required to have a fulfilling life.

    Mitt Rommney’s said a lot of things, so I don’t consider him an arbiter of what words are verboten.

    (And, to the subject of the OP, I’m horrified at the description of anyone as “entitled” for believing they shouldn’t be bullied our that society owes them better than watching and laughing.)

    I have literally never said or implied this. I think there’s a middle ground where everyone is treated decently, fairly and deserves happiness, but not so far as they deserve someone else’s love. If you read what I’ve said above, you’ll see that I’m big on the former, but not so much on the latter. You’ll also see that my opinion is the unrealistic expectation of the latter can amplify and enhance the justified resentment from being denied the essential former.

  65. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @mostlymarvelous

    “But they _don’t_ offer acceptance or sympathy. They offer reinforcement of ridiculous and often pernicious ideas.”

    Well, I could be wrong, but from what I know the acceptance is bound up with the pernicious ideas. When I said they’re “selling” these things I didn’t mean they’re all lovely, accepting, sympathetic guys, but some sort of acceptance and sympathy seems to be part of the selling point of their toxic views. The logic of their appeal to prospective members seems to be:

    Your bitterness and pain are perfectly valid, we understand you, it’s not your fault (acceptance and sympathy), it’s the fault of those evil women for being such sluts/bitches (huge side-order of misogyny).

    Maybe it would have been better phrased if I’d put the misogyny as the main course rather than the side-order.

    @Eric L

    “For an example of the concept of entitlement in its native habitat, see former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney”

    It always makes me think of Thatcher: “People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

    “This doesn’t necessarily mean the concept of entitlement doesn’t belong here; there are good reasons to prefer a libertarian approach to love and sex rather than an egalitarian one,”

    I agree that it’s complicated. The problem definitely isn’t easily solved by top-down solutions; we can’t nationalise boyfriends/girlfriends or tax love/sex/intimacy and redistribute them. I just think “entitlement” is the wrong way to frame the problem.

  66. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    Can you not see that you’re trying to shame me for having emotional problems, being overweight, lonely, economically unsuccessful? Presumably you feel justified doing so because in your mind I’m entitled/a Nice Guy ™ /a neckbeard. Do you not agree that if we want to create a better world, a good start would be to not shame people for being fat or lonely?

  67. That Guy says

    “That night, the room was otherwise silent, save for the slurping, sucking of laboured lungs, fighting desperately to force oxygen through airways clogged with adipose tissue.
    “I can’t believe this!” H.E. Pennypacker thought.
    The phosphorescent glow from his screen illuminated his frown with a ghoulish light
    “He’s trying… to SHAME ME. Just because I’m a gross caricature of an internet addicted malcontent doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings!”

    H.E. Pennypacker’s left hand wandered idly to a old cardboard takeaway container, he absentmindedly peeled a rubbery layer of cheese residue from the base of the box, and slowly sucked it down his throat.
    The cold, days old treat slithered slug like down his gullet, calling to mind soothing memories of breakfast (a double meat pizza from Sam Sam’s washed down with a small bottle of diet pepsi).
    The thoughts of greasy food products soothed his troubled mind
    “Perhaps if I appeal to his better nature, he’ll stop this ridiculous nonsense..”
    Piggy eyes gazed up to his bookshelf, settling on a tatty ring-bound notebook. He’d already exerted himself this morning with a particularly stubborn bowel movement (It’d taken Mom a full box of ‘special stingy wipes’ to fully remove the residue) so he wasn’t up to the mammoth task of standing up and getting the book down by hand.
    He was a smart boy, however, (mommy told him so) and he had other ways.
    A few minutes later, he had the book in hand. He took this moment to bask in his own glory. Slapping his ham hands against the wall a few times had dislodged the notebook, causing it to fall into his belly-cleft. Granted, he’d also knocked down a few old issues of Nuts, Loaded, and Reader’s Wives he’d stashed up there from a time long ago, when he could stand without elevating his heart rate.

    H.E. Pennypacker opened the book in his hands. The cover was now blank, but long ago, bright, friendly sticker lettering had adorned the front. “Feminist heroes”, it had read. Inside, the yellowed pages were filled with scraps and photographs, great women, well-behaved women, to whom H.E. Pennypacker looked up to. In trying times like these, with his very dignity under assault by an anonymous internet user, he craved their guidance. He ran a sausage-finger down the pages, one by one, reading their faces like braille.
    “Ayn Rand- would you have stood for this? Lady Thatcher, you’ve sunk him like the Belgrano, but I need your compassion today, not your wrath…”
    “Love, Honey? Are you OK?”
    Trance rudely interrupted! H.E. Pennypacker fumbled his book, and it flopped to the floor, lying open at his Ruth Davidson collage (The Caption, ‘Best Banter??!’ had been affectionately picked out with glitter pen).
    “FUCKING HELL MOM! YOU NEARLY GAVE ME A HEART ATTACK”
    He knew that’d cut deep, she’d felt guilty ever since the last time he’d tried to climb down the stairs and needed to be resuscitated
    “Sorry love! I…I just wanted to make sure you’re OK!”
    His ingenious method of dislodging his book must have woken her, he realised- but still, he couldn’t allow this transgression to pass without punishment.
    “MOM fuck IM OK! JESUS I could’ve been JERKIN’ IT MOM! GOD I’m not your BABY ANYOMORE, MOM! I HAVE NEEDS!”
    He yelled,
    “Honey!”
    He could hear her voice beginning to crack-
    “MOM! YOU KNOW I need to JERKIT! It’s coz you WONT GET ME A GIRLFRIEND MOM! Don’t I DESERVE LOVE MOM? AREN’T I A NICE BOY MOM?”
    There was no answer, save for a muted whimpering. H.E. Pennypacker sometimes felt guilty about times like this, but he just needed to keep her in line. With any luck, she’d cry herself to sleep. He didn’t even need to threaten to move in with Dad this time.

    His shouting match had sent the blood racing round his body, his transplanted cow’s heart working hard to cope with his excitement. Tucking a hand into his shitted boxers, he idly fondled his semi, trying to remember what it was he was doing before.
    Aha! That was it! appealing to his better nature! He’d shame him for shaming him! That’d learn him!
    His sweaty flab curtains released their stock of trapped air, whistling like a deflating pool-ring as he hunched over his bashed keyboard. With surprising speed, his cumberland fingers rattled out a retort.

    Do you not agree that if we want to create a better world, a good start would be to not shame people for being fat or lonely?

    Leaning back, satisfied in his work, he shook out his multiple chins in order to work his mouth into the correct expression of smugness. That’ll nail the bastard! who can argue with making the world a better place?

    With that task crossed off his mental to-do list, he moved onto the next item, namely, how to best go about mailing a huge sack of dog turds to one Laurie Penny.

  68. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    Actually my only feminist hero is Donna Haraway. In fact, my first forays into the comments on this article were prompted by a passage I’d highlighted on the relationship between acting on the world through violence and the attainment of manhood in an article of hers on the Natural History Museum in New York that I happened to be re-reading at the time:

    ‘Finally, in the atrium also are the life-size bronze sculptures by Carl Akeley of the Nandi spearmen of East Africa on a lion hunt. These African men and the lion they kill symbolize for Akeley the essence of the hunt, of what would later be named “man the hunter.” In discussing the lion spearers, Akeley always referred to them as men. In every other circumstance he referred to adult male Africans as boys. Roosevelt, the modern sportsman, and the “primitive” Nandi share in the spiritual truth of manhood.’

    I bring this up because your stories also remind me of the way the the African men are referred to as boys. Your stories revolve around mocking your protagonist through denying his manhood by casting him as a boy and combining this with misogynist stereotypes (the typical sexist conflation of femininity with infant-hood). His inability to find a woman is combined with his inability to achieve full adult status – full manhood – by attaining financial independence demonstrated by his inability to leave the natal home, a fact that clearly marks him as a boy who cannot share in the spiritual truth of manhood. He is stuck as a mere child because he is neither able to find love nor leave the nest.

    That he is not able to become a real man is reinforced by playing on sexist tropes. He is not a man because he cannot control his emotions; he is not masculine and stoic but feminine and temperamental. His fatness also denies his manliness and equates him with the feminine (see e.g. https://everydayfeminism.com/2013/10/fat-men-feminist-issue/) and while you avoid the idea of castration through fatness, the association with the feminine comes out particularly clearly in the gratuitous descriptions of his soft flesh, the way it forms “flaps” and a “cleft”.

  69. That Guy says

    H.E. Pennypacker attempted his best frown. His matted monobrow formed a frightening sine wave, his oversize cheeks dangling from his face like ox’s testicles. He just couldn’t get it! Why was he persisting in this nonsense? What point was he trying to make? He’d puzzled, and scratched his oily scalp, he’d pinched the bridge of his nose and rested one of his chins on a lumpen fist. He’d contemplated pacing, but it seemed a disproportionate effort for an essentially symbolic gesture.

    He’d masturbated twice, to try and clear his mind, but the processing power he’d freed from carnal urges wasn’t helping to solve this puzzle.

    Obviously these screeds were an assault on his impeccable character, and obviously since he was always right, (Mommy’s smart boy was never wrong) the only conclusion was that the persistent fantasies he was reading were wrong somehow.

    He reflected on his many virtues- his feminist credentials chief amongst them. A red flush crept up his neck area. Still, those ungrateful cunts wouldn’t entertain a relationship with him, even though he was so respectful- Then it clicked!

    Not his spine, it’d clicked a long time ago under his gargantuan bulk. the clicking days of most of his bones were long behind him, a combination of early onset arthritis and gout had seen to that.

    No, his brain clicked- clearly, these comments were a criticism of magnanimous feminism! Ergo, hence, therefore! These attacks on him, were an attack on women!

    It all made perfect sense- and in hindsight, was so obvious- only a raging misogynist could possibly disagree, or do whatever was being done, to him. H.E. Pennypacker chuckled, setting in motion a series of longitudinal waves down his meat-slinky of a body.

    “Checkmate Motherfucker” he rumbled to himself before setting to work.

    Some time later, his pudgy finger jabbed his mouse, the cursor on his screen depressing the ‘submit’ button. It was done- He’d wheeled out his most intelligent-sounding language, and trawled notes from a half-completed correspondence sociology course and tied the whole thing together, conflating himself with womankind as a whole.

    It was hard- he’d had to call Mom up for a sponge-bath to clean away his thinking-sweats- but he was committed. He’d only been momentarily distracted by the arousing thought of himself as a woman, (A woman, who’d be grateful to receive the affections of an educated, nice guy like himself) and resolved to tug himself to climax after posting.

    Surely, surely, that’d put an end to this meta commentary, he thought- the absurdity responding to a critique of a facile creative writing exercise pretending to be mockery of a person who doesn’t want to have a serious discussion would be enough to collapse the universe. That random internet commenter couldn’t be that side of insane, surely?

  70. Marduk says

    77.
    I believe Nietsche said something about this. Alas, someone has gazed too long into the abyss and become the very monster they most feared, tormented by cruel imagined demons. It certainly seems a nightmarish world and this descent seems very regrettable.

    Moving on, I think the problem is really that this doesn’t have solution. We do have a range of social and emotional needs that are dependent on others to be met. It seems that many find this very uncomfortable, because it suggests otherwise deeply unpleasant people face real plight and more existentially, its unpleasant to look the human condition directly in the face. So you get the usual bargaining going on. It isn’t really a need. The need can be taken away. You should be able to meet the need, and its your fault if you can’t. You aren’t qualified to have that need met, not that you ever could be because it cannot be earned anyway. Anything to get rid of the problem or push it into a place from which it can be discounted. Its a very frightening thought that some of the most important things in life are in the gift of another and you get no say at all.

    Many have of course wrestled with this. Artistole most famously decided that dependency, echoing your observation of the discourse, is weakness. Therefore having a need that depends on another is unmanly. His eventual rather tortured conclusion was that this legitimised slavery. If there is an “ethics of bad behaviour” in this area, Aristotle probably generated it here. Unfortunately even on his own terms it doesn’t work, Aristotle neglected to notice that, even if we don’t care about other people, dependence on a slave is an even lower condition than he started off with. Which just goes to show that this kind of thing makes monkeys of even the sharpest minds.

    I suggest a good start is facing facts and being able to discuss them without mockery and derision, half of which is just whistling by the graveyard anyway I reckon. The trick would be to find ways of living with suffering that don’t involve taking it out on other people. This is the core of the issue but for whatever reason, that seems just too stark to contemplate.

  71. Paul says

    Carnation

    I don’t think it’s fair linking to someone who’s banned from here given he can’t reply.

  72. Ally Fogg says

    For the record Adiabat is not banned. He was just told to fuck off for being a cunt and verily, off he did fuck.

  73. Ally Fogg says

    Although that said, you ‘re right Paul, I’m not particularly enthused by linking to people’s Twitter purely to pick a fight with them. He fucked off because I wanted him to fuck off. If anyone wants an argument with him, I’d prefer you didn’t bring him back here to do it.

  74. pocketjacks says

    On the loneliness and isolation, I’d broadly categorize the following forms of loneliness, which go from most to least severe, but all of which society would be better off with less of:

    1. Isolation in its purest form. Lack of social contact from any and all human beings. Disproportionately affects men, the elderly, and especially elderly men. Becomes a self-reinforcing cycle, leads to men not even seeing doctors and social workers and such and thus dying preventable deaths.

    2. Social isolation from peers.

    3. Peer segregation. To the extent that a given lonely person doesn’t suffer from #1 and #2, it’s because all the barely-above-#2 have clumped together. Better than the alternative, I suppose, but a much better solution would be social integration, whereby people are socially connected with different kinds of peers.

    This is also the breeding ground for much of the social isolation that can turn destructive, especially when a socially-adroit, sociopathic leader gets in control of them for their own purposes.

    4. Romantic loneliness.

    The necesssary battle as I see it is over #2 and #3.

    Loneliness really is a poverty of the spirit. It deserves to be talked about in many of the same ways we talk about poverty and economic issues. No one may die because of loneliness per se, but by that same token, only absolute poverty below a certain point kills; not relative poverty, not underrepresentation, not performance gaps, and not “economic issues” in general. (Yes, the latter may have deleterious health effects at a population level. So does loneliness – some really vicious ones, in fact.) I reject any segregation of empathy whereby the plight of the cripplingly lonely is a sad fact of life we must accept, but We Cannot Rest as a Society unless the latter are largely erased. I would much rather be a middle-income person who for demographic reasons may never reach an executive position, but with flourishing and rewarding relationships with the people in my community, an abundant social life, and many romantic prospects, than an upper-income person with none of these things. I suspect I’m not the only one. I think most people, when you get down to it, are the same way.

    It seems to be taken for granted that we all have sympathy for lonely people, and lonely men specifically as per the concerns of this thread. Amidst all this so-called sympathy, there is a distinct lack of any sentiment that overall loneliness levels in society must come down, or that the lonely be made fewer. It mirrors the distinct lack of any sentiment by Parr as quoted in the OP that bullying must come down.

    It’s also odd in the way we talk about loneliness, in that it’s apparently a problem without villains. Is this some triumph of nuance and rational thinking? Unlikely; the same people resistant to real help toward the lonely have no problem designating the most simplistic of villains elsewhere. Every social problem has some group of people that needs to change, because that’s how it got to be a problem in the first place. One gets the feeling that an inability to see any antagonists here who need to change their behavior, or more likely have it changed through outside social forces, is at best due to indifference, at worst due to sympathy with the antagonists.

    Being selectively cold to anyone who comes into our lives without an already apparent high degree of prior peer status is wrong. It’s this sort of attitude that makes loneliness a self-reinforcing cycle. Treating people better or worse based on where they stand with respect to a peer hierarchy is wrong. We all do these to some extent. I notice it in myself, because I am only human, though I am rightfully ashamed at the more egregious instances of my doing so and make efforts to correct them. But some people are noticeably worse about it than others. Those people should be shamed when they do so. This entire prejudice should have a name, and be mentioned whenever we see, for instance, a piece of media indulging in it. There is, unfortunately, a human tendency to want to create or maintain hierarchies of inclusion and exclusion that put other people at the bottom in order to feel better about oneself. With so few socially acceptable hierarchies remaining, a lot of it gets dumped into this area.

