Aug 29, 2015

Militant Anything: AKA the Assholes Among Us

I write vampire dick jokes. Let's just get that out of the way. I write to entertain, not educate. Mind you, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. As a result of this, though, you might notice this blog, my Twitter, and Facebook pages tend to stray away from topics which are too heavy.  Should I ever stand on my soap box and proselytize - run!  See again what I write. Chances are you shouldn't be listening to me about any cause anyway.

That being said, this is probably one of the few times I'm going to venture into so-called troubled waters a bit before steering us back to the relatively calmer waves of wondering how many times I can kick my hero's ass in one book.

If you're online at all (or watch the news), it's hard to avoid controversy of the "us vs them" variety. With regards to books, there's the infamous Sad Puppies / Rabid Puppies / what the hell happened to the Hugo Awards issues. But it goes far beyond that.  Gay marriage advocates vs. "traditional" marriage, pro choice vs. pro life, religious dogma vs atheism, iPhone vs. Android, feminists vs. whatever an anti-feminist is called etc etc.

In short there is no shortage of sides to pick. That in of itself isn't a problem. We're a diverse people with individual free will.  That's gonna happen. The truth is, in most cases there is no right answer so much as an answer that is right for a particular individual.  So why do we keep reading about these things then?  I think that answer is simplicity itself: because no matter what side you're representing, there will always be militants among them. Militants make good press. Militants inspire interest. Militants generate controversy.

The press might love them, but that still doesn't change the fact that militants of pretty much any cause are, for the most part, assholes.

Now what makes someone militant (aka an asshole)?  It's not the belief itself.  We all have them, so what's the difference?  The difference is how much you go out of your way to shove that belief down someone-else's throat?  The further you go down this path, the bigger the asshole you are.

Not convinced?

I'll give as much of a non-inflammatory example as I can think of. Let's say I'm a Godzilla fan. Liking Godzilla doesn't make me a militant fan. Enjoying his awesome movies doesn't.  Heck, even engaging in some lively debate with some hapless Gamera groupies doesn't make me anything more than a fan. It's all cool. I keep my opinions to myself unless the subject comes up and at that point the worst I do is say my piece and move on.  All is right with the world.

So where does the trouble start?  Well, for starters, the second I start thinking that anyone who likes, say, Gorgo is inferior to me. That's a problem and most likely the first stages of booking my trip to asshole-ville, but for now I just keep it to myself. I'm still a functional member of society and no real problem to anyone.

The rabbit hole gets deeper, though.  Maybe one day I decide to make it a point to steer all conversations toward my belief that Godzilla is the superior monster. Heck, cousin Jimmy might be getting married to the girl of his dreams, but before I congratulate him, I'm gonna make sure he knows all about the King of the Monsters (forget the fact that my gift to him and his new bride is a boxed DVD set of the best of the big G).

Next up, I'll probably start purposely picking fights with those of opposing viewpoints. It's no longer about what's right, so much as it is about telling the other side they're not. Yeah, the rules of that online forum might say "Voltron fans only!" but those guys can suck a dick because I'm on a mission from God(zilla) and there isn't anyone who'll tell me otherwise.

Oh what's that? A fellow rabid G-fan just called me and said there's a Cloverfield convention three states over. I'd better grab my picket signs, load up my car, and drive for the next fifteen hours because there's non-believers who need to be shown the light. Yeah, they're minding their own business, but who cares - they're wrong!

But that's still not enough for me. I'm a pretty massive asshole by now, but I'm not a Godzilla-sized one yet.  I must complete my transformation, achieve my final form.

I know!  There's a quiet, unassuming woman who lives a few blocks over.  She doesn't seem to bother anyone, but one day I was walking my dog Godzuki and happened to glance in her window and what did I see?!  She was watching fucking King Kong on TV! Sorry, lady, but now I have to blow up your house. Yeah, her kids might be inside at the time, but by their very association with her they're unclean.

Sounds pretty ridiculous doesn't it?  Well, change the above example to pretty much any cause and you will have the ingredients for the perfect asshole sandwich - from mild all the way to extra spicy. 

I don't care if you're a bigoted jerk, a progressive male, a feminist, a sad puppy, right to life, pro choice, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Republican, Democrat ... WHATEVER!

There is a vast difference between having beliefs, being proud of those beliefs, or even expressing those beliefs versus being intolerant of the opposite belief and existing to essentially be a walking talking (sometimes exploding) billboard for that belief.

Now, don't get me wrong. Sometimes militants are a necessary evil for change. Good can come from the fringe. At the same time, I often must wonder if the truly extreme of any faction are so much true believers as much as those looking to latch onto anything because it gives them purpose to act out their own personal forms of insanity.  Were it not one cause, it would simply be another.

Something to think about. 

In closing, it's fine to have an opinion. It's cool to have a cause. It's awesome to be passionate. But once you cross that line where you lose respect for any other belief than your own, you have pretty much put your house on the market and reserved a space down in Asshole Acres.

The only question is - how far in are you planning to move?


SyllieBee said...

This should be required reading.
For everyone.

Mike Nezz said...

Well written and thought out

lef13 said...

Too true & too funny #GoTeamMothra

lef13 said...
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lef13 said...
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EsauCairn said...

I hope you'll forgive me, but I'm going to be pedantic and criticize part of your post.

I think for many discussions there genuinely is a right answer - tax policy, military policy, veterans' benefits, gay rights vs traditional marriage, religious dogma vs. atheism, etc... I dislike the way many people extend "everyone is entitled to their own opinion" into "and all such opinions have equal value". That second statement is not true.

However, making your point - no matter how valid that point might be - with abusive language, insults, shouting, threats, lies, theft, fraud, or violence is almost never acceptable. The sole exception is violence in self-defense against genuine physical threats. Outside of that, even if I'm 100% right about atheism - or Christianity - that never grants me a license to be an asshole.

And as a practical matter, you will never convince people of your arguments by abusing those people during the course of your presentation.

It was a great post otherwise, thanks. Remind me not to watch Gorgo around you.

Rick Gualtieri said...

Just for the record, I think Gorgo is an awesome movie. Wish they had made more like it.