Thursday, 21 May 2015

Why ‘Think of the Problems in Africa’ is not always the best phrase for an argument.

The women kidnapped by Boko Haram

First of all, let me stress that I am not encouraging people to ignore problems in Africa – nor the rest of the third world for that matter. I have chosen such a phrase because I’ve been hearing it a lot in recent debates, such as the shambles that was the recent general election.

This is a post about certain phrases which people will use to destroy entire arguments under the illusion that they carry substance and gives them the moral high ground. I want to debunk these phrase and explain why the arguments my peer group and I tend to have are not always suitable for them.

To begin with the ilk of the entitled phrase, this came up earlier on today when I was reading comments relating to Bahar Mustafa (pictured). The Diversity Officer at Goldsmith’s University who called for an anti-racism march which excluded white people and has now used the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen.

The comments I was reading were anti-feminist and branded feminism in this country as pathetic because the problems we campaign to change are nothing like those faced in Africa and the middle east, etc.

I’ll just add here that no true feminist would call for the killing of men because this is another classic example of some people using social media to confuse the discourse of gender equality with misandry – the hatred of men. I for one think this woman is not in the slightest bit feminist and think her comments about ethnic minorities not being racist are completely ludicrous and think she should be fired from her position because she’s fanning the flames that will burn into another social media farce akin to last year’s pile of crap that was GamerGate. (Here’s what I made of that if you’re interested).

I’ll defend feminism again and say to anyone who thinks we are like Mustafa, clearly needs to read about the campaign for gender equality in much more detail. If feminism is all about hating and killing men, how am I a white, heterosexual cis-male still alive and well after being taught about it by some of the finest feminist scholars of European and International Relations?

Anyway, back to the topic of this phrase.

While I appreciate, thoroughly, someone’s concern for the welfare of people abroad, you are not helping the argument because you are giving off the idea that problems we have at home should be something we ignore, and that they will all go away without direct action or social progression. I do agree that a lot of problems faced in nations like mine are not as big and extreme as those in Africa, they are still problems and need to be addressed. Regardless of mass and the social/economical differences of nations, our problems are still here and can fluctuate into even bigger concerns without us knowing it.

Therefore calling all activists in the UK, USA and the first world idiots who should shut up and do something else is plain ludicrous. Just because we are in a richer society where we are slowly progressing to a better way of life, does not excuse us from being concerned about the things that can harm and pose a threat.

Please think about what you are about to say before you say it.

“I’m Rather Offended By That.”

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard this excellent quote from Stephen Fry – someone whom I admire thoroughly as an entertainer and social justice activist.

Now one thing people do not seem to remember, is that Fry said this in a debate with Christopher Hitchens and Anne Widdicome in a debate about the Catholic Church’s attitude to homosexuality.

What he was attacking was homophobia and the tendency for people who read the Daily Mail and the like to use such a phrase to kill arguments of change. I do agree that such a phrase does not give you the moral high ground – but I do believe that people should have the right to be offended.

I’ve posted here about how I find jokes about rape and domestic violence offensive so I know what offends me. But when you are offended – you need substance.

I will defend people’s freedoms to be offended and use this phrase in the context of arguments, but I must urge you to have substance to back up why you are offended. Just using such a phrase to end someone else’s argument is pathetic because it shows how little an argument you have built up over time.

‘Offended’ is another tool to use in an argument for or against something and it needs the substance to make it work. I feel people got the wrong end of the stick with Stephen’s comment on this phrase and have used it to create a world of ‘everything goes’ where you cannot criticise things. The kind of people I’m talking about here are the likes of Thunderf00t and The Amazing Atheist, etc.

“Have you got kids?”

And now for the worst phrase I think anyone can use to destroy an argument.

Parents seem to think that because they have added to the population, then they are somewhat superior to others when it comes to discussing ideas of change.

Safe sex and sexual liberation and censorship tend to be the places this phrase crops up most often. It was pretty much the rhetoric behind the formation of the Parents Music Resource Centre and the trial of Judas Priest in 1990. Just because Tipper Gore and her lackeys had children somehow gave them the right to use them as weapons to stop people from having fun or making a difference to world.

What angers me the most about people who use such a phrase like this, is they do not think for a second about how their offspring must feel. How do you know your kids even agree with you for that matter? And you are stooping to the lowest of the low because you’re pretty much using your kids as a weapon to win a fight they - more than likely – have nothing to do with.

If you have children, I understand that you’d be concerned because they are of upmost importance to you – as was I to my parents. But how can you bring yourself to use your kids as a weapon when you don’t like an argument being made and you cannot think of a reasonable explanation for why you think it’s a bad idea.

Strangely, the 14 word slogan used by a lot of white power groups concerns the protection of children.
Apparently anyone who isn’t white just wants to kill your babies.

So this once again is Dimmu Wulfenhume saying: think before you speak.

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