    Loneliness and isolation are growing problems (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/the-loneliness-epidemic-more-connected-than-ever-but-feeling-more-alone-10143206.html) and other social concerns that stem from them will also get worse unless we tackle them – which may entail abandoning certain shibboleths. This is a gendered problem; both genders report loneliness at about the same levels, but the underlying numbers being worse for men is a consistent finding in this area. Certainly, loneliness in both genders deserves to be addressed, as well as the unique ways the problem can manifest in women, but it is important that there also be avenues to discuss it in gendered terms from within the male perspective. Existing models fail to adequately address this problem. Let’s roughly divide one’s social universe into close confidantes, friends, warm contacts (people who you hang out with once every few months, or those you are really close with at work but never see outside of work), and contacts (people in your life, for the most part around your age, who are potential warm contacts). For most people, having healthy social connections with the world means a concentric enlargening of all these circles. But most articles written on this subject focus exclusively on close confidantes. Why is this? A big part of the reason, I’d argue, is a social prejudice that trying to increase the numbers of the others for its own sake is shallow. No; what’s shallow is rejecting people because they score low on such scales and they have low current social value. Wanting a healthy and varied social life is normal and to be encouraged.

  75. 123454321 says

    Nice guys are entitled now are they?HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Brilliant, just fucking brilliant. That’s set me up for Christmas. You learn something new every day – in this case what an abhorrently twisted and deceitful man-hating misandrist That Guy is. Oops, sorry, already new that! Bye!

  76. Marduk says

    84. I think that is a very good post. This is a silly aside but I know what you mean about being cold to people. It seems to me that there is a problem in acknowledging problems that don’t have a policy solution. There is an obvious villain of course, modern capitalism, which having encouraged us to turn away from extended family to the nuclear family, now really seems to push us away from even that.

    Daft aside, but when it was popular I could never get into, well, “Friends” because while some people saw it as a great statement about the ‘new family’ urban professionals were supposed to adopt, all I saw was how horrible they were to everyone else. “Friends” literally weren’t allowed any other friends. Probably a great part of this was the concept and mechanics of a sitcom, the guest stars had to go away and not come back, but after a while it became quite repulsive and weird once you start noticing it. What is more striking is why more people weren’t repulsed by it.

  77. Carnation says

    @ Paul, Ally

    Point taken.

    Onto a more interesting subject, the latest massacre in Texas was carried out by a military man known to be a domestic abuser. The link between mass-killing and domestic abuse seems to be established.

    I was wondering, and this is probably the place to find out, whether a credible profile of a domestic abuser has ever been carried out? Any constant themes?

  78. Carnation says

    @ Ally

    I liked your comment about Toxic Patriarchy vs Toxic Masculinity, and think it’s possibly more apt than Patriarchal Misandry.

    Will a blog post follow, perhaps?

    And will the Friday open threads be resurrected?

  79. WineEM says

    I’m kind of interested to what extent the media in the United States exerts the same kind of pressures on young men as it does here in the UK. I think there may be some differences, although I can see some strong similarities, too. Certainly if you look at the media over here, you would be pretty damn crazy to find any sort of consolation in any quarter: the solutions and ideas offered by the right are plainly wacko, but then you would have to be quite insane, as a young guy in our society, to try and find any kind of empowerment in the culture and ethos pushed by the Guardian/SJW side as well.

    I suppose also that the USA is a bigger country, with a media which is less centrally concentrated, so perhaps there’s more of a chance to escape it; though I suspect the partisan culture wars being pushed over there – on both sides – are still pretty dangerous (and perhaps not entirely dissimilar in nature).

    But beauty of democracy, I guess, is that people can set out their stall, and you can decide, in theory, to what extent you’re going to trust them, or follow what they say or not (but being wary of extreme ideologues from every side is probably a good idea, all in all.)

  80. 123454321 says

    Carnation #87

    There are probably millions of cases of domestic abuse across the globe but comparitavely very few cases of massacre shootings. Current social indoctrination means that when someone raises the issue of domestic abuse, an image of a male perpetrator is always conjured up, mainly due to social conditioning. Of course we know now that the picture is clearing and in fact many women are also perpetrators. Lone shootings, however, are predominantly carried out by men, I agree. But any suggestion that the link between mass killings and domestic abuse is an established one has as much credibility as suggesting there is a link between mass killers and male genital mutilation. If you require a credible profile of a domestic abuser in order to satisfy your thirst for labelling male domestic abusers as potential mass killers then it merely demonstrates your endeavour to cast men in a bad light rather than actually derive anything intellectually robust. You’re not doing that, are you? I am certain that some mass killers will be perpetrators of domestic abuse and I’m certain that some of them will also be victims of MGM. Do you propose profiling a victim of MGM too, dude? Everyone loves a story about a male domestic abuser – more so than a female domestic abuser it seems. Not many people give a shit about the story of an MGM victim so perhaps we can draw some innovative conclusions. Anyway, you are now presented with another ‘constant theme’ factor (MGM) so how do you propose to take it forward? Or would you rather drop that one from your memory and continue with the domestic abuser agenda?
    Also, Carny, I haven’t spoken to you for a while. What have you achieved this year on behalf of men and boys? A lot of talking, I’m sure, but what are the tangible, positive outputs? I too would love to discuss them in an open thread as I’m sure it would be packed full of juicy Christmas goodies to celebrate your 2017 successes. Bye bye, sweetness.

  81. Marduk says

    Given the low profile the Graun has given to the case, its worth noting that before he was maimed to the point of electing euthanasia in a country more civilised than our own, Mark von Dongen repeatedly begged the police for help and they did absolutely nothing.

    Two CIF articles have addressed the situation. The first did the usual trick of only mentioning von Dongen to conclude the crime is “overwhelmingly committed by men”. I find drawing parallels between a victim and generalized perpetrator profile very disrespectful. The latter simply stated that von Dongen “wasn’t a typical victim, globally” and discussed the role of “patriarchal society” in acid attacks. Presumably the writer’s sympathies are with the police then, who they definitely haven’t bothered to hold to account. Maybe von Dogen will be recorded as a victim of VAW.

  82. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    The first 13 lines of what you’ve written is a testament to your political and sociological illiteracy. It reads like a parody piece. Responding to you in a sincere fashion is impossible, as you’ve demonstrated a complete inability to grasp even the most basic understanding of research and conclusion and I am left bemused by you.

    Get off the blogs, son, and read something use. Try The Basics of Social Research, by Earl Babbie. I had a look, and, sadly, there are no “Idiot’s guides” – but I have identified a gap in the market thanks to your ineptitude.

    I will, however, in the spirit of brotherly love, respond to one of your questions;

    “Also, Carny, I haven’t spoken to you for a while. What have you achieved this year on behalf of men and boys?”

    I have done far, far more than the entire “men’s rights” and “father’s rights” movements has in the previous ten years.

  83. Marduk says

    Noting an interesting disconnect on these OMG Russian hackers and ‘troll factory’ pieces. Point being the media thinks this is shocking and important, as do politicians. The public think this sounds a lot like stuff they ignore because they’ve already learned to ignore what the media and politicians say, they don’t see much difference.

    Yet the media carries adverts and “sponsored content”, the UK funds the World Service still through the Foreign Office, the US still funds the Voice of America, its fairly easy to also spot sponsored spooky content (if you want to see a classic, look at the Vice Guide to Syria which is the strangest piece of writing you’ll ever see on the topic). Its fanciful to think that they aren’t also at this game more covertly online. Indeed, the Clinton campaign had plenty of paid shills (ShareBlue), Valenti writing attack pieces on Bernie Sanders under orders, big data strategies etc., because of course its unlikely the Democrats would go up against the Republicans with all that money behind both lacking the same tools and weapons.

    Unless they can start defining proper and improper influence (and I’d suggest the media probably wouldn’t want to do this for obvious reasons) I’m unsure how they are going to get traction on this in terms of public opinion. We’ve moved on from the “Red Menace” where its just bad if people we don’t like do it. Its news that increasingly only gets welcomed by extremists – witness the excitement amongst the hard-core Remoaner fringe when it was mooted that perhaps Russia had caused Brexit. Its deeply silly and everyone, of course, ignores that as well.

  84. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    “Valenti writing attack pieces on Bernie Sanders under orders”

    Whose orders?

    “witness the excitement amongst the hard-core Remoaner fringe when it was mooted that perhaps Russia had caused Brexit”

    What exactly are you talking about? Who is the “hard-core Remoaner fringe”? Where are they represented? Is this story *not* being welcomed and reported in the hard-right Brexit press?

  85. Marduk says

    94.
    Lauren Collins Peterson, Hilary Clinton’s speechwriter.
    https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/18566

    I was referring to this from May, events got ahead of me it seems:
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy?

    Malign influence over elections in foreign countries, especially using massed individual communications is of course utterly reprehensible, except when it isn’t.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1474828/Guardian-calls-it-quits-in-Clark-County-fiasco.html

    Comedy aside, if you search “big data” and “algorithm” what you find up until the day she lost was that Clinton was investing heavily in this stuff and Trump, that idiot, wasn’t. Now we’re supposed to believe that Clinton didn’t use any of that and Trump did.

    As I say earlier, its not about who is good and who is bad, its that everyone is doing the same things. If we’re to be made to care about this, they can’t keep pretending that Putin is an evil mastermind because Russia Today exists.

  86. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    With all due respect, and I mean this sincerely as you have made some interesting points, you do yourself no justice with the theatrical flourishes that you introduce items of interest.

    Valenti, as far as I can see, wasn’t under “orders”, most likely there was an alignment of interests. This isn’t unusual or controversial.

    You still haven’t justified the tabloidesque (and basically nonsensical) term “hard-core Remoaner fringe” – as far as I can see, people are bored of the “Russia connection.”

    What’s far more insidious and dangerous, and pertinent to this blog, is the weaponisation of people’s anger and discontent. The Katie Hopkins, Milo’s, PJW et al of this world who get themselves attention, and sometimes a little bit of cash, by scapegoating and other-ing certain people and peoples. Is Russia pulling the strings? No, I don’t think so. Things are often a bit more organic than that.

    What baffles me is that all the anger and bitterness isn’t making people happy. Hopkins/Milo/PJW et al are chronically miserable people and their fan bases are chronically miserable. If there was a clear benefit for even a substantial minority of people as a result of their media antics, I could make some sort of sense out of it, but it just seems like unhappy guttural trash dragging everyone into their miserable, narrow, stunted little cesspit.

  87. Marduk says

    96.
    I understand lobby briefing but this is a bit different, look at the context of the rest of the email and the language Peterson uses, “hits”, “can’t be traced to us” etc. I don’t like it. While Valenti is in her rights to talk with who she wants, I don’t feel the Guardian should allow itself to be found “working with” a foreign politician to place specific themed messaging about her political rivals (especially Bernie Sanders who is arguably someone the paper would more naturally back, at least historically). Everyone will try of course, its their job to stop it from happening. Its also worth noting that Bernie Sanders isn’t actually racist, sexist or against abortion anyway, this was always fake news anyway.

    I don’t know what PJW is, but again, everyone uses anger and frustration. People like it because it makes their frustrations feel righteous in a complex world where the reality is you never quite know whats going on.

  88. Ally Fogg says

    Don’t have time to deep into this argument, but can’t resist a fly-by.

    Marduk, that stuff about Valenti writing Sanders attack pieces “under orders” really is the most silly nonsense you have ever come out with. It’s utterly bizarre & I don’t know why you keep returning to it.

    And I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at with the Russia stuff.

    The problem is not Russia Today (which is a direct equivalent of BBCWS or Iran’s Press TV or countless others.) It is what it is and people can take it or leave it.

    And the problem is not with a revolving door between political commentators like Valenti & political campaigns such as Clinton’s. That is absolutely identical to, say, Owen Jones commenting on Labour internal politics while being heavily involved with & friendly with the leadership. Or Sarah Vine commenting on the Conservative Party while being married to Michael Gove. This stuff happens all over, at all levels, and I have no idea why you keep picking out Valenti as if she’s some exception to the rules, when she’s absolutely par for the course.

    The problem is with what Russia appears to be doing is that it appears to be paying people to surreptitiously influence democracy in rival nations, not by putting a pro-Russian spin on relevant issues (which is what spookish propaganda machines have always done) but by attempting to destroy any remaining faith the voting public have in their own media reporting, by surrounding it with entirely invented, fake news and by astroturfing social media and Web 2.0 by extensive use of fake accounts which exist only to sow discord & poison democracy & free media.

    There is also the massive issue of whether Russian money is bankrolling democratic elections, whether the US Presidential or the Brexit referendum. That is entirely illegal in every country, & the fact that the CIA & KGB have done (or tried) similar things in many client states over the years doesn’t make it any less worrying that (or if) Putin is doing it now.

    I genuinely don’t understand how you seem to have got this so entirely upside down and back to front

  89. Marduk says

    98. The only reason I tie this to politics is really that I never thought anyone genuinely believed this obvious horseshit. Putin is not a nice man but he isn’t actually the Joker from Batman. Its ridiculous, it makes utterly no sense at all that he would even want to do it and all the evidence is duff whether its Crowdstrike giving stuff random Russian names (if I call you Ally Bear that makes you a Russian spy apparently) etc. The real surprise is how little they have been able to find.

    This is my latest favourite just now. Are they really this stupid, is there anyone who doesn’t know just at a glance what the money was for?
    https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/secret-finding-60-russian-payments-to-finance-election?utm_term=.rvod6XNmD#.coe8eYn9w
    http://thehill.com/policy/international/360314-fbi-scrutinizing-russian-payments-to-embassies-to-finance-election

    Here are your Russian Twitter accounts:
    https://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/terror-cranks-sold-america-russia-panic
    https://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/clint-watts-fake-russia-expert

    And finally, RT exists, its a fact. That is actually all anyone can prove, I don’t care what else they are “saying”.
    https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf

  90. Marduk says

    101.
    I don’t like it but at least that is a journalist following editorial instructions rather than those of a foreign politician’s digital strategy team. Just to be clear, I only ‘pick on’ JV because there is proof for once, and it was manifestly a garbage attack on a decent man on the behalf of a member of the Clinton family. Moreover, this really isn’t the same thing as if she was a friendly journalist getting a cosy briefing from Huma Abedin on the campaign bus and I don’t understand why people are pretending it is.

    My comment on Russia specifically is awaiting FBI moderation but what I really wanted to post was the HuffPo piece by Joe Luria that calmly went through it all and pointed out it was utter nonsense. Turns out it was deleted, nobody knows why.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-07/huffpo-yanks-article-russiagate-hysteria-award-winning-journalist-joe-lauria-%E2%80%93-so-he

    Its very disappointing to see the left getting swept up into a McCarthyite frothing over this. It beats me how people who lived through the 2nd Iraq war could be so gullible.

  91. H. E. Pennypacker says

    The problem is with what Russia appears to be doing is that it appears to be paying people to surreptitiously influence democracy in rival nations, not by putting a pro-Russian spin on relevant issues (which is what spookish propaganda machines have always done) but by attempting to destroy any remaining faith the voting public have in their own media reporting, by surrounding it with entirely invented, fake news and by astroturfing social media and Web 2.0 by extensive use of fake accounts which exist only to sow discord & poison democracy & free media.

    Question: how many of our free media’s reports on Russian troll factories or twitter influence mention the fact that we do exactly the same thing? Even when the Guardian recently wrote about the fact that this is going on in other countries they didn’t bring up our online meddling. Of course, when this was a less politically sensitive issue they, along with other media outlets did. And our spooks goal was not to benignly put a pro-UK spin on things, it was to “discredit, disrupt, delay, deny, degrade, and deter,” which led to our media dubbing them the “deception unit”. Fast-forward to the present day and it seems every journalist in the country has, simultaneously and extraordinarily conveniently, forgotten about the unit’s existence. People’s lack of faith in our media might have more to do with the fact it so transparently functions to uphold establishment narratives than with the witterings of a few Russian online influencers.

    What does more to undermine democracy and sow discord – a few people in St. Petersburg posing as Americans and posting divisive messages, or the media pushing largely baseless fantasies that Putin can swing the outcome of any election and the president of the US might be in bed with Russia? Are a few twitter bots worse than claiming anyone who disagrees with you is a Kremlin agent? Is our democracy and free media more undermined by having a few extra fake news stories floating around or by shady, secretive think-tanks trying to tar any opinion that dissents from the mainstream, on the left or right, as Russian propaganda? Many left-wing news sites have had a massive decrease in traffic coming from google since they changed their algorithms to combat “fake news”. We have Helen Lewis heavily implying that the popularisation of the term TERF amongst intersectional feminists is largely a Russian conspiracy; Louise Mensch pushing the idea that not only is Trump a Russian agent, even Bernie’s on the list. This whole episode has me concerned for our democracy and media, but the Russians are far from my biggest worry.

