Guest post: Threats of reprisal enforce compliance

Originally a comment by Your Name’s not Bruce? on There must be reprisals.

Questioning their claims is not questioning their existence.

But refuting their claims to womanhood, allowing questions to even be asked, is tantamount to saying the Emperor is naked. The charade ends, the parade is over and those who praised the elegance and refinement of His Majesty’s raiment are shown to be a frauds and liars The little boy in the story who did not get the memo to bow and scrape and oooh and aaah is not to blame for the monarch’s nudity or embarassment. He only pointed out the truth as he saw it, the facts on the ground. Trans extremists’ claim to womanhood disappears in a puff of logic if their claim to it is not unquestioningly accepted and affirmed. To even question the assertion shows its weakness and dependence upon bluff and intimidation. Hackneyed formulae and magical thinking will only take you so far in the face of embarrassing, unyielding facts on the ground. Without some sort of reprisal, punishment or penalty, those who are silenced by fear rather than agreement may peel away from compliance with the demand for obedience to the asserted truth, as their going along with the demand in the first place was not out of any heartfelt loyalty or assent. While in the thrall of intimidation, they may however fetishize and display their own, superior wokeness by pointing out the lack of enthusiasm in others. (Reminding me of the tale told of the spontaneous, enthusiastic, thunderous applause with which a speech of Stalin was always greeted. Starting to clap was a no-brainer. The problem arose once one’s hands became sore. Sore hands or no, nobody wanted to be the guy who stopped clapping first…)

It’s a much more extreme example, but the assassination of atheists in Bangladesh I think, also springs from a similar desire to remove from consideration completely any hint of doubt or questioning of unevidenced assertions of fact, in this case the existence of a particular god. In this case the secret being guarded at all costs is not that The Emperor has no clothes, but that there is no Emperor at all. Allowing the brazen expression of blasphemy to go unpunished is seen as a sign of weakness, and represents a chink in the armour that protects the whole empty construct. It then becomes a competition amongst True Believers to demonstrate the depth of zeal and fervour with which one deals with or eliminates the doubters, blasphemers and apostates, both as a demonstration of the solidity, strength and orthodoxy of their own belief as well as a warning to others to keep silent.

The same goes for the violent response to the cartoon depictions of Muhammad; being able to coerce others into accepting your beliefs and to impose your rules and proscriptions is an exercise in power and, for a short time at least, a method of attempting to create a reality out of nothing but sheer will (and threats or acts of violence). Getting everyone else to go along with it is the tricky part, requiring silence from those who would oppose or criticize. But fear doesn’t always work, or if it sometimes does, not forever.

Criticism is not violence. Speech is not genocide. Baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire are not rhetorical devices.Calling for the death of TERFs is not reasoned argument.

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