Socially Accepted Gleeful Bullying

Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite.
Excerpt from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long in “Time Enough For Love” by Robert A. Heinlein

Sargon of Akkad is a great commentator on YouTube. He is well worth watching. Recently he did a short video about two incidents.

I think he is right on target when he shows this image

Image from Sargon of Akkad’s video.

and points to the glee these two people show while bullying another student. Ostensibly in the name of “social justice” (or “speaking out against racism” or “against cultural appropriation” or however they justify this bullying to themselves).

It’s a point that has been made by others, but I think rarely this clearly: It’s gleeful bullying masquerading as activism.

For some people it is not about a moral foundation that is solely based in caring for a “victim group”. If it were, caring for this group (whether that groups wants to be cared for or not) would make them feel moral. But they don’t just want to feel moral. They want to feel powerful. So instead, these “victims” are means to a different end — and that end is bullying others.

It is not about the issue (“racism”, “sexism”, etc.), but about demonstrating power over others. Making others squirm. All they need is a reason, and this “activism” provides one.

Just have a look at their strategy. They do not care about actually convincing others (“wrongdoers”) by coming up with good arguments and evidence. Instead, they go for discussion stoppers. They look for that one “reason” (more: rationalization) why the other person is (morally!) wrong and thus will always be wrong. It is strange, but for these people, an ad hominem is actually not only an argument, but the best argument there is.

They go for the other person, not the arguments he or she uses, and try to squash the discussion this way. It’s not about convincing, it’s about displaying social power.

I might be biased by the topic of this blog, but I think people who do these things rarely are creative. This bullying usually isn’t done by great artists or scientists — they are too busy creating or contributing something.

And even worse, I think they do not like creative people. Or even people who are able to express themselves. I think they feel they miss out. They have left school (or soon will) and they can’t help but notice that geeks run the show, or people who are otherwise skilled in what they do. They might even realize that ideas, persistence, commitment and the like makes a difference, not ones standing in a clique or other attributes that are not related to actions (like sex/gender or skin color). And somehow they think they deserve better.

So they lash out, try to stop others from being creative, or even expressing themselves.

It’s hard to judge by the dreadlocks video (who knows what the full story is or how much is actually “real”), but I think that case is a striking example. These bullies try to make others conform to their mediocrity. They try to suppress any individuality and self-expression. Freedom of choice? Not if they have a say.

The self-righteousness and arrogance in wanting to decide what others can do is staggering. Just have a look at this quotation (actually from an article in the Independent, not so independent, it seems):

“‘My hair, my rules, my body’, Goldstein [the white guy wearing the dreadlocks] asserts, displaying a deep sense of entitlement. Sure, it’s only hair, and it is his hair to style. But does he have the right to style it in a way that has a deep cultural meaning to minority cultures? The ability to style your hair for fashion’s sake is a luxury, not a right. If it is offending others, Goldstein should consider giving up that luxury.”
Wedaeli Chibelushi

Really? No right to one’s hairstyle? That’s the world these people think we live in, or should live in? Luckily, there’s a good reaction to these attempts to curb freedom of expression — and creative freedom in general.

Thing is, this is real life, not school. In real life, there are things like battery, assault, and the like. And they can be prosecuted via the legal system. Especially if there is video evidence — and yup, it’s a good idea to always be recording if such an incident happens (keep legal restrictions in mind). The bullies don’t run the show, smart people do. Creative people do.

And, yep, the dreadlock-guy actually did put it perfectly:

“I felt that I didn’t need to explain myself, my hair, my rules, my body.”

He’s right. So, ditch these bullies. Don’t let their mediocrity define you.

And, yeah, happy self-expression. 🙂