It was a hashtag that was trending on Twitter this evening. Here are my contributions to it.
Saw this on Twitter today:
I’m taking bets on when the SJWs will turn on Scalzi. Any takers?
— Somite (@toxicpath) October 11, 2013
(“SJW” here is shorthand for “Social Justice Warriors,” a term which is new to me but which is defined over at the Urban Dictionary, where it is not generally considered a very polite term.)
I actually get this a lot, although usually in even less polite terms than this. I’ve got a healthy stack of e-mails from various dudebros that, once you’ve wiped the spittle from them, say something along the line of “one day all those feminists and gays are going to SET YOU ON FIRE and you’ll come crawling back to us and WE’LL LAUGH AT YOU LIKE THE GAMMA RABBIT YOU ARE.” This is then followed by comparisons to Hugo Schwyzer and/or simply more spittle.
My thoughts on this are as such.
1. Dude, if I ever act like Hugo Schwyzer, feminists screaming for my head is the very least bad thing that should happen to me.
2. There are plenty of people, including feminists, LGBTfolk and minorities, who are already exasperated with me for various reasons, nor are they entirely unjustified for being so. I get a lot of attention for speaking my mind about issues of importance to them, which is nice for me but often means a) that I get spotlighted for piggybacking on work other people have done, to which I’ve added minimal additional work, b) these other folks are frustrated because my understanding of issues they feel are important is often superficial or tangential to what they see as more critical.
Have these folks turned on me? “Turn” is probably too strong a word — but that doesn’t mean some of these folks are always thrilled to see me wade in on a subject they believe (not always incorrectly) I am a dilettante of, or a tourist in.
To that respect, not that they need me to say this, but: I get that. I don’t have an urge to be a white knight, and I don’t need cookies. I do try to have an appreciation of the limitations of my own experience and knowledge, and try to make sure I’m as transparent as I can be about that. As much as I can, I try to point out the better work others have done. When I speak, I always speak for me alone. I try to be cognizant of appearing to appropriate the spotlight for my own purposes. Even so, there will still be people who will be annoyed with me, for whatever reason (including me doing a bad job at all of the above). It happens, and it doesn’t mean they’re being unreasonable in their exasperation. I miss a lot because I don’t have to deal with a lot of things other people have to deal with.
3. And, you know what, one day I’ll opine about something regarding some marginalized group, make an ass of myself doing so, and then the Internet will fall on my head for it. Why do I know this? Because it’s happened before, and as much as I like to think I learn and grow from making an ass of myself, sometimes despite your best intentions you find new and exciting ways to make to put your head into your rectum, previously unknown to human kind. I’m going to try to avoid doing it. But I don’t imagine I’ll be perfect on that score.
And what happens when I fuck up and the Internet drops on my head? Well, for a start I will try to remember that having a monstrous ego (as I do) doesn’t mean you’re immune to being wrong. I’ve noted before that if one invests one ego in doing the correct thing rather than never being wrong, things become, if not simpler, at least more amenable to positive resolution. Sometimes the correct thing to do is to apologize and accept criticism. I do understand that some people think apologies and acceptance of criticism means you’ve lost, and your gonads shrink and that children will throw rocks at you, or whatever. But these people are, to put it politely, stupid.
And again, sometimes even that won’t be enough for some folks (or, alternately, I will decide I don’t need to apologize and/or that at a certain point any additional apology will be insincere), and their unhappiness with me will continue forward. That’s part of life too. I’m already well aware I don’t make everyone happy. What I do try to do is follow a path of correct action. If that path is not 100% to other people’s liking, they will have to accept it, and I will have to accept they will occasionally be loud about about their unhappiness with me.
4. Aside from anything else, this fellow seems to be making the assumption that all the people he’d classify as “Social Justice Warriors” are a hive mind, and will one day turn on me en masse, because, I guess, it was just my time. Allow me to suggest I am skeptical of this formulation, on several levels.
But, on the other hand, if every “Social Justice Warrior” out there on the Internet dropped on my head all at the same time, might it not be possible that they are doing it for an actual reason, and not just because they all got a message from SJW Headquarters that now it was time to devour my soul? I do know a lot of people I’m guessing this fellow would consider “SJW.” Strangely enough, in experience of them, they are not all walking in reflexively angry lockstep. They actually have their own brains and interests and motivations. So if they all suddenly aligned against me, it might be — might be, mind you — that I have indeed done some monumental fuck up. And that maybe I ought to pay attention to why they’ve all suddenly turned on me.
5. And aside from all that, it occurs to me that I could totally game this betting pool and make a ton of money. All I would have to do is be a genuinely terrible person to a whole bunch of people at a specific date and time. Fortunately, I don’t need the cash. And, you know. There are enough folks working really hard at being genuinely terrible people, even without the cash incentive. I’m going to keep trying to go in the other direction. We’ll see how it goes from here.
Yes, the GOP is taking a bath in its poll numbers recently thanks to plunging the government into chaos due to a foot-stomping hissy fit. But Nate Silver (i.e., the dude who correctly called the electoral result in all 50 states last year) is on hand to throw cold water on anyone tempted to read too much into the long-term electoral effects of the shutdown, presuming it is, in fact, coming to a close sometime relatively soon. If you’re the sort currently salivating at the prospect of the Democrats taking back the House in a year, you should probably give it a close read.
I think what Silver has to say here is probably pretty close to reality, although I would branch off from his point six here to note that I think where the real action will be in 2014 is within the GOP itself, and whether the establishment GOP folks are going to finally attempt to punt out the Tea Party GOPers in the primaries. Whether or not the shutdown will have a large electoral impact in 2014, the actual constitution of the GOP’s legislative host (and how well they can be controlled) is going to matter to the people running the party, which is to say, the ones who would probably like a little organization in their organization.
I’m not going to lie when I say that’s probably going to be fun to watch, in the “get the popcorn, people whose politics I largely disagree with are thumping on each other” sort of way. I’m also not going to lie when I say that on balance I think it’s probably better for everyone if the GOP establishment does, in fact, shove the Tea Party types back into a hole. Regardless of their politics, their process boils down to destruction. Indeed, in a very real sense, it doesn’t matter what your politics are, if your process is to grind the world to a halt if you can’t get everything you want.
Which is to say that if what we end up with in 2014 is the House still in GOP hands, but the House GOP comprised of more people who understand and actually care about governance than exist in it today, that’ll count as a victory in my book. The GOP likes to say it’s the party of grown-ups, but unfortunately that’s not true, nor has it been for a while. It would be nice if it started walking toward that direction again, however.