Mike Arst on the censorship of feminism.
From: Mike Arst
To: Chris Sonnack
Subject: Re: [*CENSORED*]
You to John Clifton:
> if Feminism is such a weak concept that it can't withstand the attacks
> of one person, nay, a thousand persons
Exactly. *Exactly*. Well said. Of course these principles are not
weak, and of course they can easily withstand one such attack, or a
Seems to me there is some fear floating around in this argument - fear
that the publicaton of "incorrect" ideas will in and of itself cause
or contribute to causing people to turn away from "correct" thinking.
It is the fear that pushes people to begin adopting a censor's role.
This way, they can try to allay their fear of somehow being
overwhelmed by forces outside their control. Push the offending ideas
over the nearest cliff - POOF! Gone. Problem solved.
To me there is terrible danger in this notion that the mere existence
of an "incorrect" idea is, itself, damaging - and therefore, perhaps
(some people don't bother with the "perhaps") it should be *suppressed.*
Are people so easily manipulated with respect to their underlying
assumptions about men and women - or about their most basic beliefs
concerning anything else? I don't think so. No, someone who reads such
an article and concludes: "You see? I KNEW feminism was a crock to
begin with" has *already* got an underlying view of it that the
article only reinforces.
There is certainly a clear and present danger in the wide
dissemination of widely varying opinions, reports of people's
experiences, etc. It is: PEOPLE MIGHT ACTUALLY BEGIN THINKING FOR
THEMSELVES. No surprise many parents' groups do not want their
children to be able to read certain books in school. God forbid anyone
should not be controlled in their thinking from Day One. More from
that soapbox some other time.
> Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. It never ceases to amaze me -- people, I
> would otherwise consider rational, supporting what amounts to
> abridging of others freedom based on morals/ethics/politics/younameit.
I once went to a seminar put on by a group called Feminists Against
Censorship Task Force. They had a speaker there who's a sex therapist
in California (like wow, man ...) Kidding aside, this fellow had some
ideas about "moralism" that were fascinating to hear. His take is that
when people get into trying to stomp on certain ideas, styles of life,
literature or art (or forget that, perhaps - say "writing" and
"pictures" instead), then you're seeing people who are *afraid*. The
people on whom he focused during this talk were folks on the left and
right alike who are hell-bent on censoring what they call pornography
- for any number of reasons that make perfect sense to them. What he
said could, I think, apply to a lot of situations in which someone
wants to stomp the expression of some idea out of existence, ban an
"offensive" book, et al.
They tend to lead from *fear*, he said. In particular, people on the
extreme right who put a "religious" coating over their every judgment,
might look quite calm, as if they have it all together. But what's
happening with them is that they are *terrified* that as the world
grows (in their view) weirder and weirder, they are at greater and
greater risk of being overwhelmed by forces they cannot control. The
only solution for them is to make sure they have control by making
sure the "forces of evil" do NOT have control. Back to the seminar:
"control" consists of making sure that what EVERYONE can read is
Such people tend to view discussions of constitutional and other
rights as sham issues whose purpose is to divert attention from the
*REAL* issues - namely their own views of what is "moral" and what is
I thought it was quite interesting because it can help to explain why
extremists of various stripes just WILL NOT play by rules that liberals
accept without question. Moved down deep by fear, it is very important
- vital, of the utmost importance - for the fearful ones to *win*. In
their moments of most intense fear, they believe they are fighting for
survival in a hostile world. This makes for a heavy stake in winning,
all right, and if the rules by which they play seem ugly and dastardly
to liberals (who want so much to have what one friend of mine called
"good process"), so it goes. Winning is everything. To lose is to be
overwhelmed. Liberals tend to shy away from fights if they can't have
"good process". Perhaps the empty spaces on library shelves all over
the place demonstrate this unwillingness to *attack* someone else's
attack on individual liberties in this country.
> Can freedom survive in a society unless all member realize that
> 'freedom for me means freedom for the other person, too'? Dismaying
> how many want only their flavor of freedom.
Ah, but "What you call 'freedom' oppresses ME" is the fear-inspired
rationale of the day. The left tends to use "oppress" as its word for
hooking some people and accusing and shaming others; the right has
different terms, but often the same concepts and goals.
The effects of either group's taking its fears to their "logical"
conclusions could be much the same in the end.