Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Left Needs to Retire These Rhetorical Tics

(Or at least severely limit their use.)

It was probably a terrible mistake to get a Twitter account.

In my defense, my original intent was to follow a favorite kitten foster of mine; one of the kitties was sick, and I wanted access to breaking news on his condition. But before too long, I started following some favorite authors. Then some favorite YouTube personalities. Then...

274 follows later, my feed is full of absolute trash -- not because of the people I follow, thank God, but because of the stuff they retweet and criticize.

A significant minority in this country (and in the West in general) has gone absolutely insane. Many - including people I used to respect - have embraced a creed that not only rejects the basic foundations of liberal democracy but also seems to reject reason itself. Whether the correct label for this creed is "cultural Marxism," "post-modernism," "identity politics," or some other term not yet devised, the result of its adoption is the same: the wholesale destruction of critical thought. In thought's place, these ideologues deploy the tools of unthought: buzzwords, blanket insults, and ridiculous demands designed to silence dissenters in disputes both large and small.

Whether we're bickering over comic books or Supreme Court appointments, we keep getting bitten by the same intellectual mosquitoes. Can I exterminate them all by myself? Not in one blog post. Probably not even in a hundred blog posts. But right now, I can at least smack a few annoyances and, hopefully, entertain my readers in the process.

1. Believe All Women.

No. I'm sorry for the upcoming language, but that is bug-fuck crazy. Were these people never the targets of mean girls in junior high? Some women absolutely are evil enough to spread bullshit if it gives them a social advantage and/or sympathy points.

Sure: like male rapists, female pathological liars are very rare. But we don't even have to assume a large population of prospective malicious accusers to understand the importance of due process. We just have to understand some basic human psychology.

In brief: Our memories are not digital cameras. On the contrary, our memories are susceptible to influence. For example, in one study, participants who were asked to remember the sentence "the ball hit the window" later reported being told that "the ball broke the window." These people were sober, yet their own assumptions altered what their memories recorded. Do you really think the recollections of a drunken tryst are going to be any more reliable? Or the memories of something that happened more than three decades ago?

We cannot rely on one person's account of an event. That's why we presume the innocence of the accused until we can gather more evidence. Yes: a full-scale investigation and cross-examination is very stressful for someone who sincerely believes she's been the victim of a crime, but the alternative leads to Salem.

2. Stay in Your Lane.

When white people opine on race relations, this denial of the universal accessibility of the truth always manages to make an appearance. Recently, I tweeted the following reply:

"I have severe rheumatoid arthritis. I am an expert on how this has impacted me personally. But I would never presume that I am therefore more qualified to speak on RA than a board certified rheumatologist, even if he/she were healthy.

"My understanding of RA is pretty educated, but it's still a layman's understanding. Thus, it would be ridiculous for me to pass myself off as an absolute authority based just on my personal experience alone.

"Hell, I can't even speak for other sufferers of RA! There are commonalities among us sufferers that led to our diagnoses in the first place, but our disease courses are still going to be individualized based on severity, life situation, etc.

"The same is also going to be true for issues surrounding American race relations, gender, sexuality, etc. If you identify as a particular minority, you definitely have some important insights to share. But to declare yourself an absolute authority is wrong.

"'Outsiders' may have access to important data that are germane to the discussion. Your perceptions could be wrong, so have some humility and recognize the limitations of your viewpoint."

3. Alt-Right Hate Group.

There is such a thing as the alt-right, but it has a very specific, narrow definition. To be alt-right, one must believe that national identities are racial/ethnic in character -- that the idea of a nation-by-creed is fundamentally ridiculous. That's why members of the actual alt-right have attacked author Sarah Hoyt, a libertarian and extremely patriotic Portuguese-American immigrant, as a pseudo-American.

According to the left, however, Sarah is herself "alt-right." So am I. And so is anyone else who has participated in any or all of the consumer revolts that have dominated discussions in geekdom over the past several years. Gamergate, the Sad Puppies, Comicsgate -- all of these have been smeared as "alt-right hate groups" by leftwing journalists and creative "professionals" based on the thinnest of evidence. Why? Because they want to silence our critiques of popular culture and its increasingly obtrusive political tilt.

I'm not saying we've never been salty. We're human beings, after all. But have you noticed that SJW's keep using the same few lapses in judgment to build their weak-sauce case against us? When ConCarolinas rescinded its invitation to John Ringo this past year, for example, everyone defending the decision used the same Ravencon panel from twelve years ago as evidence that Ringo was a "sexual harasser." And whenever anyone wants to discredit prominent Comicsgate personality Richard C. Meyer - a.k.a. Diversity and Comics - they always, always dip into that one ill-advised "dark roast" from 2017 for ammunition. If Ringo and Meyer were as bad-bad-terribad as SJW's claim, we would have been presented with evidence of long-standing patterns of behavior a long time ago. But we haven't -- because they aren't.

Hey, we're imperfect. I'll cop to that. But that makes us neither "alt-right" nor members of a "hate group." See above. "Alt-right" has a meaning, and it's not "opposes identity politics" or "is generally conservative or libertarian" or even "criticizes the works and behavior of minority creators." The alt-right calls itself the alt-right precisely because it wants to distance itself from conventional rightwing beliefs. Thus, if you're calling ordinary individualist fans "alt-right," you either don't understand what you're talking about or you're being a dishonest prick.

4. Racist/Sexist/Homophobic.

Racism, sexism, and anti-gay sentiments also exist, but once again, the left is playing games with their definitions to mendaciously attack people they disagree with. If you're calling Frank Oz a homophobe simply because he won't accede to your wishes and agree that Bert/Ernie is canon, you are part of this problem. If you are calling fans sexist simply because they don't like the all-female Ghostbusters, you are part of this problem too.

