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Further Thoughts on Human Nature

So a new commenter (hello, Casus Belli!) made a couple of points that I thought were interesting to think over some more.

I was thinking about those web forums I’ve observed where the contingent tends to be heavily weighted towards people who may or may not know they benefit from the status quo. And it is true that part of the way things are is that human nature can be intractable at times.

Now, what is rather darkly amusing is when people like the aforementioned web-forum clusters of misogynists, homophobes and/or racists try to use the very intractability of some aspects of human behavior as an excuse to just give up. “Nobody’ll ever stop being racist/sexist/homophobic! So stop trying, you silly (insert slur of choice which is intended to get a round of laughs and metaphorical backslaps from the fellow travellers on said webforum)”

However, it would be the worst thing to give up! Because giving up plays right into their hands. What they really mean when they say “give up”, is they mean the same old hoary thing defenders of the powerful have always said since time immemorial: “If those (insert category of human beings) would just shut up, things would be fine!”

How many people wished black people would “just shut up” in the 1960s when demanding their civil rights?

How many people wished women would “just shut up” in the 1900s and 1910s as they demanded suffrage? (or even later eras as they demanded other preferences normally given only to men)

How many people wished QUILTBAG people wouild “just shut up” from the 1970s onwards as they demanded social and political equality of treatment?

“Just Shut Up. Just Give Up.”

Because if nothing ever changes, then all the people scared of change will never have to confront themselves, see in themselves where their fear comes from and fight it to become a better person. For all that these people (who are usually cis straight white men) love to bellow and roar at each other to “man up and stop being a sissy fag/woman/etc”, they seem to be eager – astonishingly eager – to want society to conform precisely to their emotional weaknesses as it pertains to their place in the world.

That would be fine if all they wanted was to live in a cocoon somewhere in a place where there is essentially infinite supply, but we don’t have robots and we don’t have access to a star that just went supernova.

Instead, they’ll pick the next best thing: where oppressive structures exist that favor them over others.

And that, people, violates a fundamental dictum I never tire of quoting:

“You shall not side with the great against the powerless.”

What everyone on this planet deserves is a fair shake and a chance to be of themselves all that they want to be. Trying to dismiss the concerns of the powerless goes directly against the grain of that simple philosophy.

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9 thoughts on “Further Thoughts on Human Nature

  1. On the previous topic: One of the escapist’s contributors, the one who did an episode on why ‘Politically Correct’ isn’t a slur, made a decent video about the project and the backlash, specifically taking out one of the dumber counter-arguments. It’s quite good. And the first page of comments is a lot cleaner than the one I described before. Though there’s over 500 comments total, which indicates that a big discussion/flame war broke out somewhere along the line.

    The video is here: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/6.379179-The-Big-Picture-Tropes-vs-MovieBob

  2. I think that much of the soi-disant X-phobia is actually simple bullying behaviour that happens to be targetting a vulnerable group (and, as with any bullying, deliberately choosing language that’s going to be hurtful to that group). In a community that’s largely homogeneous, any outsider, anyone who seems different will be fair game. Whatever behaviour gets tolerated will be reinforced, and after a bit you get the rape jokes.

  3. “You shall not side with the great against the powerless.”

    This, and “To bigotry no sanction,” are excellent quotes that bear remembering, repeating, and if necessary, used as a battle-cry.

    • “You shall not side with the great against the powerless.”

      Which was stated by Jesus Christ and St Paul, and had an established traditon before that with the various Jewish prophets.

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