Toxic smugness

Hey kids! It's time to play "Stupid? Or Evil?"

Today's contestant is Chuck Colson:

"If someone walks in our church and says, 'You preach a sermon on [homosexuality], we're going to arrest you as a violation of the hate crimes,' then they'll have to arrest us."

I'm going to have to go with "Evil" here. Colson knows this is utter nonsense. He's enjoying the posture of self-aggrandizing bravado, but he knows full well that hate crimes has nothing to do with his fantasies about Gay Stormtroopers invading churches.

Colson knows that he's spinning falsehoods here. He knows that what he is saying is not true, but he has chosen to bear false witness. He's deliberately lying about the aims of his political opponents, portraying them through the lens of a paranoid fantasy concocted and refined to appeal to those who are prone to such paranoid fantasies. He is lying about the supposed evil of others to stroke his own pride and luxuriate in the feeling of righteousness it gives him.

And that's pretty much evil. Evil means (bearing false witness) in service of evil ends (pride). For bonus points, this is all done in God's name — so add in the evil of blasphemy too.

In a single sentence, Colson manages to break three out of 10 commandments. Not a record, but still impressive.

For another look at the same sordid stew of toxic smugness, see Kathryn Joyce's disturbing look at the "Men's Rights" movement:  "Men's Rights Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective."

Joyce discusses, among many other things, the way "Men's Rights Advocates" abuse or invent statistics to try to show that women abuse men with the same frequency and intensity that men abuse women. She cites Portland State University professor Jack Straton on this disingenuous research:

“The biggest concern, though, is not the wasted effort on a false issue,” writes Straton, but the encouragement given to batterers to consider themselves the victimized party. “Arming these men with warped statistics to fuel their already warped worldview is unethical, irresponsible and quite simply lethal.”

That "encouragement given to batterers to consider themselves the victimized party" is not a bug, but a feature of this research. It's what this research was intended and designed to produce.

It exists, in other words, to fulfill precisely the same function that Colson's lying about the Gay Gestapo exists to fulfill.

The group with the power is desperate to convince itself that it's actually powerless and persecuted. The batterers are trying to convince themselves that they are the victims of battering. The hegemons are trying to convince themselves that they are the ones threatened with legal sanctions for failing to conform.

And having almost half-convinced themselves of this, they bask in the glow of their courageous stand against such hardships, citing that courage as evidence of their moral superiority.

  • Lori

    @konrad_arflane; I understand that you don’t want to be smug or complacent about what you might do if your life circumstances were different, but I don’t think you should take that too far. There are many, many people who suffer horrible stresses, including long-term financial issues who don’t hit. There are also plenty of drunks who don’t hit. So, the financial stress or the drinking may be the trigger, but they’re not the underlying cause. The cause is whatever makes that man think that hitting his partner is an acceptable way to vent his frustrations. From the sounds of it the men in your stories never realized that hitting their families was wrong, they just stopped “needing” to do it.
    Frankly the polite version of my response to that is–shine that on. I would no more stay with a man who hits only when he’s unemployed or only when he’s drinking than I would stay with a man who hits all the time. As we’ve all seen the last year or so, the economy can turn on a dime and no one is guaranteed ongoing employment. Alcoholics fall of the wagon. No one should spend their lives living with what amounts to a ticking bomb, just hoping that it never goes off. The fact that some people are willing to settle for that doesn’t make it right.

  • Will Wildman

    While fully agreeing with Lori, my concern is still on redemption. I support anyone fleeing an abusive relationship, I don’t buy any of the excuses for external factors ‘making’ someone abusive, but once the fleeing is complete, what happens for the abuser? What system do we use to determine when someone has excised that malignance from their persona, and how can they be encouraged to strive for it?
    I think one of the risks of refusing to cut abusers any slack (and I don’t think that they deserve any) is that you can also go too far and declare that anyone who hits anyone else, ever, is by nature An Abuser and must be shunned from human civilisation. They’re still people, they’re just broken, and I prefer to think most broken people can be fixed.

  • Ursula L

    Drake Bob wrote:
    D.V. Shelters tend to take both women and children.
    Not necessarily. In particular, DV shelters will often have an age limit on boys allowed to stay there. For example, this page: http://hanover.il.networkofcare.org/mh/resource/tax_list.cfm?sw=RP-4500.8000&cat=0&agegrp= lists a town’s resources, and of the possible shelters listed, only one has no age limit for boys. Another limits to boys under 16, and a third to boys under 14.
    This probably makes sense in terms of keeping the shelters safe (older boys being large enough to abuse, perhaps likely to have learned their father’s abusive behavior, or more likely to side with the father, and perhaps contacting the father to let him know where the mother is) but it would be a problem for a woman with a teenage son who wanted to leave an abuser, but not want to leave her son with the abuser.

