Politics Is Warfare, or How I Learned The Meaning Of False Balance

Let me tell you something about liberals: we really are decent people.

The problem is that regressives aren’t. Not only that, but regressives are so indecent as to hide their own indecency, or apologize for it by making up claims of liberals somehow being just as bad. In any case, they’re trying to get people to ignore their massive misdeeds somehow, usually by bringing up liberal misdeeds that are somehow equal. This often has the effect of regressives and their defenders focusing entirely on squishing a mouse when there is a Tyrannosaurus rex standing right behind them.

Well, let me tell you a story about false balance. Or, rather, two stories that are part of a narrative.

(Note: The rest of this post assumes you’ve read the relevant links I’ve posted. Any questions involving stuff explained in the links will be disemvowelled and mocked.)
The first has to do with the skeptical community, specifically the continuing fallout from the event known as Elevatorgate manifested in the form of the debacle involving harassment policies and TAM. Specifically, it involves a part I hadn’t linked in my original TAM post, involving a song performed at TAM.

The song is a prime example of false balance. The actions of the rabid anti-feminists are well-documented. Their tactics have been identified and deconstructed. They have proven themselves to be despicable human beings.

And yet, in the comments for the aforementioned song, someone piped up and quote mined out four lines, mumbling about the “overall message” of “can’t we all just get along”. By this time I was obviously getting fed up with the false balance (having seen more than enough over the past year) and thus deconstructed it harshly, calling out the quote mining.

What sent me over the edge was when someone else chimed in saying that the quote mining was somehow a minor point. I flew into a rage, launching with all barrels and a cruise missile marked ‘Gabby Giffords shooting’ — that bit, I will admit, may have been excessive. I did not get a very favorable response and tore into it as tone-trolling, but at the end of it all I was unsure of whether I’d been right in ripping into the false balance that hard. What I did know was that it gave the regressives an out, and I was sick of that.

Rightfully so, it turned out:

Handwringing over “fairness” in the most picayune matters hamstrings the left. Politics is warfare, not a self-improvement exercise. You will simply never get some people on your side and the best you can do is marginalize their ability to do others harm. Other people who unwittingly abet them need to be brought up short, because they are causing harm indirectly.

Politics is warfare.

We’re not discussing as equals. We liberals think we’re correct, but we’re willing to change our minds in the face of new evidence or rational arguments, and we recognize that we must be bounded by those rules (which also govern ethics) in order to be right.

Regressives don’t merely think they’re correct. They think they’re right — period. Anything and everything they do is right. Anything done to forward their conclusions is right. Evidence and logic are just tools to be manipulated to the cause of that which is right. Hell, they even call themselves “the right” (except for the libertarians who don’t want you to know they’re just as regressive as the other privileged righties). And if evidence and logic fail? Bah, that’s just one tool; the next step is to just make stuff up, and if that fails then just pound the  opponent into silence with words.

Or threats. Or bombs. Or gunshots.

Which brings me to my second story. Yesterday, I was counter-demonstrating with some fellow pro-choicers in Vancouver. I was standing a bit away from the group, holding a sign that on one side said “Trust Women” and on the other said “End Rape Culture Now”, when a man came up and started to gaslight me, playing with plausible deniability by being indirect: “you’re not impressing women”. I did not have much of this before I told him to go away, and then moved away myself, turning my back, but he kept it up, to the point of calling me a faggot.

You can read the rest at the link, because at that point I began to have an anxiety attack and was just focused on defiantly staying there until the asshole went and got the bus he said he was waiting for. I tuned out most of the rest of what he was saying, and afterwards I had to leave to calm down. As of this writing, I’m still not fully back from it (which is bad, because it’s making me act highly irrationally), and I’m hoping that work this week is slow enough to allow me to recover. At any rate, it severely impaired my functioning for the rest of the day; when I returned, I felt extremely out of it and could barely hold another sign; it wasn’t until after we left that I was mostly able to function again.

Mostly. The tirade could hurt anyone by trying to make them feel alone (which is a soft spot for any of us, since we humans are social animals), but it hit me particularly hard because for all intents and purposes I am alone. The best friends I have are all online; the best people I’ve met in real-life are all the pro-choicers that I’ve only met this week or last at the demonstrations. If you want to know what my social life is like, just listen to How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths. Hearing that invective threw me completely out of balance and made me lose my carefully-patched comfort, so that the rest of the day I was simply floundering and wondering if I wasn’t making some sort of misstep here or there, or focusing too much on my problems, or boring other people, or doing any of the other things I do that people don’t like but I can’t seem to help.

All because I was trying to say that people should trust women. Because of that, someone else felt that it was okay to render me unable to function. I did their best to make them not see it — but that’s all I could do.

Politics is warfare.

And remember what I said about him trying to stretch plausible deniability? The “pro-life” protesters do it too. Take a look at this picture I got (before the anxiety attack):

Yeah. That’s totally not telling men that they have some sort of right to hold their wives or girlfriends hostage, or anything like that, in order to “save them from abortion”. Not at fucking all. Nope. Totally fair.

Politics is warfare.

And the reason that regressives want to conceal this so badly is because they need to scramble and bully, while we liberals are just asserting our rights and the cold, hard facts.

