Thursday, December 21, 2017

Intent doesn’t matter (unless I say it does)

Let’s think about this for a moment:

Somebody insults you – or the demographic that you belong to – with language that leaves no room for equivocation. You can’t believe what you have just read. You look at it over and over again, searching for any other possible interpretation. But the words are as clear as a glass of cold filtered water on a winter’s day.

You send a message to the person who dealt the insult. You push back against it, saying that it is just not true.

The person who insulted you not only says that it is NOT an insult, but you are a bad person for thinking it is.

What is the right word for such a person?

A bully?

A gaslighter?

A tool you don’t need in your life anymore?

How about “social justice activist”?

Yes, that is a real Tweet, and that is a real argument promoting insulting whole demographics.

It is a common one in the world of contemporary social justice, but there is nothing just about it. Whatever happened to the Golden Rule? Or, using one of social justice’s Golden Rules, “Intent doesn’t matter?”

When people in a so-called “marginalized”1 group get together and speak amongst themselves, sometimes they vent against the “dominant” group. You know, when women get together and say “men are trash.”

Here’s the facts: when you get together with your friends and say “men are trash” (or “whites are evil,” or “down with cis”, and so on), it means “I’m tired of the people in this dominant group who are causing problems in my life.”

If you go on Twitter (or Facebook, or Instagram, or your own blog), and say “men are trash” – in front of an audience that consists of every other user of the platform – it means “men are trash.”

It doesn’t matter if you claim,

“If you’re one of the ‘good’ ones, this doesn’t apply to you!”

“Why are you whining about this when my people go through far worse every damn day?”
“Get out of here with your male (white) (cis) tears!”

No one is crying, I can assure you. We’re just bewildered. Why is this okay, when if someone said the exact opposite, they’d be thrown out of civilized society? (Imagine what would happen if you posted “Blackness is evil.” Don’t actually do it, just imagine it.)

Now, I’m not blaming these misguided social justice warriors for the situation we are in today – subject to the irrational whims of a hugely unpopular U.S. President. But they didn’t do jack to stop it from happening, either. So...

In two words that I hear so much in social justice circles, do better. Be the good guys you claim to be. Or else rational people like me are just going to stop listening.

1 I have a huge problem with the word “marginalized” in this context. I think that it is condescending and ignores individual circumstances. Are all women “marginalized” in this world? All people who are non-white?

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