  • Lori

    I think one of the risks of refusing to cut abusers any slack (and I don’t think that they deserve any) is that you can also go too far and declare that anyone who hits anyone else, ever, is by nature An Abuser and must be shunned from human civilisation. They’re still people, they’re just broken, and I prefer to think most broken people can be fixed.

    Nothing I said was meant to indicate that I think all abusers should be permanently shunned. My comment was specifically about men who stopped abusing without ever seeming to deal with the fact that it was wrong.
    IMO when dealing with someone who has abused in the past the important question is “Why aren’t you abusing now and why should anyone believe you won’t abuse again in the future?”
    One possible answer is, “I learned that abuse is wrong, got therapy to identify and deal with the issues that caused me to abuse and learned effective anger management techniques”. My response to that would be to congratulate him on having done the difficult work and then treat him pretty much the way I treat everyone else–I’d watch for warning signs, but wouldn’t live in constant expectation of seeing them.
    Other possible anwsers include “I got a job” and “I quit drinking/taking drugs”. My response to that is, “How nice for you. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.”
    Still other answers include things like, “I got arrested and don’t want to go back to jail” and “My family threatened to cut me off if I did it again”. My response to that kind of answer is to run, not walk, as far away as possible and to do my best to make sure that anyone in that person’s orbit knows that there are resources for getting away when he starts abusing again.

  • hapax

    anyone who hits anyone else, ever, is by nature An Abuser and must be shunned from human civilisation.
    It’s no secret that I have a horrible temper. Once, when we dating, I threw a cup of soda at my not-yet husband in the middle of a fight.
    Was I justified? Of course not. Was he as mad as hell at me, and insistent that I really needed to grow up and stop throwing tantrums? Damn straight, and good on him. Do I still have the potential to explode and become dangerous to myself and others? Yeah, probably — it’s one of the reasons I try to stay self-aware, vigilant, and never forsake my mental and spiritual disciplines.
    Am I a natural “Abuser” who must be immediately left and never trusted again? Dear God, I hope not.
    This is by no means an encouragement for anyone to stay in an abusive relationship. Nor do I want to offer any sympathy or cover to abusers. And I understand why anti-abuse organizations try to break the cycle of justifications and excuses and say, “if you are hit EVEN ONCE, just leave.”
    But I’m with Will Wildman. Any black and white rule that doesn’t allow for context and flexibility also doesn’t allow for the infuriating glorious muddles that make up real human beings.
    We all know who deals in Absolutes.

  • hapax

    Sorry, Lori, I didn’t see your response until I posted mine. Your clarifications make good sense.
    I did want to add my two cents, however, to remind us all that this isn’t necessarily a male / female issue (I know that we all know it, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat it occasionally)

  • http://lyorn.livejournal.com/ inge

    Will: The reason not to cut abusers any slack is the same reason why you do not cheer on a biting kitten. People, like cats, learn what behaviour gets good results and what gets bad ones, and repeat winning strategies. If a person who (for whatever reasons) has little scruples or empathy sees that they can get what they want by hitting people, they will learn to do it. If they instantly get negative feedback (getting hit back, being left to do their own dirty dishes, losing the respect of their peers, get hauled away by police) they are much less motivated to hit again. Which is why abusers chose victims that their strategy works on.
    One person can be abusive towards those unable to fight back, and be perfectly civilised towards those who can. Makes them an abuser, IMO, even if it does not mean that those who that person does not attack should shun them. Positive feedback for good behaviour is important, too. But *only* for good behaviour. Not for justification, not for disparaging jokes, not for lying, not for manipulation.
    You can cut slack to abuse only when no one is harmed with the situation as-is, and you have given up on bettering it. (Yes, weird uncle Algie is yelling abuse at everyone after his third eggnogg and then falls asleep in the bathroom. Limit his eggnoggs and get a spare key for the bathroom door.) If people get harmed, all slack you cut is taken out of their skin.

  • Lori

    I did want to add my two cents, however, to remind us all that this isn’t necessarily a male / female issue (I know that we all know it, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat it occasionally)

    I know. I was speaking from my perspective and, as a straight woman, my partners are men. (Although I do realize that abuse can occur in other kinds of relationships.)

  • Will Wildman

    We all know who deals in Absolutes.

    Sith and people talking about Sith?

  • MadGastronomer

    (and who would’ve thought Jesus was a bottom? seems pretty butch to me.)
    I know you’re trying to be funny, but seriously, all this sounds like to me is a load of ignorance. A gay or bi man’s preference for topping or bottoming has nothing to do with his gender presentation, and the idea that it does is pretty sexist (coming from the idea that women are always the receptive partner, so that men who are like women are also necessarily receptive).
    If you really felt the need to make the joke, I’m sure you could’ve found a better word than “butch”.

