The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Reader E-Mail: ‘I Live in Reality’

Posted on | December 9, 2010 | 17 Comments

Image from the Art Renewal Center

Regular readers will remember that earlier this week I found myself tangled up in flame-wars and attacked in the comments after I criticized a feminist’s attempt to use the Julian Assange case as a “teachable moment” to lecture about the protocols of condom use in the context of “no means no.”

Having kicked a hornet’s nest, I was tempted to hunker down like U.S. Grant when he famously declared during the Battle of Spotsylvania: “I intend to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.” But I’d clearly gotten off on the wrong foot in that argument and endless flame-war vendettas become tedious after a while. So, even while the negative comments continued to pile up (as of this writing, we’re up to 81 comments on that one post), I just let it go, rather than risk a violation of First Law of Holes: When you’re in one, stop digging.

Before I quit that argument, however, I put up an essay in the Hot Air Green Room, and a reader responded to that essay with an e-mail which she has given me permission to publish:

I am a volunteer facilitator for a non-profit domestic batterers’ group. Once a week I meet with men who have typically been court-ordered to attend because of domestic violence charges. One of the topics is on sexual respect. And a good portion of the curriculum seems like it could have come straight from Filipovic’s “Yes means yes.”
And it all sounds hunky-dory. But as I sit there and try to communicate the concepts with the men, even the ones there out of their own volition to improve their relationships, they often give me a puzzled look — especially when it comes to defining consensual sex, coercive sex, and rape. I’m supposed to encourage them to see that there are actually no set delineations between the terms. It’s all shades of gray, no black and white.
I can tell that they are trying to think about it seriously. They try to define the terms, but when I ask hypothetical questions (somewhat similar to the ones posed by your indignant readers), I also have to ask them to not consider the law, because ultimately we are talking about sex, not in a vacuum, but in the context of an interpersonal relationship. Coercive sex and rape don’t have to involve the word “no” or violence or even an overt threat of violence if the relationship has past violence and the woman fears that even saying “no” can involve violence. And they were able to understand this pretty well. Men tend to be great thinkers . . . just not always great communicators.
But when we discuss one-night-stand situations, things get really confusing. There is no context of a past relationship or abuse. And I can sympathize with the guy, especially when both individuals have brought alcohol, flirting, and foreplay into the mix. I cannot let them know I sympathize, however, as my role as facilitator must never be misconstrued as reinforcement of bad behavior.
And that’s the problem with these feminists. Everything is in a vacuum. Rather than acknowledge that we are dealing with imperfect people who have hormones and varying attention levels and varying communication skills and varying sexual experience and varying levels of experience with the opposite sex in general (and often alcohol) … sex is going to be messy. And they are simply creating an environment where a man must carry a disclaimer with him and have the woman sign it, with witnesses mind you, prior to having sexual relations.
Perhaps this will backfire on the sexually liberated womyn by denying them the sex they seek with good-looking, well-to-do men because those men begin to reject sexual overtures out of fear of litigation and criminal charges. How many businesses avoid hiring women for these very same reasons?
Of course, this is not likely to happen considering most men’s libidos are often given the driver’s seat. Really, until WOMEN stop sleeping around, promiscuity is going to be as risky for a man as navigating a court room with 40,000 trial lawyers. And women will continue to put themselves in harm’s way. What’s the definition of insanity again?
I just wanted to let you know that I understood the point you were making, and unlike many of your readers, I did not have a visceral reaction to your words because I live in reality and I understand that sex between two human beings, especially two humans that barely know each other, is going to be messy in more ways than one.
I was glad to come across your blog today.

Thanks to that reader for the e-mail, which makes a point I was trying to make, but somehow couldn’t quite make clearly enough: Discussions of human behavior must take account of the fact that we’re dealing with deeply flawed creatures whose actions and attitudes cannot be infinitely molded to fit our philosophical ideals.

People sometimes react to these discussions in ways that can’t necessarily be taken as a definitive declaration of their deepest philosophical beliefs. For example, Naomi Wolf reacted to the Assange arrest by mocking Interpol as the “World’s Dating Police.” Did Wolf really mean to derogate these Swedish women’s claims of victimhood — she, who had publicly accused an eminent literary critic of sexual harassment?

Yet Wolf is accused of having forfeited her membership in the Grand Feminist Sisterhood, just as I have been accused of “mitigating criminality” or “blaming the victim” and even compared to a serial killer.

The Authority of the Inquisitor

There is a logically invalid false dilemma involved in these kinds of accusations. One must either agree entirely with someone else’s opinion or else be excluded from the ranks of the bien-pensants.

