Thursday, June 19, 2014

I judge the Larry Correia versus John Scalzi slapfest

I'm trying to embrace the Polish proverb, "Not my circus, not my monkeys" because there's always a circus on the internet and the monkeys are terrifying, but as this post proves, I'm not there yet.

I like John Scalzi, I have nothing against Larry Correia, and my politics are neither Scalzi's liberal identitarianism nor Correia's conservatism, so I'm probably as close to an impartial judge as you're going to get on this. I acknowledge that on one aspect, only two positions are possible, so you could say reality has biased me, and if you do, I'm cool with that.

The tweets are storified at ‘Monster Hunter’ author Larry Correia targeted for departing from ‘rape culture’ orthodoxy | Twitchy. I'll ignore the commentary there and only focus on Scalzi and Correia.

It starts with Nia Sanchez, Miss Nevada and now Miss USA, saying, “But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.”

Note that she does not say being able to defend yourself is the whole of the solution. She says she thinks it's important. So do I. If I designed the public school system, everyone would have the opportunity to learn a martial art.

Correia responded to feminist criticism of Sanchez at The Naive Idiocy of Teaching Rapists Not To Rape.

Note that he does not say being able to defend yourself is the whole of the solution. In fact, he says, "Taking some responsibility and learning to defend yourself isn’t a guarantee of perfect safety, no more than wearing a seatbelt ensures you’ll survive a car accident, but both help your odds."

John Scalzi tweeted, "The Naive Idiocy of Writing a Headline That Makes You Look Like Rapist Excusing Asshole."

Scalzi hasn't taken a clear position on "rape culture" that I've found, but his tweet implies that he thinks rape is a cultural problem, or that rapists only rape because they weren't taught not to by their mothers, or something that justifies publicly attacking Correia.

But on rape theory, there are two choices: either we have a problem with our culture or with predators. (Yes, some rape culture theorists are tweaking their theory to fit new facts, just as Seventh Day Adventists tweaked their theory when the world didn't end on October 22, 1844, but Adventists are still Adventists and rape culture theorists are still rape culture theorists.) The work of David Lisak appears to have convinced the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network to say in RAINN Urges White House Task Force to Overhaul Colleges’ Treatment of Rape: "Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime."

The discussion between Scalzi and Correia had nowhere to go but down. At one point, Correia said, "Subtlety is for pussies" and Scalzi responded, "Oh, look, you called me a pussy. I wonder why you can't see obvious misogyny!"

Now, Correia said in his post that he's "a retired self-defense instructor who taught lots of women how to defend themselves from violent criminals" and where the "obvious misogyny" is in someone who does that, I still don't know, but let's set that aside. On the effect of language, we have another binary choice: either you believe word choices strongly shape people's views, or you believe they may have a slight effect—see Linguistic relativity. Scalzi's taking the first position, which makes as much sense as saying that someone who uses "classy" as a term of praise is incapable of seeing obvious war on the working class. Words gain new meanings and lose old ones. That's especially true of a word like "pussy" which, when I was a small boy, evoked "fraidy cat", not "girl cooties".

Ah, well. For not attacking first, Correia gets a point. For having RAINN on his side, he gets another. For teaching women how to defend themselves against men, he gets a third. And for not subscribing to strong Whorfianism, he gets a fourth.

Better luck next time, John.

ETA: Actually, Correia gets a fifth point. Scalzi's initial tweet included the passive-aggressive insult of "That Makes You Look Like Rapist Excusing Asshole", yet he then suggested Correia's smileys were passive-aggressive.

ETA 2: Correia uses a bad word, and it is the Worst Thing Ever: SJW Outrage of the Week | Monster Hunter Nation