  • ako

    IMO when dealing with someone who has abused in the past the important question is “Why aren’t you abusing now and why should anyone believe you won’t abuse again in the future?”
    Yes, thank you. When it comes to cutting them slack and believing they’ve bettered themselves, I want to see an answer that makes sense, and involves the abuser taking responsibility. “I abused because my life is hard” is an excuse, and only really means “I won’t abuse so long as my life is easy enough”. “I abused because I made some wrong, selfish, and hurtful decisions that tie in with past issues, and I’ve gone for therapy and worked on my self-discipline to better manage my own behavior in all circumstances” is someone taking responsibility for their own actions and making a commitment to change. Even then, I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to take the risk of getting involved with them/taking them back. I’ll just see the possibility for a good outcome for someone who does.
    And if there’s ways of cutting them slack that don’t, as inge put it, come out of someone else’s skin, then it makes sense to show them that kind of softness. But there needs to be some clear lines drawn, because so often the slack shown to abusers has been the kind that gets their partners and kids raped, beaten, or killed. There’s a long history of people tying the idea of compassion and forgiveness for abusers with abuse victims going back and taking it and trying not to ‘provoke him’, or being expected to believe that a smooth stretch is the same as the problem being solved, when it isn’t. And laying on the “God says you have a duty to forgive” obligation so people get split between their physical safety and their soul. So any push for compassion for abusers needs to be done carefully, with a willingness to clarify what exactly is meant, and with an extra effort to ensure that it involves compassion for people abused. Because if it’s not done carefully enough, people will keep trying to fit it back into the old pattern of letting the harm go on.

  • Lori

    Even then, I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to take the risk of getting involved with them/taking them back. I’ll just see the possibility for a good outcome for someone who does.

    IMO there’s also a huge difference between saying that a former victim shouldn’t take his/her former abuser back and saying that the former abuser is unfit/untrustworthy to be in a relationship. Depending on what happened in the past it simply may not be possible for a couple to truly put it behind them and have a healthy relationship. Also, some pairings are just toxic and some patterns of bad behavior are so ingrained that no amount of therapy can make reuniting a good bet. That doesn’t mean that the former abuser couldn’t have a healthy, safe relationship with another person.

  • Lila

    In my experience of observing people in bad relationships, the person who leaves the abuser has some work to do, too. Not to imply that they “asked for it” or in any way brought abuse on themselves, no–but that they need to know what to look for so they don’t fall right back into another abusive relationship. It appears that some people, whether by their upbringing or some kind of horrid adaptive behavior pattern, dump one abuser and immediately go out and find another one. In two of the three cases I’m thinking of in my own circle of acquaintance, the abusee eventually ended up with a decent partner, but it took both of them several tries to get it right.

  • Will Wildman

    Lori: Also, some pairings are just toxic and some patterns of bad behavior are so ingrained that no amount of therapy can make reuniting a good bet.

    My first relationship went really bad sometimes – unusually, but in a way I’m thankful for, she ended it during a good time, when we hadn’t actually had a noteworthy fight for almost a year. In retrospect I see the beginnings of behaviour that my own father has honed to a near-art. I still adore the girl, in a somewhat less romantic way, and we’re still friends, but my instincts when relating to her tend toward the extremely unhealthy. I saw her for a few days at a convention this summer, hanging out in a very casual way, and it was terrifying to see the jealous and paranoid thoughts that showed up in my head before sense overruled.

    Lila: It appears that some people, whether by their upbringing or some kind of horrid adaptive behavior pattern, dump one abuser and immediately go out and find another one.

    My brother has had a parade of girlfriends selected mostly on his feeling of being a knight-in-shining-armor saving them from their woes. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t work, with the last one being possibly the craziest and most emotionally abusive person I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting. She had been married three times, always to horribly abusive people in every sense, including some that hit her. Her family wasn’t especially supportive either, to the point where I doubt anyone could untangle the cause-and-effect of where her behaviour came from and why she sought out people who were equally lunatic, but in the months that they were together, she seemed intent on making my brother similarly crazy. To this day, it can be hard to get him to understand why it’s not okay for people to angrily defend flatly bad decisions – the emotional response of not wanting to be wrong is, in his mind, total justification.

  • http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com Steve

    Great post! I really like your blog – keep up the excellent work!!
    Common Cents
    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com
    ps. Link Exchange??

  • Rebecca

    My brother has had a parade of girlfriends selected mostly on his feeling of being a knight-in-shining-armor saving them from their woes.
    I hope he’s realized by now that that’s not a good attitude to have even with well-adjusted partners.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/syfr syfr

    The only abuser I know is a charming, charming man. He has his own personal punching bag at home to take his issues out on.

