Almost everyone is familiar with the aphorism, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” I suspect vinegar manufacturers mutter to themselves at night, “what kind of idiot wants to spend his life catching flies,” but that’s besides the point. Everyone on the interwebz loves validation, so they will flock to those who either say nice things about them or, at minimum, confirm their bias.
And the people who do so, pander to their team, enjoy the love and support of others. It’s all nice, and reflected in their twitter followers, their likes, their supportive engagement.
So what’s my problem?
Not too many people, especially lawyers, want to be that mean, negative person who does what social media hates most of all. Call bullshit. Somebody spews nonsense, but if it’s favorable to your cause, against the person your team is against, for the person your team is for, who cares?
Isn’t it all about winning? Isn’t the goal to show the other team that there are more of you, braver, stronger, bolder? So what if your forces of Truth and Justice are full of shit. It’s the ends, not the means, you idiot. And in the process, you will bask in the support of your fellow travelers, whose chorus will send the tingles of validation down your spine.
In fairness, I’m in a better position to be that mean asshole than most. I’m well past the need to curry favor for the sake of my practice. I can afford to confront the hypocrites, the liars, the panderers, because it won’t hurt my brand. And not to overplay my hand, but my self-worth isn’t calculated by how many twitter followers I have or which important people acknowledge my existence.
But there’s a deeper problem, and it’s one that I’ve watched develop for years. And frankly, it scares the living shit out of me. It first came on my radar years ago, when a lawprof named Ann Bartow figured out that she could be a shit-thrower in the name of feminism and nobody could do a damn thing about it.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don’t think well of the Ann Bartow brand of hyper-feminism. She not only finds sexism under every rock, but attacks it with a viciousness that raises an image of a rabid dog, foaming at the mouth, who will rip out the throat of every offender. And enjoy it.
The problem is that Bartow, wielding the club of sexism in the hallways of the Academy, is the keeper of the feminist orthodoxy. It would be a crime against scholarship to be branded sexist, so the rest of the law professors put their head down and scurry past Bartow when they pass her in the hall, hoping to avoid her harsh gaze. A sigh is emitted as they escape unscathed. This power to evoke deathly fear allows Bartow to be as brazen as she wants. While the rest of the academics resort to a painful civility, beyond a fault to the point of abject unclarity, Bartow will have none of it. She can call out anyone.
That was from 2009. It’s far, far worse today. It’s no surprise that anyone who fails to adhere to the social justice, including feminist, orthodoxy is immediately ripped to shreds for their heresy. The irony is that refusing to take the deep dive down the shithole of an ideology doesn’t make one an enemy, but just not sufficiently a friend. Of course, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Tolerance is just another word for who to beat into submission.
But you’re not conservative, alt-right, an MRA of whatever color pill makes you happy? So you surely don’t want to be cast as a misogynist or racist, as you’re not. This leaves you with limited choices, as the only way to curry favor, gain followers, bask in the support of the crowd, is to be sweet and lovely in response to the embrace of those who support them in return.
And with your enabling, the lies get spread, the fallacious logic becomes truth and gangs of needy people coalesce into choirs of support. You don’t want to be left out, so you self-censor when the silliness appears on your screen and say nothing rather than be cast off the island.
That’s why I’m here.
Do I want to be mean to people? Not at all. Ironically, my real life world reflects nothing of what the butthurt would scream at me in their effort to parry, riposte. Just as a criminal defense lawyer is not a “supporter” of crime, a free speech defender is not a supporter of hate speech, and a due process defender is not a supporter of sexism. And, it’s worth noting, the refusal to support the irrationality of progressivism doesn’t make one a conservative either. Not that anyone who believes could understand that.
So while you spend your time fluctuating from being silent to being sweet and adorable to whatever club will have you, as long as you can claim membership in some support group so you won’t feel lonely and neglected on social media while everyone else is enjoying a fabulous party, somebody has to be the old meanie who calls bullshit so you don’t have to.
You’re welcome. And yes, you’re an enabler, a coward and intellectually dishonest, but at least people on social media like you, or at least don’t have to suffer the slings and arrows sent my way.