Thursday, October 13, 2011

More Speech As A Response To Misogynist Speech

I thought of "more speech" as the answer to "bad speech" the other day. It is a common argument for how to fix racist or misogynist speech: Don't stifle it but present alternatives.

In theory it works. Say, someone writes a long screed about how women are nothing but holes to be plugged and should never have power. Then others can write long screeds in the defense of the ridiculous idea that women are people! That will naturally take hours if not days, and will require putting down humongous amounts of evidence that women indeed have done lots of good stuff, as a class.

Given the "more speech" argument, all the time others crawl from the primeval mud and chime in with their ideas of how c**tish women are and so on. A cacophony results. It's a bit like saying that "bad music" should result in "more music", all instruments going on at the same time in the same room.

You are only going to hear the loudest one, most likely give up and go away. Who knows what your final conclusions are on the heinous nature of women in general.

Of course the initial "more speech" response could have been not writing that long epistle with evidence but simply blurting out that men are prickish Q-tips which should be kept in a bathroom cabinet when one does not need them, what with their violent over-emotionality and so on. But that, my friends, is another type of "bad speech." Are we to fight "bad speech" with more "bad speech?"

Or we could tell the misogynist that he should shut up. That, of course, is exactly what one is NOT supposed to do in the "free marketplace" of ideas.

The mature reaction is to ignore woman-haters and their comments. I have been told this many, many times.

This means that my Internet use is like sitting at a public library having low-toned conversations with clever people, while, once every few minutes, some guy with staring eyes walks past yelling "c***s, I hate them." On my blog I ban these visitors. Elsewhere I cannot do so.

It's not just an inconvenience, either. If your neighbor walked around with staring eyes muttering about his hatred of women you might feel the need to do something, to suggest that he gets help, to talk to his family and so on. But the mature reaction on the Internet is to ignore all that.

This troubles me.