  • http://vardulon.com Vardulon

    Isn’t it funny how the guy who’s complaining that people are making it a crime to say certain things would actually love to be in charge of an organization in which he was allowed to decide what opinions were legal or not?
    Kind of like how the only people who deny the Holocaust are those who would very much like there to be another one.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    These two stories make me uneasy about categorically stating that abuse is something that is part of some men’s personalities and absent from others’. Or at least, they make me hesitant to believe that the abusive men – if we take that to mean men that are capable of hitting their wives or children if sufficiently pressed in other areas of their lives – are in any particular minority.
    I don’t think you can conclude that abusive men are a substantial proportion of men based on two acquaintances. That’s anecdotal. Just sayin.
    I would love to think that I’m the sort of guy who would never raise a hand to anyone, but honestly, I’ve been so ridiculously fortunate in my life so far that I can’t say for certain how I would react to truly adverse circumstances.
    I’d say that the first step is making a vow to yourself that you’ll never, ever hit a partner no matter how stressed you get. As has been pointed out, there are men who don’t hit even under extreme stress, and being clear in their own minds that it’s not acceptable is probably a big part of this.
    I’m not saying that a man who hits a woman will always hit his romantic partners. It’s less broad than that: a man who hits a romantic partner is always going to be a man who’s capable of hitting a romantic partner. The moment you swing your fist, you’ve crossed that line, and you can never go back over it. You will never again be able to call yourself a man who could never hit a woman.
    Does this mean you can’t change your pattern of behaviour? Or even your habits of thought and feeling, gradually moulding your personality for the better? Not at all. But that takes a lot of work and commitment, and anybody who’s serious about that should, in my opinion, never become complacent and decide that he’s now a man who’d never hit his partner. If you know you’re capable of something bad, you have a lifetime duty to keep a sharp eye on yourself to make sure you don’t do it.
    My brother has had a parade of girlfriends selected mostly on his feeling of being a knight-in-shining-armor saving them from their woes.//
    I hope he’s realized by now that that’s not a good attitude to have even with well-adjusted partners.

    Me too. The saviour role is one that’s tempting to both men and women, and it very seldom ends well. Among other things, in my experience it tends to suggest someone with boundary issues: your sense of virtue can get tied up in the effect you have on someone else, which means you’re not going to draw good lines between the two of you. You can wind up being controlling or being self-immolating, depending on which way you go, but neither is good for either partner. And really, if what attracts you to a person is that there’s something wrong in their life and you want to fix it – what happens in the unlikely event that you succeed in fixing it? You’ve gotten rid of the thing that attracted you to them in the first place.
    It seems to me – again, just in my experience, as I don’t know your brother – that the rescuer role can also be tied up in low self-esteem. If you feel you have to do that much to prove yourself worthy of a partner, it suggests you don’t feel very worthy just in yourself. And if you don’t find yourself attracted to happy, competent people, it suggests you may feel on some level that happy, competent people are out of your reach, which doesn’t say much for your own happiness or confidence.
    I dunno. I’m not trying to have a go at your brother, because I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but the rescuer fantasy involves a lot of vulnerabilities.

  • malpollyon, Lurker in the Dark Places and Keeper of the Giant Isopods

    They’re still people, they’re just broken, and I prefer to think most broken people can be fixed.

    Off topic, but that encapsulates why I think that all punishment should be rehabilitative or preventative. I have never understood why legal sanction for retributive punishment isn’t seen as a great moral wrong, but then I’ve never seen why we think locking people up is self-evidently superior to corporal punishment. And don’t get me started on casual prison rape jokes.

    I don’t think you can conclude that abusive men are a substantial proportion of men based on two acquaintances. That’s anecdotal. Just sayin.

    Maybe not, but in a world where approximately 2/3rds of adults can be convinced to commit (what they have every reason to believe) is negligent homicide by a nice man in a white coat (cite), I find it problematic to divide the world into abusers and victims. Their both victims, abusers are just dangerous victims. We should either fix them so they are no longer dangerous, or remove them from situations where they can abuse, anything else is gratuitous cruelty.
    But then my moral intuitions are somewhat unusual, I think. I remember being shocked at the number of people on this board who feel uncomfortable playing “bad guys” in games. I mean, if you boycott anti-heros/villains you’ll never experience Simon Templeman’s awesome voice acting in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain.

