Queer trans woman begs: “Excommunicate me from the church of social justice”

The CBC has both an audio podcast and a transcript of an eight-minute talk by Francis Lee, who describes herself as a cultural studies scholar who is also a queer and trans person of colour (“QTPOC”). When younger, she was an evangelical Christian, but gave that up to work on liberation politics for queer and trans people.  And yet she notices that both religion and her political activism are permeated by “purity culture”, something that many of us have also seen.

Click on the screenshot below to go to the audio, and click on the arrow to listen.

 

Here’s a small part of her transcript:

It is a terrible thing to fear my own community members, and know they’re probably just as afraid of me.

What am I talking about?

I’m talking about the quest for purity.

There is an underlying current of fear in my activist, queer, and trans people of colour communities. It is separate from the daily fear of police brutality, discrimination, or street harassment. It is the fear of appearing impure. I’ve had countless hushed conversations with friends about this anxiety, and how it has led us to refrain from participation in activist events and conversations because we feel inadequately radical.

When I was a Christian, all I could think about was being good, and proving to my parents and my spiritual leaders that I was on the right path to God. All the while, I was getting messages that I would never be good enough. Perfection was an impossible destination.

A decade later, I feel compelled to do the same things as an activist. I self-police what I say in leftist spaces. I stopped commenting on social media with questions or pushback because I am afraid of being called out. I am always ready to apologize for anything I do that a community member deems wrong, oppressive, or inappropriate — no questions asked.

I use these protective strategies because these communities have become a home, and I can’t afford to lose them.

Activists are some of the judgiest people I’ve ever met, myself included. We work hard to expose injustice and oppression in the world. But among us, grace and forgiveness are hard to come by. It is a terrible thing to fear my own community members, and know they’re probably just as afraid of me.

And it’s exhausting. The amount of energy I spend demonstrating purity in order to stay in the good graces of fast-moving activist communities is enormous. Often times, it means that I’m not even doing the real work I am committed to do.

She’s right, of course: this kind of “purity culture,” in which only a small subset of all opinions is tolerated and approved, is what’s tearing the Left apart. It’s the inability to accept, have discourse with, and “forgive” (if that’s the right word) those who are generally on your side but don’t conform 100% to movement-approved opinions.  It’s no secret that if you diverge from Regressive Leftist views, in both the general and particular, you get demonized and smeared with increasingly hyperbolic adjectives—ranging all the way up to “alt-right”, “white supremacist” and “Nazi”. Women who see themselves as feminists, like Christina Hoff Sommers, but don’t agree 100% with the third-wave species of the movement, don’t get met with argument and discussion, but are simply dismissed as “sister punishers”. If you wear the wrong Halloween costume, you’re not only criticized, but reported to your college authorities. If you carry a “Jewish Pride” flag in a Dyke March, you’re expelled for being a Zionist racist, even if you’re just flaunting, well, Jewish pride. If a NASA spokesman wears the wrong shirt, one that shows semi-clad females and was given to him by a woman friend, the poor clueless guy is forced to apologize in tears after being demonized and brutalized on social media. Is there no empathy, at long last?

There is extensive policing of language, too, so my own use of the word “Cassini’s suicide mission” has now (as I feared) been cast as a slur on the suicidal, which it is not meant to be—nor, do I think, does it diminish the plight of people who want to kill themselves. Real contrition is dismissed in favor of completely destroying a transgressor’s livelihood and reputation, as in the case of “Gelato Guy“. Black people argue that other blacks with lighter skins might consider not going to meetings about racism because lighter-skinned blacks have “pigmentation privilege.” If you question the statistics on the frequency of college rapes, or worry about whether Title IX provisions may be too draconian against the accused, you’re called a rape apologist. If you raise the possibility that different representation of sexes in different professions could reflect in part different interests, you’re called a racist or a misogynist.

What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that argument and engagement of ideas are being replaced by defamation and demonization of those who disagree with Received Truth, and this greatly disturbs Francis Lee. It also disturbs me.  This kind of petty policing of language and behavior may satisfy the moral desires of Leftists, but will it advance progressive views in an era where they’re being squashed by American politicians?

I don’t know—nor does anyone else—whether the fractious behavior of the Left had anything to do with Trump’s victory. But looking back over what I’ve written, I think that I’ve sometimes been guilty of the same purity behavior that disturbs Ms. Lee. I’d like to think otherwise—that I try to argue with others on my side rather than call them names (that’s why there’s a policy on this site against commenters hurling epithets at other commenters)—but somehow all of us need to enforce a little less purity and be a little more forgiving of those with whom we disagree. I’m not talking about the Right, as I despair of convincing them, but about an effort to find common ground with other Leftists.

How many people feel the same way as Frances Lee, but dare not say what they think? That suppression doesn’t enforce unanimity, but drives divisions underground, and, as in the case of Lee, may drive her completely out of social activism. I’ve stifled myself about purity culture—many times. After all, who wants to be called names?

I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say here, except that Francis Lee has hit on a kind of authoritarianism which, it seems to me, is wrecking the Left. And I share the sentiments she expresses near the end of her post:

If we are interested in building the mass movements needed to destroy mass oppression, our movements must include people not like us, people with whom we will never fully agree, and people with whom we have conflict. That’s a much higher calling than yelling at people from a distance and then shutting them out.

