Thursday, June 18, 2020


Back the dark ages of the internet, even pre-blog time, there was a little online magazine called Slate, which over time got a reputation for "contrarian" thinking. They did do the "that thing you like is actually bad" kind of contrarian stuff, but mostly it was simply a rhetorical ploy, a way of presenting dominant mainstream positions as being rebellious.

You, reader, are exposed to some truly innovative thinking found nowhere else! Even billionaire Tom Friedman does this, pitching what are almost entirely the consensus views of our political system (perhaps slightly dated, now, as Tom is getting old), as revolutionary.

It's a commonly employed trick used to make your audience think their banal opinions are actually sticking it to The Man, instead of just being, well, The Thoughts of The Man Himself. Though to pull this off, The Man is cast as a sinister cabal of people and groups who don't actually have any real power. The Oberlin Student Council, antifa, the gay mafia, etc. The people who REALLY run the country.

The sinister part of this is not a little false flattery to your readers - that's innocent enough - it's convincing them that the actual power structure is the inversion of reality. Punching down is actually punching up!

Black people get all the advantages in this country, women have all the power, white men are the truly aggrieved, billionaires are no match for the Twitter mob. That kind of thing. These are wrong opinions, but also pretty mainstream ones! Go a bit further and the more marginalized people and groups are, the more powerful they become! People become convinced that by aligning themselves with the bullies, they are actually the bullied. See, for example, Yankees fans. That some people say, "Christ, what an asshole," when you are being an asshole, just proves the point.

Anyway, this piece from Brandy Jensen is good on the latest manifestation of the true bullies, trans people.

Of course, bigotry always functions as an invitation to itself, so it’s not surprising that your friend has begun to explore other ways of being awful. The sneering malice of the transphobe is rarely satisfied with one target. And while this way of thinking is inwardly permission granting, it is outwardly permission demanding. The question presented to the world time and time again may be worded differently but it always comes down to: Why aren’t we allowed to say this? Why aren’t we allowed to think this way? Why aren’t we alllllllllooooowed?

Constantly whining about what you are and aren’t allowed to do is the preoccupation of children, and besides which, the answer is “you are.” In this world, you are always allowed to be cruel, and you always have been. It is no brave thing to stand with the powerful against those who dare live differently, it’s the easiest and most comfortable choice you can make.