  • Joshua

    malpollyon:
    I remember being shocked at the number of people on this board who feel uncomfortable playing “bad guys” in games.
    Makes no sense to me. When playing video games, I shoot the noncombatants just to see what happens. I also shoot the walls and light fittings.
    Yeah, I played a lot of Doom when I was younger, how did you tell?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/gdwarf GDwarf

    Heh, I just tend to see NPCs in video games as…not real, but…somehow close to it? I dunno. I know full well that they are simply a bunch of relatively simple lines of code, and have no sentience or sapience, no opinions, and, really, have less in the way of instincts than your average garden worm.
    That said, I have a bit of trouble with being a jerk to them. Less so in violent games where they’re usually “faceless mooks”, but if I talk to them, then I’ve got trouble acting mean to them if there’s any way to avoid doing so.

  • chris the cynic

    malpollyon: I remember being shocked at the number of people on this board who feel uncomfortable playing “bad guys” in games.
    I think it mostly depends a lot more on how you look at the game than anything else. If you think of it as a consequence free zone where nothing you do can have a negative impact then playing as a mass murderer is fine. Certainly there is no moral problem with it.
    That is not remotely how I feel about any form of fiction. If I don’t care about someone (or possibly something) in a story then that story isn’t going to interest me. So for a game with a story (and for there to be bad guys there has to be a story) if it keeps my attention that means I care about the characters. If I care about the world or the people in it I don’t want to be the bad guy. I want to help them.
    [Last moment addition:] Or what GDwarf said. That pretty much describes how I feel.
    -
    Joshua: Makes no sense to me. When playing video games, I shoot the noncombatants just to see what happens. I also shoot the walls and light fittings.
    Joshua, I recommend The Nameless Mod to you.
    Shoot people you know you aren’t supposed to shoot. If they tell you to knock someone out (side with World Corp, by the way) shoot him too. Even though he has information you need. You’ll like it. Shoot your helicopter pilot.
    It is a game that was made for people like you. Oddly enough, it was also made for people like me. It responds well to vastly different play styles.

  • http://chipuni.livejournal.com Chip Uni

    Thank Heavens for Fred Phelps.
    Whenever someone says that preaching against homosexuality will be a crime… I thank Fred Phelps.
    Someone would have go far beyond what Fred Phelps has done — all the protests that he and his church have made — to be beyond the limits of the First Amendment.

  • MadGastronomer

    We should either fix them so they are no longer dangerous, or remove them from situations where they can abuse, anything else is gratuitous cruelty.
    You can’t just “fix” someone. Therapy is a participatory process, there’s no way to do it to someone, they have to do it themselves. All a therapist can do is help. And even if, in a Bergessian twist, we figured out a way to forcibly mess with people’s heads so they stopped, do we have a right to do that? And for your other case, how do we remove abusers from situations where they can abuse, other than putting them in prison? What, exactly, do you want society to do?

  • ako

    Their both victims, abusers are just dangerous victims.
    Do you see any place for moral responsibility and choice? Because ‘victim’ is not a defining quality of a person. It’s merely one aspect. If someone’s a victim of mistreatment and chooses to respond by hurting someone, and someone else is a victim of mistreatment and chooses not to hurt people, that’s an important moral difference. And I’ve never seen an abuser who didn’t demonstrate control of their actions. All the ones I’ve seen or heard about in any detail get obvious practical benefits from what they do (a way to vent rage with substantially less risk of negative consequences, a partner and family kept compliant through fear, the chance to hurt people they’re angry at and get away with it, etc.). Some urges people don’t get unless they have some damage, and some urges are easier to manage if your life’s easier, but the people who put effort into ensuring they get away with it aren’t just dangerous victims – they’re people who’ve chosen to be harmful. And I think it’s harmful to society in general, to abuse victims, and to abusers looking to reform to ignore or minimize it. Because if someone keeps telling themselves that they’re doing it because of sickness, not because of choice, they haven’t got a lot of reasons to make a different choice.

  • Cat Meadors

    @ShifterCat – ok, everyone’s already said this but dammit, I researched the links so I’m still posting. Check out The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power for the full story. Or google Jeff Sharlet +”The Family”, you can get the basics that way. (Here’s his Harper’s article, the followup is good too, and this is his recent interview on Fresh Air that I found morbidly fascinating and also talks about the Ugandan homosexuality law.)
    Who are the three men who best understood the New Testament’s message?
    Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/U612575 Timothy (TRiG)

    Wasn’t there a bunch of similar nutcases in Washington D.C. recently, daring the police to arrest them?

  • cjmr

    Yes, there were. No one arrested them.