    One of the really sad and harmful effects this is having is to completely discredit and demoralise the liberal opposition within Russia who for years have been arguing that one of the benefits of becoming more like the UK and the USA would be having an objective and fair media who don’t push absurd narratives. The they see that the Guardian had a front-page scoop about the Kremlin’s nefarious influence over facebook and twitter, which it turns out amounts to “a Russian tech investor instead in some tech companies with loans from Russian banks.” Even to the vast majority of Putin’s internal critics, the idea that the investor Yuri Milner is an agent of the Kremlin is completely preposterous. This is Alex-Jones-level conspiracy-theorising. I really can’t stress enough how much the tin-foil-hat approach that’s been adopted serves to empower Putin domestically.

  92. Paul says

    Hopefully the government is about to introduce penalties for those divorcing/separating parents who use the considerable power and influence they have to turn their children against the other parent.Something parents of both sexes are capable of doing but given mothers are the primary carers in most cases and are usually awarded primary custody of their children it’s largely something that mothers do to fathers.And at present fathers are generally powerless to do anything about it.

    I think think this is relevant to the subject being discussed on this thread given that boys who enjoy a reasonable relationship with their fathers are significantly less likely to go off the rails than those who’ve been either abandoned and/or abused by them.And whilst it won’t provide a panacea preventing the brutalisation of boys it might be a step in the right direction for at least some who may well go completely off the rails after their parents split up if they subsequently lose contact with their fathers.

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/17/parental-alienation-divorce-custody-crackdown-cafcass

  93. Ally Fogg says

    Yeah, I think progress on parental alienation is long overdue, but I worry that legislative or policy changes are never the answer in these cases.

    We’re always going to crash into rocks marked ‘best interest of the child’ which will never be a straightforward judgement & one side or the other will always consider themselves grievously wronged.

    I also guarantee you that within months of a change to the rules, there will be a case where a mother had been keeping the children away from the dad against a court order, is forced to grant access and then something terrible happens and a child is hurt and it will be all over the front pages that Cafcass Killed My Baby or whatever.

    But yeah, it is important progress.

  94. Paul says

    but I worry that legislative or policy changes are never the answer in these cases.

    That’s a bit defeatist .For whilst it may not be be the answer in every case i thing it’s important that the law is quite clear where it stands vis-a vis parental alienation.And parents understand the possible consequences if found guilty of it.

    I also guarantee you that within months of a change to the rules, there will be a case where a mother had been keeping the children away from the dad against a court order, is forced to grant access and then something terrible happens and a child is hurt and it will be all over the front pages that Cafcass Killed My Baby or whatever.

    Sadly you may be right on that.But even so parents who aren’t the primary custodians of their children still have rights .And the overwhelming majority won’t harm their children.And the fact there’s a small risk a child could be killed in the circumstances you describe shouldn’t be used as an excuse to deny parents access to their children unless there’s proof they pose a threat to them..

  95. That Guy says

    With regard to Cafcass, and other similar legislations, I’m always brought to think of the following case-

    https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/search-judgments/judgment?id=822331a7-8980-69d2-b500-ff0000d74aa7

    the tl:dr, is a mother abducts her child and flees her home country with the express goal of preventing the father of the child having any contact. Her methods are odious, and reprehensible, but she succeeds in dodging discovery for 5 years.

    She’s tracked down by the authorities, and the father petitions the court to have the child (now ten) returned to his care.
    Of course, 5 years in another country is a long time, the child has no relationship with her father to speak of, and doesn’t even speak the language of her native country.

    So, unfair as it seems, the best interests of the child dictate that she stays with her mother in her new home.

    The reason I think of this case is that it couldn’t be more clear cut that what happened is absolutely wrong, and that jailing the mother, placing the child into the care of the father, or any other punitive actions would do nothing but cause distress, and pain to the child who has done nothing wrong. What do you do in these sort of situations? I’m not sure that legislation or application of legal threats will really help in these cases.

    Rather than empowering parents, I have a feeling it’d be used as another lever to exert power over the carer of one parents child. i.e., the people most likely to need cafcass, are least likely to benefit from it. For every case like that above, you’ll have a gentleman like the one below trying to game the new system.

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkuWrmxN7hg?rel=0&showinfo=0&w=560&h=315%5D

  96. Marduk says

    103.
    At least its a statement of intent and values, even if it doesn’t really have teeth. I can get behind it on that level.
    A lot of people don’t really think parental alienation is wrong, they’ve normally told themselves a story about how “he cheated on the children as well” and suchlike.

  97. Paul says

    103.
    At least its a statement of intent and values, even if it doesn’t really have teeth. I can get behind it on that level.
    A lot of people don’t really think parental alienation is wrong, they’ve normally told themselves a story about how “he cheated on the children as well” and suchlike.

    Absolutely right because it sets in stone a further tool for those parents currently powerless to do anything about parental alienation.And i’d also like to see the right to shared, parenting provided certain conditions are met, set in stone as well.

    As far as i know women are involved in the majority of child deaths as a result of domestic domestic violence.Women are as guilty as men of the non-sexual abuse of children.And the most dangerous family type for a child is one headed by a biological mother and a cohabiting stepfather.I’ve therefore often wondered why we hear a lot about mothers claiming the violence of the fathers as an excuse for not allowing them to see their children whilst we never hear about non custodial fathers citing the violence of the mothers and their new partners as a reason why they should have custody of the children.

    It concerns me that the decent majority of non custodial fathers still feel the system is stacked in favour of mothers.And that unless the mother can be proven to be either mad or bad the fathers are reluctant to challenge them because of that.And it’s not helped when even now most of the public rhetoric about family abuse is primarily concerned with abusive fathers .

    We still have a long way to go before fathers have equal rights with mothers in the private domain .And whilst i accept what’s best for the child should be the top priority i still wonder to what extent what’s best for mothers as primary carers is actually what takes priority.

  98. Marduk says

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/24/the-guardian-view-on-taylor-swift-an-envoy-for-trumps-values

    This is a silly editorial but representative of what annoys me so much. I don’t really care for, or am at all familiar with, Taylor Swift although Shake It Off was a great single. At this point you can just assume you’re being lied to and lo, 30 seconds on Wikipedia tells me that her best friend has been dating Jared Kushner’s brother for six years. Both Kushners were, until 2015, life-long card carrying Democrats. There is really no great mystery to what is going on and the person who wrote this article will have known it before putting pen to paper but did so anyway.

  99. That Guy says

    @ Marduk

    I know I’m going to regret asking, but what has that article got to do with anything?

  100. Carnation says

    @ That Guy

    I’d suggest Marduk sees it as evidence supporting his theory that Guardian columnists act “under orders” from shadowy Democrat overlords.

    I think it’s part of his general view of the world which I’d summarise as being “yeah, OK, Trump and the alt-right are bad, but the left and the liberal establishment are really bad also, and we have to look at the bigger picture.”

    I say that not to be provocative or dismissive, that’s just how I see it but I’m open to contradiction.

  101. Marduk says

    111/112.
    I don’t think its under orders in this case, I think its just representative of the hysterical pitch things have reached. This is exactly the sort of situation that people will look back on in the future and decry, I’m just wondering at what point we can learn to spot it when its happening. Taylor Swift has done something terrible and unforgivable because she won’t publicly denounce her friends’ families, “Russian hackers” are to blame for everything that ever goes wrong in the world etc. If you sit down and try and look at this objectively, its getting really ugly.

    Meanwhile, does everyone know about what they are doing with RT in the US? Someone doesn’t get invited to a private briefing, and its a disaster for freedom of the press, RT get put on a list and nobody blinks. You’ve got Saudi and the US trying to starve Yemen into submission, they’ve been doing it for ages now, and nobody seems to even know, much less care. Syria has gone awfully quiet, not that it actually has. Wider picture indeed Carnation.

  102. That Guy says

    @113 Marduk

    I’ve read your post like, four times and I’m still not any closer to being able to make any meaningful connection.
    It’s not merely confusing, but your words intersect in non-euclidean ways that defy conventional logic.

    To further explain, my line of work means I have the privilege of being kept abreast of the latest cutting edge technology, science, and similar STEM fields. I very often run into concepts or ideas that I don’t understand, or sometimes don’t even remotely grasp, so I’m quite familiar with the sensation of not understanding.

    Your post goes beyond this, it produces a brain sensation like one of these magic eye pictures, or the optical illusions that appear to shimmer and move despite being a static image printed on ordinary paper. Any inspection of the logical train and unpicking one knot of reason leads to the threads re-arranging and tightening in frustrating ways. You have produced a work that is not simply impenetrable, like a locked door, but seems to lie orthogonal to conventional thought.

    Like Mr A. Square, meeting Mr Sphere, I’m simply unequipped to deal with this alien thinking.

    HOWEVER- if I perform the mental equivalent of squinting my eyes, I can make out the start and end position.

    You seem to be saying that

    1) Someone has published a fairly banal article about a pop star and evidence-free speculation about what politics they may or may not hold

    2) ?????

    3) Therefore Yemen, Russia Today and Syria.

  103. StillGjenganger says

    @That Guy 114
    It is not that hard – if you try.
    Several other people have noted that an editorial in an authoritative progressive newspaper dealt some remarkably harsh condemnation to a famous popstar for the crime of, well, not having said anything about politics (see e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/nov/28/who-gives-a-hoot-what-taylor-swift-thinks-about-donald-trump). And Marduk suggests that pushing this kind of condemnation for somebody just for not echoing the party line, in preference to addressing the many, many, many, serious things going on in the world, says something about both the intolerance and the priorities of progressives and their newspapers.

  104. That Guy says

    @155 Still

    OK, so this is easy to disentangle, and also, total nonsense.

    The thrust is that a newspaper that publishes anything other than the most important news has confused priorities, and in particular is a sign of some sort of bias.

    Additionally, since the newspaper leans to the left, we can safely say that those self-identifying progressives you talk about are likely to have similar priorities to, and behave like, the newspaper.

    So, let’s look at this carefully. Let’s start with a toy example, we can call it the ‘ideal newspaper’. The ‘ideal newspaper’, does not share any of the faults you imply above. Namely,

    And Marduk suggests that pushing this kind of condemnation for somebody just for not echoing the party line, in preference to addressing the many, many, many, serious things going on in the world, says something about both the intolerance and the priorities of progressives and their newspapers.

    .

    So, Our ideal newspaper is not ‘intolerant’ and has good(?) priorities. It’s implied that good(?) priorities are lending more space and time to serious things, or at least, ‘expressing a preference’ for them.

    Excellent, so, picking from previous examples, ‘serious’ news is all about death and destruction, kind of like an inverse utilitarianism, where the most important news is about the greatest suffering of the greatest number. If we say our newspaper has a finite amount of pages, I can guarantee you that we live in a shitty enough world that there will be enough ‘serious’ things happening that you could fill the paper several times. So, all stories would be about imminent/present war, disaster, plague and famine. Let’s not say in whichever or particular order, but you could easily fill a newspaper with

    Global warming and climate change horror stories
    Stories of Big Pharma abuse
    Wars
    Crimes against humanity
    Gun crime epidemic
    Poverty
    etc.

    So, let’s take a look. You’re correct, The Guardian does not have page-to page coverage of this kind. However, no newspaper does. Literally every newspaper that has a ‘sport’ or ‘entertainment’ section thus is giving preference to frivolous issues in place of more ‘serious’ news.
    All newspapers have garbage priorities. That’s not new.

    Point two- our ideal newspaper is ‘not intolerant’. This is almost so vague as to be meaningless. If we take it to mean ‘unbiased’, then once again, we can try and apply this ‘ideal newspaper’ standard across the board, and you’ll see that no newspaper comes close to this criterion. If you want an enlightening example, the recent wave of ill-informed and angry articles in most major UK newspapers about transgender people could easily be described as not ‘not intolerant’. (Given the tiny proportion of trans people in the UK, this also underscores how universally ignored the principle of ‘selecting the most serious stories’ is).

    Point three, the idea that a newspaper’s actions are indicative of how a political subset of people think or behave. This one’s insidious, because it sounds so plausible. It is, however, wrong. newspapers and how people behave are related, but not in that way.

    Newspapers are indicative of how the owner of the newspaper wants people who read the newspaper to think.

    This final point here, is an important one. Here’s an important example. The Sun and Hillsborough. The Sun’s coverage was not reflective of how people thought or behaved, but rather what the Sun wanted people to think. In this case, the disconnect between these two things was so large as to leave an impression that lasts to this day. Using the Guardian’s editorial decisions, no matter how weird they are, is only really reflective of the Guardian, similarly, the Sun’s focus on Titties and Refugees is not necessarily representative of the working-class brexit right, though they can be related.

    Tl;dr, the standards applied to The Guardian would not be met by any newspaper in existence, and it’s fallacious to equate it’s behaviour with a perceived representative demographic.

  105. StillGjenganger says

    @That guy 116
    Does it hurt to be so much smarter than everybody else? You must be very lonely.

  106. Carnation says

    @ 117

    Here’s the thing – it depends on the definition of smart. Marduk is probably as intelligent as most people, but he has tunnel vision. Most people do. You do, Ganger, and I guess I do as well.

    Some things hit us somewhere and affect us more than they should. Everyone has their pet peeves.

    I see those who continually attack the Guardian, and feminism, as lackeys, stooges, useful idiots for the extreme right-wing who could potentially usher in an era of frighteningly unhinged policies.

    The acceptability of the president of the USA re-tweeting Britian First did not happen overnight – it was slow, stinking process and the groundwork was laid by abject scum like Milo and before him Littlejohn and many others. The Daily Mail has fixated on Islam since at least the mid 90s. Melanie Phillips has been rabidly anti-feminist for a very long time. This collection of wretches are enabled by the handwringers, in my opinion.

  107. StillGjenganger says

    @Carnation 119

    That is a both fair and constructive comment. I certainly have my own set of pet peeves, button pushes, etc. In general I do not think you are either fair or reasonable in dismissing all us handwringers as fascist fellow-travellers. But for myself have no complaints – since the Damore debate and now the #MeToo stuff, I am happy to be counted alongside the abject scum. The question is which side to choose. And to stay in the same vein as you, I see the progressive, pro-feminist, anti-discrimination crowd as totally intolerant, lost in theoretical ideology to the point they refuse to acknowledge, let alone empathise with, anybody who does not share their politics, and hell-bent on trashing all current culture, gender roles, history, etc. to built an entirely new and experimental humanity that their ideology tells them will be so much better. Yes, even Ally when it comes down to it. I may be exaggerating a little (I hope you are too), but in a world where (just to take an example) we are told to ban Snow White as dangerously sexist because the prince does not ask for permission before kissing the sleeping princess (and, yes, Guardian editorials treats this as a serious and justified demand) , I expect to feel no more at home than I would in Pyongyang. The right wing may be scum (what little I have seen of them they seem to be obnoxious knuckle-draggers), but if we have to have a culture war I would rather fight for my own group, cis white males, than fight for women against men, and non-binaries or Africans against people like myself.

    The interesting question is whether we really need to have a culture war? And what it would take to avoid it? I hope it is clear from my past style that I would greatly prefer talking and compromise to winner-takes-all. It is just the I see no, none, zero willingness in the social justice crowd to settle for less than total victory – and on past form what are ridiculous and extreme demands today are quite likely to be the enforced orthodoxy of tomorrow. One thing that I would ask for to facilitate a middle ground was the simple acceptance that society is made out of different groups, each with legitimate interests and desires, and that the goal is to find something that everybody can live with. With the corollary that it is not realistically possible to make a society where members of small, highly different minorities feel equally at home as members of the majority. Then we could start arguing about where to put the compromises.

    What my side would have to offer is not something I can propose. Do you have any demands that would reconcile you to talking on equal terms with the handwringers?

  108. Ally Fogg says

    Oh I can’t resist stepping back into this.

    in a world where (just to take an example) we are told to ban Snow White as dangerously sexist because the prince does not ask for permission before kissing the sleeping princess (and, yes, Guardian editorials treats this as a serious and justified demand) , I expect to feel no more at home than I would in Pyongyang.

    Gjenganger, I think this is a really interesting and useful example of where your political views are a bit detached from reason. Or at least a bit detached from my political views which adds up to the same, natch (yes, that was a joke.)

    Let’s look at this Snow White example. Find out exactly what has happened. As far as I can tell, it originated in a story on the Newcastle Chronicle that one mother had written to her school asking or suggesting that they take Sleeping Beauty out of the school library, because the issue of kissing someone when they are asleep is, shall we say, ‘controversial in the current climate.’

    This was picked up by one of the nationals (seems to have been the Sun) & then ran in the Mail & then the broadsheets, & finally the Guardian ran an opinion piece from Stephanie Merritt saying – with some ambivalence – that it maybe wasn’t the worst idea she had ever heard.

