Bad Cattitude | 3 Dec 2021
We need to be people who HAVE ideas, not people who ARE their ideas … the former can change their minds and/or be pals with those who hold differing views … the latter take all disagreement as a personal attack. that is no basis for a civil society, much less a sane life.
the problem with cancel culture and the aggrievement industrial complex whose denizens deliberately cultivate an explosive attitude touchier than a shaved honeybadger is this:
it makes it impossible to speak about the things that matter.
everything is a third rail or a sacred cow. touch them and die, profane them and be declared apostate.
this is the societal equivalent of plowing salt into the fields of discourse. it renders genuine intellectual pursuit and progress impossible allowing only the weeds of tactical talking points to flourish. such practice occludes truth rather than reveals it.
this inevitably leads to all manner of hilarious and absurd inconsistencies where 80% of the people in the world wind up on both sides of the same issue because they cannot rotate the piece in their heads and realize that it’s the same shape in both cases (a generally true fact about humanity. you guys are awful at analogy and abstract-concrete-abstract transformations.)
the cure for this is generally that some people CAN process information in this fashion, do so, and then speak about it.
debate occurs, analogies and comparisons sharpen, and the world starts to move toward general principles more broadly applied.
but, if such debate is disallowed and/or people simply tune it out because they have been taught to call doing exactly what they do on issue A for issue B “racism” and thus not only persist in inconsistency but feel validated and virtuous for so doing, everyone is isolated on their own little solipsistic islands of call and repeat dogmatic tribalism.
there can be no dialogue nor consistency, only dog-whistling past the graveyard of the enlightenment.
this is how you wind up with 6 foot tall high school biological males being called “brave” for running in girl’s track meets, but a white woman being pilloried as a cultural appropriator if she starts a taco truck. gender is a social construct, but race and culture as manifested by cooking with cilantro and onions are sacred properties of the universe.
this is how you wind up alone and bereft in clown world.
so let’s stop, shall we? let’s lose the fear and regain our speech.
words have power and being denied them inflicts a form of powerlessness.
it’s not a coincidence that so many of the world’s religions start with “the word” or place such gravitas in names and true names. this is because the true name of a thing carries very real power both internally and externally. properly naming yourself and your needs and foibles is the cornerstone of personal health. i want X. i fear Z. i am insecure about N. i AM me.
this is true outside as well. if you cannot call hypocrisy hypocrisy or lies lies, you lose your power to define and shape the world.
you have to live benighted by oppressive discourse that you may not challenge.
you have to live in fear.
this is how performative “support for victims” and “anti-whateverism” have become the bastions of bullies and bigots. it’s just the most socially acceptable manner in which to engage in the nasty behaviors they were going to engage in anyway. it’s an attractor for jerks.
this weaves any issue with more complexity than fried dough into impossible, unparseable gordian knots of special pleading and histrionic hectoring. but once you lose the fear, most are not that hard to get to the bottom of IF and ONLY IF you are permitted to speak freely and accurately without fear or cancellation.
thus enabled, most wind up being pretty simple. you just have to frame the issues correctly. this is PRECISELY why those who seek to keep these issues alive as a source of endless agitation and division are so determined to prevent you from speaking these true names. it undoes their illusions and leaves them standing naked and foolish. and wow do they know it.
“ideas so good you must not be allowed to criticize them” is not much of a mantra for seizing the moral and ethical high ground…
a lot of this comes down to making speech verboten. it has resulted in an endless tug of war over the social discourse overton window (generally defined as the range of socially acceptable speech). this partisan pulling as not expanded the window. it has fragmented it in what a number of philosophers have described as an “epistemic divorce.” (this is why no one invites modern philosophers to parties)
but the point is no less valid for being made in terms of art. once you become conscious of this structure, that one tribe can say X and the other Y and that X and Y may no longer overlap, you’ll see it everywhere both between groups and between spheres.
in many places, calling abortion murder will get you instantly attacked.
in others, failing to do so will get you similarly set upon.
these two groups have lost the ability to even speak about an issue that is, once more, or great currency and import. we see it in free speech, in vaccine mandates, in rights to own guns, to pronouns, and to all manner of stricture and preferencing on race and gender and creed.
we’ve come apart because the words and the concepts needed to even discuss these issues in meaningful terms have been stripped from us. it ripped out the middle leaving only the extremes, yet the middle is where most live. is it any wonder so few feel like things are going well?
more of it that one might suspect is just acculturation.
it works like a speed trap. you see someone pulled over and everyone slows down. you see someone get canceled or pigpiled by howling concept-karens and you self-censor. soon, it seems normal to censor yourself. everyone around you is doing it. it becomes accepted practice despite the fact that most hate it.
more sinister, it becomes difficult to realize that most people hate it because saying so in public gets you attacked. so you rarely hear it. we get relegated to complaining bitterly in small groups of trusted friends. this engenders precisely the frustration and agitation that divides a society where no real division need exist.
this is how, just like a few police can slow a whole road, a few hyper-aggressive hysterics can make themselves look like a dominant majority.
and the answer to both is the same: if we all speed, they cannot stop us.
unlike officer friendly with his badge and gun, these winged monkeys of wokedom lack any moral or civil authority whatsoever.
you can simply laugh at them and if we all do it, they have no ability to stop us.
the goal is to take back real, reasoned, nuanced discourse without taboo topics, third rails, sacred cows, and all the nonsensically explosive performative name calling of the crybully aggrievement armies on both political extremes.
it just takes a little practice to get used to speaking one’s mind again and damn the torpedoes. but it’s worth it.
to this end, i’m going to start a new series within bad cattitude called “gato’s third rail diner” to start serving up some of these sacred cows on the very tracks we’re not supposed to touch.
perhaps we’ll get some guest authors.
i’m not looking to offend anyone per se, but i suspect i will. the point is to push the bounds of allowable speech and topics and retake the ground we’ve lost.
some feathers may get ruffled. perhaps they will be yours.
but that’s no reason we can’t be friends.
we need to be people who HAVE ideas, not people who ARE their ideas.
the former can change their minds and/or be pals with those who hold differing views.
the latter take all disagreement as a personal attack. that is no basis for a civil society, much less a sane life.
so, in advance to those who get triggered: “eggs. omelets. sorry, not sorry.”
we need to stop playing with their stacked semantic deck and get back to the pursuit of truth.