80 Comments

  1. Barry Lyons
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    This post reminded me of Diane Ravitch’s 2004 book, “The Language Police.” Maybe it’s time for a new edition.

  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    The other consequence to the hyperboles and the over-reaction is that those issues are dismissed as not as important as they really are. When you call everyone a racist, it takes the power out of the word, people see that as silly and conclude the whole issue of racism must, therefore, be silly. This also leads to people who actually have something to say about racism, sexism, etc. to shut down and then that leaves the space open for anyone to fill it, and it’s not always who we would like to see filling that space, who fills that space.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 19, 2017 at 3:09 am | Permalink

      Exactly.

      We have a little folk tail about this, don’t we? Something about crying wolf…

  3. Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Another ‘rift’ has formed over Mythicist Milwaukee’s invitation of vloggers Sargon, Shoe0nHead, and Armoured Skeptic to speak at their MythInformation conference. The usual Atheism Plussers are up in arms, and two other invitees, Aron Ra and Seth Andrews, have backed out, citing their disinclination to share a stage with ‘anti-SJWs’.

    NB: Andrews is yet another ex-fundie who shouldered his way into atheist activism. Too often, you can take the apostate out of fundamentalism, but you can’t take the fundamentalism out of the apostate.

    Andrews announcement:

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/seth-andrews/my-decision-to-withdraw-from-mythcon-2017/1482874318455644/?pnref=story

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      I thought Aron Ra WAS an anti-SJW? I’ve really not kept up with all this stuff.

      • Alex
        Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        You can’t really blame Aron not wanting to be associated with someone like Sargon of Akkad, a guy who at one point pushed 9/11 Trutherism and is currently a heavy backer of Trump.

        • Davide Spinello
          Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

          How would it be associated with him? As far as I know, Sargon of Akkad will be debated in a panel, he is not even delivering a lecture.

          • Alex
            Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

            A quick look at what Sargon of Akkad’s channel shows that he is a poor fit for Mythicon. When it comes to promoting secular values, Sargon doesn’t go any further than a vague notion of separation of church and state. He mostly promotes right-wing crankery of the Infowars variety.

            The only thing he has been in common with Aron Ra is a lack of religion. I’m started to think that the guys at Mythicon looked at Sargon’s bio, saw the “Atheist” part, and went “that’ll do”.

            • Davide Spinello
              Posted September 18, 2017 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

              Again: he is going to be interviewed, he is not even delivering a lecture. A good chance to call him out instead of compulsively deplatforming or else nazi.

              • Alex
                Posted September 18, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

                Sargon made his stance clear on his YouTube channel. He heavily panders to the alt-right crowd and opposes “globalism” and “mass immigration”. Having him at Mythicon won’t help the image of the Atheist community one bit.

                You are forgetting that Sargon has a YouTube channel where he broadcasts his views frequently. Disinviting him is not depriving him of a platform since he has plenty more alternate platforms online. Also, not wanting a conspiracy theorist at a skeptics convention is common sense. Might as well invite Alex Jones also.

              • Davide Spinello
                Posted September 18, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

                I am sorry but pondering to the alt-right crowd is a such a generic accusation that it has been applied to anyone not pandering to the authoritarian left crowd. And opposition to “globalism” and “mass migration” can be defended or at least argued without being a KKK member.

                I would like to see if the de-platforming crowd would oppose people pushing for conspiracy theories such as “the USA is currently a patriarcal society based on white supremacy”, “Israel is an apartheid state”, and many others that are widely adopted in leftist circles.

              • Alex
                Posted September 18, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

                @Davide

                It’s obvious that you have never bothered to view the content Sargon of Akkad posts. Opposing “mass migration” and “globalism” is a key part of the alt-right worldview and Sargon produces material that panders to that worldview.

                There is no such thing as “globalism” as described by the present-day right-wing.

                “Mass migration” is a major part of the “white genocide” narrative. Basically the story goes that “globalists” are pushing “mass migration” to outbreed white people and drive them to extinction. Obviously it’s false, but that doesn’t stop Sargon from pushing it.

                America isn’t patriarchal in any way, shape or form? Have you not viewed the Republican party platform? Donald Trump has been pandering to white supremacists and refusing to explicitly say anything bad about them. I don’t know how one can deny that.

            • Posted September 19, 2017 at 12:16 am | Permalink

              Having him at Mythicon won’t help the image of the Atheist community one bit.

              How was that image helped by having Fallon Fox, a Christian whose only claim to fame is being a trans MMA boxer who put a ‘cis’ opponent in the hospital, a featured speaker at Skepticon?

              • Inigo Montoya
                Posted September 19, 2017 at 5:23 am | Permalink

                Really, what was the reasoning for inviting that person? I’m curious.

              • Alex
                Posted September 19, 2017 at 7:05 am | Permalink

                Fallon Fox converted to Atheism two years before she was at Skepticon. https://www.gq.com/story/fallon-fox-transgender-mma-fighter

                And as far as I know, she never advocated 9/11 Trutherism, hung out with the atrocious “red pill” community, promoted the Seth Rich conspiracy and blamed Elliot Rodger’s rampage on feminism in general. I’m afraid I can’t say the same about Sargon of Akkad.

              • BJ
                Posted September 19, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

                Matt, the image was helped by Fallon Fox not saying things Alex doesn’t like. That’s all. That’s the only “value” that matters.

