Monday, January 19, 2015

A Shameless Non-Apology and Judgement

Progress continues.

More patience is vital, however.

Complaints abound in the inbox, not all are civil.

I would like to note I understand if my earlier commentary was offensive to you based on your faith as a Muslim- somewhat less so if you were deeply offended on behalf of Muslims, which is somewhat obnoxious.

I consider the point worth the offense and sincerely hope the point can be appreciated in spite of the offense.

The Prophet Muhammad
The offense is not the point, but I consider it a necessary risk. I cannot in good conscience apologize, as I cannot sincerely say I regret my commentary. That said, I hope no one is sincerely pained by it and if pained find it to be fleeting.

Meanwhile I would like to talk about something else.

Increasingly people don't want to be racists, sexists, (insert thing here)-phobics or anything of the sort.

This, is a good thing. No one SHOULD want to be sexist, racist, or most kinds of (insert thing here)-phobic.

Unfortunately it is being complicated by what I have termed 'Smugness Theory'.

Basically, that people will in most cases try to use being correct about one or more facts as a crutch to their ego and accordingly try to be even MORE right about what they're right about in order to shame other people who would otherwise be equally right. Over time, and especially in a group where this sort of thing becomes commonplace, people will inevitably take being MORE RIGHT so far that they radicalize and thus become very very wrong indeed.

Let me give you a hypothetical example on an accelerated timetable.

Person A : Racism is bad! 

Person B : Racism is bad and racists are bad! *smug*

Person A : Racists are bad and should be shamed! *smugger*

Person B : Racists are bad and should have their lives ruined! *even more smug*

Person A : Racists are bad and should be executed! *dangerous levels of smug*

Person B : Person C said something racist! (May not have actually been racist.) *levels hold steady*

Person A : We should destroy them! *toxic levels of smugness detected, klaxons activate*

Person B : Woah, they said something stupid but I don't think they're a monster. *klaxons wane*

Person A : Don't defend racists! What, are YOU a racist? *klaxons redouble*

Person B : No! Of course not! Fuck that Person C! *world ends*

This situation plays out in any number of variants that in all cases result in that most universal of evils, zealotry. It gets even worse when the participants are talking about vaguely defined groups of easily conflated people. Just reread that script above and replace 'Racism' for 'Misogyny' and 'Racist' with 'Gamergate' and 'Gamers' interchangeably.

That, in the context of those profoundly stupid 'Gamers are Dead' articles covers much of the stupidity in #Gamergate and Anti-#GamerGate.

It certainly didn't help that there was enough unethical behavior by the 'journalists' to give the offended Gamers something to latch onto in order to vent their anger. All reforms are a bonus of that, but in the end I would say the people eager to lash out at vaguely defined 'monsters' are the ones to make it happen.

Not that they deserve the credit given every positive turn was achieved in spite of and despite them.

I grew up with the Internet and it used to be absolutely taboo to 'judge' people on it. I remember getting into the odd argument where I felt compelled to defend judging people. 

In short, I was judging people- on the internet- since before judging people was cool- on the internet.

And my oh my if it isn't big business right now.

Unasked courtesy of Married to the Sea.

Now, the more theologically inclined I used to argue with were inclined to quote the Bible at me back then. Which was a point of some irony given that I don't remember any of them actually being Christian themselves. The quote, "Judge not, that ye be not judged," was intended to imply that I was effectively being discouraged by God themselves from judging others, but that is hardly it's sole interpretation. 

Judgement, of others and of yourself, is inevitable. You will and often will NEED to make judgement calls about the people you meet- online and in person. (You see a man holding a knife and covered in blood, how do you respond? Whatever you answer, you'd be judging him to be something.) That said and trusting this detail is known to an Omniscient God, combining this with more from the relevant passage-

"For what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged : and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

 - a more practical and valuable bit of wisdom is derived. Judge wisely. Consider that where you may be attempting to correct someone, you could be even MORE wrong yourself.

You may not be, but the less you are willing to question yourself the higher the odds you're trying to remove a splinter from a buttock while you have a two-by-four for a suppository that grinds behind you noisily, leaving foul smelling sawdust in it's wake.

You should probably get rid of that first if you can.

While initially mocked for a failure to remove his head from it's rectal prison, Arthur Chu would go on to prove God exists and thus doesn't exist, black is in fact white and then die an ignominious death at a zebra crossing.
So, while all the internet struggles to judge each other more harshly (over often flimsy as hell evidence) in a quest to be the smuggiest smugger to ever smug over being right and thus become Judge Dredd- the more certain they are of being right and that the other person/group needs to be destroyed, the more likely they are in fact utterly full of crap.

And cycling back around to the beginning of this, while I do not believe I am mistaken to have made the points I have in previous updates, it is certainly not impossible I have been. I can only hope to dutifully return to this decision where relevant and see if new facts and context have invalidated past assumptions, because none of us save perhaps God have all of the facts and fewer still can be certain of the context- which can change everything.

It's an uncertain world and as such certainty does not serve us well. We all just have to try the best we can with the information available and have faith. In what, I would dare not dictate.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is you can all stop trying to be Smuggier, for I am the Smuggiest.

Progress continues!

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