Rise Of The Assholes
Last year in Charlottesville there was rally of people protesting the removal of confederate statues. Like all groups of people, it was a collection of individuals, each with their own views, motivations and actions.
Some of the conservatives at the rally were attempting to protect what they view as their culture. While the Confederacy rightfully represents racism and slavery to many, to others it represents southern life. Much like how the American flag likely represents genocide to many indigenous peoples while to many Americans it is a powerful symbol for good.
Others were White Supremacists. Vice did a powerful interview with a set of people who spoke specifically about wanting to commit violence against others. One white supremacist murdered Heather Heyer and injured many others with his car.
Then there were the trolls. Inspired by 4-Chan, they’ve created their own Nazi styled idolatry. The KE K flag. Pepe the Frog. The OK symbol. Many used these symbols ironically, as a mechanism for mocking Nazis or “triggering liberals”. The OK symbol itself actually started as a joke, attempting to prove that you can fool people into thinking that something so benign could be a secret Alt-Right symbol.
The result of that trolling however was that actual white supremacists ran with it, and used the “trolling” aspect of that symbolism as plausible deniability for their own views. A racism smoke screen of sorts.
I ran into some of these trolls at the counter-protest at the Boston Free Speech rally after Charlottesville. The taller gentleman had a black mask and was dressed all in black, much like the members of Antifa, who were also in attendance.
The ones who are actual trolls and not racists hiding in plain sight seem to believe that everyone else is like them. Many don’t seem to believe that there is a real problem with far right fascists, klansmen and neo-nazis at the moment.
I will give it to them that many liberals are wrongly applying to labels to many people who disagree with them. The free speech rally was tiny compared to the counter protest. I brought a telephoto lens to see the actual rally itself, and I did not see any clear evidence of Nazi sympathizers. That did not prevent the liberal crowds from shouting them down as if they were though.
I’ve spent time over the last year trying to talk to some of these trolls. Trying to make them understand how harmful their “act” is, and how much of a real issue we’re having with hate crimes and racist policy. I have not been successful.
I realize now that it’s not really necessary. While the trolls are less of a crisis for our country, they are a very real societal issue that deserves to be dealt with. To be clear, I’m not talking about legal ramifications. Freedom of speech is very important, and I do not believe that government intervention is needed.
These people however are assholes. Why would you have an asshole as a friend? Why would you hire an asshole? Why would you allow them into your business? If you harm others for your lolz, then you deserve to be shunned.
If we shun assholes, then that sidesteps the whole question about if you really believe what you’re saying or not. Your words can be harmful even if they are not sincere. Clearly if you overstep into the realm of criminal action, then legal steps should be taken. If you do not though, you should still feel the consequences of your actions.
There are other kinds of assholes out in force as well.
Individuals on either side are so certain that their way is only way that they will harass, dox, humiliate or physically attack people who disagree with them in some way. It is far easier to pretend that the world contains one set of people who agree with you and one group that disagrees than to really understand the variety of views that exist.
Antifa and other forms of “Nazi Punchers” often fit into this group. I agree with Antifa’s goal of fighting against fascism. Too many of their followers treat anyone who supports Trump as a Fascist though, without looking for evidence.
I’ve also been targeted by liberals who have decided that I’m a Nazi, troll, bot, Russian, communist, fascist and more. This is typically because I supported Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton (but did vote for her in the general election), or because I don’t think a “Blue Wave” will not fix anything. I’m a big believer in individuals rather than parties. Disagreeing with me is expected. Acting like an assholes is unnecessary.
In general I’ve had enough of “polite society”.
The world is full of self-important individuals. People who will fuck you over for their own benefit, or just because they want to. People who will cut you off because they know you can’t do anything about it. People who will rip you off because you won’t do anything about it. And we don’t.
We’re rather lose out than cause a scene. We’d rather complain to our friends than to call out the assholes. In some cases we’d rather call the police than talk to someone else who is doing something we don’t approve of.
As a result, sometimes we’re the asshole, like Permit Patty. In other cases we’re just leaving problematic people to cause issues for someone else.
There’s not always something that can be done. But when there is, I believe we have a responsibility to take action.