Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Scrupulosity, a useful concept for understanding some moral warriors

Simon Kongshøj wrote,
I recently learned about a concept from the psychology of religion: Scrupulosity. This isn't the same as being scrupulous (which is a good thing), but means a pathological concern with own sins and sinfulness, which drives the sufferer to compulsively engage in religious ritual in self-harming or self-denying ways: Going to confession daily, "confessing" minor unwelcome stray thoughts, excessive fasting, self-flagellation, etc. In the Catholic world, scrupulosity has been studied since at least the 1600s, where priests would write about how they desperately attempted to calm down some of their churchgoers who had become unable to function socially and unable to maintain normal daily lives. Today, it's considered a form of OCD.

But the Catholic church in the 1600s was a major social institution, and the priest *had* to be concerned about whether some of his churchgoers became so dysfunctional they couldn't contribute to society anymore. In a cult, where isolation from the surrounding society can be considered a value, leaders are probably more likely to try to *strengthen* these impulses in sick members. And the more miserable their lives become, the more demands for self-sacrifice the leaders can make.

I think certain strands of modern progressive politics can form a very fertile substrate for a kind of secular scrupulosity. And in activist communities that pride themselves on being a counterculture in opposition to the surrounding society, much as I think such a counterculture is *good* and *necessary*, I think the cult-like expression of it is likely to flourish, except that the pressure of a cult leader might be replaced with peer pressure from the community.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What's wrong with the people who get called Social Justice Warriors?

On Facebook, Elizabeth Bruenig commented,
last night i said i think abortion's a sin but shouldn't be criminal and that i would try to reduce it with welfare, not the penal-carceral state. the result: "she's disgusting trash" "you're a prominent leftist and you CANNOT be anti-choice" (i'm a 26 y/o office worker) "you're not a leftist hero" (again...office worker)

what is the matter w these people
I answered,
I have figured out part of what's wrong with these people: their intellectual roots begin with Critical Race Theory and intersectional feminism, whose theorists believed "hate speech" should be banned. The underlying assumption of banning speech is that deviance must not be allowed. (Henry Louis Gates wrote a good response to that in the early '90s.)

None of the original CRT/intersectional crowd were socialists. They came from a Christian tradition, as their love of the Catholic concept of "social justice" indicates. But they've divorced their social justice from Christianity, so what's left is sanctimony without substance, a demand for conformity to a list rather than a principle.

Access to abortion is on the list. Logically, you should be able to oppose abortion for moral reasons and support legal access to it for moral reasons as well, but that calls for nuance and a willingness to have laws that are more tolerant than you are. But people who pride themselves on the purity of their beliefs never do nuance or tolerance.
ETA: "Let Them Talk" by Henry Louis Gates 

Presidential Lectures: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

LATER: Just to be clear, the people who use "social justice" today are not necessarily Christians. The concept spread from Catholicism to other religious groups, and now there are atheists who accept it, and even use its Christian metaphors such as calling slavery America's original sin.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Keeanga-Yamatta Taylor rejects privilege theory

From Picking up the Threads of Struggle:
The whole framework of privilege is really problematic because it reduces issues of power, of control, and authority to individual difference. It’s almost as if everything that is different about groups of people is then dubbed as a privilege. If you’re able-bodied and someone else is not, then your able-bodied-ness becomes a privilege. If you’re cisgendered and someone else is not, then that difference is transformed into a privilege.

...Oppression changes individual working-class people’s experience in the world. The experiences of working-class black women are not the same as they are for working-class white men. Because of the compounding impacts of multiple oppressions, it makes for a harsher outcome for black, working-class women. But the absence of those particular oppressions experienced by black women in the life of a white working-class man doesn’t necessarily equate into this thing that we call privilege.

Weaponizing poverty, or How "social justice warriors" are like McCarthyites and the Ku Klux Klan

A note before I begin: The people who get called "social justice warriors" can be astonishingly literal-minded, so I'll grant there's a reason my title doesn't say they are exactly like the Klan—though they've issued death threats and called in bomb scares, so far as I know, SJWs haven't killed anyone. But since they compare people who haven't killed anyone to Nazis, fascists, and the Klan, the objection's invalid. And they can't complain about being compared to McCarthyites, a group that destroyed lives, but did not murder anyone.

 "Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." —1 Samuel 15:3
They're called warriors because they believe all's fair in wartime so they dox, blacklist, censor, issue death threats, and weaponize poverty by getting people fired and destroying their businesses. Like people who support torture, the death penalty, or the use of chemical weapons, they are sure their cause is righteous and therefore their tactics are righteous too.