    Do you agree that is a fair summary of what you are talking about?

    At no stage has anyone, anywhere exercised any authority or power, agreed?
    At no stage has anyone issued any legal diktats or rulings from on high, agreed?
    No one has suggested a ban, agreed?
    No one has actually removed a single copy of Snow White from any shelf, anywhere, agreed?

    OK, assuming you do agree to all of the above, what is actually happening here?

    I would suggest to you is that what is happening is absolutely normal, healthy, indeed essential human interaction. This is precisely what happens in human society and human culture every minute of every hour of every day. It is why we invented the wheel & abandoned human sacrifice & cannibalism.

    Person 1 says “hey, are we sure XYZ is a good idea?” and Persons 2, 3, 4 and 5 discuss it and may or may not agree that XYZ is or is not a good idea. Quite often what happens is that at first everyone laughs at Person 1 for suggesting cannibalism isn’t such a good idea but as time goes by, everyone eventually comes around to a new way of thinking.

    Agreed?

    And you know what is really ironic about discussing Snow White in this context? That story is from the Brothers Grimm & was originally far more horrific than the version we know today. All that stuff about the Huntsman being sent off to bring back the bloody lungs & liver of Snow White? Strangely that doesn’t appear in more modern versions.

    But the truth is much more horrific than that. The origins of the Snow White story are almost certainly (or more accurately the origins include) the story of Chione in classical mythology. She was the beautiful maiden who was fought over by Apollo & Mercury, drugged by poison, then raped in her sleep by each of them in turn.

    Funnily enough, we don’t tell that part of the story today either.

    But the bottom line is that Snow White, like all fairy stories has been adapted, bowdlerised, censored, revised & rewritten to suit each developing cultural tradition for at least 2,500 years but very probably much longer.

    Even within my lifetime the stories & fairy stories we tell children changed massively between my own childhood & that of my kids. There was stuff in the Enid Blyton books that was horrifically racist, really quite nasty.

    Back when I was a kid, the Guardian readers of the day started writing letters to the school libraries saying “um, are you sure you should really be giving stuff to kids to read?” and the tabloids of the day screamed about the looney lefties who were ruining children’s childhoods & it was all just a bit of harmless fun, and the Gjengangers of the day nodded along saying something like “I feel like I might as well live in Pyongyang” (or Moscow, as they would have said at the time.)

    So after all that, I ask you again, what has happened here? One solitary mother has written a letter to a school expressing concerns about a book in the school library. That is it.

    Now tell me again about how

    the progressive, pro-feminist, anti-discrimination crowd as totally intolerant, lost in theoretical ideology to the point they refuse to acknowledge, let alone empathise with, anybody who does not share their politics, and hell-bent on trashing all current culture, gender roles, history, etc. to built an entirely new and experimental humanity that their ideology tells them will be so much better.

  109. Ally Fogg says

    Ahaha, LOL, I’ve just realised I started off talking about Snow White & ended up talking about Sleeping Beauty, but could be either & same applies!

  110. StillGjengnger says

    @Ally

    Well yes. Things change because people make them change. Since you think these particular changes are good and useful and necessary, you will try to push them through, and since i think they are neither, I will line up with whichever Milo Yannopolous (asshole though he is) who is pushing in the opposite direction. I can still hope that this particular fad will go the way of the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ or ‘dialectic materialism’ (remember? Those were quite big once.).

    For the rest, I asked a questoin of Carnation, in case he had an answer I could not predict. Your answer I already know: ” I have no interest in making peace and finding common ground with bigotry

  111. Carnation says

    @ Ganger

    And just where will the forces of neo-fascists stop? And how will they help you?

    You will gain the square root of fuck all via the increasingly right-wing governance of parts of the western world.

    The fools who elected Trump into office will gain Jack shit from doing so, they’ll probably lose. The gaggle of fools who voted for Brexit will likewise gain nothing, and will almost certainly lose.

    But more manipulative and less compassionate people (like Milo et al) will make you feel like you’re winning.

    It’s a tired old formula.

    From my point of view, it just makes me sad. And from a selfish point of view, it makes me feel smug. Put bluntly, I’m alright. I own my property and I have a final salary pension, a rarity nowadays, and private medical insurance.

    Brexit/Trump fools in general have far less (though their manipulators have very much more). And thanks to their idiotic choices, they’ll have less, but at least they can claim victory over non existent threats.

    Ask.yourself why you feel so challenged and threatened by those you describe as your enemies? Being honest, what is it?

    When feminists slate MRA’s as privileged, it makes me laugh. They’re terrified, miserable weaklings and deep.down they know it.

    Excuse typos, red wine and iPhone trouble x

  112. Marduk says

    119.
    You’ve got this backwards mate, I’ve been scared of the rise of fascism for a long time, it distresses me people are making it so easy for them. They’ve taken causes I believe in turned them into things are practically quite hard to support in any meaningful sense at this point. If the right weren’t fucking idiots almost to tattooed imbecile they’d already be in power. Populism is always based on real problems that nobody cares about. Britain First use pensioners, Trump used the flyover states Hilary Clinton wouldn’t even visit in an election year. I thought things might change after Brexit, there was a lot of high talk about listening to the disinherited and the beaten down but it lasted about 30 seconds. Well, Britain First are still listening. Why this surprises anyone I don’t know, this is the lesson from history isn’t it? This is how it always starts. Like with Brexit I think you’d find half of BF’s supporters aren’t racists or fascist, they are desperate people who want to scare someone into noticing them. And then it gets out of hand. This is really why calling them names won’t work hard thought that is to accept I know.

  113. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger

    Since you think these particular changes are good and useful and necessary, you will try to push them through, and since i think they are neither, I will line up with whichever Milo Yannopolous (asshole though he is) who is pushing in the opposite direction.

    I genuinely don’t understand this, can you explain?

    You are explicitly NOT saying “I don’t agree with these changes so I will resist them and argue against them.”

    You are saying “I am so angry that someone is even suggesting this change that I will join forces with people who not only want to resist such change but who want to actively change things in the other direction.”

    So you are telling us you will actively join forces with those who want to ensure there is less regard paid to sexual consent, who want to see more sexism in the world, who want to see more racism in the world, who want to see more violence and oppression in the world.

    Is this accurate? Is this really what you are saying?

    Because I feel like I have known you (albeit only via pixels on the internet) for so long that I genuinely don’t believe that is what you want to say. That is not who you are.

    When it boils down to it, you are saying “There’s a woman in Newcastle who thinks Sleeping Beauty has a bad message for children. This appals me so much I feel the need to line up alongside someone who argues that fat people should be deported, that gay men should be allowed to have sex with children and that hatred is the most desirable & effective form of political capital.”

    Really?

    Really?

  114. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    So you know, then, that the deflection, the posturing and the earnest belief that the left and liberals are also-in-a-sense-if-you-look-at-it-this-way-just-as-bad-and-corrupt is allowing the scum of the earth to build on their popularity among the scum of the internet?

    Shame on you.

    Does this seem familiar?

    “Fascism arrives as your friend.
    It will restore your honour, make you feel proud, protect your house, give you a job, clean up the neighbourhood, remind you of how great you once were, clear out the venal and the corrupt, remove anything you feel is unlike you”

  115. StillGjenganger says

    @Carnation 119
    I actually learned something new from reading this post (and comparing it with Allys). Thanks. There is a lot of truth in your picture, where people with thier own agenda maniuplate and mould culture and public opinion, and where their ideas gain more currency from the large crowd who are not fully on board but share just some of the ideas. And that does apply to the right – I not only recognise that my ideas give aid and comfort to some rather unsavoury people, I acknowledge both the kinship and some share of the guilt. There is also some truth in Allys saccharine sketch, where ‘we’ . all debate what we want our culture to look at and ‘we’ eventually come together in agreement. The point is that you are both talking about the same reality. Both things (and many more) go on, in parallel, and they are pretty much the same from the right and from the left. You are just focusing one on the nasty parts of your enemys position, one on the idyllic parts of your own. Right wing ideas too, like anti-immigrant feeling and resentment of metropolitan elites. arise spotaneously among the popolar masses, and SJWs can be quite as manipulative, intolerant, and dismissive of others as the right-wingers can.

    The thing missing in both your stories is the existing of groups with opposed but legitimate views that are struggling to form society so that it best suits their particular interests. Women against men, trans against cis (and against radical feminists), black British against white Bitish, devout Muslim against seciar Christian, against atheist, If you allowed that the handwringers have their own legitimate aspirationns (even if you might not share them), you could argue between you where society should go, And meanwhile you could form a broad agreement that certain opiinions and certain tactocs (on both sides) were extreme and unacceptable. As it is, anyone who is not fully on board with your ideology and your project is dismissed as either a fascist or a fascist stooge. And if tthat is the choice I get, I prefer ‘fascism’ and the reddit mob rather than ‘Social Justic’ and Carnation.As Marduk too is asking: are you really sure it is in your interest to chose culture war and force everybody to make that choice?

  116. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 126

    I do not feel like this is how I am either, so I am rather ambivalent about this. And I admittedly do not know very much about either Milo or the reddit mob generally. Quite deliberate, in a way, I know enough to be pretty sure I would find them uninteresting and unpleasant company. But as I see it, I am forced to choose to sign up either with the SJW crowd or against it. And yes, I choose against. And yes, if the only other people I find on my side are Milo and friends, I will cheer their victories and your defeats (I never actuallly do anything useful anyway, so it is not a question of what I should be doing).

    For an explanation, well your picture of ‘we’ having an open discussion and in the end agreeing on how culture should evolve is missing (deliberately?) some rather crucial pieces. For one thing, there is not just a single ‘we’, but different groups in society each with their own norms that they each try to impose on society as a whole. For another, each group, as well as society as a whole, is heavily policed by social norms (themselves under discussion, of course, but hard to move) that determine what can be said.For yet another, activists from anticolonialists fo transsexuals are systematically (and successfully) using as a tactic to define anyone that disagrees with their basic principles as beyond the pale and without the right to participate. And finally, the progressive group (Guardian readers and student unions, if you like) has an extremely powerful position in detemining the official opinion – what a decent person is allowed to say in public, what children should be taught in schools, what sensibiliities must be deferred to and which can be happily ignored.

    The problem is not that there is a woman in Newcastle with sily ideas, or some trans activists with unreasonable demands and bully-boy tactics. It is that the progressive subculture where these discussions are taking place (and that is quite likely to determine the school curricula and public norms of tomorrow) accept these as sensible and positive contributions – and reject those who oppose them as beyond the pale. On principles if not on details the decision is clearly taken. So, you want me to join the debate and argue my case? Well, Damore tried, and see what it got him. I am unlikely to get that kind of attention (or to get fired if I did), but why risk getting publicly pilloried from New York to Islington to Berlin, when it is perfectly clear that nobody who matters is going to listen anyway? As another example people who disagree with the new gender recogniition law are genearally met by bullying and exclusion -with the clear accept of progressive opinion. A local labour council recenty left the party, I seem to note, because one of them had put forward her opinion on transgender recognition, got relentlessly bullied for it and, crucially, her party had not backed her up. Indeed she has now been replaced by a 19-year old trans woman.

    So, whydo I choose to join up with your enemies, Ally,, when I do not particularly like a lot of what they are saying? Well, there is a lot of power an momentum behind the SJW movement. If I do not like where they are moving things – and I really, really, don’t – it is not enough to start bleating that I have opinions too, and can’t they be a little nicer? Clearly it needs somebody who is working against you and who is prepared to do something active. I would prefer talking and sensible compromise, but maybe a bit open sexism and racism is what we need here, as a counterweight to the SJWs? It is for sure that nobody is offering me a better alternative.

  117. That Guy says

    @129

    I am forced to choose to sign up either with the SJW crowd or against it. And yes, I choose against. And yes, if the only other people I find on my side are Milo and friends, I will cheer their victories and your defeats

    Someone was mean to me on the internet, so I guess I’ll just join the Nazi party

    I would prefer talking and sensible compromise, but maybe a bit open sexism and racism is what we need here, as a counterweight to the SJWs? It is for sure that nobody is offering me a better alternative.

    Really, what we need is some sensible compromise, the fascists want to build a thousand death camps, and the Ess Jay Dubyas don’t want to build any- why don’t we just meet in the middle and only build five hundred death camps?

  118. Carnation says

    @ 130

    That’s the best TL/DR that I have read in a while.

    @ Ganger

    You’re acting like this is all new. That racists, misogynists and those weak & pathetic enough to require scapegoats are a new thing.

    They aren’t.

    There is no “culture war”, at least not of the type that you’re describing. There are people full of bitterness and hatred that want to hurt people based on what they are, and there are people who oppose them.

    And you’ve just proudly pitched your tent with the hateful human trash. Congratulations.

  119. lucythoughts says

    Gjenganger

    With respect, I think what you are doing is not “choosing a side” but rather “throwing your toys out the pram.” Why I think it is here:

    admittedly do not know very much about either Milo or the reddit mob generally. Quite deliberate, in a way, I know enough to be pretty sure I would find them uninteresting and unpleasant company. But as I see it, I am forced to choose to sign up either with the SJW crowd or against it. And yes, I choose against. And yes, if the only other people I find on my side are Milo and friends, I will cheer their victories and your defeats

    This is just cowardice. You know that if you actually took pains to examine what these groups are about you would dislike them at least as much as you dislike SJWs, but you want the satisfaction of saying “I support them, so there! You made me do it!” without dirtying your hands with what you are actually supporting. That is not a position which deserves respect. In fact, it’s barely a position at all.

    So, why do I choose to join up with your enemies, Ally, when I do not particularly like a lot of what they are saying? Well, there is a lot of power an momentum behind the SJW movement. If I do not like where they are moving things – and I really, really, don’t – it is not enough to start bleating that I have opinions too, and can’t they be a little nicer? Clearly it needs somebody who is working against you and who is prepared to do something active. I would prefer talking and sensible compromise, but maybe a bit open sexism and racism is what we need here, as a counterweight to the SJWs? It is for sure that nobody is offering me a better alternative

    In the past you have accused others here of being dishonest and manipulative, well right back at you. I would take a wild guess that the reason you came to the conclusion that progressive bullying is common and highly objectionable and must be opposed is because you spent rather a large amount of your downtime reading progressive blogs, articles and comment sections and clicking on the “labour councillor driven out by trans activists” type headlines. Yet without blinking you say that you won’t read distasteful reddit threads because you don’t like that sort of thing, but have nevertheless come to the conclusion that there isn’t enough vile racism and misogyny to go around. Well, maybe if you spent one tenth of the time you have spent researching your “enemies” in researching your new “allies,” then we might take you seriously when you say you’ve joined their side. As it is, it just sounds like a gambit to get a reaction, presumably from Ally. What reaction do you want? Many if you ask explicitly you’ll get it more quickly than by mucking around claiming to have joined the far right in some oblique way that they wouldn’t actually notice.

  120. Marduk says

    127.
    I don’t accept any of that, no. You’ve got what you want Carnation, a left that talks to itself, is now almost incomprehensible to anyone outside it and has almost entirely exchanged political action for identity politics. Instead of action we have twitter shaming, in place of building coalitions we’ve got endless circular rounds of recrimination. The result has been Brexit, Trump, and rise of actual neo-Nazis in Austria and Germany. If that is your allegiance I don’t think you are in a position to judge anyone who thinks maybe all is not well. Because lets be frank about this, aside from “resistance”, what ideas does anyone actually have at this time to stop them. This all beginning to remind me a bit of The Glass Bead Game.

    And no, I don’t have to be blindly loyal to something that claims to be what I believe in but certainly isn’t, as if it were a football team. That kind of unthinking tribalism is what has got us into this mess.

  121. StillGjenganger says

    @Lucythought 132

    Owww, that is really unpleasantly perceptive of you (damn you 😉 ). Looking back, I cannot deny that I am guilty on several of those charges:

    – “throwing your toys out the pram”
    – ” you want the satisfaction of saying “I support them, so there! You made me do it!” without dirtying your hands with what you are actually supporting”
    – [That is] barely a position at all.

    You are surely right that I would never actually do anything for my alt-right ‘friends’ (but then I never did anything political, period. Moving from doing nothing to fight racism and sexism to doing nothing to promote them is not going to make much difference either way). And if I actually had to vote for someone, I would probably still choose Ally over Milo – votes have consequences.