  • Bennett Standeven

    I know the thread has moved on, but I did want to make a few comments about the article on RADAR and the web-research I did after reading it and some of its ‘refutations’.
    Firstly, “Local [men's rights] groups in West Virginia and California have also had important successes, criminalizing false claims of domestic violence in custody cases, and winning rulings that women-only shelters are discriminatory.” I’m not sure how the latter qualifies as a ‘success’ for the men’s rights movement; seems to me that would hurt men more than women. As to the former, I don’t see why it’s a bad thing, assuming true claims of domestic violence in custody cases lead to criminal charges as well. [I'm not so sure that's true, though.]
    Grignal of RADAR is quoted as saying, “…“I’ve had Democrats on Capitol Hill tell me they agree with everything I say. A member of the Congressional Black Caucus told me that his brother can’t see his kids, and his wife threatened to throw herself down the stairs to ruin his political career.”” Actually, that would seem to be in the not-at-all-stupid category (although if true it isn’t really evil either). Making the “abuser” black tends to change how I would look at the situation.
    But what I really wanted to talk about was this:
    “In one recent case, Genia Shockome, a Russian immigrant, was fighting for custody of her two children with her ex-husband, whom she charged had beaten her so severely that she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and who had told her she “had no right to leave” since he’d brought her to the United States. The judge in the case sided with her husband’s counter-claims of Parental Alienation Syndrome and awarded him full custody (and later sentenced Shockome to 30 days in jail while she was seven months pregnant). When her attorney, Barry Goldstein, co-author of the forthcoming book Domestic Violence, Abuse and Custody, criticized the judge in an online article, the judge retaliated with a complaint, and Goldstein was given a five-year suspension. Goldstein says the sanction represents a chilling pressure on attorneys, who may now fear penalties for criticizing a court’s gender bias that will interfere with their duties to their clients and that could result in women deciding not to leave abusers out of fear they won’t get a fair trial.
    Already I wondered why we are supposed to assume that Genia’s accusations are correct, when the article provides no evidence for them. [What others have assumed about libertarians and creationists, I tend to assume about people who question the court system after losing a case.]
    Not surprisingly, the “refutation” sites I looked at specifically rejected this claim; since I didn’t really trust either the linked site or RADAR’s info
    (http://glennsacks.com/blog/?p=57 is what I found yesterday; but http://glennsacks.com/enewsletters/enews_9_20_06.htm is a more direct link.)
    So I looked at the court decision which Sacks linked at http://www.thelizlibrary.org/outrage/shockome.html. But it seems to say the same as the other sites, only with much more relevant details. Evidently the judge ruled exactly the way the evidence (as it seemed to him) pointed; so I don’t see any misconduct on his part, even if he is wrong. [Judges are allowed to make mistakes, just like everyone else.]
    Then I read the site itself (earlier today). Hoo boy! I thought RADAR was toxically smug… As refutations go it’s pretty weak; I hardly noticed any arguments that weren’t already addressed in the court report. If I were on the “jury” in this case, I’d have to side with the husband and judge.
    So what concerns me about all this? It seems like textbook “faith-based” politics (and if Amodeo’s presentation is accurate, a textbook “witch-hunt” to boot); we are supposed to accept that Mr. Shockome is an abuser on faith, rather than evidence or reasoned argument. I think we should leave that strategy to the conservatives…

  • Bennett Standeven

    By the way, I hope this didn’t multiple-post; Typepad didn’t like my first attempt to submit, I think because two other posts had been made in the interim.

  • Bugmaster

    we are supposed to accept that Mr. Shockome is an abuser on faith, rather than evidence or reasoned argument.

    I’ve been away on vacation, so I’ve missed a lot of the previous comments; but, AFAIK, the common objecttion to this argument is that Mt. Shockhome is a man, and so is the judge. Men enjoy the male privilege; therefore, they yearn to oppress women (some secretly, some on a subconscious level, some openly). Therefore, no decision made by a man concerning a woman is to be fully trusted — or trusted in any way, probably. Thus, if a woman accuses a man of abuse, the burden of proof should be on him to demonstrate otherwise; the default position of automatically siding with the woman effectively offsets the male privilege.
    This is also why any sociological research into female violence is to be considered fraudulent a priori. If research was conducted by a man, then we already know it’s fraudulent due to male privilege. If it was conducted by a woman, then the woman is most likely a sellout who is trying to suck up to men in exchange for power or money.

  • Rebecca

    criminalizing false claims of domestic violence in custody cases
    I hear this a lot for rape, and it is critically important to distinguish “failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” and “false accusation.”

  • Bennett Standeven

    @Rebecca: Good point. FWIW, I wouldn’t approve of putting Genia Shockhome on trial; I don’t think the falsehood of her accusations could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • Chris_C

    I’m late to this conversation, but I would have stuck Joyce in with Colsen. As a child going through my parents divorce I saw how little disincentive there was for violence from my mother and against my father. Now that I’m a father I’ve come face to face with the fact that due to my gender I’m legally and socially a second-class parent. My relationship with my children is entirely at the suffrage of my wife.
    Thankfully I’ve married well and it will probably never be a personal issue.

