Back a long time ago, when I was in high school, I was kind of a peacenik. I had embraced a liberal philosophy of peace, equality, and understanding. I took stances against the death penalty and in favor of pubic aid. Still some things I needed to work on accepting, but that was the foundation.
One day, between classes at school, a fight broke out between two girls. I don’t remember who they were, I don’t remember exactly why they fought other than it was something ultimately trivial — it wasn’t like one of them, say, shot the other’s pa. It was a catfight, resembling more of a lousy wrestling match than an actual battle. And every student in the hallway had stopped and formed a human arena to watch what was happening, plenty of room for the combatants to be mean to each other without risking getting involved themselves.
Well, I was a peacenik, I though this was wrong, and I decided to try to get involved. I told them, not yelled, but told them to stop and went behind the one on top to try and remove her. Didn’t work. After a little while, teachers showed up, and not wanting to be seen as an accessory to this, I faded back into the crowd and pulled my “Ninja, vanish!” routine.
I apparently did a good job. Everyone was so glued to the action, no one really registered that I was there. Even a friend of mine on the opposite side of the fight seemed to forget about me. When we discussed the fight and mentioned I was trying to break them up, he asked, “That was YOU?”
One of the girls “said she felt someone trying to pull her off and she was ready to turn around and punch him.”
Perspective thus gained, it colored my actions about a year later when another fight broke out in the halls. It erupted almost right in front of me. I simply picked up my book bag, declared, “Let ‘em fight,” and walked away.
So what is the point of all this? Why this little walk down memory lane?
Well, I felt it was time to make a statement. I miss writing opinion pieces. Really, I do. I followed the news and events and enjoyed examining and finding things in the middle of it all. Be we are coming up on the one year anniversary of my decision to stop writing commentary pieces. It’s an itch I refuse to scratch.
Before, any breaks I’ve taken were pretty short. Like a boxer who just needs to catch his breath before getting back in the ring. But this one is sticking. I will sometimes find myself applying my thought processes and such, but before I sit down and start typing, I ask myself, “Will tis actually reach anyone?” And the answer is no.
People don’t want discourse and exploration.
They want to fight.
Over the past few years, social hypocrisy has gone from an infection to a contagion. And I’m not talking about the alt-right picking on minorities or the regressive left picking on white men. EVERYONE is acting like monsters. EVERYONE is behaving abominably. And they will continue to do so until their perceived blood debts, born of the savagery of primitive days, is paid in full.
I blame the Internet for this. No kidding. We have given rise to a world of people who have opinions not because the thoughts and philosophy make sense, but because having those opinions makes them feel good about themselves. I will see people who will declare, “Well, I think we should treat all people equally and with respect.” And I respond with, And? But there’s no further message. They have said something and expect to be praised for having such an intelligent, progressive ideal. Consider freedom of speech — there are people that I disagree with, and am sometimes enraged by, but all I can do is shrug because, they have the right to speak their mind, just like I do. I can’t censor them without the very reasoning behind those actions being used against me. But that puts me in the minority. There are people all over, liberal and conservative, who will gladly curtail others expression because it bothers them in the name of freedom of speech, but if you try to shut them up, you are oppressing them and trying to keep the truth from getting out.
This, “It’s okay when I do it but not when you do it,” has given resulted in complete social chaos. The reason I’m writing this now is because of a scandal that has erupted over a guy who created a “body positive” website. Girls, and I mean girls — almost all of them are underage, most just barely in their teens — will send pictures of themselves in underwear or bikinis for him to upload to his site and tell them how they need to gain or lose weight to achieve the ideal body. This is unbelievably creepy, and despite his fame, no one said anything about it until about a week ago. And it’s still smaller commentators, none of the big names are stepping up and condemning the guy. And his supporters are hypocrites, too. He proclaims to be a feminist and has a wife who claims to be trans, and despite an entire web site that objectifies girls and is possibly illegal due to the ages of the girls there, NOT ONE OF THEM CRITICIZES HIM. In fact, they will attack you as a hater and try everything from public shaming to DDoS attacks if you call him out.
It all comes down to people thinking their perception is superior, and the conclusions are so obvious, anyone who doesn’t think like they do is a moron. I have seen:
* Conservative commentators who talk about things like the wage gap not existing. And when confronted with well-documented research, they have no counter and try to change the subject. And yet, these people are rarely confronted with this research. Usually, it’s whoever sits opposite them arguing vague philosophical points that just generate talk a step above white noise instead of exploring deeper.