    But, (trying to stay serious) I do feel that I am terminally excluded from any gender political debate above the level of Outrage! – PC gone mad! There is simply no point in trying. Just as an example I pretty much agree with Damore and his arguments. And I think that transsexuals belong at least as much to their birth sex as to their chosen one, and that while we should do a lot to make life easier for them it is not up them to decide unilaterally how they should be treated. That alone makes me misogynist, sexist, and transphobic by the official norms, and means that anything I say will be automatically ignored in any proper debate. Certain opinions simply cannot be argued, in practice. If that meant that I was at odds with the vast majority of my fellow citizens, I would just smile regretfully and stay quiet about it. If you do not fit in you cannot demand that everybody else change to accommodate you. But I really do not think that is how things are. You would not find a majority in favor of promoting women just because they are women, making non-binary sexuality the official norm, or removing Snow White from primary schools as sexist. Rather we have a progressive elite that tends to dominate ‘official opinion’, so that a combination of abstract theorising, aggressive minorities, and the urge to be part of the transformative vanguard ends up having a disproportionate influence on the way we all have to think.

    And yes, I think that the world would be a lot better for some organised opposition to the Social Justice brigade. The left scores a lot of cheap victories because they have no effective opposition. Either ideologically – who can promote a positive and intellectually consistent reason why we should NOT remake society to fit the 0.1% of transsexuals? Or practically – If keeping statues, university syllabi and the names of buildings as they are causes unending trouble with a minority of activists and changing them does not trigger much of a backlash, why not choose the path of least resistance?

    Unfortunately the kind of active opposition we have at the moment is kind of nasty, which makes them hard to support. On the other hand the risk that we will start deporting fat people or reduce the age of consent to 13 is pretty much zero, whereas the risk that we will all be officially non-binary in twenty years or so is quite real. Either way I am out of it, so why not cheer a bit for the right, and watch Carnation and That Guy foam at the mouth?

  122. That Guy says

    @134

    Your post is pretty funny with how warped your view of the world is, this part is my favourite-

    Unfortunately the kind of active opposition we have at the moment is kind of nasty, which makes them hard to support. On the other hand the risk that we will start deporting fat people or reduce the age of consent to 13 is pretty much zero, whereas the risk that we will all be officially non-binary in twenty years or so is quite real.

    This is proper tinfoil-hat ignorance and bigotry right there. That being said, I’d find the whole thing funnier if it wasn’t a weasel-worded #sorrynotsorry backtrack on your earlier comments supporting fascisim and nazism. I’m sure in an ideal and perfect world where atrocities such as ethnic cleansing and genocide were unheard of, your “werther’s original winking Hitler” act would fly as absurdism, but sadly that’s not the case.

    Tl:dr,

    Either way I am out of it, so why not cheer a bit for the right, and watch Carnation and That Guy foam at the mouth?

    Oh, I can think of a couple of reasons, but if your smug amusement means so much to you, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to amuse you while we’re herded to the gas chambers. 🙂

  123. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    What a load of solipsistic garbage.

    “I don’t accept any of that, no. You’ve got what you want Carnation, a left that talks to itself, is now almost incomprehensible to anyone outside it and has almost entirely exchanged political action for identity politics.”

    Actually, here in the UK, we have an actual, economic left-wing leader of a left-wing party that is doing very well. You say the left “talks to itself”, but actually it’s people like you, who search the Guardian opinion columns to feed a perpetual sense of outrage. The only difference between you and people that buy into Richard Littlejohn is that you look down on the people that look down on the scapegoat of the day. You and yours take a bit of comfort from the fact that your feelings of persecution are a little bit more sophisticated.

    “Instead of action we have twitter shaming, in place of building coalitions we’ve got endless circular rounds of recrimination.”

    Are you thinking about blogging? Because, in case you haven’t noticed, whatever political effect blogging and Tweeting has is dwarfed by actual real politics and economics.

    “The result has been Brexit, Trump, and rise of actual neo-Nazis in Austria and Germany. If that is your allegiance I don’t think you are in a position to judge anyone who thinks maybe all is not well.”

    Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow WOW there. How about deindustrialisation? How about an unsustainable economic model? How about the lack of an actual left-wing alternative for a generation? How about economic isolation, the mania of conspicuous consumption and the endless, relentless media campaign against liberalism and the EU?

    Any of that feature anywhere? Or is it all the nasty SJWs ruining everything?

    Grow up, you intellectually stunted bairn ye!

  124. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger:

    But, (trying to stay serious) I do feel that I am terminally excluded from any gender political debate above the level of Outrage! – PC gone mad! There is simply no point in trying. Just as an example I pretty much agree with Damore and his arguments. And I think that transsexuals belong at least as much to their birth sex as to their chosen one, and that while we should do a lot to make life easier for them it is not up them to decide unilaterally how they should be treated.

    On most if not all of that, you are probably broadly aligned with a comfortable majority of the population in the US, the UK & most of the world (probably a bit more liberal than most.)

    That alone makes me misogynist, sexist, and transphobic by the official norms, and means that anything I say will be automatically ignored in any proper debate. Certain opinions simply cannot be argued, in practice. If that meant that I was at odds with the vast majority of my fellow citizens, I would just smile regretfully and stay quiet about it.

    No. On the contrary. It makes you absolutely slap bang in the middle of the cultural establishment. It lines you up with the ‘political norms.’ It puts you slightly to the liberal-left of the current US President and the Republican Party, probably somewhere more aligned with the British government at the moment.

    It lines you up with the editorial line of about 80% of the media. The opinions which you say “cannot be argued in practice” are churned out day in day out in the biggest-selling newspapers of the day by reporters, columnists & editorials. They have entire talk radio stations devoted to them. In the US they have entire TV channels devoted to them. (Here in the UK, those views are regularly & prominently represented on Sky News & other channels, even if not exclusively so.)

    Not overlooking the fact that the opinions you say cannot be argued are indeed argued in literally millions of social media messages, blogs, comments, updates, tweets, youtube videos etc etc etc all over the internet every single minute of every day.

    Yes, it is true, expressing opinions is not always entirely consequence free.

    There are some legal restrictions on speech – you cannot incite violence, incite hatred, libel people etc, etc. This is true & always has been.

    You might not have complete freedom to say what you like at work because you might bring your employer into disrepute or whatever. This is true & always has been.

    But this idea that you are living in some kind of totalitarian dystopia where you are not allowed to say what you think about perfectly legitimate topics of mainstream debate really is the most florid nonsense.

    I remember saying this to you before, but it really does seem to me that what you are demanding here is not freedom of speech. What you want is freedom to speak without having to face criticism of your opinions or without the discomfort of people telling you they do not like your opinions.

    No one has that right.

  125. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 137

    Right. Taking Damore as an example. He expressed (as you say) a normal mainstream opinion. For that he was fired and flooded with anger and furious outrage. Knowledgeable people (such as yourself) claim that from that point on his very presence would be enough to generate an unsafe working environment, so that anyone asked to work alongside him would have grounds for a lawsuit. And you are telling me that there is nothing wrong or extreme about this. It is just what anyone should expect and accept as a consequence of politely expressing a fairly unexceptional opinion.

    Really?

    Really?

    We could put it another way. Suppose your wife decided to say publicly that all companies boards should have a legally mandated quota of at least 40% women. And that as a consequence she was fired, internationally vilified, and rendered pretty much unemployable across the tech industry. Would you be telling her that ‘expressing opinions is not always entirely consequence free’? And that if she did not like it she should have thought about that before opening her mouth?

  126. Ally Fogg says

    I’m not going to go over all the details of Damore again, because we’ve been there & my starting point was that I didn’t think he should have been fired. Still don’t.

    It is also my position that there are far more egregious injustices of people being sacked for all sorts of reasons, many of which are far more trivial, in companies all over the world right this minute.

    My real take-away from the Damore story is that he should have been part of a union.

    Beyond that, how many cases like Damore do you think there are around the world? There must be several hundred million people employed in the tech industry globally, I bet a large proportion of them hold & express opinions like Damore’s every day. How many of them are sacked for those opinions?

    I’ll hazard a guess & say that the total number in 2017 was somewhere close to one.

    Meanwhile, 15 years ago my wife was illegally sacked by a tech company. Why? Because she got pregnant & they didn’t want her back after maternity leave so they found an excuse. (she could have fought it & won but didn’t have the energy & did have alternatives.)

    I would lay you significant odds that the number of women sacked by tech companies around the world because of pregnancy or maternity is many thousands times higher than the number of men sacked for expressing non-PC opinions.

    While we’re at it, I bet far, far more women have been sacked for refusing to sleep with the boss than men have been sacked for Damore-style stuff.

    So, which of those is the “norm”?

    Which is the prevailing culture?

    When you hear that one woman in Altrincham was fired for having a baby, does that fill you with the same outrage as you feel when one single male in LA (or wherever?) if not, why not?

    In short, are you sure you should be drawing firm conclusions about the world from what happened in one high-profile anecdote about an HR dispute?

  127. StillGjrbganger says

    It is the norm, the culture, tfat people should not steal. Would you not agree? Of course people steal all ove the place. We all do it in some small ways, which we think are sort of permissible. That does not take way from the fact that stealing is accepted as wrong. Similarly, we all lie, politicians more than most. What is shocking about people like Trump is not that they lie, but that theye promote as the norm that truth is and should be irrrelevant. What is shocking about Damore is not that one guy got fired for flimsy reasons, but that progressive people all over the world team up to proclaim that this is a ‘good thing’, and he richly deserved it. And whatever Google’s motives may have been, the worldwide reactin is not just a passing feeling. It is part of a deliberate strateg to freeze the ‘wrong’ opinions out of society. ‘Hitting one, to educate a hundred’, as the Red Brigades said.

    When a trade union rep refuses to condemn aa illegal strike, the impression people get is that he fully backs it (and probably helped organise it) but prefers not to say it openly. When you refuse to condemn the treatment of Damore, the impression is that you are in favour of this kind ideological firing.

  128. Ally Fogg says

    What is shocking about Damore is not that one guy got fired for flimsy reasons, but that progressive people all over the world team up to proclaim that this is a ‘good thing’, and he richly deserved it.

    OK, so who are these progressive people all over the world who proclaimed it was a good thing & that he richly deserved it?

    How many governments and heads of state are you including in that list?
    What proportion of the world’s newspapers or media outlets proclaimed it a good thing?
    How does that compare to the proportion of the world’s media outlets who proclaimed him right or at least that he had the right to his opinion?
    Who was the single most powerful voice, anywhere in the world, celebrating Damore’s firing?

    Because here’s how it looked to me:

    It emerged that Damore had written this document which ended up being widely shared & widely discussed on social media. One small but vocal lobby wanted him disciplined or sacked. Another small but vocal lobby leaped to his defence & demanded not only that he be retained, but that he be acknowledged to be right. (The vast, vast majority of the population neither knew nor cared either way.)

    The company were embarrassed & finally chose to sack him for bringing the company into disrepute or failing to fulfill his contractual commitments (or whatever phrase they used).

    Fair summary?

    Because this is how it looks to me: Damore found himself stuck in the middle of a modern media conflab.

    On the one side was Fox News, The Telegraph, the Daily Mail, Breitbart, Spiked, The Times, the tabloids, the entire conservative establishment.

    On the other side was Slate, Salon, the Guardian, probably a couple of columnists at NYT etc and a bunch of angry feminists on Twitter.

    Damore was ultimately fired because his dispute was with an employer that famously and prominently declares itself to be on the progressive liberal left. If he was working for any one of (probably) 95% of other tech companies in the world it would never even have been an issue (indeed the complaints he was making only arise BECAUSE Google is very unusual in making its progressive liberal credentials such a marketing point.)

    Oh, and far from him becoming “unemployable” he was apparently being given lucrative job offers within hours of being sacked, not to mention the opportunity of a whole new career as a Breitbart alt-right pin-up boy.

    This is mostly a social media phenomenon. More than anything, Damore is probably a bit like that woman a year or two back who made a terrible joke about Aids in Africa then sat on a plane for a few hours, oblivious to the fact that the world was howling for her head around her. Or just this month, that young trans woman, Lily Madigan, in the Labour party in London who is currently being bullied & harassed on an appalling scale by the combined efforts of the conservative press & the anti-Corbyn, pro-TERF centrists.

    Occasionally individual people become lightning rods for hot topic debates. Damore is one of them. And yes, there is now a broad cultural social consensus that racism is bad, sexism is bad, homophobia is bad. There is less consensus about what racism, sexism or homophobia actually look like (so in Damore’s case, no one is arguing that sexism or misogyny is a good thing, everyone was arguing about whether or not his document was sexist or misogynist.)

    That is a live debate. It is also an angry debate & it is fair to describe Damore as a casualty of that battle.

    However there are casualties on all sides, and my issue with you is that you see one casualty on one side as being a terrible apocalyptic injustice and all the casualties on the other side (such as all the women who have been forced out of work by sexual harassment, over the years) as simply an inevitable byproduct of the natural order of things.

    The world is absolutely rife with oppression & injustice & the fact that you have found one isolated instance of a minor injustice happening to someone like you does not change that dynamic in the slightest.

  129. Marduk says

    136.
    “How about deindustrialisation? How about an unsustainable economic model? How about the lack of an actual left-wing alternative for a generation? How about economic isolation, the mania of conspicuous consumption and the endless, relentless media campaign against liberalism and the EU?”

    Indeed – what about those things? We certainly don’t hear much discussion of any of it. And you’re being a hypocrite here Carnation, what do you mean “the lack of an actual left-wing alternative”. Don’t you have to worship Tony Blair and all his acts because he was the captain of your team?

    Right now the big progressive story is the Metropolitan Museum of Art refusing to remove a painting. Now, I think mobs clamoring for the removal of degenerate art is a bit worrying and obviously reminds me of the policies of a very different group. Do I have to go along with it, am I allowed to disagree with it or do I have to disagree with it only in a specific manner?

  130. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    Where to begin…

    “Indeed – what about those things? We certainly don’t hear much discussion of any of it. And you’re being a hypocrite here Carnation, what do you mean “the lack of an actual left-wing alternative”.”

    Well, actually, there has been a HUGE amount of discussion about Corbyn and his successes, and before that, there was a huge amount of discussion about the failings of Tony Blair. You might want to Google “Momentum Blair” for a bit of insight.

    ” Don’t you have to worship Tony Blair and all his acts because he was the captain of your team?”

    Are you huffing glue? Blair was on YOUR team, the side of the interventionists, “Neo-con Rex”

    Where exactly is my hypocrisy? Blair squandered a huge majority with a complete lack of radical domestic policies to remedy the ills that I listed. I never voted for him and in fact never voted Labour until it became a lunatic right vs radical left contest, then I voted Labour.

    “Right now the big progressive story is the Metropolitan Museum of Art refusing to remove a painting.”

    No, that isn’t the “big” progressive story, and you’re either excruciatingly stupid or wilfully blind to think that. Have a quick glance at The Guardian for a sense of what progressives think the big issues are. The sadsacks who look to be outraged will pick up on the MOMA story (ever been, by the way? I love that place), but it’s clickbait – not much more, not much less.

    And, in fact, I had to do a fair bit of Googling to find the story that you’re talking about. But you found it, didn’t you, Marduk? And it feeds the persecution complex that you like so much.

    Milo will fix it for you, of course, because you’ve been forced to support him.

    Try harder dude, I actually once thought you had something worthwhile to say.

  131. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    That “big progressive story” of yours isn’t even in the top 10 most visited articles on The Guardian’s Culture section…

    Get with the programme, man, FFS.

  132. Marduk says

    143.
    I’ve been enough to know the Metropolitan Museum of Art isn’t MOMA. I like them both a great deal, I think I’ve only seen a tiny fraction of the Met and I’ve been several times. Of course its clickbait, if you look at the “campaigner” behind it she is actually some sort of ‘personal branding’ entrepreneur who wants her name about town. Not that, again, anybody can spare thirty seconds before photocopying the press release to check.

    I’m just trying to understand when its OK to disagree with something labelled as liberal and progressive and left (when it isn’t any of those things) and when it isn’t. You’re the one making the rules, I just want to understand them.

  133. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    “You’re the one making the rules, I just want to understand them.”

    So, you’re the one *inventing* “the rules”, and then indulging your persecution complex by believing and feeling that you’re being forced to comply with those rules.

    People like you *want* to believe that you’re being held in a form of bondage, but you aren’t. You choose to be. And for the most pathetic of reasons.

    Seriously dude, try Fetl!fe to indulge these fantasies, you’ll probably find some liberation and you’ll be happier.

    You have just acknowledged that it isn’t the “big liberal story” and that it’s clickbait. And it’s bait designed to lure in fools like you, with that persecution complex. So you actually, with full conscious, choose to act out in a way that you know you’re being manipulated into doing, so that you can feel that familiar feeling.