The leftist's world is a bizarre world in which treating everyone the same is in fact proof you're a monster. The aforementioned Richard Meyer has repeatedly gone after Mark Waid and other straight white men for their unprofessional behavior and crappy product -- but since he's also gone after "creators-of-color" or LGBTQ creators for the same, he's a Nazi. As Meyer himself has accurately observed, "They hold minorities to a different and lower standard." Indeed they do. Why this hasn't been called out as rank bigotry is beyond me.

As a teacher in a majority-minority neighborhood, I understand that certain groups face extra challenges in the aggregate. But the solution to that is to provide struggling people from all groups whatever additional resources or encouragement they need to clear life's hurdles and meet the same standards demanded of everyone else -- not to treat them like helpless babes and tell them they don't have to "git gud" to succeed because they're oppressed and are therefore owed that success -- and the fawning praise that comes with it.

So what say you, readers? Are there other leftist nonsense arguments that you wish would just disappear? I encourage you to comment below!


  1. How about "educate yourself", when asking for a reference for a particular claim, or its cousin "I'm not doing your work for you"?

    While not exclusive to leftists, it certainly seems to be concentrated there, particularly when the initial claim is indefensible in the first place and is often based on "everyone knows" or "common wisdom" (which more than 9/10ths of the time isn't true in either case), or the person is just mindlessly repeating a claim made by some nebulous "other".

    1. Oh, God, yes! Whenever I see that, I'm always tempted to respond with, "So you can't actually make your case with logic and facts then? Good to know!"

    2. Not So. I always tell lefties to got research it themselves. It's not my job to make them smart or less dumber. Just Like I will never pull my CCW weapon to protect some unknown on the street. What? you want me to risk my life, fortune, and family cause you were too stupid, lazy or weak to arm and protect yourself. Both Nobody and Stephanie S comments are weak.

    3. You’re not risking anything by defending your own assertions except, perhaps, being thought a fool. You say it, you back it up.

  2. Time to shoot some people. Probably our own neighbors.

    Things will be very bad.

  3. Re: Israel and Palestinians: "Cycle of Violence" and "Arab East Jerusalem."

  4. The chicken-hawk argument (sic) …/…
    holds that unless somebody enlists,
    (s)he is in no position to judge the war in, say, Iraq.

    … notice a couple of facts: first of all, the "argument" is similar (to use a simile of less far-reaching and less serious consequences) to saying that the customer of a bakery … cannot complain about a cake he or she bought unless he or she is willing to make (or capable of making) a cake him- or herself.

    Alternatively, it would mean that a car owner should not criticize a garage's repair job unless (s)he is willing to crawl under the vehicle himself and is able to produce the same results.

    To use a less personal and perhaps more appropriate simile, the argument amounts to telling newspaper readers and TV viewers (within the United States or elsewhere) that they should refrain from criticizing, say, the Ford motor company for the four-wheel drive that kept turning over or for the wheels that kept blowing unless they go to Dearborn and start working in the Ford factory…

    Second of all, and more importantly: notice how this position can be turned against the so-called peace camp.

    If only a soldier can speak for the war, then how can somebody who is not a soldier speak against the war? …/…

    Iraq War veteran Benjamin Duffy adds:
    The chicken-hawk argument stacks the deck in favor of the antiwar movement because it permits only veterans and those currently serving to disagree with them …

    Military service is a prerequisite for supporting the war effort, whereas absolutely anyone can oppose it. If you have no military service, you can either agree with them or you can shut up. Forcing the other side to shut up is, in fact, the goal of the movement.

    …It is the knee-jerk reaction of the Left to bat away real arguments with the stale response of "why don't you go enlist." It systematically disqualifies most of the population from holding a particular point-of-view, and essentially shames them into silence. … people, however, should be free to support the war effort, whether or not they have actually served.

  5. The Tea Party was "alt-right". Alt-right is simply the new "raaaaacist".

  6. One very popular Leftist belief that I wish they'd abandon is the concept of "toxic speech", the idea that some concepts or arguments are too dangerous even to express lest they convince some poor bunch of benighted fools to become dangerous, power-crazed mobs, and that anyone who dares to do so must be immediately silenced by any and all means possible.

    What they're basically saying is that they don't trust most average people to be able to tell for themselves what's right or wrong, or true or false, and the irony is that the attempt to "protect people from dangerous ideas" is exactly the justification claimed by every example of the tyranny they claim to be so afraid of in the first place. You can believe in free speech or you can believe in toxic speech -- not both.

    (One reason I've never been able to get into the alt-right as a movement is that they basically believe exactly the same thing, that most people are untrustworthy idiots; they espouse different policies to deal with it -- radical mutual segregation rather than radical political control -- but the basic contempt for most of humanity is the same.)

    1. Regarding that second paragraph, you seem to be mistaking a feature for a bug. They want to be the tyrants in control. Restricting speech they don't like is just one of the tools they use to get that control.

    2. The Leftist on the street doesn’t generally care about the definition of “Alt-Right”, just as they didn’t care about the definitions of “racist” during the Obama campaign and presidency or “Neocon” before that. They were simply substitutes for “dirty stinking poopyhead” in conversation.

      I have yet to see a definition of “Right-wing” that encompassed all the various things the left consigns there, like neonazis and libertarians, who share few if any beliefs or policy preferences.

  7. These are not tics either in the bug sense or in a behavioral sense which can be trained out or grittily self suppressed. They are generated out of their personality DNA (I made that up). You are asking a dog not to lick its ass, chase its tail or eat its own puke.

  8. The ability to say "check your privilege" without being laughed out of the room.