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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

WHAT THE SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS NEED TO UNDERSTAND

I won't name names here, if you are following this drama on-line you already know what this is about. This is directed at the atheist "social justice warriors" who use blogs and social media to attack, insult, shame and in some cases lie about people (including people on their own side of the political aisle) over issues like feminism, LGBT rights, etc.

YOU AREN'T HELPING.

You are doing nothing constructive. Your moral outrage is not justified. You are changing no hearts, and no minds.

Many of the people you insult and attack don't need to be lectured about things like power and oppression, or dominant privilege. Many of us ARE minorities and already understand all too well the sting of discrimination. Many of us have been threatened, attacked and assaulted ourselves, and we don't appreciate you constantly insinuating that we don't understand what these kinds of experiences are like or have never experienced them ourselves. As someone who has been the victim of bigotry, threats and violence myself for being gay, it personally sickens me that you cheapen these experiences by turning them into blog fodder, or use them as leverage to "win" idiotic arguments on the Internet.

Many of us also have preexisting interests, and in some cases, formal educational backgrounds in gender studies, LGBT studies, critical race theory, and other topics related to social science (I note that many of the atheist "social justice warriors" who blog and tweet about these topics have no formal background in any relevant field).

Your tactics such as naming-and-shaming; throwing around labels like "MRA", "misogynist", "chill girl" and "harasser" at the drop of a hat; and screencapping facebook conversations and tweets, and plastering them on blogs for your readers to gawk at and mock like petty children, are pretty much the opposite of everything I learned in social justice leadership skills workshops.

I see you applying your so-called "values" completely and utterly inconsistently. Your hypocrisy is so obvious it's painful. I wonder if any of you have ever even owned a mirror. You routinely attempt to speak for all members of a demographic, while silencing dissenting voices within that demographic. You write incendiary, vulgar things routinely on twitter and blogs. You freely condone remarks such as telling people you disagree with to "die in a fire" or "insert a spiky object in your anus" or "fuck a blender". And the second someone dishes it back at you, you cry "HARASSMENT!!" You claim to care about women and minorities, and yet I see women and minorities who disagree with you getting the same awful treatment as anyone else.

Meanwhile, I see great, positive social change occurring in our society. As a gay man, marriage equality, and legislation addressing things like housing and workplace discrimination, and teen homelessness and suicide, are personally dear to me. There is a lot of work to do, but the rapidity with which these problems are being changed for the better fills me with joy and optimism. I am sometimes brought to tears when I read about new wins for LGBT equality in the news. Today, the state directly south of mine passed marriage equality, and I cried. I cried for myself and for the gay and lesbian people I know who live in Illinois. I have felt their pain, and today I feel their joy. It's overwhelming.

You did not do that. You didn't do it by ranting on an atheist blog and attacking your own allies over trivial things, like a poorly worded tweet or facebook status. You didn't do it by ranting about religious people, calling them names like "fuckwit", and claiming absolute moral superiority over them. A coalition of Americans - including a great many people of faith, since the majority of Americans ARE religious - came together, cooperated, shared personal stories of happiness and heartbreak, fought tirelessly in the government arenas, risked jobs and reputations and lives, worked to change hearts and minds... and with blood and sweat and financial sacrifice, they made this happen. You didn't. You sat on your ass in front of a computer or on stage at a speaking gig, and raged and gossiped about people you have personal grudges against. Often you attack people who are already in agreement with most if not all of your political and social views. And you continue to write offensive things about religion and religious people, all the while shouting "YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO NOT BE OFFENDED" at them; while simultaneously crying "I'M OFFENDED" at every little criticism aimed at you.

Hypocrisy.

You are not encouraging dialogue, addressing issues, solving problems or empowering people. First and foremost, what I and many of the others you've attacked on-line discuss when we talk about you is how to ignore you; how to correct for the misinformation you pump out on a daily basis and the toxic environment you have created, where discussion of social issues devolves almost immediately into infighting and Internet flame wars; how to get past the pointless drama you create, so we can actually set out to DO something about the issues we care about. We debate whether or not it's better to ignore your bullshit, or push back against it. That is pretty much it. You inspire little else, outside of your little echo chambers and fan bases.

I am making a commitment to myself to create more positive content that is more in line with the ideas and strategies I was taught in leadership workshops and Women's Studies courses in college. And I want to encourage others who are like-minded to do the same. More will be coming on that, but in the meantime, the people behind the insults and character assassinations have to realize: you are not helping, and you aren't giving us anything meaningful to think about or discuss. You aren't furthering the causes you claim to care about, unless your primary causes are merely shameless self-promotion and blog hits/ad revenue. Drama is an easy way to get attention, but it doesn't change society or empower people. You're fucking it up.

That's all.

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