    You are the one with the problem. Don’t attach a political cause to it. You’re a fetishist, and that’s OK.

  134. Marduk says

    146.
    You are the one doing the persecuting:

    “So you know, then, that the deflection, the posturing and the earnest belief that the left and liberals are also-in-a-sense-if-you-look-at-it-this-way-just-as-bad-and-corrupt is allowing the scum of the earth to build on their popularity among the scum of the internet? Shame on you”.

    So its just when I do it, its wrong, but when you do it, its OK? Just looking for a little guidance here.

    In fact I am moved to comment at all about the antics of identity politics and social justice activists precisely because of my commitment to left-liberalism. I’m not prepared to pretend that bullying, harassment, dishonesty, persecution of ethnic groups and all the rest of it is ok because someone doing it is wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt or has blue hair.

    I have explained at boring length how I think much of the left has been subverted and degraded in-line with capitalist realism into divisive, narcissistic and ultimately neo-liberal modes of identity politics that present politics as little more than another form of choice consumerism. As practiced, everyday on Twitter, the media and so on, this seems to have become a destructive and reactionary movement.

    As it happens, although you never ask, I do have my issues with Corbynism but they nearly aren’t so severe (and I would point out this same thread of identity politics has been used to attack him from the Labour right for years and years now, just as did so against Bernie in the US). My real problem there is that I think there is a danger it turns into just another a flavor of ‘mythical past’ regression. The truth is neo-liberalism has failed and nobody knows what to do – the mark of this is that politics has turned into two backward looking factions, Labour who want to take us back to 1948 and the Tories who want to take us back to 1748. Obviously Labour’s idea here is better but ultimately you have to see that there is a severe problem facing all of us and realistically its pretty unlikely that harking back to the past is really a solution. We just don’t have anywhere else to go because like the man pointed out, its easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of neo-liberal capitalism.

    You seem to really want to label me as something else but I’m not going to agree with you.

  135. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    “So its just when I do it, its wrong, but when you do it, its OK? Just looking for a little guidance here.”

    What are you talking about? The actual problems faced by the UK, a lot of Europe and the USA are caused by the rampant rise of the extreme right-wing. That extreme right-wing is, in part, fuelled by fucking idiots like you who see conspiracies and attacks on your “freeze peach” everywhere. They don’t exist. The type of bullshit that you energetically swallow led, obviously and inexorably, to Brexit and the subsequent energisation of despicable scum.

    You can surely see this, no? You live in the same cesspit of “political-correctness-gone-mad” paranoia as the average pot-bellied, jingoistic Brexit supporter. You know that, right? You just take your offence from unpopular articles on the Guardian rather than the red-tops, so that you can feel superior AND persecuted.

    You’re neither. You’re a sadsack who likes to feel those things and you’re nothing more than average, at best.

    Tell you what, if you were as vociferous in challenging the actual, real menace of identity politics (little Englanders Europhobes, for example), I might take you seriously. As it is, you’re just a”political-correctness-gone-mad” stooge, nothing more, nothing less.

    It’s boring. It’s tedious. It’s deflective. It’s all in your mind. Grow the fuck up.

  136. Marduk says

    148.
    The rise of the right wing and populist nationalism is generally held to be to do with the failure of the dominant social and economic model, just as it has been each time it has occurred. The left’s view of this, equally storied, is that the suffering this creates should be assigned to its correct systemic causes and addressed rather than left to fester and blamed on the usual scapegoats. Unfortunately because the left has been co-opted by the very things it should oppose, this has not occurred and instead we are directed to worry about anything except the causes of our problems.

    You posit instead it has something to do with social media and that to believe otherwise is to accept conspiracy theories.

    Each to their own analysis of history but, you know, “whew, lad”.

  137. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally
    Thanks for a factual analysis – it gives me a welcome opportunity to calm down. As I understand it, you are saying that this is just another random twitter storm, the kind of thing that happens in the internet era, does not mean anything and is not worth particularly noticing. But while the facts you quote are more or less right, you leave out enough that I think that picture is wrong.

    – First, things like that Africa-and-AIDS joke are widely seen as gross and unacceptable. The reaction may be wildly disproportionate, but you can see why people would find this offensive. But Damore was giving a measured and painfully restrained version of a mainstream political opinion. If that is enough to cause howls of outrage, that rather shows that a large and important part of the population sees any opinion that disagrees with their aims as illegitimate and intolerable. Which chimes rather well with what we see in trans debates and various other places. If the case is comaprable to anything it would be Gamergate, where the main victim was not doing anything remotely provocative or offensive, and where the attackers were obviously a political group with a plan.

    – It is wrong to imply, as you do, that the people complaining about Damore are just a random bunch of powerless twitterati with too much outrage to spend. They may be like that individually. Collectively they form a cultural elite with a large power to exercise social control and to influence the public and institutional culture of the future. That is power, and it is no less real because it is not backed up by armed police. When for instance Natasha Devon tells a conference of headteachers that it is wrong to refer to the girls in a girls school as ‘girls’, this, or rather the cultural movement that it is an expression of, is quite likely to end up forming the way our children are going to be brought up. If the Telegraph and the Mail raise a storm about ‘PC gone mad’ in return it is just venting – it does not translate into policy.Sir Humphey was out of touch: The Guardian is read by the people who not only think they ought to run the country, but who subscribe to a broadly shared vision, and who can and do form norms, culture and adminstrative procedures in order to get where they want.

    – I dispute the idea that only at Google would he have been fired. Google may have been special because they put a lot of emphasis on having a free internal discussion to agree on company policy – which Damnore, being slightly autistic, was dumb enough to take at face value. But just about all companies have these antidiscrimination courses that I will wager are animated by the same principles and use the same course materials. And any public-facing company (certainly any university) would be more likely to get rid of the trouble by getting rid of Damore, rather than putting up with continuing and well-orchestrated reputational damage in order to keep him.

    – Damore was offered several jobs yes, but as a political figure. What I meant was that he is quite unlikely to get another job as a programmer, much like Private Manning is not likely to be working as a soldier ever again.

    – You say that there is a consensus that racism, sexism, homophobia etc. are bad, just not about what those words mean. That is a remarkable statement in itself. How can you agree that Foo is a bad thing, if no one has yet told you what Foo means? This is not a question of an agreed core with some disagreement about the limits, the condemnation can range far and wide into new areas with every iteration of post-colonial gender criticism theory, or whatever. But more than that, it is not true that there is a consensus. There is a consensus that individual discrimination on the basis of sex, race or sexuality is wrong, and that denigrating entire groups of people is wrong. There is no consensus that it is wrong to say ‘chairman’ or refer to an unknown indivudual as ‘he’, that an insult or assault becomes immeasurably worse if you use the word ‘black’ while you are doing it, that a white actor puts on black face-paint, or that you think of e.g. private Manning as a man. The reason people tend to avoid these things is that we have a lot of social pressure, deliberately engineered by people who want to change society and enforced by a progressive grouping with privileged access to media, education, and policy making. People shy away from the actions I have named because they have a vague idea that saying the wrong thing will land them in a shitload of trouble, and because they do not really know what is supposed to be racist today, as opposed to yesterday. And organisations tend to back these tendencies up, because the people taking the decision share in the group mind, and because it is the path of least resistance in the face of disruptive protests.

    Finally, you are quite right that there are lots of injustices around. And as I see it we both have an interest in agreeing and fighting against as many as we can, and in keeping an open debate where people can argue for their opinions without being bulldozed off the field, let alone fired. So I will come out against the use of harassment as a debating tactic in situations like Gamergate, and against blacklisting and firing people for having left-wing views. If, that is, people like you come out in favour of the right of people like Damore or radical feminists to express their opinions politely without being fired or bullied for it. If you decide to protect only the people on your own side and reject disagreement as bigotry, I will conclude that debate is unwanted and impossible, and that I should support the streetfighters on my side, just like you do.

  138. Garrett says

    On a vaguely-related note to some of the mid-range comments:

    We’ve decided that those with poor economic prospects should have money given to them after its taken from those with good finances. But we don’t say the same think about romantic prospects.

    Might some of these folks who have good financial prospects but poor romantic prospects be angry at what they view as a double-standard?

  139. StillGjenganger says

    @Sanda

    You are letting the side down. It may not be obvious, but this is a site where people mostly discuss things, rather than just swop insults. And you have managed to make That Guy and Carnation look serious, interesting, and polite – in comparison.

    ‘God save me from my friends. My enemies I can deal with.’

  140. Carnation says

    @ Ganger

    That you consider Sanda a friend says something very troubling and unpleasant about you.

    I hope you have an epiphany, but I don’t think that you will. You’re embittered.

  141. Ally Fogg says

    I’m afraid I’ve had to remove a small toddler who kept shitting his pants all over the nursery.

    Banned for being stupid & boring.

  142. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger, thanks for these comments, which have enough to get my teeth into.

    – First, things like that Africa-and-AIDS joke are widely seen as gross and unacceptable. The reaction may be wildly disproportionate, but you can see why people would find this offensive. But Damore was giving a measured and painfully restrained version of a mainstream political opinion. If that is enough to cause howls of outrage, that rather shows that a large and important part of the population sees any opinion that disagrees with their aims as illegitimate and intolerable.

    You’ll have to point me to these howls of outrage.

    Because what I saw was a lot of measured commentary which primarily focused on the following:
    1. He was just wrong. I saw lots of opinion pieces, blogs, tweets etc saying that he was laughably, idiotically wrong, and why. But not saying that he should be fired.
    2. By publishing his ‘document’ Damore had violated Google’s prominent & much hyped diversity & inclusion policies. I think I saw one, maybe two opinion pieces saying this, but I’m not sure even those actively called for him to be sacked, far less were “howling” about it.

    Just this moment, I googled the words “James Damore should be fired.” I literally couldn’t find a single written piece saying that he should be fired. I saw dozens saying he should not.

    So here’s what I think actually happened. Here’s what I can see actual evidence for.

    Damore shared his document internally at Google.
    1. Some people saw it, didn’t like it, & in various ways declared their annoyance, disagreement, disgust, whatever.
    2. Some other people saw those reactions & disagreed with those & instead agreed with Damore.
    3. There then followed quite a hostile argument between the two sides.
    4. Google decided they’d had enough and sacked him.

    So in brief, Damore found himself the human centre of a political & social debate, & ultimately found himself on the wrong side of his employers’ policies.

    What conclusions can we draw from this? I think there are two.

    1. Companies will fire employees who they think are more trouble than they’re worth.
    2. Google is touchy about its progressive liberal credentials.

    And really that’s it. [will continue in another comment because this is getting unwieldy.)

  143. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger

    It is wrong to imply, as you do, that the people complaining about Damore are just a random bunch of powerless twitterati with too much outrage to spend. They may be like that individually. Collectively they form a cultural elite with a large power to exercise social control and to influence the public and institutional culture of the future.

    What you are describing is called politics. It’s called democracy. It’s called civic engagement.

    Let’s look at this phrase “cultural elite with a large power to exercise social control.”

    Stop a moment & think about this “cultural elite” and where its power lies. They might have a few blog sites & online magazines, but…

    How many governments of the world do they control?
    How many TV stations?
    How many newspapers?

    Where is their actual power, their actual control, their actual influence?

    I’d argue they have none, beyond the strength of their arguments.

    Now, compare that to another “random bunch of powerless twitterati with too much outrage to spend.” – the alt.right (or, if you prefer, the older & more British tabloid right.)

    Here you have a random (actually much larger) bunch of “powerless twitterati” who spend all day every day scouring Twitter, Facebook, comments sections etc, ranting & raving about Muslim rape gangs, about immigrants, about creeping sharia, about feminazis etc etc etc.

    Except these ranting, raving Twitterati not only have their own Breitbarts & Spikeds & blogs etc, they also have the Fucking White House. They have Rupert Murdoch & his entire empire. They have the Daily Mail,the Daily Express, the Sun, the Star. They have Fox News.

    What power does this give them? For starters, it gives them the power to shape the descriptions & perspectives of those on the other side. It gives them the power to shape what you think you know, what you are bringing to this argument.

    Example:

    When for instance Natasha Devon tells a conference of headteachers that it is wrong to refer to the girls in a girls school as ‘girls’, this, or rather the cultural movement that it is an expression of, is quite likely to end up forming the way our children are going to be brought up.

    What do you think Natasha Devon said? You apparently think she said that it is “wrong” to refer to girls in a girls school as ‘girls.’

    Except she didn’t.

    You only think she said that because the tabloid or raving right wing press told you she said that.

    What she actually said is here https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/i-received-rape-and-death-threats-after-i-suggested-schools-use

    In making sweeping assumptions about gender, sexuality and identity we can create a culture in which anyone who deviates from the established archetypes feels excluded from the community and therefore doesn’t have this need fulfilled. One way we as educators could help to avoid this is by using gender-neutral language when addressing groups of pupils.

    There are several schools who do this already. In fact, it was from observing practice in schools I got the idea. I used to refrain from saying ‘girls’ to single-sex groups of teenagers because it struck me as a bit patronising. Instead I used to say ‘ladies’. St Paul’s Girls School asks speakers specifically to refer to year groups as ‘students’ rather than ‘ladies’, firstly because there’s a lot of people who find the term ‘ladies’ patronising and secondly because they want to be as inclusive as possible. This strikes me as very good practice. It’s accurate, efficient and ensures everyone feels welcome.

    It was nothing to do with transgender issues. At no point did she tell headteachers they were wrong to say “girls” she just happened to mention (in passing, as part of an hour-long talk on other issues) that there might be benefits to calling students as a group “students” rather than “girls.”

    Now you might not agree with her that this is a good idea, but whatever. I would like you to explain what is so radical or dangerous or threatening about it?

    But just for saying that, she was subjected to a hostile barrage of media attacks which led in turn to several days of death threats and rape threats from the rightwing “random powerless twitterati” who were doing their level best to intimidate and threaten her into silence.

    Tell me again about where the power lies in these debates?

    You go on to say:

    “If the Telegraph and the Mail raise a storm about ‘PC gone mad’ in return it is just venting – it does not translate into policy.”

    OK now you are really tripping. Brexit. Brutal reform of disability benefits to appease scares about ‘scroungers’. Internment of failed asylum seekers in Yarls Wood. Section 28. All of those government policies & countless others have come in as a direct consequence of tabloid lies & scaremongering.

    What we are now seeing with the transgender hysteria is a direct attempt to influence government policy on gender identification. We would not be getting all these (mostly) fabricated stories like the ones about Natasha Devon or about Lily Madigan or whatever else if it weren’t for the fact that the Gender Recognition Act is on the table. Whether it works or not remains to be seen but there is plenty of precedent to suggest it might.

  144. Ally Fogg says

    And finally:

    So I will come out against the use of harassment as a debating tactic in situations like Gamergate, and against blacklisting and firing people for having left-wing views. If, that is, people like you come out in favour of the right of people like Damore or radical feminists to express their opinions politely without being fired or bullied for it.

    Well I’ve already said that I don’t think Damore should have been fired & excepting the extremes, I don’t think anyone should be fired from jobs for their political opinions.

    We’re going to have to discuss what we mean by bullying.

    I fully support the right of anyone and everyone to identify someone else’s words or actions as racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or whatever else, and to call them out for that & suggest they don’t do it again.

    I fully support the right of anyone to respond to such feedback by saying “fuck off you snowflake libtard feminazi.”

    I utterly reject the idea that someone should be able to be racist, homophobic or offensive in whatever way & then expect to be exempt from criticism, anger or outrage.

    If that is what you mean by ‘bullying’ (and I suspect it is) then fuck that.

    Personally I despise social media pile-ons & I try not to incite or participate in them, but at the same time if a thousand people are outraged by, say, a homophobic remark,then yeah, those thousand people are all entitled to say fuck off you homophobe.

    Just as at the same time, if say Julie Bindel or Clem Ford writes one of their “Why I hate men” articles, I fully support the rights of thousands of readers to tell them to fuck off. And if I write something which inspires a similar reaction, fair game.

    To wind up, there is a perpetual socio-political debate going on in all human societies between reactionary, conservative and radical arguments. Some people want to keep things as they are, some people want to change things towards in new ways, some people want to change things back to how they used to be.

    Society, in terms of human habits, culture, manners, language etc etc is constantly in flux, constantly changing. Twas ever thus. This is how human society evolves & why we are not still living in caves.

  145. WineEM says

    “Personally I despise social media pile-ons & I try not to incite or participate in them, but at the same time if a thousand people are outraged by, say, a homophobic remark,then yeah, those thousand people are all entitled to say fuck off you homophobe”.