Whose side are you on? The bullies, or the bullied?

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10 Responses to Politics Is Warfare, or How I Learned The Meaning Of False Balance

  1. HaifischGeweint says:

    You might be interested in what I just wrote, further to this incident:

  2. I’m highly flattered to be quoted here.

    I co-sign this entire post, and I hope you’re feeling better soon.

  3. “Regressives don’t merely think they’re correct. They think they’re right — period. Anything and everything they do is right. Anything done to forward their conclusions is right. Evidence and logic are just tools to be manipulated to the cause of that which is right”

    Yes, yes, *yes*! Awesome articulation of the root of much of the trouble in the current political climes. It’s hard to argue with someone who thinks they have everything “good” and “moral” on their side. Hard to counter with patience, trying to guide them back to reality. Chilling attempt at undermining your protest by that “you’re not impressing women” guy, but good thing you held your ground. I admire that you stayed there, and synthesized the experience into something so eloquent.

  4. Reggie Rock says:

    So you were approached by a real person outside of an internet circlejerk and you had a nervous breakdown? You say he rendered you unable to function? How is that his fault? All he did was talk. Maybe you should wear a sign around your neck that says “I’m too emotionally fragile to be disagreed with” next time so people will know to respect your disability. Or you could grow up, that would work as well.

    Oh yeah, go and replace regressives with jews and liberals with national socialists in your rant. You are advocating fascism and political repression. As if you believe you were right and anything and everything you do to forward your conclusion is right.

    • lordsetar says:

      Er, did you expect to somehow refute my post with that?

      I don’t expect you to get this, but doing exactly what I was talking about doesn’t refute my post, it confirms it. If you want a successful refutation,.you’re going to have to do a lot better than whining like a child: “Nuh-uh, THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE DOING! AND YOU’RE A COWARD! ME BIG, YOU SMALL, YOU LISTEN TO ME!“.

      Of course, that you think your pathetic bullying is going to affect me on a post about such bullying…you really need to find something new. If you don’t, then I’m just going to ban you for being dull (here come more accusations of fascism groupthink cowardice, just because I don’t want bullies on my blog which is not a public space and thus not subject to free speech protections) , because if I want to deal with playground bullies I know full well where the badly monitored playgrounds are.

  5. I wish I could offer some words of advice or comfort, but I’ve had that kind of anxiety attack and I know there is nothing anyone can say or do about it. The best I can offer is this: on some days, I don’t have it in me to show up at a protest, to carry a sign, to blog about these issues, to argue with a douchebiscuit on a Pharyngula thread, to do any more than go through the motions of my life just to survive, so that I can—perhaps—fight another day. On some days I do indeed have it in me. I make no apology for that.

    Pointing and laughing at right-wing ideas is a patriotic public service, and I’ve also found that honing my skills at mockery and ridicule in the face of wingnuttery has been a boon to my wellbeing (of course, YMMV).

    I hope you find ways to take care of yourself, and find joy in every day. The world needs more people like you.
    Maybe Reggie Rock should wear a sign around his neck that says “I’m a dumbass sociopath.” (Thanks, Reggie, for volunteering as a real, live, exemplary specimen who perfectly illustrates the point of the post.)

  6. Samantha Vimes says:

    People can’t just grow the fuck up out of a disability. The asshole confronting my friend couldn’t know *how* much harm he was doing by confronting him, but he was choosing to be confrontational, accusatory, and unkind. I’m glad there was someone there to intervene. The asshole could have chosen not to be an asshole in the first place, and there wouldn’t have been a problem. I don’t see anything above advocating anything LIKE fascism. I don’t see any advocacy against their right to free speech. I just see a statement that bullies should be called bullies, and people pretending both sides are equally in the wrong are being unfair.

    In fact, you’ll see a point he makes is that he will accept correction, but that “regressives” (more commonly called Right-Wing Authoritarians) is that they cannot conceive of being incorrect. That they are right in every sense is built into their ideology.

  7. Ah trolls. So predictable. “It’s fascism!” No honey, it really isn’t. Have a cookie and go to bed while the grownups talk.

  8. smhlle says:

    You are not alone. And you are impressing thoughtful women, even if that’s not your goal.

    In simple terms, even the commentors on Reddit generally agree that if your date is rude to the waiter, that’s a great warning sign that your date may not be a very nice person. Similarly, if someone in your life uses racist or hateful language, or uses selfish and unempathetic rationalizations in political debate, that is a tipoff that that person has a heart that’s a couple of sizes too small. Smart people do not embrace these types and hold them close. Sometimes maturity helps, but I wouldn’t count on it.

  9. Imogen says:

    What did the sign mean? I thought it meant genuinely helping out somehow. I dunno, adoption? Would they really flash a sign in the street that implied controlling their partners? I wasn’t there though so maybe you got a chance to see what it meant. As for the anxiety attack, awww. Mostly the reason I read this because I caught a glimpse of that part and wanted to see what was meant by it. I have no idea how I would react. I can imagine myself going into shock to resist feeling, which is pretty easy since I don’t wake up everyday expecting people to confront me. I don’t really have *attacks* related to social phobia.

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