              • Alex
                Posted September 19, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

                @BJ

                “not saying things Alex doesn’t like”

                I believe in something called “quality control”. There is no valid reason why conspiracy theorists like Sargon of Akkad should even be remotely considered “acceptable” in the atheist community. Do we really need to send the message that the atheist community tolerates conspiracy theories by inviting Sargon of Akkad to certain conventions. Just because we CAN invite him doesn’t mean that we SHOULD invite him.

              • Posted September 19, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

                I believe in quality control, too. Not inviting an ex-juggler with a bachelor’s in communications to give a talk on evolutionary psychology would be an example of QC.

                I also believe in mission focus. Five trans speakers out of twenty seems gratuitous. Talks on polyamory, feminism, and social justice activism have no place at an A/S event.

                I also favor a balanced presentation of ideas. If the poncy marxism of BLM or the Critical Race Theory nonsense of a Sikivu Hutchinson can be given a platform, then why not a reasoned criticism thereof?

              • Alex
                Posted September 19, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

                @Matt

                Is there something wrong with the fact that five of the speakers are trans? Why should that be an issue?

                I’ve read BLM’s platform. It’s just advocating against racial profiling. If that’s “Marxism”, then everything the Civil Rights Movement did was “Marxism”. I do agree on the Critical Race theory part though.

              • Posted September 20, 2017 at 6:41 am | Permalink

                1) Did a 670% over-representation of a particular demographic occur because by chance 5 amazingly-qualified speakers were available who just happened to be trans? Or was it calculated virtue-signaling? Also, we’re not moving past identitarianism if the trans speaker only ever talks about trans issues, the latinx about latinx issues, the black woman about black women’s issues, etc.

                2) BLM was founded by privileged marxists, and when one delves beyond the platitudes into its platform planks and policy statements, one finds BLM is rife with both cultural- and trad marxist concepts — not to mention some highly controversial proposals like reparations and the closing of all prisons and jails.

                https://policy.m4bl.org/platform/

              • Alex
                Posted September 20, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

                1) Sounds to me like you’re objecting to the fact that the speakers are transgender. How often have they had non-transgender speakers throughout they’re entire history? It balances out.

                Because transgender, latinx and black issues need to be talked about. We can’t move past them if we don’t say a word about them.

                “Cultural Marxism”.

                I remember back in 2013, the only people who used that term online were people on neo-Nazi boards such as Stormfront. If someone used that term on online, the odds that it was posted on something like Stormfront were very good. Then in 2014 or so, the term became normalized.

                “Cultural Marxism”, as the current-day right-wing defines it, does not exist. It’s a loaded buzzword that is used to smear anyone in favor of civil rights.

                Here is BLM’s website. I challenge you to find something on their platform that doesn’t overlap with stuff that has been accepted by the Democratic party for years.
                http://blacklivesmatter.com/guiding-principles/

              • Posted September 20, 2017 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

                I most certainly do not object to a speaker being trans. Stephanie Guttormson comes to mind as a legitimate choice for her qualifications not her identity.

                Identity politics is a ‘re-boot’ of marxism, merely replacing assorted racial, ethnic & sexual classes for proletariat vs. bourgeoisie.

                Your BLM link presents only those very platitudes I mentioned. My link, which you conveniently ignore, revealed their more radical policy proposals — and that is just the tip of the iceberg of BLM’s actual, highly controversial, agenda.

                But we’ve now strayed far off-topic, so I will just reiterate three points, then back out of the conversation:
                1) BLM has nothing to do with atheism;
                2) True skeptics would welcome a free & open discussion of BLM’s claims and demands;
                3) Seth Andrews has established support for BLM as a litmus test for invitees to A/S events.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted September 18, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

          From my minimal contact with Sargon of Akkad’s content he comes across as what we British like to call a ‘gobshite’. I wouldn’t want to endorse him by association either.

          • Davide Spinello
            Posted September 18, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t know that interviewing someone was equal to endorsing. I would think that this is the best chance to call out a `gobshite’, but evidently I am outdated. Who needs to ask questions and expose the `gobshite’: let’s intimidate everyone with bogus nazi by association calls and try to de-platform. All it takes is a keyboard and a lot of time.

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted September 18, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

              I agree, if he was going to interview him it’d have been good to see them go at it. Like I said, I haven’t kept up with the sceptic community so forgive me for not being up to speed on what was happening.

              OTOH, I maintain that Sargon is a gobshite.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted September 18, 2017 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

            As they say in nerdish channels, s/Sargon of Akkad/Nick Griffin/, which parses to “substitute Nick Griffin for Sargon of Akkad”.
            Nick Griffin was a UK Nazi politician who managed, through moderate electoral success, to get onto the BBC’s flagship debate programme ‘Question Time’, a couple of years ago. The audience alternately shredded him with awkward questions and broke him upon the wheel of disputing his answers, while the professional politicians sharing a platform with him stomped the remains into “Griffin Jam”. His career has not recovered and the oxygen of publicity has move on to the next runner in the Nazi relay.

            Mixed metaphors! Get yer mixed metaphors ‘ere!”

            • Posted September 19, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

              I saw the first ten minutes of that program before I had to turn it off. I thought the other panelists were absolutely terrible. For example, instead of answering the first question, Jack Straw launched into an irrelevant (for the question) attack on Nick Griffin which he was obviously reading from a previously prepared speech.

