No Platform For You, My Friend!

No platforming.

A concept that seems to cause a lot of debate and somehow even controversy, despite the fact that very few people actually disagree on it. Oh, sure, they might get into it over definitions within the concept, but as for whether or not no platforming in itself is a thing that should be done, my opinion is that everyone is pretty much in agreement – no platforming is a thing that can and in many cases should be done.

“But you just want to silence critics, you fascist!”

It is interesting that this is the first argument you turn to, imaginary interlocutor. I haven’t said anything so far about why I believe no platforming is sometimes a good thing, and yet you seem to leap to the assumption of malice on my behalf just to be able to disagree with me. But, now as you’ve mentioned fascists…

Let’s illustrate my argument with an example. Meet Dick. Dick is an imaginary fascist that I just totally made up, without any relation to any actual person, living or deceased.

spencer

Heil to you too, totally not Dick. 

Dick is a pretty typical white supremacist fascist; he enjoys long walks on the beach, stimulation conversations with intelligent women who can reliably prove their Aryan descent back to at least 1750 and the establishment of the white ethno-state by the expulsion of all non-whites by any means necessary, and even though the Holocaust totally wasn’t a thing, guys, we probably should exterminate the Jews anyway because… Well, better safe than sorry, ya know? Now, however much we might like to agree with Dick that long walks on the beach and intelligent women are good things, it is an unfortunate fact that it is the ethnic cleansing that he most likes to talk about – particularly when he’s giving a speech.

Now, let us imagine that Dick has been invited to speak, say at a university. From his background it is fairly obvious that any speech he might give will be heavy with extolling the virtues of burning crosses and Zyklon B, and so the question becomes “What reason is there for Dick to be allowed to speak at the university?”.

Among the maybe three readers of this post, two lines of reasoning is now occurring.

The first was done even before you finished reading the line following the question, and can be summed up as “You can’t take away free speech, man!” What is implied in this is that everyone has the right to say whatever they want, whenever they want, without any restrictions. If you believe that, you have no grounds to oppose teaching creationism in school or allowing flat earthers to crash astrophysicist conferences or letting Jenny McCarthy give lectures on vaccines, to name a few examples.

jenny-mccarthy-donnie-wahlberg-view.png

Like, trust me!

This is essentially the “All beliefs must be respected and what is true for you isn’t true for me-argument, only repackaged to sound more hip and principled. This is, of course, a lazy, bullshit argument – lazy because I sincerely doubt anyone actually believes it, they merely spout it because in this example situation, they don’t really want to talk about why they think a fascist should be allowed to give his speech. I don’t have to give time to or respect any belief that includes killing people just for being born the way they are, and Dick’s words actually do have real effects on real people – a platform doesn’t exist in an ideological vacuum.

The second consisted of listing arguments for letting Dick give his speech at the university. Doing this, however, implicity accepts the possibility that there exists a scenario where the pro side of the argument column ends up empty, or that it is outweighed by the con side. In other words, there exists situations where everyone can agree that an individual has nothing useful to contribute to whatever is being discussed, and thus probably shouldn’t be given a voice on the relevant platform. I wasn’t invited to the conference on the feeding habits of Arctic brown trout that took place at the nearby research institute, because I have nothing at all relevant to say about Arctic fucking brown trout. Similarly, I might say that Dick shouldn’t be allowed to give a speech at a university, because he advocates fucking murdering people for their ethnicity and religion! This is (or should be) a line of reasoning that is not at all controversial and entirely acceptable to anyone, with the possible exception of trolls and genuinely paranoid people.

czffppzwaaef8mn

Hmmm…

I am not saying that everyone necessarily agrees that the reasons given pro or con in any individual situation are good ones, and thus on what people should and should not be allowed a given platform, but what we don’t disagree on is that not absolutely everyone should be allowed any platform they choose at any time. Who’s the fascist now, eh?

(It’s Dick. Dick is the fascist)

So, I’m sorry. You’re going to have to explain why you are giving a platform to someone, and why you feel what they are saying is relevant. You can’t simply hide behind “Free speech, man” and metaphorically wash your hands of anything that’s being said on a platform over which you have influence. Not unless you want Princess Märtha Louise of Norway to show up and talk about angels, mediums, healing and fountains of light for hours on end. Yes, she really does that. The struggle is real.

