What’s wrong with a bit of tyranny for the greater good?

by Grania Spingies

A drive-by commenter named “Jaime” appeared yesterday evening when Jerry posted his commentary on the hoax that fooled the South African branch of the HuffPo. (Recall that the original piece published by HuffPo called for both removing the ability to vote from white men for several decades, and also confiscating and redistributing their property. “Jaime” apparently agrees.

It is  entirely possible that “Jaime”  (no longer able to post here as a result of PCC[E]’s decision) is a Poe who had trouble identifying when the joke has run its course. However, considering the number of people who actually defended the suggestions in the original HuffPo piece before the piece was taken down, the ideas put forward by this commenter are worth answering. Here’s the attempted comment:

Problem #1

When you come up with a brilliant idea that has one small flaw, in that it’s utterly unworkable and unenforceable, what you have is mental masturbation rather than a useful or thought-provoking philosophy.

Problem #2

This argument is functionally illiterate when it comes to the subject of statistics.

Let’s take the claim that “Virtually 100% of child molesters are men.” Even if one assumes this to be completely correct (it isn’t, but let’s hypothesize), it tells you nothing at all about how prevalent it is in society at large. A study conducted by Dr Michael Seto at Royal Ottawa Healthcare group to answer the question How many men are paedophiles? put the figure uppermost at 5% – note this was not an estimate of how many men actually abused children, but of how many men had sexual thoughts or fantasies about children, even if only once as opposed to an lifelong obsession. Five percent is a a potentially very serious figure, although one cannot assume that someone who commits a thoughtcrime is ever going to try to translate his fantasies into reality. However, the argument here is that it is not only acceptable but even desirable for society to censure 100% of the male population to attempt to hobble the 5%. For comparison, 40% of abused or molested children are attacked by a family member. Should we ban parents from rearing their children?

Here’s another: the average car owner can expect to be in 3 to 4 accidents in their lifetime. That’s 100% of car owners who can statistically expect an accident in their lifetime. And yet nobody seriously entertains the idea of putting all cars off the road with immediate effect. (But I look forward to the ascendancy of Google Smart Cars).

Problem #3

So you’re concerned about fairness, equality, safety and the well-being of the human race. It is curious – no, actually it beggars belief – that anyone thinks that you can make society more egalitarian and diminish human misery by making 50% of the world’s population second class citizens. It also beggars belief that someone who no doubt identifies as liberal thinks that is in any way a morally defensible position to effectively disenfranchise a group based on the behaviour of a minority of that group. How does anyone not see the ground being dug out underneath their own feet with this tactic?

Let me put it more plainly: how are you going to condemn racist attacks on Muslims or on People of Color when you’ve just argued that it is morally not only acceptable but desirable to judge and censure an entire social group based solely on the the actions of a minority of that group?

This line of thinking is morally bankrupt and intellectually idiotic. There can be no basis for arguing that society should be fair or egalitarian if you think that the tactics that should be used to achieve it are ones that are discriminatory, divisive and punitive based on skin color or genitalia.

Anyone who thinks that such tactics will only be used by people with whom they agree and who think exactly like they do is the sort of person who buys the Brooklyn Bridge from a smooth-talking con artist.

The PuffHo piece was not a clever thought-exercise, and those who liked it, like erstwhile reader “Jaime,” were not morally virtuous. It’s the philosophical equivalent of running off the edge of a cliff and wondering why there is suddenly a yawning chasm underneath your feet.

[JAC: I’ll add here that “Jaime” wasn’t brave enough to use his/her real name and stand behind their comment. It’s cowardice]


  1. Posted April 20, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    At least the comment made a refreshing contrast to the claim that children are blank slates, that no innate differences between the sexes exist, and that any differences result purely from differing socialisation. 🙂

    • Eric Grobler
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Jaime claims “boys are inferior emotionally intellectually”.

      Perhaps Jaime is unaware that the bell curve for men is flatter, in other words there are more men with IQ’s below 70 and more above 140 than women although the average for both sexes are around 100.

      “Girls mature faster”
      I am sure Homo Erectus matured even faster!

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    A fine review of the subject. The impossibility of the idea hits you right away when reading the original story and that fact just about ruins the continued reading. I am certain that more equality for women in the work and political world will produce great results and the sooner the better. But sudden removal of half the population to solve a problem is mostly a laugh. Now, removal of a few guys from fox news is a great step for them. Whether that will improve their news content, who knows?

  3. Posted April 20, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    “It is entirely possible that “Jaime” (no longer able to post here) is a Poe who had trouble identifying when the joke has run its course.”

    Wait, you blocked her? What about free speech?

    • eric
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Completely unaffected. As would be your free speech if I booted you out of my house for saying things I didn’t like to my family.

    • Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      There’s no freedom here to say anything you want. If someone said we should disenfranchise all black people, should I publish that, too? Some screening of comments for arrant stupidity is necessary to keep this place viable. Otherwise it degenerates into a cesspool.

      If you don’t like that, find another website to read.

  4. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Initial thoughts.

    Surely, in a male-dominated society, men have more means, motives, and opportunity to do horrible things.

    And men will have more occasion to corrupt other men. (Every feminist should read “The Brothers Karamazov” which is readable as a story of men as victims of a toxic patriarchy.)

    • Posted April 21, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Not only horrible things, but wonderful things as well.

  5. Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    100% of Hitlers were men.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Say what you want about Hitler, but at least he killed Hitler.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted April 20, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Permalink


  6. eric
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    IIRC from Pinker’s Better Angels, Europe’s violent crime rate is something like 1/5th to 1/10th the US violent crime rate. Which they somehow accomplished without divesting their young men of education or the vote. But what do they know, they’re western enlightenment imperialists. Clearly no good ideas come out of that.

