Pax Horribilis

Anil Dash has coffee with an asshole:

[Disgraced misogynist Pax Dickinson] offered up a pretty boringly conventional defense of male privilege, and when I described the role of actual satire and comedy in punching up instead of punching down, he revealed that he sees attacking feminists and equality activists as punching up. . . . I’ve met guys like this before and I didn’t have any illusion that I was going to dissuade him from a perspective which his social group rewards with attention and the perverse impression that acting like an asshole is somehow being brave.

I keep wondering about what motivates the men’s rights douchetrucks that have helped poison so much of the skepto-atheist movement (Dickinson travels in the tech and “journalism” spheres), and this helped me remember what is really kind of obvious when you think about it. They’re not trying to change anything, or somehow make the world a better place, even just for their own awful kind. They’re just getting an attention high from their dim witted peers. As an attention whore myself, I get it, and that understanding only makes it more loathsome. It’s like they’re using my secret formula for clean, infinitely-available energy to build a genocide weapon.

Anyway, Dash talks about how he makes a point of erring on the side of being “unreasonably kind,” which I think is really just another way of saying he goes about his interactions with humans with a generosity of spirit, or, liberally doling out the benefits of his doubt. This is something, so I posit, that precious few in our movement ever even bother to consider, let alone put into practice.

He then wrings a little more value from his encounter:

My most lasting impression of this stupid half hour at a coffee shop was from right in the middle of the conversation about how we speak truth to power. I pointed out that his words were bullying because he was aiming at those who have less power than Pax does, and he said, with great animation:

“But you guys are winning! The progressives and feminists are winning in everything, in politics and media!”

So yes, we did find some common ground during our conversation.

This makes me think of how sad it is that people feel like they need to claim persecution in order to justify their behavior. The Christianists want to impose biblical literalism on public schools because Christianity is persecuted. Men’s rights activists need, yes, they neeeeeed to be vile, abusive, and overtly hostile because men, yes, men are persecuted. Without the absurd conceits that Christian literalism is unfairly censored from being taught as science, or that men are being victimized by women societally, their ravings and aggression become baseless, and merely base.

Think about it. “I, the Christian/male, who have traditionally been oppressing and persecuting, see you resisting my oppression and persecution, and therefore it is now I am who am persecuted and oppressed.” (takes a baseball bat to your mailbox) “I had no choice.”

Nonbelievers are, in many parts of human civilization, genuinely persecuted, but I loathe it when “our kind” resorts to bullying and scorching earth to make headway. I know that the ideals to which I have devoted my professional energies (secular humanism, skepticism, etc.) would be worth championing even if we were fully tolerated and accepted. I don’t need the veneer of oppression to justify my work. My values are good values no matter their current popular or political status. Just like feminism is a genuinely good value whether women are oppressed or not. Racial equality is a genuinely good value whether minorities are oppressed or not. Fucking environmentalism is a genuinely good damn value whether the planet is about to be broiled or not. If you do need to scream faux-oppression to justify the advancement of a value, of a principle, you best reexamine that principle with a boatload of scrutiny.

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