41pczmlck9l-_sx331_bo1204203200_

Just like Touched By An Angel, only even whiter. 

Buddy, you ain’t so smart!

I’ve got something to tell you. It might not be something you like to hear. You ready?

You’re probably not that smart.

Now, let me backtrack a little and set up some context for this in your face assertion.

I do not believe in the claims that a god exists. I do not believe in any claims of any god(s) with which I have been presented, and I don’t really see any good reason to expect that any credible evidence of such will ever manifest itself. This lack of belief isn’t really something that dominates much of my daily life or drives me to any extent. How could it, after all – it is a lack of belief in something, and thus as motivations for actions go completely inert. I never really have believed in a god at any point in my life. I found church services boring when I was made to attend them through school as a young boy, and when several of my friends went through a brief phase of religious awakening in their mid-teens, I could do nothing but to look on in bafflement over what I perceived to be their stupidity.

Was I terribly clever for not buying into this whole god thing? Was I that much smarter than my friends (who, I might add, have since gone back to the sort of apathetic atheism that is the default in my neck of the woods)? I might have thought so, when I was 15 and believed the world revolved around me (or at least that it should). It’s an awesome thing to believe that you’re smarter than the people around you – it makes you feel good, but is also kinda turns you into a bit of a douchebag.

billmaher

Bill Maher (15)

Unfortunately, a lot of people who at least here on the internet label themselves as rational skeptics don’t seem to have outgrown 15-year-old me. They still adhere to this idea that atheism is this radical new hot take and that they’re deep thinkers for figuring it out, and that they are in fact smarter than people around them. Especially those who don’t have the same opinion as they do. Particularly those who still retain a belief in a god.

Atheism has been with us through the entirety of human history. Ancient Greece had proto-atheists like Democritus, Epicurus and Euhemerus, and the medieval Islamic world had people like the poet Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri, who wrote that there were two kinds of people; those with brains and without god, and those without brains and with god. See? Douchebag! Coming to the atheist conclusion about god claims might be a momentous happening, particularly if you live in a place where religiosity is prevalent, but it does not make you any smarter!

epicurus-3

Epicurus, here doing Blue Steel

This should be emphasized again and again to the recent generation of strident, self-righteous and arrogant ‘hard’ atheists (among whose numbers I was once counted); you didn’t invent atheism. It was not you who through deep thought and critical, analytical processing of available evidence concluded that god claims are unverified (and unverifiable). All the irreligious arguments and counter-arguments you have at your disposal are not of your making,  repeating them by rote without a clear understanding of their meaning does not make you seem clever, and whatever observations you make on atheism today is sure to be built squarely upon the by now rather impressive foundation of thoughts and ideas put in place over centuries. This doesn’t mean you can’t add to that edifice, merely that whatever you do now is almost invariably influenced by the activities of generations of thinkers before you.

You’re probably not that smart. Becoming an atheist doesn’t make you smart, nor does it make you into a deep skeptical thinker, or even into a skeptic at all. Not necessarily, at least. Atheism is one position on one particular subject, and as I’ve pointed out, not an especially novel one either. Thinking that atheism alone makes you eligible to opine on other topics, under the assumption that you’re just so rational is lazily self-congratulatiatory at best and dangerously delusional at worst.

czffppzwaaef8mn

Not rational

Now, if skepticism and rationality are things that matter to you, that’s fine. Hell, it’s more than fine, it’s awesome! The world could need more skeptical and rational people right now. Or at any time, really. Go forth and be skeptical! Be the most skeptical skeptic that ever skepticed! Just realize that skepticism isn’t an end state you achieve by uttering the magic formula ‘There is no god’, but a process, a daily effort that can at times be tedious, stressful and even disheartening.

04

Disheartening. Literally.

Not that this should stop you, if you’re dedicated. If you really have the chops to be a great thinker.

Swinging the Milo

I might as well come out swinging with my first proper (ish) post on this blog. So here goes.

