Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Two Idiots And A Narcissist Walk Into A Convention

Last night two teenage women knocked frantically at my hotel's locked front door. When I let them in they told me they had been stalked for something like an hour. A lone man had followed them. Only one of the two girls had had a working phone and--as is often the case with the Glenfield area--it could find no signal.

At some point in their ordeal they had turned a corner and the taller girl--either very cleverly or foolhardily--hit upon the ruse of ducking through a hedge and hiding. Or something like that; understandably the telling came out somewhat garbled. They hid and waited for what seemed like an age then made good across a dark field toward the lights of my hotel.

Anyway, I called them a taxi from a trusted, regular firm, sat them down while they waited and kept them entertained (or as much as was possible), always remembering to keep one eye on the security monitor. I walked them over to the taxi when it arrived. Before this, I told them that this hotel would always let them in and help them should anything like this occur again and that I'd be grateful if they could tell all their pals that too. Then I informed the relevant authorities.

Don't call me a hero. I thought myself a hero the first time something like this occurred some five years ago, but not now. I get at least one stalking incident a year, often more. The police dropping off battered women is also far from uncommon. And, yes, I have seen worse, far worse, but I wouldn't want to burden you with any of that. In truth I don't think I'm ready to discuss those experiences with anyone, let alone the web.

Despite what the comment roll anonymoratti might insist, yes we do have a rape culture actually. Not Tahir Square strength, I'll grant you, but certainly one where groups of men (men you know, nice men, believe me) can sit around and use battered women as punchlines of jokes whenever the single malt flows and the little ladies aren't present.

'Calling out' is a good thing. It is the logical, day-to-day extension of those values of equality first dreamed up in the coffee houses of the Enlightenment. That revolution (unlike all the other failures) has never ended and, in essence, it is noble to point out mean-spiritedness toward women and minorities, even if it is unconscious. Perhaps especially if it is unconscious.

The net has been awash with tale of a calling out moment at Pycon, a tech convention in the US. You all probably know the details so I won't go in to them (If you don't know, luckily here's this link to make up for my lethargy), but suffice to say its to calling out what the Kamikaze were to Pacific cruises.

 OK, so the two doofuses actions in the tale weren't exactly rape culture's Mount Doom; at worst it's a shitty salt-drenched atoll sixty miles east of that particular continent full of essentially likable cretins who don't even know the mainland exists. But what it was was unprofessional behavior by professionals at a professional event. They had earned a 'dudes, please...' and a shake of several heads. Tops.

What they didn't deserve was to have their photo put on Twitter so as to be paraded like barbarians in chains for the self-aggrandizement of some shallow social justice would-be-Caesar. And now one of them has lost their job. And so has opponent. Everyone in that story, it seems, has been f**cked by that 'big dongle'.

Adria Richards doesn't deserve the threats of violence and worse she has received from the cowardly bin-bottom juice of the internet (If those sickening morons on 4chan had wanted to be effective they would have shut up and let the adults criticize her actions). Of course not: those responsible should ideally be caught and prosecuted. What she does deserve--and has received from all quarters--is strong criticism of her methods.

Not that any of it has sank in. Have you read her blog post on it? It's the most cringe-worthy, self-applauding histrionic nonsense since, well, since Caesar started jotting down his 'glorious' exploits in Gaul. I dare anyone to read that line about seeing the photo of the little girl being her spur to action and not feel like they are being manipulated by a tidal wave of purest saccharine. Call me brutish, but when I read that post I see it's author leaping up and down shouting 'It's my turn now! It's my time, finally!'. 

Adria Richards, in my humble opinion, wanted all the acclaim of calling a wrong-doer out but none of the hard work, none of the responsibility. Her excuse for taking a photo (whilst smiling at the two men, mind; remember that), putting it on Twitter and not actually confronting this duo (or asking a security person to do so)?

"I didn't want to be heckled or have my experience denied."

 Well, Adria, that's the inherent risk of calling people out. That's why brave people do it and do it correctly and with dignity. That's how you EARN the acclaim you so clearly want; do you see? And, while you're at it, you may want to say '...have them deny it' instead of '...deny the experience' because you sound like yet another euphemism-parrot.

Maybe I sound nasty but this is serious business. Every chauvinistic bozo has a weapon now, they can invoke 'Adria Richards' every time someone rightly chastises them, maintain their course of sheer ignorance and feel good about it, feel like a revolutionary.

It's an ugly fact, one not discussed to my knowledge, that, much like Charlie Manson was able to abuse the flower power scene for his own sick ends, social justice and it's hierarchies can be abused by narcissistic sadists (not saying A.R is the latter but any regular visitor to this site will know of one I have a tendency to wind on about) to satisfy their own stunted impulses. Put bluntly, one can rain down shit on people with little fear of retaliation and, even if they do, it'll be them that look intolerant. It's a good tactic. If I was a borderline sociopath it's exactly what I'd do. And increasingly that's what will happen if we bow to dogma and eschew critical thinking in this area.

Calling Out must be done with justice and wisdom, to do otherwise damages progress, if only microscopically. Ultimately, we owe it to those two terrified girls stood outside my hotel.

Post Rated: George


  1. I'd agree with most of this. I don't know when a swathe of the feminist movement started expecting other women to behave with the fainting modesty worthy of a Victorian heroine whenever a nasty man mentioned something that might be construed as having something to do with that horrid sex stuff. I read Richards' article and found it an exemplar of self righteous special snowflakery (and obviously not deserving of rape threats - nothing is deserving of rape or death threats, whatever 4Chan thinks). The whole thing is embarrassing all round.

    1. I was just saying to a pal that you could swap everyone for the Marx Brothers and Margaret 'Welllll, I've never been so offended in my life, you awful man!'DuMont and no one would hardly notice. A Night At Pycon: An MGM production.

  2. You make some valid points, but for me the real take-away here was the power of modern technology to trick morons into exposing themselves and each other, before shooting their own careers and reputations in the face, making room for people who's claim to membership of the human race rests on more than their DNA. This whole thing was win win all round as far as I can see.

    1. I am equal parts horrified and enamored by this viewpoint. Keep it up!