And what is wrong with doing so?
It’s a tactic designed for winning debates not for contributing to a discussion.
By saying, “What is wrong with putting pineapple on pizza?” I’m simultaneously:
- Suggesting that what I think is obvious or true-by-default. Unless someone else can prove pineapple is bad, it’s good, and I don’t have to contribute anything;
- Presenting those who disagree with me as hard-to-understand rather than actually confronting what they are saying; and
- Not committing to the position that pineapple is good, so if later the argument turns against me, I can claim that I never actually liked pineapple on pizza.
These two things make it a favoured argument style for fascists, to quote Sartre on anti-semites:
They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words … They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.
Of course that might sound like I’m implying that you are acting in bad faith to disconcert. I’m not, I’m directly answering the question of what is wrong with just asking questions. My point is that using debate-club rhetoric instead of plainly stating what we mean is quietly preparing society for a fascist takeover. People are sensitive about this in a discussion of transphobia because the fascists are coming for transgender people first.
Thanks for the clarification. I agree that Rowling is a bigoted twatwaffle and that we should speak out against her comments. And most of the cast of the Harry Potter movies have done so. Being in those movies basically was their identity for much of their adolescence. Should they now shun a huge part of their lives because of Rowling’s bigotry?
I don’t think I need to tell them what to do. But if I feel disappointed in what they do, I don’t think I owe it to them for my disappointment to be debate-club ready.
I think there’s a real issue here about how people feel when thing that were important to their childhood turn out to be tainted by the awfulness of the people who made those things. People grew up on Harry Potter. I saw the same thing when actors from Buffy/Angel finally illuminated what a dirtbag Joss Whedon is. I can only imagine what my children would feel if ten years from now Lauren Faust (creator of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) turns out to be a White nationalist. I grew up listening to Michael Jackson. Somewhere out there are many children who loves Jimmy Saville.
On one hand, we don’t want to materially support and reward people who are coming out with their awful beliefs. On the other, we don’t want to let awful people ruin things that are precious to us. But that’s complicated by the fact that right now Rowling is pushing transphobia in a place where transphobia is in ascension and that’s having real-life consequences for transgender people. This isn’t looking back on Lovecraft-the-racist from the turn of the twentieth century, this is a white-hot issue now.
The Harry Potter cast obviously could have said, “I can’t really participate in that right now. JK Rowling is stoking transphobia. Transgender people are dying in the UK. Hopefully one day we can appreciate Harry Potter without being painfully reminded of assaults in the streets, teenager suicide and children being denied medical care, but today isn’t that day.” That wasn’t their top priority.
All of that is a complicated bag of feelings. None of it is resolved by demanding that other people come up with easy answers.
I did not think I was asking for easy answers. I was asking because the situation is complicated. Thank you for giving a better response.
To break down your well-thought out comments into a nutshell:
‘Just Asking Questions’ online has unfortunately become a passive aggressive form of trolling in the last decade.
Flow chart for how to win a debate:
- If they already agree with you, cool, you’ve won the debate.
- If they are so off put by your insistence on debating them that they just can’t deal, then you’ve not only won the debate, but you’ve eviscerated them with your superior facts and logic.
- If they respectfully disagree, keep banging away until (2) happens.
Debate me bro.
In a civilized society, I could honestly say that I’ve tried it enough times to be sure that I didn’t like it, but I’m not the universal arbiter of food choices, so as long as it harms none I’m fine with it existing. Unfortunately we do not live in a civilized society.
See “White Culture”
There are a couple ways of doing this. First, I can dismiss anyone who disagrees as being a fringe lunatic whose opinions don’t actually matter. “99% (or other completely made up figure) of people like pineapple on pizza, so why should we kowtow to the freaks who don’t like it? They might not even be here! So let’s pineapple all the things!” Another way is to treat all disagreement as the same, lump it all in the same category, and fight the most ridiculous strawman to come out of that frankendisagreement.
How not to do it is to understand the other person as a human being, and why they specifically disagree.
Me: I don’t like pineapple on pizza but respect others choices. So why do you like it?
Debate bro: Oh, I personally don’t like it, but I like the idea of it.
Did you really have to throw in a sexist slur just for kicks?
Sartre knew sealioning when he saw it.
It seems to me that the stars are in a similar “Your fave is problematic” problem that the rest of us are actually. The Ethicists on High still haven’t given us a definitive rule that would tell us whether watching The Goblet of Fire on HBO Max is an okay thing to do or not. It’s fucking frustrating that she turned out to be Dolores Umbridge. I guess I’ll wait until she is dead or has a change of heart before watching those movies again.
She isn’t that special. She’s Petunia Dursley, hating on a minority group because she is jealous of what little positive attention and support we get (even as we tried to be as unnoticable as possible, which didn’t get us anywhere).
I think the reason I said something about easy answers was because you asked:
That’s a yes/no question. I think:
- Yes, they should now shun a huge part of their lives because of Rowling’s bigotry; and
- No, they should not now shun a huge part of their lives because of Rowling’s bigotry
Are pretty easy answers. In order to say what I wanted to say I had to consider both of those answers and reject them.
I think a big problem is that some people seem to genuinely think there are some secret ethicists on high who are trying to control society with their answers to these questions. And of course the people promoting that idea are mostly telling on themselves, as they are repeating centrally planned messaging from just a handful of fascist propaganda networks.
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