    Eh, how on earth is giving full support, and indeed, actively and passionately advocating on the behalf of, social media campaigns such as #MeToo and #IBelieverHer, not inciting social media pile-ons? Hashtags are designed to facilitate and encourage collective group action, that is, inevitably, the very nature what they do.

    Indeed, this is a major concern around such campaigns, that people who encourage them appear to know perfectly well that they are stirring up forces so potent they can very quickly completely destroy the mental health and well-being of even innocent people caught up in them – even to the point of suicide – such is the extreme nature of the social stigma around these matters.

    And then when disasters do happen, like for instance, close friends of Lord Brammel saying that the dispensing with the presumption of innocence terrorised him personally, and rapidly hastened his death, the people pushing these things seem to tiptoe away and implicitly say ‘nothing to do with me, gov’. No, we’ve never incited any pile ons, as far as we can remember.

    To be fair, however, I saw a left wing woman interviewed on TV recently about #MeToo, and she actually said up front: “Well, we’ve had Witch Burnings in the past, so it seems appropriate that we should have some Wizard burnings now to even things up”. (Alluding to the fact, I suppose, that the majority of accused will be men.) I mean, that is pretty ugly, but at least it’s open and consistent.

  146. Ally Fogg says

    Don’t be silly, WineEM.

    Hashtags are not remotely the same thing as a pile-on.

    A pile on is where we say “Look! This person who you probably have never previously heard of has said this bad thing! Quick! Everyone tell them what a bastard they are!”

    This happens a lot. Feminists do it it a lot. Left wing activists do it a lot. Right wing activists do it a lot. MRAs do it more than any other group I’ve ever encountered.

    But whoever does it, I generally dislike it & try not to encourage it.

    Neither #MeToo nor #IBelieveHer have anything remotely to do with that.

    Collective group actions are a generally a good thing.
    Solidarity is generally a good thing.
    Society is a good thing.

    Rounding on one individual as a mob, whether Julie Bindel or Owen Jones or Anita Sarkeesian or me, is generally a bad thing.

    Lord Bramall was never the subject of a social media pile-on. He was never even on social media. He was the subject of a police investigation for suspected child abuse and apparently turned out to be not guilty.

    Do you want to stop police investigating child abuse allegations now?

  147. Marduk says

    159.
    This doesn’t seem to be universally agreed now. In the last week I’ve seen an increasing uneasiness that the #metoo witch-hunting has gotten out of control (which is exactly why sensible people don’t start witch hunts…), this includes Rebecca Solnit whose earlier piece you were approving of. The far right always hated Weinstein for the same reasons they hate everyone called things like “Weinstein” the world over, I’m surprised nobody picked up on this aspect of it. Now she is worried about it being “co-opted by the alt-right” but it was always at least as much the work of the Chans as anything else from day one. Its interesting Solnit has started to intuit this even is she doesn’t know exactly where its coming from or how its working (data mining against blind items and Dropboxing the results basically). Even if you want to believe it didn’t have that origin, this “co-opting” is straight of Rules For Radicals anyway which surely conscientious social activists should have seen coming (make the other side live by their own rules, always escalate, never let up).

  148. Carnation says

    @ WineEM

    “To be fair, however, I saw a left wing woman interviewed on TV recently about #MeToo, and she actually said up front: “Well, we’ve had Witch Burnings in the past, so it seems appropriate that we should have some Wizard burnings now to even things up”.”

    Which programme was this on? Who was the woman being interviewed?

  149. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk

    I’m really not following you. None of what you say in #160 really responds to what I was saying in #159.

    On Rebecca Solnit – do you mean this piece? https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/10/dont-let-alt-right-coopt-metoo-agenda

    Because I don’t think that says what you are suggesting it says.

    At no point does Solnit suggest that people who have been abused or harassed shouldn’t continue to say #MeToo

    What she’s saying is a bit oblique & I’m not sure how much I agree with it, but she’s basically saying we should be alert to reactionary forces digging up spurious complaints made (or in some cases not made) by third parties, in order to undermine #MeToo.

    And it is not a witch hunt. This was never a witch hunt & it is extremely dishonest of you to imply that Solnit was suggesting it is.

  150. Marduk says

    162.
    Its a more general thing than that Ally. We’ve reached a very interesting moment in the last few weeks. I think people are starting to realize that pissing about with the values of liberalism is not a good idea in the long term after all. This is what I’ve always been upset about, the shortsightedness, the “its ok because they are a nazi”. So I’m sort-of pleased its finally dawned on a few people but unfortunately its come too late.

    It always gets weaponised, it always runs out of control, it always gets used by the other side. I don’t care what it started at, thats never the point. Why didn’t people realise this a bit sooner? Note how Solnit is now claiming things that were t-shirt slogans and yelled demands were always really just nuanced statements operating at almost an aesthetic level that don’t really mean what they sound like (not that anyone ever claimed this before). Congratulations, you’ve given the alt-right what they always wanted and they will never stop using it now. She isn’t the only one, all kinds of columnists, even Eve Wiseman, cheering on the pack are suddenly wondering if this is really all ok after all. Too late. I think the feminist who was surprised it was just assumed she was an intractable enemy of due process should complain less about a tv company and do a bit of self-reflection as to why they thought this.

    Just looking today, Owen Jones suddenly isn’t so sure he wants the entire internet regulated by the government, its finally occurred to him what that might mean, years and years after everyone else. What the fuck did he think was going on? Shame he didn’t speak up when The Guardian’s lobbying was being used as the basis for government policy that is going to be implemented in a few months, Too late again, I dare say Internet Regulator will be a happy sinecure to park a worn out Brexiteer like Gove or Davis or Boris. I’m sure Owen will enjoy their views on what is fit information to put before children going forward.

  151. That Guy says

    @Marduk-

    Your weird view where the people campaigning against the alt-right are responsible for the rise of the alt-right is an interesting, if totally fanciful take.

    You’re going pretty easy on all the people actually using their power, media influence, and their massive platforms to espouse their views that maybe human rights aren’t such a good idea, or that really, it’s nobody’s fault if women and minorities get forced out of public life, or into poverty and hardship, or that being willing to commit mass murder and nuclear torture on innocent civilians of the wrong country is a virtue.
    Where’s your screed decrying all the stuffed shirts and Piers Morgans of this world whining about legitimate democratic protest on national television, Where’s your criticism of the right wing stripping and declawing the labour unions?

    It almost seems like you’re more upset by the ‘die cis scum’ hashtag (that hasn’t killed anyone) than the concerted media effort to shame, demonise and humiliate trans people (who are routinely murdered, assaulted, fired from their jobs, and driven to suicide for their trans ness) to give an example.

    That’d be mighty strange of you, to care more about what someone writes on their twitter to their ten followers more than the derogatory headlines of the UK’s highest circulation newspapers, since both are ‘pissing about with liberalism’ no?

    Anyway, since you’re unlikely to listen to me since I’ve not been treating these hallowed comment threads with the reverence you demand, (god forbid I try to inject some fun into this dour life) I’ll forward you to someone equally as serious as yourself about these matters, who has thought about them QUITE A LOT I think.

    He’s so serious in fact, that he’s dead. But dead or not, he’s got some interesting things to say.

    Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

    Karl Popper

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

  152. Ally Fogg says

    Blimey Marduk you are jumping from lily pad to lily pad like a frog on amphetamines & it is really, really difficult to work out what your point is. But trying my best:

    Is this conversation about SJWs, political correctness, call-out culture etc? Because that’s what Gjenganger & I were talking about.

    You are throwing a whole bunch of disparate, disconnected points at me:

    1/ I think people are starting to realize that pissing about with the values of liberalism is not a good idea in the long term after all. This is what I’ve always been upset about, the shortsightedness, the “its ok because they are a nazi”.

    OK, first of all, you’ll have to be clear who these “people” are who are starting to realise this, because it is literally none of those you mention as examples (for reasons I will come to).

    First of all you seem to think it is liberals who are behind anti-fascist action, whether you mean physical resistance or no platforming or whatever isn’t clear. I don’t know what you’re talking about with the “it’s OK because they’re a nazi” but if you are talking about people refusing to allow Nazis space to organise, demonstrate & spread their poison, this is an ongoing effort, has been extremely successful in recent months with no particular downside and I don’t see any evidence of that reversing. Anyone who thinks it is some kind of defence of liberal values to allow Nazis to operate in any way can go fuck themselves, they’re morons.

    2/ Solnit’s piece about how the alt-right is attempting to undermine & subvert #MeToo by using it disingenuously to smear liberal/left opponents. You say “It always gets weaponised, it always runs out of control, it always gets used by the other side.” This makes no sense. What is “it” here? What is running out of control just like it always has in the past? Accusations of sexual assault? Attempts to make our society less abusive, less unjust?

    Are you saying we should never make any collective attempt to improve society because such attempts always get hijacked by reactionary elements who use it to make the world a worse place? Is that really your argument here? If not, what?

    2/ “Note how Solnit is now claiming things that were t-shirt slogans and yelled demands were always really just nuanced statements operating at almost an aesthetic level that don’t really mean what they sound like”
    No, I don’t note that because I’ve just gone and read her piece again and she doesn’t say that or anything like it. Please stop just making shit up, it makes it very hard to have an intelligent conversation. Come back to me with a direct quote from Solnit & we’ll talk about that.

    3/ Congratulations, you’ve given the alt-right what they always wanted and they will never stop using it now. She isn’t the only one, all kinds of columnists, even Eve Wiseman, cheering on the pack are suddenly wondering if this is really all ok after all. Too late. I think the feminist who was surprised it was just assumed she was an intractable enemy of due process should complain less about a tv company and do a bit of self-reflection as to why they thought this.

    This is weird because I understand every single one of those words in isolation but when you put them all together it makes no sense whatsoever. What is it that Eva Wiseman no longer thinks is OK? Again, can you please answer that with a direct quote from whichever one of her columns you are pretending to refer to?

    4/ Just looking today, Owen Jones suddenly isn’t so sure he wants the entire internet regulated by the government, its finally occurred to him what that might mean, years and years after everyone else.

    OK, now you are going to have to point me to the time and place where Owen Jones ever said that he wants the entire internet regulated by the government?

    I mean, you must know, because you are now telling me he has changed his mind. So come on, quote the article where Owen says “What we need is for the entire internet to be regulated by the government.”

    I’ll wait.

  153. StillGjenganger says

    @That Guy 164
    Far be it from me to think I am smarter than Karl Popper. But I do think he is presenting a real and important problem in a very unfortunate and abusable manner.

    He is making the (correct) point that however tolerant you want to be, there must be limits to your tolerance, because otherwise you are left defenceless against people who will force out your tolerant culture and replace it with something else. But putting it that ‘we’ have “ in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant”, opens a massive, easily exploitable loophole: If you define all the people you disagree with as intolerant, you end up with the right to be intolerant of anyone you disagree with, and boast about your tolerance all the while. Arguably that is what modern progressive thought is doing.

    A less exploitable way of putting that point is that any consensus, however tolerant, has to decide who are involved in consenting, and what the outer limits of that tolerance are. Who are ‘we’, who are excluded, and which opinions do we decide are beyond the pale? That still leaves the option of deciding that ‘we’ are the most progressive 25% of society, that everybody else should be excluded, and that the opinion of the majority of the electorate is beyond the pale (be it on immigration, transsexuals or whatnot). But at least it forces you to make it explicit what you are doing.

  154. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally
    On Natasha Devon, I have now read the defence posting you linked to. And, modulo a slightly sharpened wording, I think that the right-wing press got it right. She is saying that it is wrong to refer to girls as ‘girls’. And that is very radical.
    Looking in more detail, she says that characterising the pupils of a girls’ school, collectively as ‘girls’ is “making sweeping assumptions about gender, sexuality and identity”. She says that this makes anybody who does not fully identify as a ‘girl’ feel excluded, thus refusing to fulfill that person’s “fundamental psychological needs”. And since schools have an overriding duty to fulfill those needs, it is obviously wrong to do so.

    One way she tries to wriggle out of it is to say that no one in the audience seems to find her suggestion particularly radical. I would take that to mean that they either belong to the Guardian-reading set already, and so share her gender politics, or they know they are in a minority and do not want to make themselves vulnerable by challenging what is obviously the official position. Another attempt is her insistence that she is perfectly with fine with somebody being called a girl – provided you have carefully checked beforehand that this particular person is in the particular minority of people who identify as a ‘girl’. In other words she wants us to assume being non-binary as the norm and treat being a ‘girl’ as a personal peculiarity – which I rather would call radical, myself. Finally she makes the ridiculous claim that even though she is a central authority on education and cultural policy (or whatever you want to call it) telling an audience of headteachers what ought to be the appropriate attitude, hers is just a personal opinion that anyone is free to ignore, so it is wrong to think that her words will have any consequences. I will freely admit that her words do not carry the same weight as those of Kim Young Un’ or Recep Erdogan, but when she is deliberately (and probably successfully) working to change the way gender is treated in schools (first) and society (later), it is ridiculous for her to deny the power of her own words.

  155. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally
    On the specific point of Damore I mostly remember two posts. One was the colleague, quoted as reacting with “This is not going to fucking stop, I am not going to give you any peace, I am going to keep coming after you on this until one of us is fired”. The other one was the mother describing with pain and sorrow how she had had to explain to her daughter that “No, it was not true that women were not as smart as men”. So, I take issue with your claim that posts generally said “that he was wrong, and why”. If somebody claims that animal testing in useless torture or that the triple vaccine causes autism, people often use actual arguments to show why they are wrong. With Damore I recall no one engaging with his arguments, or even demonstrating that they had actually understood them – even with you I had to argue for over a week to get down to the concept that Googles policies were supposedly necessary to make up for the fact that girls had been discriminated against as (potential?) software engineers since before they entered kindergarten. Everybody was just incensed that anyone could possibly say something as nasty as this.

  156. Marduk says

    1. I’m talking about how, in recent years, its become acceptable to backtrack on your values because its an exception. Things like free speech, inclusion, restraint from violence, due process, good faith, intentions vs. worst possible interpretations, etc. This is not very wise, and whats happened is that bad people, like the alt-right, are quite capable of using the same excuses and now do.

    2. She is right about subvert, not undermine. No, the idea is to use it as much as possible. Now if you want to destroy someone, find a tweet or a memo where they’ve used the wrong word, or maybe even dig up a vague accusation. This kind of thing was tolerated for a long time because it was only “bad people” getting hit, now its Stomzy calling people faggots and friends of Lena Dunham we’re suddenly worried about due process and agendas. Now, when it comes to serious matters and serious accusations, of course it doesn’t matter who or what you are. But I think its fair to say that a febrile atmosphere has prevailed for a while now (e.g., Sir Tim Hunt, James Damore) and I don’t recall many prominent feminists or social justice activists demanding moderation.

    This is what is being hijacked, not constructive ‘collective action’ or being ‘anti-harassment’ but the tolerance of piling on, the kangaroo courts, the “don’t tone police me”, the pressure to get people fired for minor things years in the past or even misplaced jokes immediately apologized for. Come on, everyone knew deep down all this was wrong really. This is about the little sins coming back to haunt people, its why you don’t do deals with the devil because the folk memory is that you always end up on the wrong end of them eventually. It was wrong then, its wrong now, its no good wailing that bad people are borrowing from your repertoire. This is how the erosion of values plays out.

    Slogans as complex arguments: “They were asking her to say feminists are happy to harm individual men for the good of the cause, and not interested in distinguishing innocence from guilt. She refused. That’s not who she is and not who feminists are. The slogan “believe women” arose because women have often been assumed from the outset to be crazy, mendacious, manipulative and anything but honest when they charge men of sexual crimes. That’s why their claims are often dismissed out of hand rather than investigated. The slogan doesn’t mean don’t investigate the claims. An accusation pits two claimants against each other, an accuser and, usually, a person who claims they’re not guilty of what they’re accused of. Both deserve due process.”

    But that isn’t what the slogan says and you can find plenty of feminists who were happy to see all kinds of people not get any process, due or otherwise. I think the arguments for removing due process from rape trials have been rehearsed, thats not even a notional thing, thats a policy suggestion. So why is it a priority of all a sudden? Again, because the wrong people are exploiting it. This is what I mean by witch hunts. There was actual witch hunting, which we don’t believe in now but people did think it was a legitimate thing to do (there were actual real people who thought they practicing witchcraft as well). What it turned into was a protection racket because it generated a mechanism for offing anyone you didn’t like. There are real monsters out there today, nobody wants to protect them, problem is its now a tool to use for other agendas and its very hard to believe anyone is going to listen to calls for moderation now, its too far gone.

