Saturday, November 12, 2016

Politics and Libertarianism and Free Speech and the Alt Right and Stuff

The little angel on my right shoulder is screaming that I’m about to incite the wrath of the internet. The little devil on my left shoulder reminds me that hardly anyone reads this blog anyway, at least as of yet. 

So I mentioned getting in libertarian arguments last post. The whole reason I voted for Nader in the first place was that the democratic candidate’s wife started a witch hunt called the PMRC where much attention was focused (and money was concurrently wasted) on popular music lyrics. Frank Zappa and John Denver and several other luminaries gave testimony; you should check it out on YouTube if you’re interested. It succeeded in getting those little “parental advisory, explicit lyrics” stickers put on music, which mean that bands had incentive to earn them, and that’s why music lyrics are even filthier today, thank you Tipper Gore.  

In the current era, the free speech issue usually translates to trigger warnings, and the “right” of anonymous internet trolls to inundate people with aggressive disrespect. At the moment, a lot of racist Americans are having a field day exercising their “right” to say mean things to minorities, and a lot of minorities are reporting spontaneous random outbursts of scary rage.

Although I’m definitely in favor of having a heavy-handed oppressive nanny state (sort of like they have in the Scandinavian countries) providing health care and protecting nature and placing hard caps on how low we can fall and how much we can get away with, I have a hard time with censorship. Even porn. Even the kind of grimdark gorefests that have become popular in recent years as people flaunt their ability to speak freely. Even dangerous ideas like communism and naziism and racism and sexism and all of it. 

There’s a whole arena of liberalism that is more interested in censorship, and believes ideas can leap off the page like Lovecraftian demons and enslave innocent minds. I don’t agree with those folks. This doesn’t mean I agree with assaulting people with verbiage. Further, as a writer, I voluntarily provide trigger warnings for those who are interested in them; if people want to read my stuff because I promised them I wouldn’t bombard them with certain kinds of disturbing images, power to them.  

That was the basis of one of my epic libertarian arguments. The corresponding counterargument is that I let a warmonger get elected because I was being a prima donna about warning stickers on CDs. It’s a pretty good argument. 

And I still don’t trust censors, although I very much respect the importance of keeping free speech bordered with precautions that keep it civil and prevent it from fermenting into violence. And these days, being older and mellower, I can respect the impatience someone might feel over seeing a particularly horrible candidate win by a small margin because of pigheaded independents like me.

My other epic libertarian argument came about in a society of women I associated with at one time. Several of them were pretty cool. At the time I was having what amounted to a crisis of faith regarding feminism and its associated doctrines, and I committed the major sin of saying I didn’t think Hillary had enough charisma to get elected. And that liberals who cloister themselves in closed social circles have no idea how much large sections of the American public despise Hillary.  

I got massive amounts of shade for being anti-Hillary, and all of that is coming back to haunt me. Echoing in my skull like a bad click track.  I blew off in a big storm of disagreement with those women in particular, and with that particular flavor of feminism, and indeed with a meta concept that had come to infest the left during the last few years.

The conservatives and alt-righters call it cultural Marxism, or postmodernism, or relativism. Liberals call it structuralism, among other things. Vice President Pence believes in it, via his promotion of gay conversion therapy. New Agers call it the law of attraction. Steven Pinker wrote about it in The Blank Slate. Psychologists have a whole section of the DSM devoted to it and its subvariants like narcissism and grandiosity. It’s the belief that words make the world, rather than describe and reflect it – sort of qabalistic and maybe even gnostic, if you pin it down far enough. Definitely heretical. And definitely counterproductive, since it encourages empty vanity while flying contrary to science (see the Sokal Hoax). 

My least favorite writer, in fact, has been blogging about it lately – John C. Wright, whom I blame for everything that is bad about the Puppies, whether or not it’s true, because he throws so many general insults around that he deserves a few to call his own. My commitment to free speech is such that I would never want to censor Wright even at his most irritating; even though he wallows in violent hyperbole. I discovered it when File 770 linked something of his, and was forced to admit that yes, there is an area in which I do agree with the alt right, and with my least favorite writer – and that’s why free speech, and why listening to what the opposition is saying, is such a precious thing. Even if you find it foul and disgusting and would really prefer to read something else. 

And why listening to corporate media whisper poisoned lies about how we’ve got this in the bag, the opposition is just a bunch of whiny crazies who should be disrespected and disregarded, we’re much better than that because we’re super geniuses shining with wisdom – that’s what got us into this mess. We need to replace that kind of journalism with the trustworthy kind. On this issue the conservatives are dead bang right. 

As for the rest of it, I’m a liberal. I want maximal genetic diversity with optimal quality of life to the extent we can swing it. I don’t like the religious right and never will. I’m a friend to all races and orientations, and I’m an advocate of non-violence, and recycling, and solar power, and public transit. I’m a hippie that listens to Janis Joplin and questions authority. I’m a science-following secular humanist. I’m a woman with a large vocabulary and a fondness for dessert. I descend from abolitionists and pirates. I devote a lot of energy into trying to make universal healthcare happen. In an uneradicable and innate sense, I am everything the current crop of conservatives despises, and proud of it. 

And I’m going on record as preferring uncomfortable truths to flattering lies. 

Anyway, that’s how I managed to make literary enemies in the past. Probably even now I’ll get shade from my fellow liberals for agreeing with conservatives that relativistic flattery is bad and that the mainstream media needs some reform. Whatever. I’m self-pubbed. 

And I’ll shut up about politics for now, although I make no promises regarding how long that will last. 





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