June 16, 2015

I Am Both a Social Justice Warrior and a Shitlord

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In the span of a week, I have been angrily denounced as a "social justice warrior" by a self-identified conservative and called a "shitlord" by an angry feminist. I know it sounds a bit cliche, but I can't help thinking that this means I might be on the right track somehow. In my recent post about the meaning of freethought, I wrote, "Sadly, the freethinker who rejects tribalism will often be labeled a traitor by all tribes." Some people are not particularly interested in thinking outside of their tribe, and the fact that I've had experiences of being disowned by these tribes is at least mildly reassuring that I am doing what I aim to do (i.e., pursuing freethought and attempting to avoid ideology and tribalism).

I got quite a laugh out of being accused of being a social justice warrior. Anybody who knows me or who has read Atheist Revolution for awhile will probably enjoy that too. I'm not sure how I could be much more clear about my distaste for social justice warriors and their outrage culture than I have. But this particular conservative (who also happened to identify himself as Christian) had a serious case of absolute certainty that he was right about everything, and it quickly became clear that he was not going to grant me the opportunity to change his mind. He was not interested in reason.

Being called a "shitlord" was even more fun. While I have seen the term thrown about many times on Twitter, I was not sure what it meant. I initially assumed it was just a generic insult along the lines of "shithead," but then I decided to look it up. I'm glad I did because I discovered that it is yet another one of those terms used by feminists and social justice warriors (e.g., neckbeard, dudebro, gender traitor) to disparage anyone who dares to hold opinions different from their own. I find it fascinating that feminists seem to need to create so many words for the purpose of demeaning anyone who disagrees with them. Do I disagree with some aspects of some versions of feminism? Absolutely! If that makes me a "shitlord" in the eyes of the #killallmen or #givemoneytowomen crowds, I think I can live with that.

As I've said before, being called names by strangers on the Internet is not something that has ever bothered me. I'm not a child, and I have developed the sort of reasonably effective coping skills we used to expect most psychologically healthy adults to possess. Of course, I also recognize that this is not true for everyone, and this is part of why I generally manage to refrain from calling others names on the Internet.

I find it fascinating how some people become so emotionally attached to their opinions and ideologies that they will angrily defend them from imagined attacks that are not actually present and prevent them from being penetrated by facts. Motivated reasoning at its finest! Much like faith itself, this strikes me as irrational, harmful, and worth addressing here.

And while we're on the subject of ideology and how it often leads us astray, be sure to read Dr. Steven Novella's excellent post about the problematic nature of ideology. It is a good one and has inspired me to reevaluate some of my recent thoughts with regard to politics.

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