Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 3

Finally, an end to these questions! This is the last batch. If you haven’t, see Part 1 and Part 2.

  • In your version of equality, will white men ever have a voice in society, or will white men always be too privileged to participate in discussion?
Photo of about a dozen and a half questions marks stenciled onto black pavement in white paint. Alternating right-side up and upside down in three rows.
Crop of “What?” by Véronique Debord-Lazaro, CC BY-SA 2.0

This isn’t one of the most coherent questions in this bunch, but I’ll still give it a go. I’ll assume “ever” here means “Will they still get to talk then?” not “Will they come to be able to talk then?” since the latter is ridiculous. White men still have far more say in our halls of power and in our cultural touchstones of movies, television (pdf), and publishing than their numbers would account for. Not to mention YouTube.

Since equality and being privileged are contradictory, I’ll also give this questioner the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t mean for this question to be taken literally. I would assume, then, the question actually means “Aren’t you just trying to grab all the power for yourselves and push white men into the crappy positions you’ve all been in for ages?”

The answer is no. Whatever you yourself might do in my position, that’s not what I and the people around me are going for at all.

  •  What makes you think that the power of censorship that you are so desperately trying to establish now will at no point be used against you?

On the short list of things that have been done in an attempt to shut me up: Posting my employer information online, contacting my (then-former) employer, petitioning the wrong people to have me removed from a book, complaining to a board that I hosted their radio show, complaining to a group that had me speak at their event, complaints to groups I do activist work with, and several years of continual background harassment including threats.

If you start from the assumption that “SJWs” have never met any attempts to censor them, you’re starting by being wrong. This is the world we already live in. It’s just unequal.

In fact, this is one of the things that makes it so hard to combat the relatively small portion of harassment and threats that do come from SJWs. When the stuff coming at them is constant and pervasive, it gets much harder to persuade people that it isn’t a valid tool. People think they need it because other people do it to them. So if y’all could stop pointing your followers at SJWs without being clear that pile-ons and threats aren’t just part of the fun, that would be very helpful.

  • Why is it that if a woman dresses sexy or even topless in public, you support it, but if a female video game character is dressed sexy, then you want her clothed more modestly?

A video game character is a product, literally something that is being sold to me as part of the game. It isn’t a person. It’s a set of design and marketing decisions made in the studio, usually by men.

Those decisions tell me who the studio thinks I am. Are all the playable characters white men? The studio thinks I’m a white man, despite women being a huge part of the gaming market, or that I’m at least desperate enough for video game content that I don’t mind playing a proxy character designed to appeal to someone else. The female characters are all passive sex objects? The studio thinks I have to turn to video games for sexiness, am attracted to women to begin with, and can’t relate to women as people. All the female fighting characters are in non-functional sexy outfits? The studio thinks I’m so desperate for sexy women that I won’t mind the complete suspension of disbelief.

These are not all flattering assumptions, whether they’re aimed at men or women.

A person, on the other hand, is a person, just as much as I am. She’s not being sold to me. I’m not buying her. Her clothing is literally none of my business.

  • What is your favorite song to sing really loud when you’re confronted with a different point of view?

I don’t know what you do, but I generally don’t sing in response to differing points of view. For example, I haven’t been singing while writing this. It tends to get in the way.

I’m really loving this song from the new Ghostbusters soundtrack, though. Have you heard it?

  • Why are you afraid of dissenting opinions? Your continued attempts to silence all opposition by smearing them publicly or labeling their content as hate speech and having it removed only serves to insulate your bubble even more and maintain your echo chamber. It also prevents you from taking on new information, different points of view that are sometimes superior to yours, which tends to happen whenever I talk.

Well, this question takes the prize for greatest number of unsupported assumptions, I think. Let’s count.

  1. That I’m afraid of any kind of opinion. That must be why I’m here engaging with these questions and dealing with comments that generally just aren’t up to the standards required to make an interesting argument.
  2. That I’m trying to silence anyone. Competently arguing that other people don’t want to put their own reputations on the line in order to prop yours up doesn’t silence you. I’m capable of speaking without getting paid much for it or having organizations back me up. Surely you’re strong enough to do the same?
  3. That anything I’ve said about people whom I disagree with is a smear. “Smear”, by definition, includes falsehood. You don’t get to just claim that. You have to demonstrate it. I mean, you know what you’re doing to me if you don’t, right?
  4. That there’s something wrong with labeling content as hate speech. If it fits the definition of “hate speech”, you shouldn’t be afraid of the label, right? Words don’t bother you that much?
  5. That there’s something wrong with having content removed where it violates TOC. If you don’t like a platform’s TOC or their enforcement decisions, you’re capable of doing what the rest of us do and putting pressure on them to change. You wouldn’t want to ask for special treatment. Or you can hang out where hate speech is allowed and take the consequences to your reputation.
  6. That I live in any kind of bubble. After all, not only did this video make it to me, but I’ve managed to decipher rather a lot of the references despite the fact that this totally-bubble-free video is made of inside references.
  7. That your point of view is in any way superior to mine. It could be, I suppose, but I’m not really heartened by the quality of this question.
  • What is reverse racism? Like, what the actual fuck is it? It’s just racism, right?

I’m not sure why you’re asking this of SJWs, since this is actually used to impede social justice, but I’ll help you out anyway. “Reverse racism” is the phrase used by people opposed to initiatives like affirmative action in hiring and admissions, targeted recruiting of marginalized groups, and group hires to suggest that fixing a problem is as bad as the problem itself. It’s a lot like “Noticing racism/sexism is the real racism/sexism” and just as silly.

