Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 7: I Do Actually Stand With Mustafa

Part 1: An Introduction
Part 2: A History Lesson
Part 3: Born in Fire
Part 4: Factions Form
Part 5: The Curious Tale of David Pakman
Part 6: The SPJ Airplay Bomb Threat

In Which I Say "Mustafa" a Lot
“Ooohh.. say it again!”
“Bahar Mustafa!”

It's been said that tools designed with the purpose of silencing people, any people, will eventually be turned against and used to silence marginalized people. It's for this reason that I am a strong believer in the concept -- not just the law or the amendment to the US Constitution, but the very idea -- of free speech. No matter how offensive or inane an idea, I still think you should have a right to say that idea, and nothing rustles my very jimmies more than people who take it lightly, dismiss it as a dangerous concept, or make jokes about 'freeze peach.'

Long ago, the Left won the public opinion PR battle by debate. They brought ideas that had not been challenged into the open, and debated them publicly to let the people decide which ideas could stand on merit. Now, the loudest voices in the Left are silencing not only those on the opposite end of the political spectrum ,but also those not as far Left as themselves, so that they can avoid having their ideologies dragged, kicking and screaming, into the light for an evaluation of merit.

Several months ago a 'diversity officer' for a rather upscale British university, one Bahar Mustafa (I love that name), made a bit of a row by publicly stating that white people were not allowed to a meeting with an emphasis on black and ethnic minority students, regardless of whether they were there for debate or for support. I'm sure that she did so in a mature and reasonable manner, too, given her position of responsibility as an employee of the school as opposed a radicalized student. This didn't go over well in the public eye, coupled with her frequent use of the #KillAllMen and #KillAllWhiteMen hashtags.

Come on now, you saw this coming
Either way, it all blew over, she wasn't removed from her position, and she got media attention for the incident both positive and otherwise, and got a chance to make a very public statement.

Unsurprisingly, it was not one that was in the form of a debate where those ideas could be challenged.

Fast forward several months, and the UN Broadband Commission, along with UN Women, held a summit with the focus on “Cyberviolence against Women and Girls.” The highlights of this summit included a 70-page report that covered, among other things, video games and sex work (not just sex-trafficking, but prostitution). The report was... less than comprehensive, and had lots of issues. Citations that pointed towards debunked reports that claimed Pokemon was satanic, that consumer video games were used to train military personnel, a citation that cited the report itself, several blank citations, and the much-derided citation that let to somebody's C:\ drive. The report was ripped to shreds on social media to the point that the UN retracted it, putting in its place a bare-bones version that's a mere 7 pages. It was so bad that even one of the speakers invited publicly denounced it.

Also making an appearance were Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn, who I believe you'll remember from Gamergate notoriety. You know, that terrorist organization that led hate campaigns that drove every woman from gaming... or something like that. They were there to argue that harassment isn't just, as I'm paraphrasing, what's legal or illegal, it's “you suck” or “you're wrong” or disagreement. Granted, not everything they said was without merit, but it's the equivalent of a pork spending bill where you pack in one giant scummy thing with a ton of really helpful things in the hopes of passing them all at once.

I take every so slight issue with the argument that "If you're not allowed to disagree with someone because they're a certain race, gender, or some other factor that's arbitrary to their argument, you slowly erode the concept of freedom of speech," because you end up with Gregory Elliot facing charges for disagreeing vehemently and vocally with someone on Twitter who wanted to dox and harass the guy who did the 'Beat Up Anita' game. Not that anyone did the same for the guy who did the 'Beat Up Jack Thompson' game.

Or did they? Because Ben Spurr, the guy who made the Anita game, is the same person who made the Jack Thompson game, and everyone had a good laugh at that one and never bothers to acknowledge the same person made both games.

Back on track, let's fast forward another month or so: Bahar Mustafa is now facing charges for sending 'threatening communications.' Which is absolute, utter, contemptible bullshit. Yes, it's karmic justice given her air of invincibility surrounding the incidents that caused this, and it's the seeds sown by the UN meeting, but it's also complete horse shit:
She's got a right to tweet dumb shit. People have a right to tell her she's tweeting dumb shit. If they're assholes about it, other people have a right to call them out for being assholes, and bob's your uncle, turtles all the way down.
Just like when the aforementioned cultural media critic makes a poorly researched and flawed observation, people have a right to criticize her. And if they're assholes about it, people have a right to tell them they're being assholes about it. Nothing is immune to criticism -- not even criticism. Criticism of criticism may sound silly on the face, but there's nothing more harmful to a flourishing idea than poorly thought-out or delivered feedback.

The response has been overwhelmingly similar, too. Everyone that's been painted as a villain for the past few years has pretty much stated “Yeah, she said dumb shit, but that's not a crime.” 

Because it's not. It's not a crime. And if you make it a crime to say dumb shit, who decides what shit is sufficiently dumb to outlaw? How do we grow if we're not allowed to drag ill-formed ideas and opinions into the public eye and either refine or discard them? Down that path lies madness, where we outlaw one form of speech after another, until we're all too terrified to say what's on our minds, whether it be productive or offensive.

In conclusion, I think Bahar Mustafa is a spoiled brat who lives in an entirely too large mansion and went to an entirely too expensive school with no real concept of how the real world works or what 'oppression' actually means... but I stand with her right to spew whatever idiocy she wants to so that we can all point and laugh. Never get in the way of someone making themselves look like an idiot.

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