              I loathe Nick Griffin’s politics which is why I had to turn the telly off. The others were like a virtual lynch mob and were actually making Griffin look good. Maybe it got better later, but the first ten minutes were utterly catastrophic.

            • Posted September 19, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

              I saw the first ten minutes of that program before I had to turn it off. I thought the other panelists were absolutely terrible. For example, instead of answering the first question, Jack Straw launched into an irrelevant (for the question) attack on Nick Griffin which he was obviously reading from a previously prepared speech.

              I loathe Nick Griffin’s politics which is why I had to turn the telly off. The others were like a virtual lynch mob and were actually making Griffin look good. Maybe it got better later, but the first ten minutes were utterly catastrophic.

              • Posted September 19, 2017 at 7:18 am | Permalink

                Sorry for the double post. Perhaps Jerry can delete one.

        • Jeff Rankin
          Posted September 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          Wow, really? Do you have a link to this content?

    • yazikus
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      A loss for the attendees, Andrews is a wonderful storyteller. At least the movement is robust and diverse enough that there seem to be many different speaking circuit options for a variety of activists/speakers.

      I don’t understand the appeal of vloggers as speakers, though.

    • Posted September 18, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      What bothers me about all this withdrawal is that maybe some of those YouTubers are odious (I don’t really know them), but being at a conference with them does not constitute endorsing them. I’ve been at conferences where I’ve had HUGE disagreements with some of the speakers. But I speak for myself. I am sad that Seth, who originally decided to speak, has now withdrawn. Those who hounded these people are trying to bully all the opposition out of business, and doing so by threatening and demonizing good people like Seth and Aron by saying that they’re complicit in racism and misogyny. I don’t see how it impugns your character to speak at a conference where your ideological opponents are also speaking, especially if, as Seth planned, you were going to call them out.

      It all makes me very sad.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 18, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        I could be wrong but I thought that Seth’s reasoning for withdrawing was that what he was slated to do had changed from delivering a talk to debating and that he felt that those that he would debate would not approach the debate honestly but instead throw vitriol. I think of this as tantamount to debating creationists.

        Perhaps I’m being a bit “get off my lawn” here as well but would one really benefit from debating people who sling arrows without even using their real name, then they attend events under that assumed name. Sure, we know their real names, but isn’t that all a bit juvenile?

        Get off my lawn!

        • Posted September 19, 2017 at 12:46 am | Permalink

          Per his statement, Andrews was from the start only invited as a special guest for the movie premier.

          After learning that Sargon, Shoe & Armoured were speaking, Andrews demanded that MM disinvite those three if they wished him to still attend the premiere. What an ego!

          In refusing to share a space with the three vloggers in question, Andrews noted:

          I’m pro-Feminism. I’m pro-Black Lives Matter. I’m pro-Humanism. I’m pro-humanity.

          — essentially implementing a political litmus test for participation in A/S events. NB: feminism and BLM have nothing to do with atheism. Humanism /= atheism. Further, skeptics should welcome an exchange of ideas and viewpoints on any subject.

          Andrews swears he’s

          interested in engaging with those who respectfully disagree on the critical issues of our age, as long as those agents are operating in good faith, with respect for all, and a desire to work together not merely to win, but to see the best ideas win

          yet actively sought to silence those who disagree with him. I don’t see Andrews acting in good faith here, merely seeking to impose a socio-political dogma upon atheist activism. We don’t need dogma, and we don’t need control freaks like Andrews.

          • Posted September 19, 2017 at 12:57 am | Permalink

            Sargon has presented detailed, precise refutations of specific BLM talking points, drawing on copious statistical data. Sargon’s assertions are eminently debatable. Yet Andrews dismisses this as “not the stuff of discourse.” It seems rather that he considers any critique of his beloved BLM to be heretical.

          • BJ
            Posted September 19, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

            Well said. I don’t like Sargon or Armoured Skeptic (though I find Shoe entertaining but ultimately very, very shallow, so I don’t really have an opinion on anything she says), but I have watched debated in which they engaged, and I have never once had the impression that they were debating in bad faith.

            All of this withdrawing is an attempt to get people with the wrong politics shut out from any atheist events and communities. It’s Atheism Plus all over again: “atheism now also means you have all these political positions, and if you don’t, you can’t be in the atheist club.” And we all know how that turned out and how stupid it was. It’s wielding the power these people have in the community to keep any political opponents away.

            You can see it in what Alex has said above: his/her entire argument for why people shouldn’t be there boils down to their politics. Atheism doesn’t really matter anymore, only politics.

            • Posted September 19, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

              It does boil down to the political. Andrews objection to Sargon wasn’t his conspiracy theories, rather his opposition to radical feminism & BLM. In any case, the bar for controversial or even crackpot views is not set very high. MM regularly invites Richard Carrier who, among other bizarre ideas, thinks all early christians believed Jesus was crucified in outer space. Aron Ra has naively stated that feminism is no more or less than saying women deserve equal rights (completely ignoring 3rd wave claims of The Patriarchy and Rape Culture). Skepticon regularly invites PZ Myers to lecture on his garbage version of evolution, and was of course host to Rebecca Watson’s infamous, uninformed snark against EP. Skepticon also prominently promotes polyamory with speakers like the odious Darrel Ray and Miri Mogilevsky. The latter, BTW, blamed Eliot Rodger on The Patriarchy teaching all young men to rape.

