Yesterday, Chris Seaton sent me a link to a 1993 clip from the David Letterman show of a comedian, Bill Hicks, doing his shtick. It was shocking, to say the least, to see how much comedy has changed, how the range of acceptability has narrowed over the years. Then, Hicks’ comedy routine was suitable for television. Today, he would be drawn and quartered for it.
A few days ago, I wrote about a post that appeared in the renamed Harvard Fair Punishment Project blog, The Appeal. It was about a serious problem in criminal law, the use of the rap sheet, or if no sheet, whatever was available, to smear the victim of violence as being unworthy of concern. Except instead of focusing on the problem, it was a jargonized polemic about “white-approved notions of innocence and respectability.”
It didn’t just reduce a systemic problem to a racial problem, but pitted black against white, blaming the latter. Not only was this a grossly unproductive way to approach a very real problem, but it was irrational and false, with a heavy dose of “I dare you to disagree, since that makes you a racist, you racist.”
You don’t remember this post? There’s a reason for that. I didn’t publish it.
I could rationalize why I made the decision to trash it rather than post it, that not every absurd post about criminal law reforms needs to be called out. After all, the problem was real, and even if the argument was nonsensical and offensive, why make a big stink of it? Except that wasn’t my real reason.
I didn’t publish it because it would have given rise to a shitstorm. Much as The Appeal, formerly known as In Justice Today, includes some excellent and thought-provoking writing, it also includes a good deal of crap from unserious writers. This isn’t news, and providing a soapbox for members of the team, even if their efforts require one’s complete immersion into a world where belief trumps reality, is unfortunately what happens sometimes.
But this post at The Appeal was the sort of off-the-wall batshit crazy nonsense that makes it nearly impossible to achieve viable, intelligent reform unladen by the “everything is racism” no matter if it’s not, and white people are evil even when this problem affects everyone and there is no reason, no less need, to wrongly and falsely blame them.
And yet, I decided the shitstorm wasn’t worth it. In the scheme of offending the SJWs in order to try to maintain some degree of reason, I’m more than willing to suffer the slings and arrows of the extreme nutjobs, no matter which side is doing the shooting at any given moment. But deconstructing this level of absurdity was more than I cared to take. I’ve been called every name there is, and tried my best to take it with equanimity. That’s the nature of commentary, knowing with absolute certainty that whatever is said, no matter how anodyne, someone will be outraged and feel compelled to let you know it.
But the post I wrote about was so extreme, so absurd, that confronting it pushed me to my limit. After writing the post, after contemplating it before hitting “publish,” I said to myself, “I don’t need this” and bailed. I apologize for my weakness. I wimped out and that is the reason I trashed the post. I anticipated wrath. I chose not to provoke it this time. I am not proud of my choice.
Having exposed myself to your criticism, which would be fully deserved, I now do the unthinkable. Remember that SJ doesn’t pay for itself. My theory is that I write this stuff, put it out there and would like to think it’s occasionally informative, maybe even illuminating. But I ask you to do your part, if you so choose. The other part of my view is that the cost of making this available on the internets shouldn’t be my burden along with creating the squiggly lines.
If you find it worthwhile, I remind you to hit the tip jar on the sidebar and help cover the cost of SJ’s existence. I appreciate everyone who does. As it says, this place doesn’t pay for itself. So if you like reading SJ, then how about being a part of its existence by helping out. Thanks.