Liberal pieties and other songs we sing
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
Usually when I am about to decapitate someone - verbally or in writing - I am fairly cold-blooded. I take the time to have the right words, put the words in the right order, and then press the "comment" or "publish button" without looking back. Then I leave the forum, turn off the computer, take a few hours of breathing exercises before I come back to reap what I have sown.
But there are other times...
The times where the word "cunt" comes straight to the head, out of the fingers and is sent off with all its impact without thinking twice. On Facebook I have used the word once or twice, strangely both times aimed at the same guy (I may have used the variant "twat" one of those times). I don't think about the sexist implications of using those particular words because rage does not pause to consider.
We have email. We have free websites at Blogger or Wordpress. We can find and mobilize the like-minded with a click on our smart phones.
At 56, you think I might have acquired some wisdom but ask anyone who has surpassed the 50 landmark and they will tell you that, yes, there are fewer irritations in life as you simply get used to the fact that a lot of people are younger than you and have yet to climb over the wall of stupid which we all have to surmount. But, conversely, there are times when - correctly or not - you simply believe the other is wrong. Not just wrong, but miasmically, profoundly, stupidly wrong. No one suffers fools gladly - but there is considerably less gladness in one who is past 50.
It is also usually about that time that you realize that there are a whole lot of people on your "side" who are complete imbeciles. The idiots on my side? PETA, the Liberal Party, The Democratic Party, New Labour, Michael Moore, and a whole batch of new ones the other night...
I was on Facebook - goddam my own stupid eyes - and there was an article about a local bar who put out a chalkboard on the sidewalk each day with a joke on it. However, on a couple of occasions the jokes have been of profoundly dubious taste. ("Best pickup line: Does this rag smell like chloroform?") I did not post it, I just read the subsequent thread on a friend's newsfeed and it was a chorus of liberal pieties - guess at every permutation of tsk tsk tsk and you have probably guessed at one of the postings in the thread.
The demon took over because from the post I went to the Facebook page for the bar and saw no disapproving comments; instead there were postings by all the bar's patrons dismissing that nasty, humourless article. I went back to the chorus-line and lost it. They were all talking about boycotting.
You get me? They were talking about boycotting a...bar...none...of...them...went...to.
I know...slacktivism incarnate. But Jayzus, folks! When did this become our modus operendi?
You know how I know it is now our way of doing things? By looking at our arts scene over the 40 years I have been involved with it and seeing problems like government funding, venues, salaries, unions which existed four decades ago still being debated. We have become the world's biggest circle-jerk.
And what makes it truly maddening is that we have more tools for actual and easy activism than ever before. Twitter and Facebook campaigns mounted to shame Coke and McDonald's about their involvement in Sochi sent those companies' PR departments into a tailspin. We have direct access to stars and politicians through social networks (and yes, they have "people" to handle that but the people always tell them when the tide is turning against them). We have email. We have free websites at Blogger or Wordpress. We can find and mobilize the like-minded with a click on our smart phones.
Here's a suggestion for you, right now. Comment below. I will read it. I may even act upon it.
How could I not comment! And the action I'd invite you to act upon would be to revisit the thread that you were discussing. I think you'll find that there are several voices expressing opinions not dissimilar to your own. Yes, a boycott of something you do not already do is an entirely useless gesture, and the individual who came across as antagonistic certainly does not represent my views. (I thought you were right to admonish him).ReplyDelete
I have never frequented the bar in question, however I certainly have friends that do. So informing them of their inappropriate sense of humour (i.e. hostile environment to women) can be productive in that it would encourage them to no longer provide business there. It also encourages patrons of other establishments, and workers at other establishments, not to accept such behaviour.
I think discussion has a valuable place in advocacy and should precede any action. I've never been a fan of "ready, fire, aim", and if somebody is proposing a boycott, I'd rather discuss the usefulness of it first.
On the topic of discussion, you are right to point out how many platforms of social media we have. Including this very website. I ask you, what is the difference between posting an article and discussing it on facebook, and you writing this blog and discussing it here?
In my view, very little. Though I wouldn't consider your tirade to be "slacktivism", as I think discussion has value.