            • Alex
              Posted September 19, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

              “You can see it in what Alex has said above: his/her entire argument for why people shouldn’t be there boils down to their politics. Atheism doesn’t really matter anymore, only politics”

              Have you considered the possibility that there are certain politics that are just so plain incorrect that they really shouldn’t be welcomed with open arms? For example: say there is a man who is a prominent atheist but also happens to be a rabid promoter of a strange non-religious brand of creationism and is more than happy to side with the Christian Right on virtually every issue from homosexuality to abortion.

              Are we to accept this man even though his views actually would be harmful to atheism despite him being an atheist himself?

              That ties into what I said earlier: “Quality Control”. If we automatically accept anyone that has “atheist” listed under their religion, then we’d be tolerating some very volatile and illiberal opinions that ultimately would be harmful to atheism.

              And for the record, Sargon doesn’t promote atheism at all. Yes, he identifies as an atheist, but issues related to atheism are not mentioned at all on his channel. You could watch five random videos on his channel and never realize that he’s an atheist.

              • Posted September 19, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

                Have you considered the possibility that there are certain politics that are just so plain incorrect that they really shouldn’t be welcomed with open arms?

                Here we go again, with self-appointed ‘Deciders’ of what is or isn’t acceptable.

                Funny how Andrews, who now wishes to prevent certain ideas from being heard, once wrote of his prior unquestioning religiosity:

                I blame the culture of insulation that kept me from even hearing about Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Dan Barker, Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, Donald Prothero, and so many others.

                http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/02/10/from-christian-broadcaster-to-thinking-atheist-an-interview-with-seth-andrews/

              • Alex
                Posted September 19, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

                @Matt “The Deciders”

                Deciding based on facts is not a bad thing. The conspiracy theories that Sargon promotes have no basis in fact. Neither is any form of creationism such as in my hypothetical example.

                “Prevent certain ideas from being heard”.

                Give me a break! Sargon of Akkad has a YouTube channel with thousands of followers. He is not at all being silenced just because one convention doesn’t want to host a right-wing conspiracy nut.

                And furthermore, not everything is up for debate AKA ” Teach the Controversy”. Does something as blatantly false as the Seth Rich conspiracy really need to be debated like it’s some bold new scientific hypothesis? Doing so would create the impression to the general public that the Seth Rich conspiracy theory has some basis in truth, when in fact it doesn’t. It’s just like with creationists demanding debate and evolutionists turning it down because it’s not a controversy.

              • Simon
                Posted September 19, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

                Alex. What right wing conspiracy theories does Sargon promote?

              • Alex
                Posted September 19, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

                @Simon

                I have already posted a link to an archived comment of him endorsing 9/11 Trutherism, something he didn’t renounce until a couple months ago. When that gas attack done by the Assad regime happened back in March, Sargon was among those pushing the notion that it was a false flag. And when the Seth Rich thing happened, right on cue, Sargon started pushing it.

                For a self-proclaimed “skeptic”, he doesn’t show an ounce of skepticism towards the stuff churned out by the Infowars machine.

              • Simon
                Posted September 19, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

                Alex. I’ll agree that the 9/11 stuff is a little off, although not so unforgiveable for a non-scientist. At least he was able to revise his opinion.

                As for Infowars, he is hardly a fan of theirs and is not right-wing. I will agree with him that they are sometimes quite correct and IMO they are not much different from the mainstream media who are far more insidious in their lazy, narrative driven lies and ignorance. FFS, they still think Kekistan is a right-wing invention. His interest in Trump is not so much motivated by love for Trump as understandable disdain for Clinton and the whole political machine.I am beginning to agree with him, particularly now that Clinton is starting to whine. The lies the press have told about Trump are quite disgusting. The whole “grab them by the pussy thing”, for instance was grossly misreported by ignoring context and skipping out parts of the story. For all Trumps many faults, he still has a way to go to match the Clintons for unsavoury behaviour.

                What exactly is so atrocious about the Red Pillers and who do you include in that group?

              • Simon
                Posted September 19, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

                Forgot to add that if BLM are not Marxist then why are all three founders linked to front groups for the Freedom Road Socialist Organization?

                It is quite amazing that there are so-called skeptics who will give BLM a pass for the calls to violence against the police, which the leaders seem to have no problem with, and which have actually resulted in inspiring the deaths of police officers (don’t take my word for it, take the Texas cop killer’s word for it). They are quite clearly a front for Marxists bent on tearing down the capitalist system.

                I also forgot to address the Syria issue. There is a mass of conflicting information about events in Syria and the official US line is no more credible than any other.

              • Alex
                Posted September 19, 2017 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

                @Simon

                “He’s not right-wing”
                He self-identifies as a “classical liberal” which is essentially a right-libertarian. He’s endorsed right-leaning politicians. It’s not that hard to figure out that he’s on the right.

                “I will agree with him that they are sometimes quite correct”
                WHEN!? Infowars has always been the laughing stock of the online political community and for good reason.

                ” IMO they are not much different from the mainstream media who are far more insidious in their lazy, narrative driven lies and ignorance.”
                Name one thing they said about Trump that’s untrue.

                “FFS, they still think Kekistan is a right-wing invention.”
                4chan’s /pol/ board isn’t known for being left-leaning.

                “His interest in Trump is not so much motivated by love for Trump as understandable disdain for Clinton and the whole political machine.”
                Except Sargon never says a single negative thing about Trump, long after the election is over.

