Richard Dawkins continues his descent into the Pit:
"Thought Police"? Dawkins has completely fallen off the deep end. pic.twitter.com/sXGHbDmGi8
— academic Harriet (@queernaut) September 15, 2014
I have elaborated elsewhere on my problems with Sam Harris’ comments. Suffice to say, he has some horrible gender essentialist ideas he needs to confront, and hopefully, reject (you can read my comments on Harris’ sexism here and here). I do want to discuss the thought police comment.
The critics of Harris, Dawkins, Shermer, Thunderf00t, the anti-feminists, the pro-harassment crowd, etc are not engaged in uncovering and punishing thoughtcrime or thought-criminals.
The Thought Police (thinkpol in Newspeak) are the secret police of Oceania in George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
It is the job of the Thought Police to uncover and punish thoughtcrime and thought-criminals. They use psychology and omnipresent surveillance (such as telescreens) to search, find, monitor and arrest members of society who could potentially challenge authority and status quo, even only by thought, hence the name Thought Police. They use terror and torture to achieve their ends.
What those critics are doing…what we are doing, is calling out bad behavior and criticizing it. If we see instances of sexism or misogyny, we’re criticizing it. If we see people being homophobic, we criticize it. If we see people being transphobic, we criticize it. That’s it. None of us is in any position of power over them. We are not monitoring their every move. When we criticize them, it’s bc they’ve spoken out in public and it’s been brought to our attention. With the exception of rapists like Michael Shermer, we are not advocating for these people to be thrown in jail for their opinions. We don’t have the power to see that happen even if that’s what we wanted.
Moreover, the label of ‘thought police’ is deeply ironic. Which group is engaged in harassment and bullying? Which group wants to maintain the status quo, and see no changes made? Which group whined about harassment policies-policies intended to act as guidelines for proper behavior and help provide a safe environment at conventions? Which group whines and complains when their heroes-Shermer, Dawkins, or Harris-are criticized for their sexist beliefs? The people doing all that crap are on the other side of the Great Rifts. Some of them are Pitters. Some are followers of Dawkins, Shermer, and Harris (note, not all people in either camp are engage in such bad behavior). They are the ones engaged in the type of behavior that thought police engage in. These fuckers are projecting.
Among their many problems is that they don’t like being criticized. They don’t like having their beliefs and opinions challenged. They think they should be able to say what they want, when they want, and not be called out for it. They don’t want to be held responsible for their words. They think free speech is absolute, and that there should be no repercussions-such as criticism-for what they say. I hate to tell them (not really), but that’s not how free speech works. You can call someone a ‘cunt’, and we can, in turn call you a nincomfuck, or a raging shitstain (note that on this side of the Great Rifts, the use of gendered, homophobic, racist, or ableist slurs is condemned). Our actions are not those of any “thought police”. We don’t seek to criminalize the use of gendered insults. What we’d like is for these people to see the harm done in using gendered slurs and choose not to use them. I don’t call someone a ‘cunt’ for the same reason I wouldn’t want someone to call me a ‘faggot’ or a ‘nigger’. I wouldn’t advocate criminalizing people who use that language, but I fully support publicly criticizing people who use such words, and harshly. If people want to shame the hell out of bigots, that’s great. But that’s as far as it goes. None of us is acting anything like the thought police and once again Dawkins shows off what an asshole he is.