I should know better than to have optimism. There was a brief window, that spanned the transition from the last millenium to our new one, where I entertained the foolish hope that perhaps we had actually left the politics of division behind us as a relic of a stupider age. Haha. Do I have egg on my face or what?
Yes I was premature in my hopes, and had suspended my Cynical reason. As Sidney J. Harris once timelessly quipped –
A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.
True, he was referring to small “c” cynics, but it’s nevertheless a sensible attitude to have. Overestimating your fellow (wo)man rarely ends in anything other than tears.
Fairly early in the piece1 I was noting the eerie parallels between the Watson circus, it’s distinctly neo-puritan overtones, and various fundamentalist ideologies. Specifically, it’s self-hating flagellant mindset, paranoid persecution and martyr fantasy (a la islamism) and delight in scapegoating and denunciation. I was far from alone in these observations.
In fact, many have even said that we are privileged to witness a rare event – the evolution, from scratch, of a brand new fundamentalism that is unique in that is being driven by those who claim to have renounced the religious impulse. It is depressing to realise that this kind of nihilist thinking runs so deeply in our collective psyches that it doesn’t even need gods or spooks or the supernatural in order to manifest itself in new and destructive ways.
The more you listen to the Watsonistas babble, the less coherent and more insulting it gets (some late mail – relentless and consistent). Substance to support their hyperbolism is thin to nonexistent, and as a result it relies entirely on ad himinem, reductio Ad Watsonum and raw sophistry to try and prop itself up – in other words, just like church masses. And some of it is just beyond even simply ridiculous, like The Naked Emperor’s latest quip –
Anyone who thinks McGraw was Ill-served by this lecture should get off the Internet right now — they aren’t grown-up enough for the medium.
Okey-doke Chumpy. Shall all of us children simply go to bed and leave it to grownups like you? It beggars belief how a grown man can beat his breast about his intellectual exceptionalism and just lurch so shamelessly from one embarrassing pothole to the next. This dismissal is by no means ridiculous by PZ standards, but it is not really the main problem here – which is the equally trite dismissal of Stef McGraw.
If you are confused by PZs jaw-dropping double standards, then join the club. McGraw summarises what happened to her here. In brief, for those not familiar (it’s fairly old news), McGraw had dared to question the actual extent of the gender war atrocity perpetrated on Watson. McGraw’s reward for daring to dissent was for Watson to publicly brand her a gender traitor and equate her criminality to that of the pea-brains that leave rape abuse for Watson on Youtube and her contact forms. Dissent will not be tolerated. If you dissent, you will be shunned. This type of revenge filth is what my last post was about and is pretty much Watsonista SOP.
What this dismissal does is finally put paid to the idea that respect and ethics have anything even remotely to do with PZ’s knight-in-shining-armor defenses of Watson. They don’t. McGraw is no celebrity and has no marketing brand standing behind her, unlike Watson does with Skepchick, so who gives a fuck? As mused upon earlier, PZ is either responding obediently in fear of the Skepchick monster, or is grubbily exploiting the populist aura around it for personal benefit. Ethics don’t even enter the picture. If they did, and PZ had a spine, he would have taken issue with McGraw’s treatment.
But all of this nonsense aside, this really is an issue that has been defined by the fundamentalist mindset of all involved in the Watson apologist camp – the inflexible, frozen in amber ideological idiocy that will steamroll any and all dissent or contrary opinion. In this regard, it is a fascinating exercise to run through the checklist of characteristics of cults as defined by the International Cultic Studies Association and compare them with the Watsonistas –
- The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
- Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
- Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
- The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
- The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
- The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
Hrrrm. This one is tricky. I haven’t been able to find any evidence of this. None at all. No sireebob.
- The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
- The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
- The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
- Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
- The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
- Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
- Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
- The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.
- The group is preoccupied with making money.
No, not at all.
This all could be considered amusing – were that this did not summarise the whole Watsonista camp so accurately. Add in a truck load of chanted slave morality dogma and open slather derision, slander and abuse, and that’s the whole operation. Evidence? Go to any blog or forum that dares to commit the heresy of dissent and look at the Watsonista comments. Subtract the above, and nothing remains. This applies equally to the entire content of actual PZ blog entries on this too. Without a demonised other to spit on, no substance remains.
And BTW PZ – having an army of trained baboons does not in and of itself make a man seem any smarter. You could at least teach them to spell before you send them out to the real world.
Observation on Watsonista language that didn’t quite fit in above
Often, listening to the squawking I am reminded of the old stock standard derailing sledgehammer line so beloved of the bone-head right media talking heads –
Why do you hate America?2
An outburst that never has any relevance to what is being discussed. It’s only real functional purposes are two-fold –
- to call the target’s integrity into question and position them squarely as “the other”, and
- derail the target’s frame of thought and, with a bit of luck, trigger an anger response
It particularly strikes you when you think of this and have enough stomach to wade into the morass of the Pharyngula forums. Exactly the same line, with minor variations and “America” substituted with “women”, get thrown ad nauseam at even the merest whiff of dissent. Or it is simplified further and is just a point blank accusation of misogyny or sexism. First line of response – automatic, like an animal recoiling from fire.
It’s cripples and crutches – with these folks, the sum of the parts is lesser than the whole – they can’t survive any argument without falling back on the crutches of this type of trite derailing tactic. It is the professional victim strategy – and while it persists as such a standard part of reality for these losers, actual, genuine equality will remain a myth. No wonder women that can stand on their own hind legs view this Watson sideshow and their revulsion makes mine seem trivial. All their hard work and progress being undone by a stupid, privileged (ooh yes you are Becky, you fingerpointing hypocrite), spoiled little
Ivy league buttfuck university brat that wouldn’t know real oppression if it bit her on the ass. I’d be fucking ropable3 too if I had a cunt.
1 – Not by any means the first time I’ve raised the spectre quasi-religious derangement amongst the godless. It has always been evident amongst the fem-bots, but is equally rampant amongst the godless vegans and Temperance Unionists. Perhaps the best example was seen via the TamTamPamela ritual excommunication and execution.
2 – Its other variant is “why do you hate freedom?”
3 – Strine4 for “really, REALLY, REALLY, fucking angry”
4 – “Australian”