Archive for June 27th, 2018

A Bit of a Rant

June 27, 2018

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I am, as you may know, a cis white guy. And there’s something I feel like I need to say to cis white guys everywhere. It applies to other groups to a lesser extent as well, but cis white guys (especially cishet white guys) need to hear this.

When you say anything–ANYTHING–about an “Internet witch hunt” or an “Internet lynch mob”, you instantly lose credibility. Depending on who’s speaking and what the topic is, you may lose a little credibility or a lot, but I and many if not most other people (especially non-cishet white guys) instantly write you off as kind of a whiny, entitled jerk. If you want to be taken seriously, you should never ever ever ever ever do this, directly or indirectly. And here’s why.

An actual witch hunt, in the historical sense of the word, was a bunch of cishet white guys making wild and unsubstantiated accusations against women who were gaining economic power in ways that they didn’t like so they would have an excuse to literally torture them to death. An actual lynch mob, in the historical sense of the word, was a bunch of cishet white guys making wild and unsubstantiated accusations against people of color that they didn’t like so they would have an excuse to literally murder them on the spot. (In both cases, accusations and excuses were not always necessary. Sometimes they just skipped straight to the murders.)

Cishet white guys should not be using these terms, or any of the images or ideas associated with them, to describe “many people are upset with a cishet white guy, usually for entirely fucking justifiable reasons directly related to that cishet white guy’s own deliberate conduct, and are expressing their frustrations through the medium of the Internet.” Because a) whoa brother are those not the same thing or even close to it, and b) acting like they are makes it seem like you privilege the hurt feelings of a white dude as equal to (if not more important than) the actual human lives of a woman or a person of color. Frequently when talking to a woman or a person of color.

This is not a good look for you.

It’s especially bad because there are such things that can be given credence as legitimate “Internet lynch mobs”, where large groups of people use social media for constant and brutal harassment of not just the victim, but the victim’s friends and family, frequently doxxing them and targeting them outside of the sphere of social media through threats of murder and rape. I will give you one hint as to the general demographic of these harassers, and one hint as to the demographics of their general targets. When you say that, say, Chris Hardwick is being targeted by an “Internet lynch mob” because some people say, “Gee, I think I believe Chloe Dykstra’s story about their relationship,” I can’t honestly stop you. But man, you don’t want to know how much fucking side-eye Leslie Jones is giving you right now.

Or Kelly Marie Tran. Or Daisy Ridley. Or Zoe Quinn. Or Brianna Wu. Or Anita Sarkeesian. Or…

So yeah. The next time you, as a cishet white dude (or, again, anyone else, but somehow it always seems to be cishet white dudes who reach for this particular analogy) think it might be a great idea to tell someone to “put down the torches” or whatever cutesy analogy you came up with for calming down the supposed angry mob, just put it on pause for a moment and ask yourself this:

Is this person actually advocating physical violence against another human being?

If the answer is “no”, set that analogy right the fuck aside.

This is especially important in the kink community (who will, presumably, be the ones reading this post, unless Google starts doing some fucked up shit) because often, we do need to resort to some form of internal community policing. We can’t go to the cops about a charge of assault and explain that yes, the first time he hit her it was okay because she’d agreed to it, but the second and third times she’d safeworded. The judicial system is just not up to the task of sorting that shit out. (Which sucks, by the way, but I am only doing one rant a day.) So yes, someone who has violated community standards is going to have their situation adjudicated by a group of people who do not follow the same rules of evidence as the American judiciary system, and they will be punished in a way that the community sees fit with no right of appeal. And the calls for justice may be delivered with some degree of impatience (given the understandable frustration with the ways that predators manipulate the trust of community leaders in order to continue hurting others) and the punishments may seem extremely harsh relative to the severity of the offense.

But none of that stuff makes it a witch hunt. None of it makes it a lynch mob. If the only punishment someone gets is “you can never come to our parties ever again”, they are not being fucking lynched. And if you try to describe it in those terms, you are saying that you privilege the feelings of someone who can’t come to a party over the feelings of someone who’s been sexually assaulted. Again, I can’t stop you from doing that. I am not “silencing your free speech”, “suppressing your First Amendment rights”, or whatever the new term you use to describe how fucking oppressed you are for not being able to say whatever you want without fear of criticism. All I can tell you is, when you do say that? I kind of start to tune out everything you say after that. Because in all probability, it’s the same old bullshit I’ve heard before.