Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #170 (February 28th, 2007)






Jeff Tundis' cover note attached to Jackie's letter seemed to me to illustrate the extent to which "misguided chivalry" has been used to paper over what could only, in my view, be accurately described as intellectual dishonesty:

And there you have it. This met with almost universal derision in the group. To reiterate my point from last night, it is not my intent to dissuade you from your anti-feminist pursuit. This is a fine example of what you are *right* about. Assuming you are correct, and the FoL completely misunderstood or wilfully warped your intentions, this is a clear case of putting personal feelings above principle – in no small part I would guess, to having your ex-wife on the Board at the time. However, this may not be the best example to use in an attempt to get people involved – and honestly, I'm surprised you would even think that was possible. Seems to me to be unusually optimistic on your part.

With all due respect, Jeff, you misunderstand. At this point, I'm not so much trying to find people to get involved with putting together a "female comics professional petition against censorship" – I know better at this point -- as I am in addressing a larger concern which, as I see it, is the extent to which feminists get a free ride in our society essentially by dividing society into feminists and misogynists. If you do something they don't like, you're a misogynist and, once labelled as such, it means that all of your viewpoints (once and future, declared and undeclared) are null and void and it validates the decision to ignore whatever you say -- essentially making society into a girl's high school clique where, unless you toe the party line, you can very quickly find yourself on the outside looking in, beyond redemption and, yes, a pariah.

It's very possible, as you say, that this is also a discussion about "personal feelings vs. principle" and the extent to which the gender opposite errs in favour of the former rather than the latter, but I still think (if true) "personal feelings vs. principle" is a very small aspect of the larger problem of the extent to which feminists get a free ride in our society. If you disagree with their politics, their tactics and their choices they accuse you of "finding a strong, independent woman a threat" and that brings the discussion to an end and leaves them to pursue their politics, their tactics and their choices without dissent or without having to properly defend them as men have to do. The only way as a man that you can refute the accusation of "finding a strong, independent woman a threat" is to treat her as a threat and get out of her way. The threat isn't from "strong, independent women" per se, the threat is from a group (which just happens to be "strong, independent women") who are using intellectually suspect leverage and intimidation to suspend debate or discussion of what they are doing to society and, consequently, getting a free ride to continue doing it. The proper response is "I don't find strong, independent women a threat. What I find a threat is when someone tries to intimidate me into not asking sensible questions about what it is that they're doing and the reasons why they are doing it. A sensible argument doesn't need intimidation to be accepted."

Jeff continues in his note:

The reasons would be as follows:

1. There is no member remaining of the FoL board of directors from 1996. The current members have no knowledge of this even, and some may have been in the 8-10 years of age bracket at the time. The old members, who have absolutely *no* responsibility to act in the manner you wish them to, will continue to ignore or insult you because of past history.

Well, I was in the 8-10 years of age bracket at the time that DC was shredding original artwork rather than giving it back to the artist. By the time I was 17, I was at least aware of the historical context and the different sides to the issue of returning original artwork and I developed my own viewpoint on the subject. I would not have considered, "But I didn't know DC was shredding artwork. I was in the 8-10 years of age bracket when they were doing it" an intellectually valid defence, but rather an embarrassing admission of fundamental ignorance. The concept behind a "female comics professionals' petition against censorship" doesn't exactly require a 75-page writ to explain. Here: "How about if the only comics organization with a large base of female comics professionals canvases their membership to see who would be willing to sign a petition denouncing censorship so that that petition could be used by the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund to keep some of our retailers out of jail?" There. Now everyone is up to speed on the issue.

When you say "the old members (a decidedly unchivalrous choice of words, but we'll let it go), who have absolutely *no* responsibility to act in the manner you wish them to, will continue to ignore or insult you because of past history," I hope you aren't suggesting that this is a reasonable defence for considering the amputating of discussion of an issue as an intellectually honest way of dealing with that issue? Certainly I can't make any of them compose a petition and I can't make them sign it – nor would I want to if I could: I have never advocated compulsion, I have only advocated on-going debate with an eye to reaching a sensible conclusion -- but don't you think someone, somewhere in the FoL context (past, present or future) should -- if they are to be treated as intellectually honest individuals worthy of being taken seriously -- mount some sort of reasonable defence for just amputating the discussion? i.e. "The Reason that it was Intellectually Honest of we, the 1996 Board of Directors of the Friends of Lulu, to simply stop discussing even the idea of a `female comics professional petition deploring censorship' is…" and then find something sensible to fill in the blank? It seems to me that your answer is no. And what I'm suggesting is that, given that your answer is no -- and the answer of the comics community is no -- the net result is a free ride for feminism. And, in my view, no one should get a free ride in a democratic society. And, further, I think the issue of a free ride for a political viewpoint is such an important one that I am willing to sacrifice what little there is left of my professional reputation and stature in the field on the altar of feminist totalitarianism in order to reinforce the validity of my own point: no one should get a free ride in a democratic society and if I'm the only one who elects to stand in your way, so be it You can't just amputate a discussion in the arena of give-and-take which surrounds ideas. Ideas are the driving force behind the way we make the choices we make in how to shape society. I mean, you can just amputate discussions – feminists prove that you can every day – but you can't do so and legitimately view yourself as intellectually honest.

2. What is the resolution? An apology is ineffectual, and would only come at the end of what could be considered harassment – if at all (which would be my guess). If the current members agree that their predecessors acted wrongly, then what should they do? The previously offered outlet is no longer available. If you have alternate ideas, perhaps the FoL could be encouraged to act, as this could still be useful to the CBLDF due to head back to court soon.