  • KellyK

    You know, I know a woman whose husband broke her fricking arm and yet got custody of the kids when they split. So I don’t think the system is quite as biased in favor of women as a lot of guys are arguing.
    I have also never heard any feminist argue that ” Men enjoy the male privilege; therefore, they yearn to oppress women (some secretly, some on a subconscious level, some openly). Therefore, no decision made by a man concerning a woman is to be fully trusted — or trusted in any way, probably.” Privilege refers to benefits and bonuses that society grants you as a member of a certain group (white, male, straight, whatever), not that you’re inclined to be a jerk or that you want to oppress women or anyone else. To define it as the second is a strawman argument.

  • KellyK

    I hear this a lot for rape, and it is critically important to distinguish “failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” and “false accusation.”
    Absolutely. Reminds me of this: http://thecurvature.com/2009/11/24/u-s-marine-acquitted-of-rape-despite-admission-of-physical-force/
    (Man fully admits to using force when woman refuses sex. And somehow that’s not rape. Um…okay…

  • Bugmaster

    Privilege refers to benefits and bonuses that society grants you as a member of a certain group (white, male, straight, whatever)

    Who is this “society”, though, that is doing all the granting of privileges ? Our current society is composed of men and women (*); with men having most of the power and influence. If anyone is going to be doing the granting, it’s the men. So, “male privilege” means that men will always prefer to grant privileges to other men, not to women; this is pretty oppressive, isn’t it ? Note that I have specified in my statement above that the oppression may very well be subconscious in nature, though much of it is entirely conscious.
    The above paragraph, and my previous post on the topic, represent the feminist consensus (if such a thing could be said to exist) as I understand it from reading these threads, not necessarily my own opinion.
    (*) Plus several other sexes and/or genders that I am going to ignore for purposes of simplifying the discussion only.

  • ako

    I hear this a lot for rape, and it is critically important to distinguish “failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” and “false accusation.”
    “False” still strikes me as worryingly broad. When it comes to false rape accusations I’ve seen happen in person, there were a couple instances of people with severe mental illness who honestly believed what couldn’t possibly have happened, and one instance of a young girl being threatened by the rapist into accusing someone else to cover for his crimes. So reasonable rules for people who aren’t making the accusation freely, or have poor perceptions of reality (so they’re not thrown into jail as if they did it with the intent to damage someone).
    Our current society is composed of men and women (*); with men having most of the power and influence. If anyone is going to be doing the granting, it’s the men. So, “male privilege” means that men will always prefer to grant privileges to other men, not to women; this is pretty oppressive, isn’t it ?
    It doesn’t work like that. It’s not only men (women have some power and influence, and many have shown bias towards men), and it’s not always. It definitely isn’t always. It’s habitual, and people who want to behave towards women in ways that aren’t sexist have to put in the kind of effort you need to put into breaking bad habits (with how entrenched the habits are varying from person to person). And changing your own habit doesn’t change anyone else’s, so even if you put in the work to behave fairly and equally towards women, a society where a lot of people grant disproportionate privileges to men (consciously or unconsciously, like you said), there isn’t anything like the same number of people granting disproportionate privileges to women (or the privileges women get provide far less power), and they’re not massively outnumbered by egalitarian behaviir, will still grant you male privilege.
    I think you really don’t understand the feminist consensus. And, to avoid further misunderstanding, I don’t suggest granting female privilege to ‘balance out’ male privilege. It would lead to a different problem of sexism, which wouldn’t fit the label ‘male privilege’, but it still wouldn’t be right or fair.

  • Bugmaster

    It doesn’t work like that. It’s not only men (women have some power and influence, and many have shown bias towards men), and it’s not always. It definitely isn’t always. … and people who want to behave towards women in ways that aren’t sexist have to put in the kind of effort you need to put into breaking bad habits

    Fair enough; it would be presumptuous of me to claim that all humans of a certain type behave in a certain way — humans are too varied for that. Would it be fair to say then that, according to the feminist consensus, the default position of an overwhelming majority of men (and some women) is to grant privileges to other men, and not to women ?
    If the above statement is true, then my two corollaries still stand. No decision made by a man concerning a woman can be fully trusted, because it is overwhelmingly likely (though not 100% likely) that the man in question is making the decision based on his default position of male privilege. And, of course, no research into female violence can be valid — especially not when conducted by a man ! — since the peer-review process ensures that the majority of scientists (who are men, or possibly pro-male biased women) are making decisions based on male privilege.
    Note that, since male privilege can be subconscious — just as any bad habit such as, I don’t know, picking your nose — men’s actions are suspect even when they are proclaimed to be, or appear to be, favorable toward women.

    I don’t suggest granting female privilege to ‘balance out’ male privilege. It would lead to a different problem of sexism, which wouldn’t fit the label ‘male privilege’, but it still wouldn’t be right or fair.

