Monday, July 28, 2014

Things I Won't Countenance

Okay, ranty time.

People who follow me on Facebook (and, to a lesser extent, read the comments on posts here) probably know that I'll tolerate a lot of bad behavior. I know full well that I take thing personally -- perhaps more personally than they are intended -- and so my guidelines pretty much boil down to "You can disagree with me all you want, you can dislike me all you want, you can even refuse to accept my arguments, but the moment you start insulting me, we're finished."

I'm even going to go a step further and clarify this:  If, while disagreeing with me, you call me blind or stupid or irrational, I will let that slide because I have probably been guilty of expressing a similar sentiment.

So that said, there are some attitudes prevalent on the internet that I regard as such a slap in the face that they're pretty much conversation-killers and friendship-enders.

1)  All men are rapists/ All women are victims

I'm not even going to get into the whole "rape culture" scrum, although you can probably guess what my feelings are about it. No, my biggest problem with this line of thinking is that not only does it unjustly criminalize an entire gender -- "All men have penises, and penises are used to rape," goes the 'logic', "so therefore all men are rapists" -- but it also removes agency (in the philosophical sense) from the female gender.

Claiming that "The way to end rape is to teach boys not to rape" is akin to saying "Women are utterly unable to defend themselves against rape, and therefore must rely on the goodwill of men not to rape them."

Sorry, no. I don't buy that for a second. I'm enough of a feminist to believe that women are perfectly capable of defending themselves against rape, and while of course it is a good and worthwhile thing to teach our male children good manners (especially regarding "drunk doesn't mean consenting" as they approach college), it's also equally incumbent upon us to teach our female children how to avoid situations where they are vulnerable.
I particularly hate it when proponents of this theory trot out the hoary old "A woman should be able to dance naked at a party full of men and not be afraid of rape."  Well, yes, and I should be able to walk through the roughest parts of town with money sticking out of my pockets and not be afraid of someone robbing me, but -- NEWS FLASH! -- the world doesn't work like that.  If it did, we could simply tell our children "Killing people is bad, mmkay?" and end our nation's murder problem within a generation.

Humans are predators. We aren't going to change millions of years of evolution with a few thousand years of civilization.

2)  All [Race/Nationality/Religion] are [this horrible thing]

I'm perfectly okay with people loathing me because they find some aspect of my personality or lifestyle loathesome. I won't necessarily like it, mind you -- my attitude is likely to be "Screw those judgemental assholes" -- but I'll respect their right to that opinion and take comfort in the fact that their dislike of me is based on something I did, and therefore to some extent I deserve their distaste.

However, I go absolutely bugnuts with anger whenever someone hates me because of something over which I have no control. Saying "Of course you'd think that, you're white" is just as goddamn racist as "Of course you'd think that, you're black."

Which isn't to say that discussions about privilege, as tiresome as they can be, don't have a place within our society. But, more often than not, those discussions (usually on Tumblr, the Mos Eisley of the Internet) turn into "If you don't agree with me, I will insult and harass you until you go away."

For more on this topic I direct you to some people who have written far more and far better on the subject: co-blogger Salem MacGourleythis fellow right here, and this lady here.

3) All Gun Owners are Law Abiding (Until They're Not)

And today, this happened, which is what triggered this rant. Someone who I thought was my friend quite literally told me "And so many gun owners are law abiding, responsible and trained, until they're not." I took great and immediate exception to this. At the risk of being pedantic, I shall explain why:
  • His statement essentially says "Many, if not all gun owners, are untrained and irresponsible and criminals waiting to happen."  
  • I am a gun owner, and he knows it.
  • Therefore, he is accusing me of being at least potentially untrained (which is provably false, as my range reports show),  irresponsible (I have been carrying for over 2 years now and not only have I not shot anyone or had a negligent discharge, I haven't even felt the need to draw my pistol) and law-breaking (I haven't gotten so much as a speeding ticket since I started carrying). 
  • This loops around to my first point. "All gun owners are law abiding... until they're not" is factually the same as "All men aren't rapists... until they rape" or "All women aren't whores... until they prostitute themselves."
  • I'm pretty sure this is a variation on the One True Scotsman logical fallacy, i.e., "Only people without guns can be considered law-abiding, and any law-abiding gun owner clearly is a criminal just waiting to happen, so therefore they aren't law-abiding." 
It's lazy thinking and it's infuriating and it's WRONG. The arguer is essentially asking me to simultaneously prove a negative ("Prove you aren't a criminal")  and prove something in the future ("Prove, today, that you aren't going to do something wrong in the future")  before I'm allowed to exercise my Constitutionally-enumerated right. 

It's like saying "All bloggers don't commit libel and/or plagiarism... until they do. Prove you aren't a plagiarist or libeller, and prove you aren't going to do so in the future, before you can own a blog."

I swear, the next time someone uses this line in a debate I'm going to reply with "And you aren't a pedophile... until you are."  Yes, it's a cheap shot, but if I'm in a fight and someone goes for my eyes, I'm definitely kneeing them in the crotch.

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