I have never asked for and I have no interest in an apology. You unconsciously strike an interesting note in suggesting that the pursuit of the resolution of a rational debate: a rational answer to a rational question is, in our feminist society, likely to be considered harassment and is yet another means by which feminists get a free ride. If you disagree with them too emphatically, you're harassing them which means that you have to withdraw your disagreement thereby creating the illusion of consensus, thereby giving feminists a free ride.

If you're talking about the "microcosm resolution" obviously the answer would be to put the question to the female comics professionals in the FoL membership – or female comics professionals generally – and see how many would be willing to sign a petition that the CBLDF could use deploring censorship. The offer of the four pages in the back of Cerebus for a membership drive was, in retrospect, an inadvisable quid pro quo. No one should have to be bribed into doing the right thing. They should do it because it's the right thing to do and I think helping the CBLDF to protect freedom of speech is in that category. If someone has a rational basis for disagreeing with that premise, I'll be glad to hear it. A female comics professional petition might not make a difference but on the other hand it might and, apart from cash and pro bono work by First Amendment lawyers, the CBLDF doesn't have a whole lot with which to fight against censorship in individual jurisdictions. Having spent years trying to come up with what might work in the public relations end of fighting censorship, the petition was the only thing that I came up with that seemed remotely plausible and remotely possible.

The "macrocosm resolution" in my view would only come when the use of amputation of debate becomes invalidated as a tactic. Particularly in the internet age with unlimited space and forums to debate every issue imaginable it seems only sensible that individuals can opt out, but that debate should always be kept alive with the idea of achieving some resolution (however remote the possibility). I have paid a terrible price for daring to do other than kowtow to the feminist orthodoxy but my position is the same as it has always been: feminism is no different from any other political movement or philosophy. It has to defend itself with sound reasoning and refute those questions addressed to it – (see The Fourteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast in my "Tangent" essay) -- if it hopes to survive and retain and build upon its present societal stranglehold. If my views are as self-evidently "crazy" as they have universally been declared to be in the comic-book field then it should be an easy matter to take, as an example, the Fourteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast and to demonstrate in simple, clear straightforward language why they aren't impossible and why, in fact, they are non-negotiable and sensible cornerstones for a society based on the complete equality of the genders.

As I said before, I did not pursue this personally because I do not wish to be perceived as your attack dog. If that seems to you a cop-out, so be it. This is not my intention, but I choose my battles and in this particular situation I chose to leave to others what I view as a confrontation with no beneficial outcome (Yes, I'm sure such a comment could lead to a lengthy discussion about Iraq, but that for another time). Claude and Craig are on the case, however, and at least one has *some* industry presence with which to apply pressure when the situation coalesces.

See, to me the "free ride for feminism" issue is much larger than that and it has implications for all aspects of our society. If the "0" and "1" of our society's trajectory is decided between "misogynist" and "feminist" (either/or) – as perceived by feminists and ruling out anything someone has to say if they have been judged a misogynist by feminists -- then I don't think there is much hope of a happy or sensible outcome for our society. I don't see it as someone being my "attack dog" because I think that presupposes that I am the only person opposed to feminism. Wacky Anti-Feminist Dave and His Crazy Misogynist Ideas.

Let me put it this way: somewhere back in the 18th century, some poor soul had to stand up in his place in the British Parliament and say, "Look – one way or the other I think that slavery is wrong." He had to say that in front of all of the other parliamentarians who would instantly have giant questions marks over their heads. "Slavery? Wrong? Slavery can't be wrong. Why, it's in the Bible. Whole chapters in the Old Testament deal with the proper treatment of slaves. The greatest minds in human history from Plato on down assure us that slavery is natural and inevitable." And he would be laughed at, derided, shunned and scorned for his trouble. Now, somewhere in that parliament there must have been a few fellows who thought, "Well, you know. I think he's right. I think slavery is wrong, too."

All I'm saying is that unless a few of those fellows get up the gumption to stand with that solitary chap and say, "I think he's right: I think slavery is wrong", that is, until you have a full and open and reasonable debate about slavery without the intimidation of the majority silencing the minority then you're never going to get rid of slavery, are you? You have to start somewhere if you're going to correct a wrong turn that society, with the best of intentions, has taken.

I think a free ride for any viewpoint in our society is always a mistake, whether that viewpoint is that "slavery is a good thing" or "you must never disagree out loud with feminists because that means you're a misogynist or a Nazi or a redneck". Twelve years later on, and still we haven't had a peep out of anyone else here in the comic-book field. I can understand the fear of consequences from daring to stand up to totalitarian feminism – I'm a living example of what facing those consequences head-on is like and for most men in the comic-book field, the warning has obviously been sufficient -- but the only thing I think we have to fear (besides fear itself) are those viewpoints we are unwilling to confront and to examine and to question because of that fear. A free ride for a political viewpoint can only lead in the direction of totalitarianism based on that viewpoint, in my view. And if we aren't already there with feminism, I think we are well on our way.

I appreciate that you pick your battles, Jeff. I'd be interested in what battles you think are more important than holding women in our society to basic standards of intellectual honesty in debate to which the rest of us are required to conform in the name of common sense.

Tomorrow: A bit more unpleasantness and then you can all forget about the free ride for feminism in our society until the 25th of March.

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