    I take it you’re against affirmative action for women, then ?

  • ako

    Would it be fair to say then that, according to the feminist consensus, the default position of an overwhelming majority of men (and some women) is to grant privileges to other men, and not to women ?
    I don’t think so. Are you talking the feminist consensus on Slacktivist, or the feminist consensus in general? Because I don’t think there’s a lot of consensus in feminism, and it’s tricky working out what the mainstream view is, as there is such a diversity of opinions. Most feminists would agree that men and women disproportionately, but I don’t think there’s anything like a consensus on overwhelmingly. There are feminists who take this view, definitely, but I don’t think they’re majority. My opinion is that most people make some biased decisions due to sexism, but (in the U.S., at least) few people have most of their decisions biased that way.
    I take it you’re against affirmative action for women, then ?
    Yeah.

  • malpollyon, Poster in the Dark Places and Keeper of the Giant Isopods

    ” And, of course, no research into female violence can be valid — especially not when conducted by a man ! ” – cite?
    “men’s actions are suspect even when they are proclaimed to be, or appear to be, favorable toward women.” – cite?
    Bugmaster, I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t repeatedly and tediously attribute to “feminists” positions that every feminist on this board has explained on more than one occasion the do not hold. If you can’t be arsed learning what a term of art like privilege means in context, don’t embarrass yourself by attributing your misunderstandings to your opponents. It’s exactly as tedious as it would be to have every conversation that touched on strict typing interrupted by someone arguing that all proponents of strict typing want to impose corporal punishment on violators.

  • ako

    It’s exactly as tedious as it would be to have every conversation that touched on strict typing interrupted by someone arguing that all proponents of strict typing want to impose corporal punishment on violators.
    As I’d never heard of strict typing, it was beginning to remind me of convert-the-atheist trolls trying to ‘prove’ that all atheists really do believe in God, and are just pretending not to in order to spite God.

  • Bugmaster

    I don’t think so. Are you talking the feminist consensus on Slacktivist, or the feminist consensus in general?

    Just on Slacktivist; I thought I’d mentioned that above; sorry if I forgot. As far as I understand, there’s no general feminist consensus anyway, but maybe I’m wrong.

    My opinion is that most people make some biased decisions due to sexism, but (in the U.S., at least) few people have most of their decisions biased that way.

    That’s fair, but does this apply to decisions regarding accusations of abuse ? Or child custody ? Or research into female violence ? These are all the topics that came up on this thread; we’ve discussed others on previous threads. Specifically, someone — sorry, I don’t have time to click back through several pages right now — suggested that all research into female violence was basically run by the propaganda arm of The Patriarchy. That’s just the more recent example.

    I take it you’re against affirmative action for women, then ?

    Yeah.

    Welcome to The Patriarchy, honorary son ! Heh.

    …that every feminist on this board has explained on more than one occasion the do not hold.

    To be fair, I was only talking about feminists on this board to begin with. So, what is your position ? Is there some research regarding female-against-male abuse that you would trust ? Do you believe that men and women are treated equally in child custody cases, and if not, who comes out ahead and what should be done about it ?

    don’t embarrass yourself by attributing your misunderstandings to your opponents

    I feel that voicing my understanding of my opponents’ mindset is the best way to get said opponents to clarify anything I may have missed. This seems to be working.

  • Bugmaster

    On an unrelated topic, all opponents of strict and static typing shall be purified. With fire.

  • Rebecca

    Fair enough; it would be presumptuous of me to claim that all humans of a certain type behave in a certain way — humans are too varied for that. Would it be fair to say then that, according to the feminist consensus, the default position of an overwhelming majority of men (and some women) is to grant privileges to other men, and not to women ?
    “Position” only in the sense of “the default position of people is to open their eyes when they become conscious in the morning.” It’s mostly not something you think about doing. It’s mostly not something you have to think about doing, because you don’t suffer consequences for it.

  • KellyK

    Not sure whether TypePad ate my reply or it was internet connection issues, but I tried to respond to Bugmaster’s comments (and will try again later).
    As far as the “Is there any research regarding female-on-male abuse that you’d trust?” question, even though it wasn’t directed toward me, my answer is, show me a study and I’ll tell you what I think of it.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    I’m going to have to go with “Evil” here. Colson knows this is utter nonsense. He’s enjoying the posture of self-aggrandizing bravado, but he knows full well that hate crimes has nothing to do with his fantasies about Gay Stormtroopers invading churches.
    Some of the antics ACT-UP used to pull on churches — and a lot of the reaction here in California to Prop 8 passing — gives some credibility to such fantasies among a lot of rank-and-file Christians. As well as experience that any group who gets on top tends to throw their weight around. Especially if in the scenario, its THEIR weight getting thrown around on top of YOU.

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