Monday, March 18, 2013

rhetoric and social justice warriors #1: "rape culture"

Just as I've met wonderful people who are Mormons and Scientologists, I've met wonderful people who believe in identitarian politics. So when I use examples, I'm not mocking individuals. I'm studying a phenomenon. I won't cite the source for this because, I'll repeat, the writer seems like a mighty nice person.

From a discussion about "rape culture":
As for rape culture in America – it’s not really a question of whether it exists, but how it functions. One could descend into a conversation of whether ‘rape culture’ is the optimal term for the broad base of activities, attitudes, representations, and so forth that the term encompasses, but I choose not to do so at this time, as it doesn’t seem especially fruitful. I’d rather just stick to rhetorical analysis.
That willingness to accept a core tenet—"it’s not really a question of whether it exists, but how it functions"—is not significantly different than what I found with a quick google for the devil working in the world: "Now that we have seen that Satan is a real being with real powers, we need to understand how he uses his powers."

The question of whether your model for understanding the world is valid is always relevant. A phrase like "it's not really a question" should be a siren's wail with flashing red lights to anyone who believes in science.

As for "I’d rather just stick to rhetorical analysis", perhaps the greatest weakness of identitarianism is its infinite parsing of meaning in order to find the appropriate evil "ism". It's an easy game to play—if I wanted to get into the Racistfinder General racket, at the risk of sounding vain, I suspect I would be pretty damn good. Nothing's easier for a decent writer than twisting the words of less sophisticated speakers.