    3. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/dec/03/the-real-hate-club-we-should-not-scroll-back-too-far-in-the-twittershere-eva-wiseman
    ” But on the other, the context of shitty language is important. “The homophobic language I used was, embarrassingly, a part of my vocabulary when I was younger,” tweeted Stormzy. I can’t help but wonder about the direction of these shamings, too. Why choose Stormzy?”
    Oh, now context is important. Why “choose” anyone, she sort of reveals herself here, I thought the point was homophobia.

    4. The wider context for Owen Jones writing is that he is speaking of the right wing press in general calling for regulation of the web. What Owen does not write is how pleased he is that they are finally coming to agree with his boss’s passion project.
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/series/the-web-we-want
    I suspect this is not unrelated to the Guardian’s recent displeasure that Facebook finally started using the community standards demanded of them half way down that page, and immediately banned a load of angry feminists using gendered insults. Again, “its ok when we do it” seems to be the take home message.

    You’re right, I was a bit inaccurate, he still wants it regulated, he just wants the right people to do it and ‘safeguards’ which he doesn’t describe. But within his own article is the recognition that this will be politicized. I think the conclusion you can draw is that again, he just wants the right people to politicise it in the right way and he is scared the wrong people will politicise it in the wrong way. Most of us didn’t want it open to this kind of bullshit in the first place but then we don’t have a side we want to ascend to power over other people’s speech.

    What all these people have in common is that its belatedly dawned on them that once you negotiate on principle or establish a convention, other people you don’t like can do the same thing and you don’t get to complain easily, hence the tortured “yes but” tone to them. “Its OK when I do it” isn’t an argument.

  157. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally,

    On the general point I would allow that we both suffer from confirmation bias. I do not notice the power of the right, and you do not notice the power of the left. But I really think you have a blind spot as regards the power of the progressive left. Culturally they have won a very large number of battles in recent years. They started as minority opinions, so you would think that they had the burden of proof, the duty to convince the majority that they were actually right. But if they have won, it is certainly not because of their arguments. I would wager that a large majority of the population is against the transgender recognition act to the extent they have an opinion at all). The reason it is being introduced anyway is not that the left has won any arguments. It is that the left has privileged access to the academic middle classes that generally make the opinion-forming layer of society – newspapers, schools, universities, broadcasting. And that they are loud, active, and willing to take and make trouble. In that way you can plant the general opinion that we should care for minorities at the expense of the majority, and that anybody dissenting with that view is in some way bad or disturbed (racist, transphobic, …). As you said, “the power to shape the descriptions & perspectives of those on the other side.[…] the power to shape what you think you know, what you are bringing to this argument.” My favourite example is still the immigration debate in Denmark and Sweden. It seems pretty obvious that the big differences in immigration policy (and now in the reaction to #MeToo) is not that Danes are generally a much nastier people. It is that even though the starting positions were pretty similar and the arguments were the same, the culturally dominant classes in Sweden have managed to keep a grip on public norms and suppress dissenting opinions, whereas the equivalent classes in Denmark had to let go.

    For the rest, you are saying that it is all politics. Well, there are many kinds of politics. Damian Green cultivating what amounts to a mole to smuggle out confidential information from a Labour-led ministry is politics. Gulen and Erdogan both do politics. Shouting down anybody who is not in favour of transgender recognition as some kind of ‘phobe is politics. As per my post 166 I would be in favour of including most of society in a consensus – agreeing at least that the reciprocal opinions are legitimate to hold, working to make agreements that consider the interests of several parties, and to work to some kind of Geneva convention regulating the allowable tactics on both sides. It is called bipartisanship, I believe. If you prefer to consider the opinions of your opponents to be illegitimate and unworthy of consideration, and if you feel that any amount of angry reaction against an individual is acceptable politics, well, maybe it is. It is called polarisation, I believe. But in that case I will conclude that it is pointless to try to reach agreement with you. And that what you call “Rounding on one individual as a mob, whether Julie Bindel or Owen Jones or Anita Sarkeesian or me” is also perfectly normal politics, that we should consider using more of. Because the only difference I can see between what happened to Damore and what happened to Sarkeesian is that one is on the right and the other is on the left, and each side used the weapons that were most readily to hand. As a Palestinian spokesman once said, they would be happy top stop using terrorism and bombs, and change to fighting battles and using air strikes. It just required Israel to donate them an air force and some tanks, so they could fight on equal terms.

  158. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 165

    What Solnit seems to be saying is that it was OK if people got forced out of their jobs for an old joke quoted out of context, as long as it was the right-wingers who got hit. That the threshold is so low (or the harassment level so high) that pretty much anyone would be taken down. And that therefore we need some good feminists to be in charge to ensure that it is only the baddies who get hurt and that the goodies remain unpunished.

    What did you think she was saying?

  159. StillGjenganger says

    @Marduk

    It is strange. I think you easy enough to follow, but Ally and the others cannot make sense of it. i wonder if I am following an underlying argument that I find familiar but they do not.

    If you will forgive me for being personal: You clearly feel you belong on the left. And you keep arguing in terms of this or that behaviour hurting the chances of the left. But is that really all that troubles you? Is it really that you are fine with both the aims and the tactics of the modern left, were it not that you believe they are counterproductive? Or is it that you actually believe that the liberal values of free speech etc. are good in themselves, and disagree with the left for discarding them? If i am right ini that, maybe your arguments would become easier to follow if you said so explicilty?

  160. Carnation says

    @ Marduk
    @ Ganger

    “It is strange. I think you easy enough to follow, but Ally and the others cannot make sense of it. i wonder if I am following an underlying argument that I find familiar but they do not.”

    Here’s the thing. You’re both having emotional reactions. You both have severe confirmation bias. There is an abundance of evidence to suggest that what you are both describing isn’t real – but you feel it. You feel it because it strikes a nerve. It strikes a nerve because… Well, that’s not for me to say, but I’d suggest it’s got something to do with how you view “SJWs” and your exposure to the omnipotent right-wing media.

    But please understand, the moment anyone looks at Milo and isn’t disgusted, they’re communicating to the world the damage done to their humanity and capacity for joy. His followers aren’t happy, they’re damaged, angry individuals.

    I wondered what that cretin Paul Elam would have to say about the Cat Person story doing the rounds. He appears to have realised there isn’t much attention to glean from his MRA shtick and has gone fill alt-right, complete with idiocy about Sweden being dangerous.

    The rabbit hole of online reactionary social media leads to one place; the company of abject scum, the othering and scapegoating of classes of people and isolated misery.

  161. Ally Fogg says

    OK, this is getting impossible to manage point by point, but trying to bring it together:

    Marduk

    Your thesis appears to be that the broad progressive, left consensus behind diverse campaigns such as #MeToo and Antifa are now suddenly realising that by abandoning the strict tenets of infantile liberalism they have unleashed some kind of monster and are now backtracking, thus demonstrating that the arguments against those campaigns were correct all along.

    And this is simply wrong on every count.

    There is no backtracking. You are seeing some commentators (eg Solnit & Wiseman) identify complexities, difficulties & pitfalls with campaigns, but if you were to ask any of those commentators whether this means the campaigns as a whole are ill-judged, unethical, unwarranted or whatever else they would laugh you out of town. They simply would not recognise themselves in the model you are portraying, just as I don’t recognise it.

    The Wiseman point underlines this – your argument (and Gjenganger’s) is predicated on the assumption that the broad SJW / #MeToo /whatever movement is a fascistic, zero-tolerance witch-hunt where any and all sins committed at any time in the past must be enough to ensure the offender is burned at the stake or at least drummed out of civil society. If this response doesn’t happen then it must be because the offender is leftwing or black or whatever, thus demonstrating the hypocrisy behind it.

    But this is bollocks. It’s a cartoon caricature. None of this is about left and right. It’s not about black or white. This stuff has always required context & it’s not the progressive left that doesn’t get that, it’s the reactionary right. It’s about people taking responsibility for harmful and abusive behaviour. Personally I have no problem with someone digging out old homophobic tweets of Stormzy and I was really impressed by his reaction – he owned the opinions, didn’t wriggle out, expressed his regret & apologised. All good. Exactly what should happen. But it is not about suddenly discovering “context.”

    I’m afraid your Owen Jones stuff is such a mess of paranoia and conspiracy theories I cannot even begin with it.

  162. Marduk says

    172.
    Liberal values are good in themselves and they also work. Its the right thing to do in all senses. For example, in the end, free speech is the best and most resilient way minorities have to fight oppression and we in general have to deal with bad ideas and bad people. There is a cost to this, a level of frustration to be endured, but in the end its worth paying.

    Reject this stuff and you’ve thrown away your trump card and exchanged it for a simple power struggle. Brexit and Trump have been instructive; the left has suddenly realised that in a raw fist fight over power they are far from guaranteed victory after all. This has finally sunk in it seems but it was stupid to put it all on the table like this. Look at Owen Jones’s problem, he is now trying to argue that Momentum is a legitimate organisation because he’s already accepted illegitimate organisations should get struck down and silenced. This will be settled now by whoever has the power to say, and it scares him because he knows it might not be his side.

    I think in reality there are few people who meant to bring us to this state Its more about the corrupting force of small bits of power, the acceptance of bad arguments (rhetoric and slogans) as unanswerable and the temptation to take shortcuts or to do what felt good in the moment. Perhaps its even the belief in the historical myth of ‘progress’, perhaps people thought it was time to start banking some gains with a ratcheting mechanism rather than recognising they have to be vigilantly fought for daily. I do tend to see this aspect of it in moral terms, the rot set in and nobody said anything. Its worth reading how Niemöller’s famous words were first rendered:

    “When Pastor Niemöller was put in a concentration camp he wrote the year 1937; when the concentration camp was opened we wrote the year 1933, and the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it, it was printed in the newspapers. Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church? We thought: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians.”

    The point made, and then not really emphasised in the usual way this is quoted, is what Ally it seems can never quite grasp either. Sometimes the means are wrong even if you are temporarily gratified by the ends. You need to speak out against them at the time because when they get turned on you, when “us” becomes “them”, its going to be far too late.

  163. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger

    But I really think you have a blind spot as regards the power of the progressive left. Culturally they have won a very large number of battles in recent years. They started as minority opinions, so you would think that they had the burden of proof, the duty to convince the majority that they were actually right. But if they have won, it is certainly not because of their arguments. I would wager that a large majority of the population is against the transgender recognition act to the extent they have an opinion at all). The reason it is being introduced anyway is not that the left has won any arguments. It is that the left has privileged access to the academic middle classes that generally make the opinion-forming layer of society – newspapers, schools, universities, broadcasting.

    Oh come on.

    Look at that last sentence & unpick what you are saying. “The left has privileged access to the academic middle classes that generally make the opinion-forming layer of society – newspapers, schools, universities, broadcasting.”

    First of all, are you seriously telling me that the Guardian and New Statesman have a unique stranglehold on the political opinions of the nation? More influence than the Sun, the Daily Mail, the Express? Or are you one of those arguing the BBC is a hotbed of pinko commie liberal queers? Like the BBC is apparently a liberal propaganda machine despite being fronted & edited by Andrew Neil, John Humphreys, Nick Robinson, Laura Kuenssberg, Jo Coburn et al?

    The reality is that where there has been social progress on everything from racism to homophobia it has been precisely, 100% because the progressive liberals have won the argument and your side has lost. I suspect you find that hurtful & it feels like some kind of oppression, but it isn’t. All that has happened is that you have lost a debate. And in fact the Gender Recognition Bill is a really good example of that. The bill came about as a result of a long period of consultation & committee hearings, in which as I understand it two conservative ministers in particular (Maria Miller & Justine Greening) heard the arguments and changed their minds. I genuinely don’t know what the consensus opinions of the Great British public are on the questions, I would hazard a guess that the vast majority neither know nor care about the arguments – on one side there will be a minority who strongly support trans rights, on the other side there’s a small minority who are hostile to anything to do with trans issues & then in the middle a large bulk who would shrug & say something like “so long as people are happy & not doing any harm it is none of my business.” But that’s probably a fairly similar picture to when the Race Relations Act was brought in or when homosexuality was decriminalised or whatever else. Politicians are often slightly ahead of the public curve on these things PRECISELY BECAUSE they are hearing the arguments and involved in the debates, not just regurgitating propaganda from either side.

  164. That Guy says

    @ everyone

    I’ve scanned your points but I’m going to admit I haven’t read them, or the secondary articles that they link to, or all the rest. I’m sorry, but I’m not committed enough to your defence of fascism to exert the effort.

    What I am going to say though, is that SOME COMMENTERS seem to have an unhealthy fixation on The Guardian and specific columnists therein.

    Like, The Guardian isn’t the be all and end all of the liberal left, proving Someone Who Writes For The Guardian Wrong doesn’t then imply that the whole basis of left and liberal politics is fundamentally unsound.

  165. Ally Fogg says

    Finally, just can’t let this one pass

    Because the only difference I can see between what happened to Damore and what happened to Sarkeesian is that one is on the right and the other is on the left

    So somewhere there’s a page on the internet holding 13,000 messages to James Damore from people saying how much they want to rape him, disembowel him, rip off his head & fuck the stump, talking about his race, & ethnicity & how Jewish he may or may not be?

    You’ll need to show me all the mocked-up pornography of James Damore in the middle of a gangbang.

    You’ll need to show me the video game where you can punch James Damore until he is black & blue.

    You’ll need to show me the subreddits entirely devoted to slagging off James Damore.

    You’ll need to show me where James Damore reports that he has had to close down all his social media and email accounts because of the amount of hatemail he is getting.

    I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point.

    And yes, I won’t be remotely surprised to learn that there was hate mail & nasty tweets sent to Damore & I unequivocally condemn those too. But to say you cannot see any difference between what happened to them is, shall we say, disingenuous at best.

  166. Ally Fogg says

    Look at Owen Jones’s problem, he is now trying to argue that Momentum is a legitimate organisation because he’s already accepted illegitimate organisations should get struck down and silenced. This will be settled now by whoever has the power to say, and it scares him because he knows it might not be his side.

    Marduk you are shocking for making shit up. This is rancid.

    Owen Jones was a founder member of Momentum. He’s not “now” trying to argue Momentum is a legitimate organisation, HE WAS A FUCKING FOUNDING MEMBER!

    …”because he’s already accepted illegitimate organisations should get struck down and silenced”

    WHAT?

    I mean, seriously WTF is this? Are you seriously suggesting that the only reason a democratic socialist Labour Party member like Owen Jones supports a democratic socialist Labour Party faction is because he has previously argued that, I dunno, Britain First should be a banned organisation? This is so batshit & such self-evident nonsense I can’t be arsed to begin picking it apart.

  167. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally

    Well, if you are convinced that you have truth and progress on your side, I guess it makes sense to think that you win because your arguments prevail. If you think that it is largely a matter of which group to favour in the trade-offs and which to stick with the costs (as I think), it looks more like your social power has prevailed. We are on opposite sides, and we are not going to agree.

    It is true that many of the right-wing tactics are rather nasty, but then, as you say, this is politics. The left-wingers are not cuddly kittens either. Basically each side reaches for the reaction that best can convey their anger and rejection, and that hopefully can force the opposition off the field. The left happens to have access to a better set of weapons, is all. And like the Palestinian I quoted I am not going to accept some rules of engagement that leaves my opponent free to work to his strengths, but prevent me from doing the same thing.

  168. StillGjenganger says

    @Carnation 173

    Errhhh, did you say ‘the othering and scapegoating of classes of people’?

  169. Marduk says

    179. A social democratic “faction” widely tied to harassment, abuse, threats and an ongoing failure to get its activists to even conceal their antisemitism (not two days ago in Brighton for example) much less meaningfully drive it out of the group.

    We know exactly who this report is about and aimed at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42336527
    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/online-intimidation-of-tories-brings-call-to-curb-momentum-l3jcn3j77

    “Its Ok when my friends do it” still isn’t an argument. “B-b-but Britain First are worse” isn’t either. Try again.

  170. Ally Fogg says

    Thanks for a brilliant demonstration of the power of the right wing media in shaping opinions, Marduk.

  171. Angle says

    Hey Ally, I love your blog. Have you seen Mastodon? I think you’d love it. PZ found it a while back and I’ve been loving it. I’d recommend you check out: https://scholar.social/about

    and more generally: https://joinmastodon.org/

    As for the present article, I don’t have a lot to a lot to say, besides that I agree with your analysis. Keep up the good work!

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