                “The lies the press have told about Trump are quite disgusting. The whole “grab them by the pussy thing”, for instance was grossly misreported by ignoring context and skipping out parts of the story. ”
                In what context is bragging about groping women without their consent, acceptable?

                “For all Trumps many faults, he still has a way to go to match the Clintons for unsavoury behaviour.”
                Except for the refusal to badmouth white supremacists, ruining America’s global image, nepotism, trying to obstruct justice, running a scam university, entering dressing rooms with naked 14-year-old girls, and being the worst president America has ever had.

                “Red Pillers”
                I went to the Red Pill subreddit and one of the top posts is about how allowing women in college creates political correctness. And I quote from that post.

                “The answer is: women. As female influence exploded in the 70s and women entered the labour force and politics en masse, they caused society to become more liberal and more politically correct.

                Women change culture and the more you increase the influence of women, the more you change the culture of that society in a certain direction. Or vice versa. Men also change culture. The more male influence you have, the more a culture will move to the right. Men cause more conservative and more right wing societies – such as muslim societies or the US from the 50s.

                This is how the correlation works: the more women there are in an area, or the more female influence you have, the more liberalism and PC you get.”

                The Red Pill philosophy is disgusting and nihilistic. It promotes mistrust towards women.

                Sargon self-identifies as “red pilled”.

                “Freedom Road Socialist Foundation”
                Not all Socialists are Marxist. Bernie Sanders self-identifies as a “Democratic Socialist” but it’s quite a stretch to label him a “Marxist”.

                “violence against cops”
                Criticizing the police system is not a call for violence.

                “inspiring the deaths of police officers (don’t take my word for it, take the Texas cop killer’s word for it).”

                The Dallas Shooter explicitly badmouthed BLM for not being radical enough.

                “There is a mass of conflicting information about events in Syria and the official US line is no more credible than any other.”
                Except for all the evidence pointing to the Assad regime.

              • Posted September 20, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

                I would consider BLM’s claim that a “genocide” is being perpetrated against blacks in the US to be a ‘conspiracy theory’, if not mere reckless hyperbole.

  4. Anselm
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I propose a new law: the degree of difference between two positions or conditions is in inverse proportion to the degree of importance ascribed to that difference by the relevant parties. I’m sure I’m the first to have noticed this, and I therefore demand a Nobel Prize for something-or-other.

    This law describes the revolution devouring its children, as well as the relative viciousness of civil as opposed to interstate wars, at least in general. But how to account for it? Simplistic, one-sentence answers won’t do. We’re a complicated species, and I’ve grown increasingly wary of facile solutions to complex questions.

    • Posted September 18, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      I propose a new law: the degree of difference between two positions or conditions is in inverse proportion to the degree of importance ascribed to that difference by the relevant parties. I’m sure I’m the first to have noticed this, and I therefore demand a Nobel Prize for something-or-other.

      A while back Jerry asked if there was anything in Freud which is worth defending. I couldn’t think of anything at the time but Freud actually had a name for what you are describing: the narcissism of small differences.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism_of_small_differences

    • eric
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      There’s an old religious joke which goes something like this. While I heard it about Lutherans, I’m sure every religion and sect has their own version:

      One guy is walking along a road when he encounters another guy coming the other way. “DEATH TO THE UNBELIEVER!!!” screams the first screams as he draws his sword and charges at the second.
      “Wait!” says the second. “I believe in God!” The first nods, then gets suspicious. “Ah, but which God?”
      “I’m Christian.”
      “What type of Christian?”
      “I’m Lutheran.”
      “But what type of Lutheran?”
      “Missouri Synod”
      “But from where?”
      “Minnesota.”
      “DEATH TO THE UNBELIEVER” says the first as he draws his sword and charges…

      To some people, your sames are irrelevant; any difference is unacceptable. In fact I think in some cases, the smaller the difference, the greater the hostility.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure I’m the first to have noticed this, and I therefore demand a Nobel Prize for something-or-other.

      It’s in the Origin – the competition for resources is most intense between those whose needs are most similar.
      Or, to put it another way – either you will eat your descendant’s resources, or your parents will eat yours.
      Sorry, no explosives-founded prestige for you.

    • BJ
      Posted September 19, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      I think such internal struggles are ultimately about power, and this is conducive to explaining the viciousness of civil wars. Within a political group or country, the struggle over smaller differences is the struggle over who gets to hold the ultimate position of power. Each small difference is contested, and if you/your part of the group comes out on top in each one of these struggles, you’re left at the top of the food chain.

  5. Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that Francis Lee would be welcome here, and I would like to learn more from her. However, I could see how it take a while for her to decompress from old instincts carried over from her Christian upbringing and from trying to navigate some areas of social justice activism.

  6. Randy schenck
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    This problem has been around a long time and it has apparently become worse. Comedians such as George Carlin and Bill Maher made a living off of this and more recently some comedians have refuse to do college campus performances all together. The rise of all the on line platforms allows these groups to segregate further and refuse any discussion with outsiders. Purity and more purity. What a future it will be.

