Paint by numbers

I’ve been thinking I should do a little dictionary of Social Justice Bullshit. I say “little” because there wouldn’t be much to put in it…more of a page than a dictionary. But there are some words and phrases, and they could do with some beady-eyed interrogation. Intent isn’t magic; check your privilege; my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit – you know the ones.

One word I really hate is “schooling.” Use it in a sentence, you say, so that we all know what we’re talking about. “I schooled her on the issue but she doubled down and went right on asking her terrible questions.”

You recognize it now, right? Used by “activists” entranced with their own certainty, to describe the way they disagreed with an Impure Person.

And you also see how it works, yes? It’s not that I disagree with Impure Person and we argued about it, it’s that I have the correct knowledge and Impure Person has lack of knowledge and needs me to school her.

I don’t think I’ve ever used the word that way. I certainly hope I haven’t. I have often thought people were talking about something they didn’t know enough about, like the ones who kept saying Charlie Hebdo is racist, full stop – but even when I thought that I hope I didn’t tell them I was going to “school” them.

But people who consider themselves outstandingly virtuous activists do tell each other they “schooled” the designated ignoramus of the moment, and I never see them telling each other what an asshole thing that is to say. They know they have the right take on the issue at hand, so they know that anyone who has a different take is simply wrong, end of story. There is no different take. This isn’t a world of different takes. There is what the schoolers tell you, and there is error, and those are the only two categories that exist.

You don’t have to think about it terribly long or hard to realize this way of looking at the matter is unlikely to enrich anyone’s stock of ideas. It’s more like trying to live by a recipe than it is like thinking.

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