“All men of goodwill must believe X,” the inquistor declares. If you fail to assent to the proposition, you’re a heretic and — as the inquisitors arrogate to themselves a sort of omniscience — you will be accused of holding various obnoxious beliefs that you have never advocated or endorsed.

The issue under discussion is essentially irrelevant in this type of argument. After all, the prosecutors of Julian Assange are not going to consult my blog as a source for their case against the WikiLeaks founder, and a bunch of American bloggers aren’t going to influence the Swedish jury that hears this case.

What the accusatory inquisitor is endeavoring to do is not merely to “win” the argument, but rather to establish his own authority as an arbiter of who is or is not acceptable and respectable within the context of the relevant online community.

After you’ve seen this pattern of behavior repeated a few times — and I remember run-ins with these self-appointed inquistor types back in the day of Usenet boards — you begin to recognize a certain personality type that transcends politics. I’ve had these kinds of arguments on consumer fireworks discussion forums, and friends of mine describe quite similar behavior in online photography forums where the Nikon Nazis and the Pentax Fascists wage total war on each other.

One notices in such personalities an unmistakable inclination toward sadism. And in the online world, these inquisitors tend to attract to themselves mobs of fanboys who share their hero’s sadistic tendencies. What else explains the cult-like Little Green Footballs?

What merit as a writer or researcher or thinker does Charles Johnson possess that would cause anyone to admire or emulate him? Nothing of the sort is apparent. Johnson excels at only one thing, the intensity of his hatreds. In the “Good Old Days” of lizard lore, in the years following the 9/11 attacks, LGF attracted a huge following of people concerned about fighting the Global War On Terror. LGF earned a reputation as a place where enemies of the Bush administration’s policies — both foreign and domestic — were verbally assailed with the most vituperative language possible.

There was (and is) an entire lexicon of phrases coined or popularized at Little Green Footballs (e.g., “anti-idiotarian”) as I discovered in June when I borrowed the LGF phrase “St. Pancake” to describe Rachel Corrie. And as I noted, the commenter who coined that term has almost certainly been banned from LGF during the Great Lizardoid Purge that began in 2007.

In a time of war, LGF was a place to hate the enemy, and Johnson attracted a fanboy following of bullies who enjoyed the continual hatefest. Then, for reasons that remain shrouded in obscurity, Johnson shifted the focus of his hate. When he first went after Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer over their attendance at the October 2007 Brussels conference, lizardoids were confused. Weren’t Geller and Spencer valuable allies in the GWOT?

Soon the Great Lizardoid Purge became a sort of online Cambodia, with Johnson as Pol Pot and his minion-groupies as the Khmer Rouge. As might have been predicted, this downward spiral became cannibalistic, consuming or alienating even such longtime LGF loyalists as Irish Rose and Sharmuta.

The Sadism of Sycophants

Well, the Ex-Lizardoid Legion of the Banned will be happy to know that Johnson’s latest attack on me was directly related to an internecine feud between two of the most vile deputy sadists at LGF, Ice Weasel and Ludwig van Quixote. (Seriously, go read the whole thing.)

The Little Green Fascists were having a beatdown on “misogynists” (of which thought-criminals I am the Exemplary Right-Wing Villain) when Ludwig posted a long diatribe against the women on Fox News:

I call the filthy, repulsive, gutter sluts on Fox News, whores and mean it precisely because of the insult when they presume their obviously featured breasts and skirts that barely cover their genitals, will shut down my brain enough to buy their propaganda.

This is the “By Any Means Necessary” standard, in which there are no rules or boundaries when the person being attacked is a Known Enemy, and therefore can be entirely dehumanized, called any name at all, and subjected to whatever foul accusation the attacker can conjure up.

For another example of how this principle is applied, a certain “Max Reinhardt” at LGF posted a video of Egyptian cleric, Yousof Al-Badri, pronouncing his interpretation of Sharia law, with the comment that Al-Badri’s doctrine was exactly the same as . . . “Neanderthal neo-Confederate blogger, Robert Stacy McCain”! 

That post ended with Reinhardt declaring “I hate these guys” — as if Al-Badri and I were two of kind. Students of LGF organizational dynamics will not be surprised to learn that Reinhardt likewise tries to ingratiate himself with the Lizard-in-Chief by attacking another one of Johnson’s hate-objects, Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit.