  7. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    There’s a bit in one of Hitch’s essay collections where he talks about his critics, and the manifest mean-spiritedness and reflexive hostility of their approach to debate.
    He says their general approach is to assume ‘that the lowest of all possible motives is always at work’. This attitude seems even more common in the internet age, where people are less likely to ever meet up and look each other in the face, and whenever the subject of the left’s internal dysfunction comes up I think of Hitch’s quote.
    It feels like a widespread psychological phenomenon; a general increase in cynicism and an entrenched disinclination towards accepting people at their word. The default attitude is that there’s no such thing as a principled opponent, and any evidence of sincerity or good intentions from the other side is a worthless, posturing charade. It’s a recipe for political disaster.

  8. jwthomas
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    “Purity, which he also calls “sanctity,” is discussed at length in Jonathan Haidt’s wonderful book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion” http://tinyurl.com/yahxzaae
    which everyone concerned with these issues would benefit from reading.

    • Harrison
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      That’s a different meaning of the same word. It’s not necessary to be concerned with “purity” as a moral foundation in order to cultivate ideological echo chambers or enforce “purity tests.”

    • Harrison
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Or to be clearer, ideological purity is more strongly associated with the moral foundation of Loyalty. Failure to reinforce the group’s every belief and prejudice is treated as an attack or a betrayal of the group and invites expulsion.

      • jwthomas
        Posted September 18, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        But the key here is that what you call a “group” Haidt calls a “tribe.” Once you see what’s going on in terms of Tribalism
        the picture becomes clear.
        Behind all this is not the truth or falsity of one ideology or another but the need of tribalists to stick together to reinforce the security that comes from belonging to a monolithic tribe.

        • Harrison
          Posted September 18, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

          I’ve read his book and I’m speaking from the position of moral foundations theory. I’m just pointing out that “purity tests” are not about Purity the moral foundation. Same word, two meanings.

          • jwthomas
            Posted September 18, 2017 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

            I agree 🙂

  9. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    The liberal Christian William Countryman wrote a whole book claiming Christian sexual ethics was wrongly based on a “purity ethic” and should instead be based on a respect and integrity ethic.

    Does this apply to this situation??

  10. danstarfish
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    I have had a similar experience. Decades ago I left the Mormon Church. Although I left because I just couldn’t believe God was real, I really did not like the purity culture where never feeling good enough is an integral part. It was such a relief when I finally realized I could voluntarily exit and be much happier.

    When the atheist movement got going and building steam it was so inspiring to see atheists finally step out of the shadows and work together to battle the stigma and gain acceptance.

    I got busy with work for a while and then came back to discover that the skeptic schism had happened (aka elevatorgate). Some incomprehensible snowball of acrimony and rancor had fractured and splintered the community that I thought was better than that. I thought if any group could see past orthodoxy and dogmatism and be open, understanding, and charitable it should have been us.

    I’m not a gamer, but I saw something similar happen to them with gamergate. A snowball rolling down the mountainside pulling in a bewildering array of people talking past each other and hurling reckless indiscriminate accusations. Surprisingly, once again people on the vanguard of the left which I had always assumed were more open-minded and understanding were instead dogmatic, preachy, and judgmental. All the things that made the far right so unappealing to me.

    The latest iteration really started to crack when half of the left said Charlie Hebdo was asking for it when they got massacred because they weren’t pure enough. The university campuses turning against open discussion of ideas and arguing that due process should not apply when someone is accused of rape or racism. The latest horror was Antifa advocating political violence and seeing so many on the left be so supportive and sympathetic. I felt the fear of having an unorthodox opinion that I remembered so well from my days inside of Mormonism which had reappeared this last decade and slowly festered and grown.

    Someone (I think from the comment section here) mentioned the fear of being excommunicated from the left and that’s when it hit me. I can excommunicate myself just like I did from Mormonism. I was surprised to see it framed in a similar matter in the article discussed here. I consider myself officially estranged from the left. I have always been left leaning so if some part of the left forms that still values free speech and due process, and charity, and understanding people with different opinions then I will sign back up. But for now I am unaffiliated. I feel like the right has its own problems with their extremists getting too much influence so not seeing much temptation to head over there.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 19, 2017 at 3:22 am | Permalink

      All excellent examples I, too, identify with (except for the Mormonism thing–I was raised as a default Christian…).

      Let’s not give up too soon on the left category, though; IMO there’s too much positive history to cede the term without a fight.

      • danstarfish
        Posted September 19, 2017 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        I haven’t given up, that’s why I call myself estranged rather than ex-. I am hoping for a reconciliation. I have seen some hopeful signs recently. I think there are more people on the left resisting the regressive faction instead of giving them a pass.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 19, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Charlie Hebdo was definitely a quiet turning point for a lot of people. It was such a grotesque, warped reaction, the smears were so skin-crawlingly despicable; I believe the idea of the illiberal-left-regressive-left really crystallised in the days and weeks following.

      And again it demonstrated a common and deeply corrosive phenomenon of modern politics, which is the immediate imputation of the lowest of all possible motives on the part of one’s opponents. If Charlie were satirising Islam it couldn’t be because they disliked, had always disliked(and had a long, robust record of opposing), religious conservatism – instead the automatic leap towards accusations of racism was made, without any of the boring, inconvenient in-betweeny bits where you’re generally expected to justify your claim.

      I wish there was a term for this paucity of good-will because although it’s always been around it really seems to have intensified with the advent of the internet. The idea that you should at least try and take people at their word is now seen as almost impossibly naive, by large sections of both the right and the left. It’s a giant metaphorical wall of mistrust between them both and it feeds on itself, growing bigger and bigger, and making honest, principled debate harder and harder. Gah.