  7. Richard Sanderson
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I reckon “Jaime” is probably a regressive, illiberal troll from Pharyngula.

  8. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I would like to say that the original article in HuffPo expressed a viewpoint that was not representative of the sjw crowd, especially since it was found to be a hoax…
    But then there were those supportive comments from the HuffPo commentariat.

  9. Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    “Girls mature faster”

    I wonder how many times Operation Yew Tree heard that line?

    So much idiocy in one post. Men are condemned for both running the world and being weak and educationally subnormal.

    • Posted April 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Having puberty start at an average of a year earlier is a poor source of bragging rights.

  10. Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I think this is a hoax. The arguments don’t fit with topics popular with gender studies idealogues. The argument about boys being vulnerable to medical issues seems particularly fake to me. Also, the idea to reengineer men to make them less dangerous. I can’t be 100% sure, but I would bet money that the comment is not sincere. I would also bet it was written by a man and not by a woman as claimed.

    I thought the hoax done on the Huffington Post was a much better Poe. It used arguments and themes popular with the illiberal left. I think that was why it was able to get so many of the illiberals on board.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Yeah, in spite of the repeated ‘no joke,’ I can’t help but think it’s a joke. On the other hand, I would believe that there are people out there who do believe this.

    • Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      “The argument about boys being vulnerable to medical issues seems particularly fake to me.”

      That’s actually true. It’s the main reason why more boys are born than girls (apart from selective abortions). The natural birth ratio seems to be 107 boys born for every 100 girls. Boys are more likely to die of illness in early childhood, so the ratio equalizes by adolescence.

      • Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        My intended point was not that it factually wasn’t true, but rather that it was a highly unlikely argument for a regressive leftist to choose. I was aware that it was true.

  11. Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    The only tRump quote ever worth using can be employed regarding Jaime: “Sad.”
    (Actually, I think Jaime Whomever is Andrea Dworkin. Do I win anything for the correct guess?)

  12. Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    The logic is similar to the muslim ban logic. Because a tiny part of a group are assholes, you can repress all the induviduals of that group. A very dangerous way of thinking indeed.

  13. Zach
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    “utterly unworkable and unenforceable”?

    Maybe on this planet…

  14. Heather Hastie
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Good analysis Grania!

    One of the memes on Twitter is that when atheists are in charge in the US, we won’t treat the religious as badly as they’ve treated atheists. It seems this woman doesn’t hold with that maxim when it’s applied to men and women.

    So much for we women being better – if this was the way we (women) all reacted to having a bit of power we’d be just as bad as those men who denigrate women as lesser beings. The very actions Jaime suggests make her unsuitable for power or leadership.

    Real women don’t feel the need to apply stereotypes to all men, or to disparage all men. Real women aren’t threatened by the idea of equality.

    Now re-read those last two sentences, swapping “women” for “men” and vice versa. That’s true as well.

  15. nicky
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    “Lets face it, men are almost solely responsible for human misery.”
    Empress Livia? Catherine the Great? Indira Ghandi? Ayn Rand? Margaret Thatcher? Jiang Quing? Manto Tshabalala Msimang? And particularly for the regressive left: Golda Meir? Just to name but a few that come to mind.
    When women get into positions of power, they are about as good or bad as men. The reason there are fewer misery-causing women than men is indeed probably just that there are less women in positions of power.

  16. Posted April 20, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to propose an addendum to the resolution of Problem #2.

    It’s not just about the likelihood of an event happening for a group of people, it’s about the utility of the event in question too. So for example, we agree that cars shouldn’t be banned even though the typical car owner will get into several accidents in their lifetime because cars have a useful function (i.e. fast transport) that outweigh the cost of these potential accidents.

    If you don’t consider the utility though, then this becomes the same argument used by gun advocates who claim that guns aren’t a problem, only a minority of gun owners are. I reject that argument since I don’t see the utility in personal gun ownership outweighing the statistically guaranteed cost.

    Or, to take a less controversial example, why do we bother trying to earthquake-proof our cities on the west coast of NA? The chance of a major seismic event is minuscule, even over large periods of time, in places like Seattle or Vancouver, and it costs more money to retrofit old buildings to make sure they are up to code. But the cost (on human life and suffering) of not making these improvements is too great to ignore.

    So the addendum in short: it’s the likelihood of an event weighted by its utility that justifies our response.

    • Posted April 20, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps it’s best to acknowledge that many problems are complex and complicated to solve. I mean, society should accept nothing less than zero children being intentionally harmed by adults and should work tirelessly until that goal is reached.

      That doesn’t mean that simple-minded knee-jerk responses that don’t examine the root of the problem deserve a moment’s consideration.


      • Posted April 20, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        Oh, I totally agree. I wasn’t trying to imply that the case of “Jaime” had any substance here. It fails in the extreme to make a convincing likelihood + utility case.

  17. Dale Franzwa
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Brilliant, Grania.

  18. Gareth
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    Its a great idea, we can use the army to enforce it, the one filled with men.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  19. C. Morano
    Posted May 19, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    The HufPo perfectly encapsulates Mao’s reasoning and moral sphere. How are human brains still thinking this way in 2017? Barbarism and violating rights for the ‘greater good’ is pure evil and morally bankrupt. There is no ‘greater good’ than that of the rights of each individual to exercise their own will without violating rights of others. There should be no extra rights, favoritism or privileges for members of ‘special’ groups or tribes but only for individuals regardless of their color, shoe size or tribal affiliation.

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