* Alec Baldwin is loved by the gay community despite using gay slurs against people he doesn’t like in Tweets.
* So-called “libertarians” who don’t mean, “Liberty for all,” but “Liberty for me.” They want freedom to do what they want, regardless of impact or ramifications. But if someone wants the opposite of whatever they have determined liberty is, they are fascists who must be stopped.
* Conservatives talk about banning abortion because they value the sanctity of life, yet want to institutionalize the death penalty, which, at the very least, has some issues with the whole “sanctity of life” thing.
* A person made a funny Internet picture showing Santa’s sleigh pulled by beer cans called “reinbeer” that gets a comment from someone complaining about all the drunk driving deaths at this time of year and he should be ashamed of himself.
* I have been flat out told by more than one person that I was not welcome to participate in the Safety Pin movement because, as a white guy, I am a reminder of what these people have to fear and I have to keep my distance from their cause. I have NEVER been told I can’t participate in a protest before for ANY reason. Even during the Marriage Equality debate, no one turned me away because I was a Christian, they welcomed me because I supported their cause. I refuse to support any cause that claims that judging someone by the color of their skin is bad but then will judge me by mine, regardless of my history with social causes.
* I have also been told that I can’t play in a jazz band because that is the music of the slaves and it’s cultural appropriation, despite the fact that no one in the band or audience has a problem with it.
* I have been told that only Jews can eat bagels, if I eat them, it’s cultural appropriation. 1) You are REINFORCING stereotypes with this, NOT DESTROYING THEM. 2) Bagels were invented by the Poles, so I can eat all the goddamn bagels I want, fucker.
* Atheists will say Christians are stupid and denying the obvious that God can’t exist, and will treat them as ignoring basic reason. Christians will say Atheists are stupid and denying the obvious that God does exist, and will treat them as ignoring basic reason. Both sides act like there is no possible way anyone intelligent can see anything other than what is so obvious to them, so these people must be either fixed or pitied and shunned. And I get it from both sides, because Atheists don’t get me (one of them, when I told her I was Christian, flat out said to me, “I thought you were smarter than that”) and Christians think my conclusions like God meaning for gays to exist and they are part of His plan are heresy. They bitch about the existence of the other side, not the right and wrong that they both do.
Notice there is a lot of pointlessness here. No actual humanity or public policy, just a lot of, “This is what I think, aren’t I so smart and wonderful and better than you?” I want to remind you of the definition of a democracy. Democracy is not, “Majority rules.” Democracy is a set of mutually agreed upon laws so that people can do as they wish without interference — as long as what you are doing doesn’t interfere with someone else, you are free to do it. You want to fill your bathtub with garbage and lie in it? You’re disgusting, but go for it. But there’s a problem with this philosophy. It directly contradicts the ideas of mandate, majority rule, and political power. People don’t want to live their own way, they want the world to alter and bend to their vision. They want the world to be their own personal theme park, reflecting their own values and conclusions and pushing those things they don’t like outside the metaphorical walls.
And EVERYBODY is fighting to claim the space. I have dropped more than half of the commentators I used to read just because they are advancing a vision instead of an idea.
And I’m back in high school. People have spent so long having their thoughts and conclusions amplified by the Internet and reinforced by Like buttons and personal armies in the comment sections, it has bled over into the real world. And everyone has formed their little cliques, singled out their easy targets to oppose, and are ready for anything they can seize on to justify their hatred and actions while ignoring the real problems.
And nothing is going to dissuade them. Like those girls, they don’t care about the consequences, they don’t care who they hurt. They want to fight. They want to cause pain. They want to dominate. They want to stand proud that they weren’t afraid to go over the line, insulated from guilt by the purity and superiority of their mindset.
I will probably get back into activism and commentary someday. It’s in my blood, I can no more deny it than I can anything else about me. But right now, people don’t want to hear any of that. They are hunting for targets. The bright side of this is that, eventually, the two sides will take each other out, leaving those that want to live in harmony as all that’s left. Right now, those people are hiding away from the march of the armies as they fight their wars. But eventually, the world will look to the normal and the good to rebuild social interaction and help others.
But until then?
Let ‘em fight. And I’m walking away.