Let’s use college admissions as an example. A college designs their admissions criteria with the goal of maximizing their percentage of the student body that does well scholastically. Often this includes criteria like grades, test scores, and extracurricular activity.

Either looking at their own data or at studies from other schools, however, they discover that both test scores and extracurricular activities are causing problems. While both predict early grades in white students, they’re very poor predictors of outcomes in black and Hispanic students. Even the students who thrive in college among this population face issues in their pre-college lives that result in lower test scores and fewer extracurricular activities. And using these criteria leads the college to admit a disproportionate number of white students.

So what do they do? They admit some black and Hispanic students below their standard cutoffs so they’re not discriminating unfairly against those students.

Is that racism? No, what the school was doing before was racism. They were putting their educational gatekeeping power behind prejudiced criteria. Now they’re putting their power behind multiple criteria that more evenly benefit their students, whatever their race or ethnicity. It only looks like racism if you refuse to look at the whole system at once.

  • Do any of you people actually remember all the pronouns? You know the list, right? The one with 76 fucking genders?

No, I’m not familiar with any list of 76 genders. I wouldn’t pay much attention to a list like that anyway except as a curiosity, and I’m not sure why you would either. The way we talk about gender and the pronouns people use are something in flux right now. People are working things out and exploring possibilities.

I know change can be scary, but relax. The only pronouns that any of us who are happy with our current pronouns need to remember are those of the people we want to interact with. Like names, it’s polite and a sign of respect to get these right, and if we want to be part of the conversation, we should be ready to show that basic respect.

  • Why do you feel entitled to control what artists and entertainers are allowed to express? Why do you think your sensibilities should be placed above the sensibilities of actual creators?

I’m not sure what you mean by “control” here. I’m literally in no position to control what almost anyone expresses. I don’t know how I’d go about it, except to threaten them or something more extreme. In case you hadn’t noticed it, this is something I and a lot of other SJWs fight against.

Now, on the other hand, I don’t have to support any and all artists just because they want me to. I couldn’t even if I had the desire. I don’t have the money. So I have to pick and choose which artists I support, and I’m free to do that based on any criteria I like. That’s my role as a viewer or consumer of art and entertainment. If I think Ricky Gervais is a thin-skinned bully with an incoherent view of social media, I don’t have to watch his films or shows. At least, I assume you’re not proposing a system in which I would be forced to watch them or buy their tickets. That would be hugely authoritarian.

If I think he or someone else is doing harm, I don’t have to support companies that use part of that support to in turn support entertainers I think are doing harm. That’s what an advertiser boycott is, by the way, just making sure that your money isn’t spent to do things you don’t want. I’m sure you’re not trying to dictate where I spend my money.

And I’m sure with all the talk of censorship in these questions, you wouldn’t even want to try to suggest that I should stop airing my opinions of entertainers.

  • Have you ever considered that using the terms racism and sexism as haphazardly as you do to describe everything under the sun that makes you uncomfortable devalues the word to the point of actually hurting the people who actually suffer from real sexism and real racism? Have you ever fucking thought of that?

Well, actually, I don’t use the words casually or carelessly. As you can see from these answers, I’m prepared to explain why I do what I do at any step along the way. If I’m not, I don’t do it.

However, what you may not understand is that it is often easier to stake out a broader territory for which to fight than to be continually having border skirmishes. This is particularly true politically, where you’re fighting for a single principle to be applied evenly rather than over each instance of it.

For example, in the recent Supreme Court case on abortion, those fighting the Texas law could have simply argued that admitting privileges and ambulatory surgery center requirements were each unnecessary. Instead, those arguing made the case that all restrictions that aren’t in place to protect women based on sound science are unconstitutional. They won, and the implications of that ruling are huge because of the principle they argued for.

Also, the idea that a smaller version of a thing isn’t real is a very strange one. You might want to reconsider that.

  • Have you guys tried drinking this shit? <bleach> It’s great.

No, but this is one of those cases where an understanding of science can really help you. Drinking bleach is very dangerous, and I wouldn’t recommend it for you. It’s probably too late, but I hope this helps.

There! All 28 questions answered, if more seriously than most of them deserve. If you haven’t gotten enough, check out these answers too. Some take the questions more seriously than others.

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Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 3

2 thoughts on “Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 3

  1. 1

    I sometimes wonder “how the hell do you keep going?”
    A black friend told me just the other day, she’s been living with it all her life, so she has to keep going, she has no choice.

    But even the past few years, i feel like I want to give up. Men, and white people, and especially white men, just .. make me want to scream, though I’m one of them. I read the comments on Martin’s posts on Breaking Barriers on Patheos, and I am just astounded. Never in my life did I believe there are really people who think this way, and who talk like that to others. People who actually cite The Bell Curve. I expect people to cherry pick studies, that happens on all sides, but honest people can work through that to find better numbers. But no one wants honesty, maybe it’s just the type of people who respond in comments though.

    Though no, even in real life, people who knew me when I was conservative say that I stopped using logic and now are just a “typical liberal” who uses emotion and feels “white guilt” or am a “white knight” i mean, they knew me, they knew my devotion to studying and learning. But now they just write off my opinion.

    I don’t know i feel really despondent lately that anything will ever change. Even though I know logically things ARE changing for the better due to many metrics, but because of the internet and cable news we’re actually able to see how bad things really are, which is part of why they are changing for the better. But also why I feel hopeless sometimes, like the past week.

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