Whatever common interest first brought together Ice Weasel, Ludwig, Reinhardt, et al., at LGF, they are now engaged in a tournament of sorts, competing to see who can excel the others at denouncing the Official Enemies of LGF. Charles doesn’t like Fox News? Let’s call the women on the network “whores.” Charles doesn’t like Stacy McCain? Let’s compare McCain to a radical imam. And so on.

Outside the Online World

Unlike my e-mailer, however, these LGF beatdowns do not “live in reality.” They have no effect or influence outside the world of blogdom (and not much influence there, FWIW). They aren’t really informing anyone about anything and their attacks on Jim Hoft or me (or their feuds with each other) have no relation to any reality beyond the confines of Little Green Footballs. These people are merely competing in the LGF tournament to advance their own authority as deputy inquisitors.

This kind of online behavior must be understood as a phenomenon having nothing to do with politics, per se. It is a function of the self-organizing nature of the online community. To employ a couple of old sayings, “like begets liking” and “birds of a feather flock together.”

For Jill Filipovic to enjoy prestige and authority among feminists, she must proclaim the Feminist Gospel on every subject under the sun. Every event and discussion must be filtered through this ideological prism. Nothing is ever of interest except as it provides occasion for Filipovic to explain what it means in terms of feminism.

For those who “live in reality,” however, life isn’t so categorical. The volunteer facilitator working with men accused of domestic battery isn’t concerned about enhancing her status as an Apostle of the Feminist Gospel. She’s trying to help real people with real problem. Doctrinal dogmas are only of interest to the volunteer facilitator insofar as they are useful in helping real people.

You see that the Ludwigs and Reinhardts and IceWeasels — competing in the ongoing sadism tournament at LGF — occupy a sphere disconnected from reality. How does it benefit them (or anyone else, really) when they attack me, or attack Jim Hoft, or attack each other?

What harm has Jim Hoft done to these pseudonymous denizens of Charles Johnson’s hate-hole? Or what harm has Jim Hoft done to anyone else, for that matter? They’ve never met Jim Hoft. All they know is that Hoft is the Official Enemy, and that they can score points in Lizardland by attacking him.

As for me, as I have often had occasion to explain, “I write for money.” This blog is part of my career as a professional journalist and — from a strictly strictly capitalist point of view — it doesn’t really matter whether I’m blogging about politics or blogging about orca insemination.

The incentives are starkly different, you see, and this difference is directly related to how the whole IceWeasel-Ludwig flamewar started at LGF. My criticism of Filipovic was posted on Dec. 6, and the next day, without mentioning me, IceWeasel posted the Filipovic item, praising it as “excellent.” The second comment on that LGF post was from Ludwig and, in the third comment, IceWeasel suggested Ludwig was guilty of “buy[ing] into the wingnutty narrative.”

This accusation should have been a flashing blue siren, an alert that there was an inquisition underway. Ludwig hadn’t realized that IceWeasel was baiting a trap, using the Filipovic post as a means to expose “misogynists” among the Lizardoids. Instead, Ludwig tried to defend his viewpoint, with disastrous results.

There is an entire post about this LGF war at Diary of Daedalus. At one point Johnson put Ludwig on “timeout,” then got up on his soapbox to declare: “I hope you all know where I stand with using derogatory language against women.”

Yeah, Chuckles– like that “shrieking harpy,” Pamela Geller, right?

Your Cluebat of the Day

Let me state as my opinion that Ludwig is probably no more “misogynist” than any of the other sadistic fanboys at LGF. He was just too stupid to recognize IceWeasel’s trap. ‘

And if Ludwig manages to get himself added to the Legion of the Banned, he will discover that he has lost . . . exactly nothing.

See? That’s the point. These pseudonymous Lizardoid trolls do not “live in reality.” Their real names are not known, and there is no damage to their real lives and professional reputations if they get purged by their fellow fascists.

Whereas the damage Charles Johnson and his pseudonymous minions have done to Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Jim Hoft and myself — well, that damage might be quite real indeed.

Cluebat for Lizardoids: You fucking sadistic bastards. You hateful cowards hiding behind phony names while you strive to outdo your fellow sycophants — willing slaves of a narcissistic sociopath who, in a span of barely three years, has destroyed his own reputation and impaired his livelihood by pursuing selfish vengeance against people who had never done him any harm.

But you know something, Lizardoids? You can quit that game any time you decide to quit, and lose nothing that matters in the real world.

Departing LGF won’t damage you at all, whereas for Charles Johnson — well, that damage might be quite real indeed.

And, oh, yeah — I almost forgot something. 

The daughters of Leucippus? Those sluts were askin’ for it.

Mythological Greek bitches are all like that. IYKWIMAITYD.


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