Which is why they don't notice or don't care that they use same tactics as McCarthyites and the Ku Klux Klan.

I have a personal hatred for the Ku Klux Klan. Skip this paragraph if you know my history: When my family was active in the civil rights movement, we could not get fire insurance because word was out that the Klan would burn us down. I was bullied for speaking up for integration and for opposing prayer in school. I remember my mother shaking after she got an anonymous phone call—to this day, I do not know if it was a death threat or just someone being vile, but I suspect the former—see the fact we could not get fire insurance.

The Klan believed in silencing people by destroying their livelihood. From Ku Klux Klan:
...activities included participation in parades, cross lightings, lectures, rallies, and boycotts of local businesses owned by Catholics and Jews.
I have a second-hand hatred for McCarthyites because they used the Klan's tactics against people I admire. As noted at McCarthyism:
It is difficult to estimate the number of victims of McCarthy. The number imprisoned is in the hundreds, and some ten or twelve thousand lost their jobs.[53] In many cases simply being subpoenaed by HUAC or one of the other committees was sufficient cause to be fired.[54] Many of those who were imprisoned, lost their jobs, or were questioned by committees did in fact have a past or present connection of some kind with the Communist Party. But for the vast majority, both the potential for them to do harm to the nation and the nature of their communist affiliation were tenuous.[55] After the extremely damaging "Cambridge Five" spy scandal (Guy BurgessDonald MacleanKim PhilbyAnthony Blunt, et al.), suspected homosexuality was also a common cause for being targeted by McCarthyism. The hunt for "sexual perverts", who were presumed to be subversive by nature, resulted in thousands being harassed and denied employment.[56] Many have termed this aspect of McCarthyism the "Lavender scare".[57]
From the ACLU's What Is Censorship?:
Private pressure groups, not the government, promulgated and enforced the infamous Hollywood blacklists during the McCarthy period. 
Yes, I could add that SJW tactics are like those of homophobes. I could make a very long list of bad people who have used bad tactics for their cause. This should be a wake-up call: when you are doing what bad people do, bystanders have trouble telling the difference between your cause and theirs.

Note: This post was inspired by the comments at Freedom Fighters | …and Then There's Physics.

Possibly of interest:

Wilfrid Laurier University Grad Student Association blasted for terminating café operator over help wanted ad - Kitchener-Waterloo - CBC News

The doubts of a ‘Social Justice Warrior’ | New York Post

Social Justice Warriors Against Free Speech | RealClearPolitics

On Leaving the SJW Cult and Finding Myself – Keri Smith

The Personality of Political Correctness - Scientific American Blog Network



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Harvard's black acceptance ratio is proportionate--but it's drawn from rich black folks

Harvard University Admits Highest Number Of Black Students In School's History | The Huffington Post: " Almost 12 percent of the total applicants who were offered admission next fall are black"

Most Black Students at Harvard Are From High-Income Families: "In a 2004 interview Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard, told the London Observer, “The black kids who come to Harvard or Yale are middle class. Nobody else gets through.” "

Kwame Anthony Appiah defending "cultural appropriation"

The Case for Contamination - The New York Times:
Besides, trying to find some primordially authentic culture can be like peeling an onion. The textiles most people think of as traditional West African cloths are known as Java prints; they arrived in the 19th century with the Javanese batiks sold, and often milled, by the Dutch. The traditional garb of Herero women in Namibia derives from the attire of 19th-century German missionaries, though it is still unmistakably Herero, not least because the fabrics used have a distinctly un-Lutheran range of colors. And so with our kente cloth: the silk was always imported, traded by Europeans, produced in Asia. This tradition was once an innovation. Should we reject it for that reason as untraditional? How far back must one go? Should we condemn the young men and women of the University of Science and Technology, a few miles outside Kumasi, who wear European-style gowns for graduation, lined with kente strips (as they do now at Howard and Morehouse, too)? Cultures are made of continuities and changes, and the identity of a society can survive through these changes. Societies without change aren't authentic; they're just dead.

Monday, April 10, 2017

FREE SPEECH AND UNSAFE SPACES | Pandaemonium

From Kenan Malik's FREE SPEECH AND UNSAFE SPACES:
The notion of a safe space as protection from challenge raises other issues, too. In 2104 a student group at Brown University organized a debate about campus sexual assault between the feminist Jessica Valenti and the libertarian Wendy McElroy, a critic of the notion of ‘rape culture’. Fearing that the debate would be too upsetting for some, a ‘safe space’ was set up, equipped with cookies, colouring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as counsellors. One of the students who helped set up, and make use of, the safe space, went to listen to the debate at one point, but quickly returned to the safe space. ‘I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs’, she said.