Harassment is Not an Argument

30 Jul

So, over the past few days, this happened (or, perhaps I should say, I became aware that this has been happening):

I’ve been struggling to come up with anything coherent to say, aside from that what these “Shakesville Kool Aid” people are doing is despicable and that Melissa, Ana, and everyone else they are or may be targeting have my complete support… and I probably still haven’t got much of anything coherent to say, but I find the alternative of staying silent to be much worse.

I can’t be the only person who in reading this sees the continuation of a pattern, in a larger context which includes the harassment campaigns targeted at people like Rebecca Watson, Anita Sarkeesian, and so many others. It’s gotten to the point where any time I see writers (and especially female writers) addressing feminist issues publicly, it seems only a matter of time before I also become aware of a vicious targeted backlash against them. This is so commonplace that I would be more surprised to discover a case where it wasn’t happening – which I say not as an attempt to diminish it, but rather to highlight the extent of the problem.

And aside from that all I can think to say, really, is to bring up Lewis’ Law: “the [response to] any article about feminism justifies feminism.”

If the best response you can think of to somebody arguing a thing you disagree with is to attempt to harass them into silence (or otherwise cause them harm and prevent them continuing to speak), aside from being a horrible person you are also admitting you don’t have an argument or you wouldn’t need to resort to such tactics. If it weren’t for the fact that these tactics also cause substantial harm to people (I was almost going to say “people who don’t deserve that”, except that that’s redundant because nobody deserves such treatment. Ever.), I might be tempted to suggest to these people that they continue shooting themselves in the feet. To continue that metaphor beyond all sense, may I kindly suggest that they remove other people’s limbs that may be between their gun and their foot before pulling the trigger?

I might even go so far as to argue that I think the true cause of the people engaging in this behaviour is the harassment itself, and that the people they choose as targets they wish to silence because those people are saying things that are specifically anti-harassment, or (via moderation, etc) have interfered in harassment they had been previously attempting to engage in. (It’s a similar pattern I’ve noticed in child bullies, actually – in my experience, the children they singled out for the most intense bullying were usually the ones who tended to speak out. I suppose there’s no satisfaction for them in silencing somebody who was silent already?)

I wish I knew of anything that could be done about these people’s behaviour, but until then you have my support and if there’s anything I can do to help you need only ask.


Edit by Loten: Mitchell speaks for both of us here.

1 Comment

Posted by on July 30, 2014 in mitchell


Tags: , , , ,

One response to “Harassment is Not an Argument

  1. Number27

    July 30, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I don’t have a registered account with Disquis (for several reasons) so I don’t comment on Shakesville or Ana’s blog. I read both regularly and have for years.

    I’ll use this thread as an opportunity to say what so many people have been saying there. Melissa McEwan and Ana Mardoll have written things that have made me a better person. I am an adult in possession of free will. I choose to read the blogs (and other media) that I wish to read. I emphatically do not need protecting from the content or moderation policies of those blogs.

    Finally, I DO NOT CONSENT to being used as an excuse to harass anyone.


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