Guest post: In the finest DARVO tradition

Originally a comment by Your Name’s not Bruce? on Donors are disgusted.

but the new bit is thinking feminism and anti-racism didn’t work that way, why is that? Well why is that? Because fragile is the last thing we want to be or appear to be or claim to be. It’s degrading. It pulls against equality and ordinary inclusion in public life. So…why is it so appealing to “the trans community”? Why do we hear so very very much about it?

I think part of it that campaigns against sexism and racism were eager to argue their position, to have the opportunity to present the facts of the matter to the court of public opinion, to win hearts and minds in order to win the rights that women and African Americans had been denied. Both movements were struggles for justice. Trans activism wants to skip the whole making their case bit and move right on to getting what they want. They want what they want handed to them without discussion or debate because their demands, and the justification for them, would not survive the encounter with reality. That’s why we are never told what trans “rights” are; what is it that they are being denied? What is the injustice they are fighting? A good argument might win them more support, but they don’t have any good arguments; their demands are not for rights but for privileges. They’re not being exploited or abused. In Western society, they have the same basic rights as everyone else. And that’s a problem. What they want is more. They want more cookies and ice cream and television. Quick, give them what they want before they faint dead away or kill themselves!.

These days, EVERYONE is fragile. I am urged to say and do nothing in my classes that might offend or hurt any group of people, including trans, LGB, veterans, youth, climate change deniers, farmers…the list goes on and on.

Strange, given that “trigger warnings” were originally intended as WARNINGS about WHAT IS GOING TO BE TALKED ABOUT, and that prospective audience members should join in or stay away as they deemed appropriate for themselves. Like warnings about physical effects like smoke, strobe lights, gunshots etc. posted at theatres as a courtesy to those who might be adversely affected. These were warnings to NOT COME IN if you were prone to such negative reactions. Other warnings covering coarse language, nudity were, similarly, warnings to STAY AWAY if you were at risk of having your sensibilities offended. Now the warnings are going in the other direction, speakers themselves are to STAY AWAY from “offensive” material, at the risk of being shut down, fired, whatever.

Playing the easily triggered snowflake is a way of objecting to the presentation of information you object to without having to show why it’s wrong. Being told you are “hurtful” by someone is harder to argue against than being told you are “factually incorrect.” How can you argue against someone’s feelings?. You can’t. And that’s the point. Being accused of hatefulness puts you on the defensive. Claiming hurt is less work than having to argue your points, especially when you have no argument. Used in this way, it’s the rhetorical equivalent of stamping your foot, or holding your breath until you turn blue. Apparently too many adults are flummoxed when confronted with another adult engaging in this behaviour. They’re all too ready to hand over the cookies, ice cream and TV, along with the rights to safety and dignity of half the human population: women. Mustn’t argue; mustn’t offend.

The general idea seems to be that “hurt feelings”, “offense” etc. become especially worthy of sympathy and respect when coming from people who otherwise threaten to make your life Hell at best, and end it at worst.

Indeed. And feigning weakness and claiming to be the aggrieved party is good camouflage for the underlying threat if demands are not met. It also helps hide the fact that these demands are themselves offensive, intrusive, and illiberal. In the finest DARVO tradition, attacks (verbal or otherwise) on opponents can be presented as “self-defence.” The whole “marginalized community” bit lets those claiming “marginalization” to get away with a lot. It appeals to, and exploits, traditions of not exploiting the weak and vulnerable, of fairness, “sportsmanship”, and not “kicking a man while he’s down.” To oppose or question anything they want is deemed churlish and mean-spirited, when their own actions are churlish and mean-spirited to start with. Here we have a group that is exploiting the idea of weakness and vulnerability itself. Not a bad bit of jujutsu for a group consisting largely of straight, white males, one of the least weak and vulnerable “communities” on Earth.

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