What can you do when you realize that you’re losing the war of ideas? You can rethink some or all of your ideas, seriously considering the unnerving possibility that you might be, well, wrong. You can reconsider how you present your ideas.
Or you can give up on ideas entirely, and attempt to pressure or harass or even terrorize others into some form of surrender. That’s what the the uber-radical Weathermen did in the 1960s and 70s, turning first to violent direct action in the aptly named “days of rage” and then to bombs when the revolution that many in the New Left had been prophesying failed to materialize. That’s what the anti-abortion movement has been doing for decades now, with some in the movement harassing women trying to get abortions while more radical antis bomb clinics and kill doctors. .
And now we’re seeing rhetoric from Men’s Rights Activists that suggests some in that movement may also be giving up on talk. Consider A Voice for Men’s Paul Elam, who declared in a fundraising letter a couple of months back that:
Progress for men will not be gained by debate, reason or typical channels of grievance available to segments of the population that the world actually gives a damn about. The progress we need will only be realized by inflicting enough pain on the agents of hate, in public view, that it literally shocks society out of its current coma.
Elam is – presumably deliberately — vague about what exactly he means when he talks about “inflicting … pain,” and as far as I know he has never explicitly endorsed violence. But he has spoken openly about “stalking” individual feminists and otherwise “fucking their shit up” by, among other things, posting personal information about them on the AVfM-sponsored site Register-Her.com for all would be vigilantes to see. And in the “activism” section of his website he has reprinted a manifesto explicitly calling for the firebombing of courthouses and police stations.
Elam isn’t the only MRA who has officially given up on “debate and reason” in favor of “inflicting … pain” on feminists. The “counter-feminist” wannabe philosopher who calls himself Fidelbogen makes a similar argument in a recent post on his blog:
Feminism is your enemy, and the obligation to treat feminists as fellow human beings is officially waived. They are not fellow human beings, they are ALIENS.
Dehumanizing the enemy always a good start.
[L]et’s not hear any crap about so-called “hate speech”. You see, there is simply no way that you can resist evil, denounce tyranny, or call pernicious things by their right names, without crossing a fine line into “hate speech” or something very like it. Extremism against a bully is no vice, and since bullies have their own moral economy, you are entitled to pay them in their own coin.
It’s not hate speech if you really do hate them?
The important thing to understand about the feminists is, that they will not change their outward behavior unless social heat and pressure are inflicted upon them.
Fidelbogen, a sometime contributor to A Voice for Men, is also vague about what exactly he means by this “social heat and pressure.” He continues:
What, do you think they will stop what they are doing just because somebody intellectually convinces them they are mistaken? They will do no such thing, because they are people with an agenda who know they are “right”, and they lack the gift to see themselves as the rest of the world sees them.
IRONY ALERT. IRONY ALERT.
Over on Reddit, meanwhile, the charming JeremiahMRA – who used to post comments here as Things Are Bad – thinks the “inflict pain” policy should be extended to all women, any time they engage in “bad behavior.” Responding to a poster asking how to handle a disagreement with his mother, he explained his theory in (sometimes redundant) detail, receiving several dozen net upvotes for his post:
The ONLY way you change women’s bad behavior is by punishing them if they won’t start acting like adults. …
The only way you change a woman’s bad behavior is by making sure they know it hurts them. …
Reasoning with her will not work. The only answer is to use the power he has as her SON to threaten to hurt her emotionally. Women are emotional creatures. Nothing else will work. This is what it means to be a man: you do what you have to do so that things will be better in the end, even if you don’t like it. …
It isn’t about convincing her what’s right, it’s about showing her she will suffer if she doesn’t do what’s right. That is the only thing that will work.
The Men’s Rights Movement likes to pretend that is it a civil rights movement. But threats, harassment, hate speech, and emotional blackmail aren’t the tactics of a legitimate civil rights movement. These are the tactics of angry narcissists clinging to retrograde prejudices, who have given up on the war of ideas because on some level they know that history is against them, and that they will never win.