The Cruelty of Call-Out Culture

I don’t generally like David Brooks, but he has written some commentary recently that really hit home regarding the Call Out Culture and Social Justice Warrior phenomena.

Back at the end 2000 I on a number of “mailing lists” where I found myself being attacked by both TERFs and Trans-Feminists.  I was vulnerable at that point and had it not been for a couple of people, one of whom is my spouse I might well have committed suicide.

The Call Out Warriors bear a close resemblance to lynch mobs, too ready to do terrible violence to people chosen as targets.  I can’t for the life of me see one iota of difference between them and the MRAs who have targeted certain women for life destroying harassment.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/opinion/call-out-social-justice.html

How not to do social change.

By David Brooks
Jan. 14, 2019

A number of months ago, I listened to a podcast that has haunted me since — because it captures something essential about our culture warrior moment. It was from NPR’s always excellent “Invisibilia” series and it was about a woman named Emily.

Emily was a member of the hard-core punk music scene in Richmond, Va. One day, when she was nearly 30, she was in a van with her best friend, who was part of a prominent band. They were heading to a gig in Florida when the venue called to cancel their appearance. A woman had accused Emily’s best friend of sending her an unwelcome sexually explicit photograph.

His bandmates immediately dismissed her allegations. But inwardly Emily seethed. Upon returning to Richmond, she wrote a Facebook post denouncing her best friend as an abuser. “I disown everything he has done. I do not think it’s O.K. … I believe women.”

The post worked. He ended up leaving the band and disappeared from the punk scene. Emily heard rumors that he’d been fired from his job, kicked out of his apartment, had moved to a new city and was not doing well. Emily never spoke with him again.

Meanwhile, she was fronting her own band. But in October 2016, she, too, got called out. In high school, roughly a decade before, someone had posted a nude photo of a female student. Emily replied with an emoji making fun of the girl. This was part of a wider pattern of her high school cyberbullying.

A post denouncing Emily also went viral. She, too, was the object of nationwide group hate. She was banned from the punk scene. She didn’t leave the house for what felt like months. Her friends dropped her. She was scared, traumatized and alone. She tried to vanish.

“It’s entirely my life,” she told “Invisibilia” tearfully. “Like, this is everything to me. And it’s all just, like, done and over.”

But she accepted the legitimacy of the call-out process. If she was called out it must mean she deserved to be rendered into a nonperson: “I don’t know what to think of myself other than, like, I am so sorry. And I do feel like a monster.”

The guy who called out Emily is named Herbert. He told “Invisibilia” that calling her out gave him a rush of pleasure, like an orgasm. He was asked if he cared about the pain Emily endured. “No, I don’t care,” he replied. “I don’t care because it’s obviously something you deserve, and it’s something that’s been coming. … I literally do not care about what happens to you after the situation. I don’t care if she’s dead, alive, whatever.”

When the interviewer, Hanna Rosin, showed skepticism, he revealed that he, too, was a victim. His father beat him throughout his childhood.

In this small story, we see something of the maladies that shape our brutal cultural moment. You see how zealotry is often fueled by people working out their psychological wounds. You see that when denunciation is done through social media, you can destroy people without even knowing them. There’s no personal connection that allows apology and forgiveness.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/opinion/call-out-social-justice.html

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