Milo Yiannopoulos. What a twatwaffle, eh?

crx981ou8aqpmaz-2

Twatwaffle (noun): twat who waffles

Now that I have dispensed with the unpleasantries, I’ll move on to what I actually wanted to say. Much ink and pixels have been spent going over the minutiae of Milo’s career, mapping out in disgusting detail the resume of an utterly amoral, cynical and ruthless opportunist. He has shilled sexism, racism, transphobia and homophobia (yes, really), among others, for money over a period of several years, blithely ignorant of the very real injury his words and actions have on people who are being targeted merely for being who they are, and by necessity have done nothing to deserve such vitriol.

As we all know, his end (as of now, at least) came when statements he had made condoning the sexual abuse of minors came to light, finally going one bridge too far even for many (though sadly not all) of his supporters. I don’t particularly feel like congratulating institutions like CPAC or Breitbart or Simon & Schuster (with whom Milo had a book deal) for cutting their ties with him over this, as I consider not giving a platform to child abuse apologists near the very minimum of required human decency.

What I want to know is why did this not happen sooner? It’s not like it was particularly hard to find evidence of Milo being a reprehensible scumbag after all, perpetuating pretty much every facet of bigotry you could imagine. Why did a number of universities invite a known racist to give speeches at their campuses? Why did Simon and Schuster give a quarter-million dollar book deal to a verified homophobe? Why did Bill Maher not only feel the need to have a virulent transphobe on his show, but let him spout his falsehoods entirely unchallenged – hell, even appear to validate them at times? Why did CPAC invite an unapologetic sexist to… Actually, that totally sounds like something they would do. Fuck those guys.

As YouTuber Steve Shives pointed out in a recent video (which is totes cool and you should all go watch that instead of reading this unoriginal tripe); minorities and the LGBTQ+ community will remember what they saw during the arc of Milo’s career. They saw a society and a media who didn’t care when Milo was targeting them. They saw a media who ate up Milo’s libertine act, pretending as if his hateful rantings somehow held discerning truth. They saw a society who laughed along as the trained monkey of the alt-right capered and danced and told its fascist jokes, and when they themselves tried to speak up in protest they were told that they should just get over it, that it’s only jokes and that words can’t hurt you. For some, who live this reality on a daily basis, this was merely another reminder of how the world they live in works. For others, who have a more privileged position, it should be an awakening and a call to take a stand sooner, whenever the next personification of a YouTube comment section shambles onto the public arena.

0c009d45000005dc-0-the_hit_zombie_tv_show_the_walking_dead_screenshot_pictured_star-a-2_1478008872847

Hello, I am Milo Zombiopoulos. You won’t mind my brain-eating as long as I target the gays.

And as for you Milobots out there (Milonnials? Can I coin that term? Too late, just did!):
No, I am not calling Milo a racist, sexist, transphobe and homophobe because I disagree with him. It’s the other way around, I disagree with him because he is a racist, sexist, transphobe and a homophobe. Those are vile positions to hold, and I don’t want to associate with people who hold them – and neither should you. Further, I don’t care how harmful you might think ascribing these labels to Milo might be. They are an accurate description of who he is, and I am not going to restrain myself from calling hateful bigots for what they are, for fear of hurting their fee-fees.

sad-images-of-love-21

Fuck you, Milo’s feelings

Milo wanted to create an image of himself as the man who tells the uncomfortable, dirty truth to the world. Involuntarily, he may have played a part in doing precisely that. What’s on display now, in the wake of his downfall,  just isn’t the truth he was trying to peddle.

 

 

Everyone’s doing it…

… so why can’t I?

I suck at catchy headlines.

This represents an experiment for me. For a while now, I have felt increasingly dissatisfied with a participation in discussions that interest me that is limited to the occasional reply to comments or stories on various social media. I have a lot of opinions about a lot of things, and, well… This is the age of social exhibitionism – everyone’s making blogs about pretty much any topic imaginable, so I figure I should do it too. Yay!

I have no idea how this is going to turn out. It’s a little unnerving. Then again, what mountain was ever climbed by a man who feared the uphill trek?

I’ll be seeing ya.