      • BJ
        Posted September 19, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        It’s not just refusing to take people at their word, but actively ignoring evidence contrary to your desired interpretation/narrative. All one had to do was look at the history of Charlie Hebdo, or even just its magazine covers, to know that the magazine mocked all religions (and, in fact, Islam got the smallest number of covers out of the Big Three). This takes place no matter where on the political spectrum one is these days. I don’t see how we will ever recover from this extremism and refusal to engage in good faith, and it makes me worry greatly for the future.

      • Posted September 19, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        I also got the impression (both after the killings and with the recent cover “about Texas”) that a lot of people complaining about racism, etc. didn’t read much French, either. Satire and indeed humour in general is (often) *hard*, too, to translate. Even I, whose grasp of French is good, find it hard to read French-from-France humour because the cultural context is different than some of the Quebec (and to a lesser extent, French-Canadian in general) stuff I am more used to.

        • Harrison
          Posted September 19, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

          So many of the regressives are American chauvinists, and too self-righteous to realize it. They hold every nation to their own parochial standard.

      • danstarfish
        Posted September 19, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        The term I like best for describing the “paucity of good will” is “uncharitable mind-reading”. There does seem to be a trend where more and more criticism of an opposing view doesn’t engage with the ideas, but instead assumes the worst motives and spends more time discussing the motives they imagined for their opponent. I think I first saw the term “uncharitable mind-reading” used in the comments section of this site.

  11. Posted September 18, 2017 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    The regressive left is an ingroup that defines itself in terms of ideology. Anyone who questions the ideological shibboleths that the box they live in is made of is immediately identified as outgroup. The outgroup is hated in the same way that outgroups have always been hated. Ingroup-outgroup behavior is a constant for our species. We all have an outgroup, and we all hate those who belong to the outgroup. The only thing that has changed over time is the greater variety of ways in which we are now capable of defining the outgroup.

  12. eric
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s the inability to accept, have discourse with, and “forgive” (if that’s the right word)

    I think that’s the right word when dealing with allies who may differ from you in some opinion, or who speak in a way you find offensive even though you may know or expect that their offense is not intentional. We all need to be better at forgiving each other our faux pas, because we all make them. And because what we consider a faux pas may not be exactly the same as what the people around us may consider a faux pas; being in a society means rubbing shoulders with people who have different concepts of what polite society is.

    However, when it comes to the example of lighter-skinned blacks being told to stay away from some organizations because of their privilege, or men being asked the same, or things like that, then I think it’s the wrong word and in some cases insulting. Nobody should be forgiving someone their age or sex or skin color, that whole attitude is just wrong. That’s supercilious. Rather we should (IMO) accept that whatever luck of the draw other people might have gotten, they aren’t at fault merely because of the hand they were dealt. That privilege might inform their views, and those views can certainly be criticized. But “forgiving” someone for an internal trait they had no choice about is pretty damn close to 19th-18th century colonialism in attitude.

    • jeffery
      Posted September 20, 2017 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

      The definition of the word, “forgive” is: “to give up on a desire to condemn, or punish”. I’m sorry, but for however long someone continues to indulge in stupid, idiotic, fascist behavior is how long I’m going to CONTINUE to condemn them for it.

  13. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Or to be clearer, ideological purity is more strongly associated with the moral foundation of Loyalty.

    To re-tell Eric’s joke, in an Ulster accent :
    Paddy was walking home but took a wrong turn onto the Ardalls Road. Immediately, the stranger was surrounded by the Purity police, intent on carrying out their own little bit of ethnic cleansing.
    "Are you a Protestant or a Catholic? demands Balaclava #1.
    Podraigh thinks fast, doesn't spell his name, and answers "I'm an atheist." He thinks "I might get out of this with at last one kneecap still in place."
    Balaclava #1 is confused - the hoped for reaction, but then the Brains of the pogrom whispers into his ear through Balaclava #3.
    Balaclava #1 : "Sure, but are you a Catholic Atheist, or a Protestant Atheist?"
    Podraigh ran the race of his knees down the Ardalls Road. And lost.

  14. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 19, 2017 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    Echos of the old extremist slogan “Anybody not with us is against us”.

    I have an automatic, instant stock reply to that, which is “Against you, then!”

    That doesn’t mean I support the opposition, but I’m not going to be railroaded.

    cr

  15. Diane G.
    Posted September 19, 2017 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    “Activists are some of the judgiest people I’ve ever met,,,”

    “Judgy”–a coinage I love. (Perhaps it’s now standard but I’m just out of the loop, as usual. Whatever, I foresee getting a lot of mileage out of it.)

  16. Dean Reimer
    Posted September 19, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    American conservatives had their own purity tests when the Tea Party arose, driving the Republican party further and further to the right, and helping to normalize the idea of far-right authoritarianism. This is by no means a problem restricted to the left, but as liberals we notice it more when it afflicts our putative allies.

    For now I think this insistence on ideological purity is increasing the division amongst people, but I think ultimately these movements collapse under themselves as they find fewer and fewer people willing to sign on to the approved ideas. And once the Francis Lees start to find each other and agree to stop competing in the Oppression Olympics, I hope we’ll see the beginning of the end of the regressive left as an outsized influence.

  17. jeffery
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    “A slur on the suicidal”- you’ve GOT to be kidding me! You just can’t make this shit up, can you?


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

%d bloggers like this: