The Cult of Death Is Building A Temple in Canaan

I wanted to get a few things off my chest about Israel and Palestine, based on some really idiotic conversations I see going around. I want to preface these statements by making it absolutely clear that they are my opinion only, and do not represent nor reflect on anyone else (employer, sports team, country, etc.) Unfortunate we have to put those disclaimers in, but that is the society we live in.

I’ve been seeing a lot of cheering from those on the right towards Israel, which quite frankly disgusts me. It makes me want to vomit. It’s disgusting and abhorrent. No one should cheer the deaths of people, especially women and children. Nobody should applaud when missiles rain down and blow apart houses. A reasonable response to this could be “Good luck Israel,” or simple statements of support, but instead I am seeing “Yeah, go Israel! Fuck yeah!” and “Wipe out those subhuman savages!” No, really, this is typical rhetoric now being tossed about.

Just in case anyone says “Nobody actually says the Palestinians are subhuman savages” I present to you @CSunnyDaay and @secondthenfirst. Yes, these people do exist out there.

I don’t support Hamas, and I don’t support Hamas’ indiscriminate missile flinging into Israel. That’s not the solution to their problem. But here’s the thing: most Americans (and other foreigners) cheering on Israel don’t even bother thinking about the other side of the equation. They just think “Oh, these bad people are firing missiles at Israel! It’s self-defense! That’s it!” But they never bother to ask why the bad people are firing missiles, they just assume they are intrinsically evil creatures from Mordor.

Let’s examine why. Israel, over the course of decades, kicked the Palestinian Arabs out of their homes (though the initial blame lies with Britain, which decided to just mandate things.) They then forced these people into small areas, locked down running water and electricity, forced them to only get supplies from the Israeli government (which in turn could shut down the supply lines at any time), walk in and bulldoze people’s homes without warning, shoot them without warning or due process or anything even remotely like that, and then have the gall to build tons of Israeli settlements within the territory they’ve already set aside for the Palestinians! And then, when all that is said and done, the Israeli government drops bombs on hospitals, homes, shelters, just blows things up from the sky. And they have the gall to wonder why the Palestinians turn to support Hamas and their (largely ineffectual) rocket attacks?

If you corralled a bunch of red-blooded Americans into an area and shut down basic services and lobbed bombs and shells at them, after removing them from the land they used to own, do you think Americans would sit for that? Or do you think Americans would find a way to fire back?

The stupid, it burns.

Israel has been fighting this war essentially since 1948. It has taken on different forms, but the same thread of conflict has run through it all. You would think, by now, they may have wisened up and realized what they’re doing isn’t working. The US tried this before too. It’s called Vietnam. Our attacks there only galvanized the Vietnamese people to support the Viet Cong more, and they did – to the point where the VC forced us to leave and then destroyed the US-backed Republic of South Vietnam. What the heck does the Israeli government think this will accomplish? Do they really think that if they drop just another load of bombs out of the sky, that the Palestinians will finally be convinced that Hamas’ way is the wrong way and will stop?

Of course, I don’t think that’s what the Israeli government thinks at all. Like most governments, it wants votes, and like many people, a lot of Israelis want blood. Not all of them, but a fair amount, and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu represents those who do. And I think Netanyahu wants the conflict as PM because he can blame any problems in his government on the Palestinians. I’m not sure what those other problems are, I am not an expert in Israeli internal politics, but it has been a long lasting and celebrated political tactic to find an “Other” you can demonize and pin all your problems on.

Again, I’m not supporting Hamas. The Palestinians are stupid for supporting Hamas. Do they really think that more rockets raining down will fix their problems of no jobs, crushing poverty, lack of medical care, food, running water, and electricity? Do they really think the Israelis are going to soften and change their policies if their families are blown up? Yet I can understand – though not support – why they support Hamas. Most Palestinians probably feel they have no hope, that there is no alternative. (Sure, there’s Fatah in the West Bank, but Gaza and the West Bank are almost two different entities at this point.) When you have no jobs, no supplies, and there are bombs falling out of the sky, what’s left to do but die for Allah?

The point I’m trying to make here is not that Americans are supporting the “wrong side.” I wouldn’t want them to support Hamas either. The point is that many Americans are completely leaving out half of the equation here. They’re ignoring why the Palestinians in Gaza are doing what they’re doing. If you’re going to jump into a conflict, you need to understand why that conflict is going on, who the players actually are, who the players’ peoples actually are, and then what incentives are going to make each side stop fighting – both the incentives they publicly state and the incentives that we know, deep down, that will cause both sides to knock it off. But, like most foreign policy issues, Americans never bother to actually understand or learn the arguments, they just want some prewritten soundbite to utter that makes them feel all good and patriotic.

That disgusts me.

Addition

After conversing with some folks on social media, it appears to me that some clarification is in order. Two points.

First, some have said that Israel has done all it can, and now the ball is in Hamas’ court. That’s fair. While I can understand the sentiment behind a lot of antipathy towards Israelis, having the Israelis come in and basically kick the Palestinians out, the Palestinians need to accept they’re not getting it back. They are never going to destroy Israel and get their all-Palestinian state. They may be able to secure a federalist solution, at best, but they’re never going to kick Israel out. While Hamas will never come to that conclusion willingly – it would mean they would lose all their support as their raison d’etre would be violated – they need to accept that. So these folks are right, it is time that Hamas recognized Israel’s right to exist (as much as any “state” has rights; only individuals can really have rights), and stop the rocket attacks on Israel. The Israeli strikes still won’t lead to the Palestinian people moving against Hamas, but Israel has its hands effectively tied.

Second, some people have taken this post to mean that I support Hamas, that I don’t think Israel has a right to exist, and that the Israelis shouldn’t be allowed to defend themselves. Nothing can be further from the truth. I don’t support either side in this mess. What I am writing against is the frothing, mindless support from some folks on the right for the violence in Gaza. For the people labeling Palestinians as subhuman savages and calling for more death, more bombs, more killings. That is what I am writing against. That is the point of this piece. For what it’s worth, I’m not even sure I care anymore about the conflict itself. I just want it to end. I just want the violence and death and destruction to stop. Is that so bad? Is it so bad that I criticize people who want this to continue? Of course, I shouldn’t expect any reason or intelligence on this issue. Almost more than anything else, this issue runs high on tribalism, to the point where nobody will bother even understanding the argument being made, they will just arbitrarily label the person good or evil. It is the Cult of Death I am fighting against, and the Temple they are building is the ritual chanting for more ordnance to fall. The Cult of Death is not Israeli. It is not Palestinian. It is, regrettably, American.

That is not supporting Hamas. That is not being anti-Israeli. It is being anti-death and anti-war, nothing more.

Update

The spate of attacks on my piece in social media has led me to read a lot more articles about Gaza than what I normally do. This one in particular has me all kinds of confused. Just what is really going on here?

Me and the Angry Atheist: I’m On a Podcast

I am so terrible at selling myself. It’s almost embarrassing.

In any case, earlier this week I had the pleasure of joining the Angry Atheist on his podcast, the Angry Atheist Podcast. You can check it out here.

Looks like I’m moving up in the world. And yes, I do apologize to those Angry Atheist podcast listeners who have come here expecting something interesting…I’m kinda not.

Employment & Free Speech

So A&E (apparently) suspended Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Robertson clan from Duck Dynasty, for homophobic & racist statements he gave in an interview. Naturally, there’s been a lot of outrage on all sides.

Let’s get something clear: this is not the First Amendment. That applies to the government, not private employers. Don’t even think of making it a First Amendment issue. Matt Yglesias is completely right on this. (And I disagree with him on a lot of things.) So let’s just get that out of the way: First Amendment applies to government, not to private employers.

However, be that as it may, is it still right for companies to terminate or suspend employees over voicing opinions and views, no matter how backward or detestable they may be? Sure, companies may have a right to do so, but it does not make it right. It may also be completely legal, but again, not right. It’s very clear it is legal, but it is not at all clear that it is right to me.

Libertarians frequently talk about the chilling effect on speech whenever government censors. What libertarians don’t talk about is the chilling effect when companies censor. Now, to a large degree, this is because employment is a largely voluntary activity. If you don’t like your company, you can leave. You can even blow the whistle and enjoy certain legal protections.

But you still have to deal with the consequences of those actions. And one of those consequences is losing your paycheck. In a world that is the end result of a century of rampant inflation, losing your paycheck means a lot of struggle and hardship. (Okay, it did before the rampant inflation too, but not nearly as much. With things costing less, I think it was easier to compensate.) To speak your mind and possibly lose your source of income that pays for your housing, food, clothing, transportation–everything–is one hell of a chilling effect.

Now that doesn’t really apply to Phil Robertson. He’s clearly well off and will not be harmed by this whatsoever. But most of us are not Phil Robertson. We don’t have those resources to fall back on. Even if we may have some resources, we may be facing hardship we are not ready to face.

The problem with then saying “Nobody should be fired for voicing their opinions” is that you have a free association issue. People should not be forced to associate themselves with people they don’t want to. That includes corporate management that wants nothing to do with a person who vocally articulates hateful or otherwise harmful rhetoric. I wouldn’t want to be around a gay-bashing homophobe, and I suspect most A&E employees don’t either. So by mandating some sort of “don’t fire” principle, you’re effectively forcing people to pal around with people they really don’t want to.

And that creates a whole heaping load of problems on its own. I mean, hello: hostile work environment lawsuits.

I want to make it clear that I don’t support homophobic or racist rhetoric. However, if that’s the content of Robertson’s speech, I’m still not sure that suspending him was the right thing for A&E to do. I also want to make it clear that I think that employers should not terminate employees based on voicing their opinions outside the office, so long as they are not bashing the company, the company’s clients, or even possibly the company’s vendors. I also want to make it clear that any resolution towards these problems should not involve new legislation; we know how that creates a horrible, unmitigated mess.

In short, I am very conflicted. I think good, sensible employers will realize they cannot punish employees for voicing their opinions and will not do so. Bad employers will, and they will lose talent and suffer. But at the same time, I hate what the guy has said and I wouldn’t want to work at a company if such speech was allowed to run rampant in the office. Yet if companies start punishing employees for speaking their mind, what kind of a world would we be living in?

And this is the real world, unfortunately, where nothing is easy and you get your dilemmas for free.

Image: By Njallis (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Can we just stop making stuff up?

The title of a recent article at The New Republic reads:

The Period Is Pissed
When did our plainest punctuation mark become so aggressive?

The author then goes on to assume that adding a period at the end of your texts indicates you’re angry.

This is one of the plainest cases of someone just making shit up. Ok, so he cites a professor of linguistics and the editor of something called the Awl (presumably short for “The Awful,” judging by the editor’s comments.) But this guy is definitely smoking something.

Look, a period at the end of sentences is not indicating aggressiveness. It is proper grammar. Nothing more, nothing less. Yes, some people don’t do that and use line breaks because it’s more efficient to type that way on mobile phones. Not technically proper, but it’s a convenience to use such a wonderful device. I have no problem with that. But if you start assuming that using periods in a message indicates “anger,” well, then you’re going to have a lot of problems in your life. You’re probably going to end up hating a lot of people or feeling really bad about yourself. And then your life is going to get worse.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t assume. It makes an ass out of you and me.

EDIT: I am now very angry at my high school for making me think grammar is spelled with an “e”.

From @Superbus » Richie Incognito And The Male Disease

» Richie Incognito And The Male Disease The Superbus’s Thoughtpad.

I forget the guy’s name, but I’ll never forget the time my home town of Seymour effectively beat a kid to Florida.

The Seymour High School football team1, in my freshman year of 19952, got in a lot of trouble because the parent of one kid reported the hazing that her son – someone I knew, but wasn’t very good friends with – went through and wanted answers. What kind of hazing? How about softball-sized welts on his back from being whipped, while tied up, by weightlifting belts that reportedly were made wet to make them hurt more. Basically, imagine being hit by the leather part of a championship wrestling belt after it’s been sitting in water for an hour and you have an idea. That’s the kind of thing a plantation owner would do to a belligerent slave.

However, this woman and her family made one key mistake: they didn’t get anyone else on board. Other people who took that barbaric abuse didn’t back him up, and other players, upper classmen, called him out. Things only got worse from there, as the entire school, and eventually the entire town of Seymour turned against him and his family. I don’t remember specifics, but he got abused far more, and far worse, as time went on. Eventually, the family moved to Florida, and though I don’t know them personally, it’s patently obvious that they moved because their son was being abused to the point of cruelty, not just by the jocks who turned on him, but by a town that abandoned the snitch, the heretic, and the one who could have hurt the season of a team two years off a conference championship. I mean, God Damnit, we have to beat Torrington! We have to beat Torrington!!!

When I think of the barbarity of what Richie Incognito is guilty of, I think back to that 15 year old kid who was abandoned by adults because he was deemed soft by the kangaroo court of a small town who takes its football way too seriously.

Such are the opening words to an amazing, utterly amazing blog post on the recent brouhaha with the Miami Dolphins, and more general issues regarding the contemporary man.

There are a lot of things floating out there; one of them is that we are engaging in a “wussification” of men across the board. I think that’s happening in public schools, especially at the elementary and junior high levels, but in general I think there’s also a lot of macho man BS going on. I see it all the time, where men are expected not to be thoughtful and kind but just turn to violence or other forms of barbarity in order to get ahead.

I see it in society all the time. There’s a dark layer of barbarism lying underneath modern culture, undergirding it in some respects, and it bothers me. We’re above this stuff, or at least we should be. I was done with bullying in the sixth grade, but I see it all the time as an adult–at work, at my house, on the street, in politics, in the media, in churches, in schools. It’s ridiculous.

Anyways, I encourage you to read the entire blog post and leave Chris a comment. It’s an extremely well-written piece and he deserves a few more blog hits than he normally gets.

Social Media Vacay

Everyone tells me I need to be on social media if I want my stuff promoted. I gotta be on there to be heard, to be seen, to get things done.

If I’ve learned anything in the past few years, though, it’s that that may not be necessarily true. Indeed, social media has some serious pitfalls. My favorite ones are flamewars with trolls. It was one of them, in fact, that led me to this policy of taking a social media vacation.

I’ve learned that I cannot resist getting into arguments; I can’t resist trolls. That something I lost, somewhere, aand I need to reclaim that. How? I don’t know. But a prerequisite has to be stepping back from social media. It’s hurting my productivity, hurting my wider social sphere, and ultimately it’s hurting my brain.

So I’m taking a break from Twitter & Facebook. I’ve downloaded an app that only does Twitter DM’s, and I’ll keep using Facebook Messenger so people can get in touch with me. Other than that, just Gmail & this blog. Thanks to the magic of WordPress, I can still write status updates. And thanks to the magic of RSS, I can autopost these to Twitter and Facebook.

I see this as an extension of some cutting I’ve already done in my life. A few months ago I uninstalled Steam and basically eliminated computer games from my life. Now I need to continue the process and get rid of–at least temporarily–another serious distraction.

I’m not sure why I had to blog this, really, other than to tell my friends who are going to start wondering, but if you stumble across this and read this, that’s what this is about. I will still be politically minded; I will still have strong opinions about political philosophy and government. I will still write, though hopefully not on Twitter (I will maintain my vow, I will maintain my vow…) but through other channels.

That’s all I have. If you know me personally, you can still hit me up through messaging. If you don’t, you can always comment here.

Something I’ve learned from “The Heat”

In theaters now.
In theaters now.

Yesterday, I went and saw the new movie The Heat with friends. I hadn’t even heard of it before I went (sue me, I don’t watch TV commercials, or all that much of TV, honestly), but I had a free comp ticket so I decided to use it. (I got the comp ticket from the last time I went, when the movie projector about to show Star Trek: Into Dorkness blew a bulb. Should’ve been a sign right there…)

I was told, shortly before I went to see the movie, that The Heat is a chick flick, but it really isn’t. It’s just a hilarious buddy-cop film that happens to star women as both of the cops. I’m not going to spoil the movie for you, because it’s really quite a good film. I laughed so hard my ribs threatened to burst their way out of torso. What surprised me, however, was that I actually got a life lesson out of it. This happens quite rarely for me, mainly because I think most Hollywood writers are, frankly, idiots about life, or they just have such different experiences from me that their “lessons” are simply inapplicable to me. Or maybe they aren’t writing in any life lessons at all. Or maybe I’m just a dense, misanthropic jerk. I don’t know. But it just never happens.

Except this time.

Sandra Bullock’s character, FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn, is socially inept. (Somewhat like me.) She’s an extremely career focused individual (okay, that’s not me) who grinds on other people’s nerves because of this dearth of people skills. She’s also very interested in all sorts of learning (yep, me), and her head is full of data.

The crucial scene, in this case, is after Ashburn–together with her unofficial partner, Boston PD detective Shannon Mullins–basically gets kicked off the case by her boss, just took Mullins’ family and stashed them in safe house, and is now at a Denny’s having lunch with Mullins. Naturally, the two get into an argument, where Mullins says that Ashburn thinks she knows everything.

“I don’t,” Ashburn says. “I just know a lot of things, and then I tell people what I know!”*

That struck me pretty close. I have been accused, over the years, of speaking in a very “matter of fact” tone, which is offputting to a lot of people. I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m just explaining something or pointing out a fact, but people still take it the wrong way. I’m sure it has to do with my delivery; I’m a writer, not an orator. I would suck being a politician because I could never give speeches.

I’ve tried dealing with this before, in some ways, though it never seems to work. I think that this is basically who I am, a part of me, just as I am over six feet tall, white, and have a face that looked like it was chopped out of a slab of ham with a meat cleaver. Some people will deal with it, as I have. Others will be frustrated, but that’s their problem.

Yet hearing this in a feature presentation shocked me. Maybe this is a part of me, but I can still try to do better. Maybe just stop using facts and knowledge. Maybe stop explaining things to people. But then where would we be? Or I, for that matter?

So I’m not sure what the precise lesson for me is. But in general, I need to try harder when I talk to people, that they don’t see a reason to hate me or get pissed off at me.

Or, I just need to accept that some people are going to get pissed off no matter what.

Hmm. Maybe there wasn’t such a lesson here…


*Paraphrasing here.

The Brazen Arrogance of Conservatives

Earlier this month, I wrote an essay for Cato Unbound regarding the topic of fusionism, which is a theory of sorts that libertarianism works best when slaved to conservatism. A blogger, by the name of Neal Dewing, took umbrage at this and wrote a response. Now, normally I am perfectly fine with this. But, in this case, Mr. Dewing wrote a very, very uninformed, poorly written blog post that made it clear he had no idea what he was talking about. It was so lousy, in fact, that Cato Unbound didn’t even want to post a response to it. Why bother recognizing such rubbish with a response? Best to ignore it and let it slip into obscure ignominy.

I, however, am of a different mind. While I concur that Mr. Dewing’s blog post is the epitome of stupidity, it is precisely because it is so full of errors that I must respond. Such garbage needs to be addressed, lest people think that, somehow, it is true. Rumors and lies must be quashed. And here I shall do the quashing. It is right. It is proper. It is necessary.

Without more further ado, here is what I wrote in response to Mr. Dewing:

Continue reading The Brazen Arrogance of Conservatives

Sorority Girl Email: How We Laud & Coddle Bullies And Forget The Bullied

Last week, an email from a sorority girl in Maryland went viral, thanks to Gawker, and–to use the vocabulary of its author–it’s fucking horrible. I was going to write about this last week, but I didn’t; however, the issue has recently “concluded.” Let’s go over the letter itself, then focus on the reactions, which I find to be more important.

It is 882 words long. 41 of those words are the F-bomb. (According to one comment, that is. I’m not going to waste my time counting the figures myself.) It is full of ENTIRELY CAPITALIZED SENTENCES. It is a brazen, unmitigated attack at sorority members, an attack that has no decency and even threatens violence in the form of “cunt punts” against other members.

What shocks me more than this, though, are the comments from the Gawker article. Here are a few:

“This girl will be the president of a company some day. We are kidding ourselves if we think this letter didn’t bring RESULTS.”

“Me too–she’s a great writer.”

“Mistake? That email is going to launch her career.”

Really? If she is seriously going to become the CEO of a major corporation because of this email, then I don’t want to be on this planet anymore.

I do not–repeat, DO NOT–understand people who think that being an asshole to others is somehow worthy of praise, emulation, or promotion. To me, anyone who thinks that way is a psychopath or a politician–but I repeat myself. And maybe that’s where the problem is with our current culture: we have psychopaths running both our major corporations and the federal/state government.

But I digress. The thing is, if you would “laugh” at this, I think really think you need your head examined. Being downright mean to other people like this is acceptable in an emergency situation, when time is of the essence and no one can be coddled, but not otherwise. You can make your point without entirely relying upon vulgarity, attacks, and threats of violence. And I would like to think that such writing would be utterly unacceptable in a business situation, as it would be completely and totally unprofessional.

Not sure about that, though. Some places might do that. They might even find it fine. In which case, those places are hellholes.

I also wonder why this comment is buried so low. Maybe the truth stings?

Nice they are talking about my old shitty frat. Honestly after reading it I can’t blame those girls, in all seriousness they should want to hang out with other better frats. Sigma Nu sucks. I remember the social would always plan evens with the worst sororities because nobody else wanted to. DG, Zeta, and sig kap…. it was like a rotation. most people dropped out after they could get into the bars. It was mostly full of rapists, dealers, or social ackward vigins. I was neither just a frisbee playing hippie:) I dropped out after the exec bored wouldn’t investigate the rape of an unconcius girl in the house, even tho it was video taped. It makes that stubenville ohio rape case look not so bad. There is literally or atleast was a rape room set up in the basement of that frat house. I know of 3 or 4 rapes that were swept under the rug. I really can’t fault those girls for not wanted to talk to that frat definately safer to hang out with other frats. Anyhow man I love social media

 

And when you read the email, especially about the part about the other sorority girls being “FUCKING boring,” it seems to me the whole thing is a complaint about sorority girls not putting out for a bunch of guys. And to me, that is just gross and even barbaric.

Fortunately, the sorority took the right action and recently accepted the young woman’s resignation. That was the smart, professional thing to do. Already, though, some are wondering “I hope this woman’s life isn’t ruined because of this email.”

Oh, FFS, this woman got kicked out of a sorority. As @stressnstrain noted, “Have some perspective.” It is hardly the end of the world. Many productive people are not members of a fraternity or a sorority, and you know what? That’s a good thing. Everything I saw from my college career was that frats & sororities were nothing more than extended exercises in binge drinking, sex, and following utterly ridiculous rules meant to destroy your life and your individuality. In fact, leaving the sorority may be a good thing.

Another commenter on the FB page says:

I understand that this young lady made a mistake and did not uphold the ideals that we all expect as a Delta Gamma. But I also feel compassion for her and would have hoped that Delta Gamma could have reached out to her with some sort of guidance and counseling rather than just accepting her resignation. I’m sure she feels alone and humiliated at this moment. I hope that she has others to turn to because it appears Delta Gamma has abandoned her and I don’t believe that was the correct course of action.

Sorority girl feels alone & humiliated? GOOD
PLEASE. She “feels alone and humiliated”? That’s the point. She should feel humiliated over this. Boohoo–this sort of whining is the same sort of thing as when adults start “feeling bad” for the bully on the playground when he’s told off for being a bully. It’s sick and makes me want to throw up all over my shoes. That commenter should be utterly ashamed of herself.

The basic thing to take away from this is that all these people are horribly, horribly sick. They’re messed up. And while I previously laid the blame for most of our problems on the baby boomer generation, I think it might just be all these folks who somehow want to coddle bullies and jerks. Maybe they’re the problem. I don’t know. But what they’re saying goes against all norms of behavior and is completely unnatural.

I will say one thing, though, and that is I kind of agree with this PolicyMic article posted by Laura Donovan. Donovan writes:

I’m the first to admit the email was horrendous, not to mention further confirmation that I made the right move to opt out of Greek life in college despite the fact that practically everyone in my immediate family was in a frat or sorority, but it’s my hope that Martinson’s whole life isn’t destroyed by this single email.

For those of you who are out of college, think about this: did you ever do anything stupid during your undergrad days? Something shameful that you’re not proud of? At the beginning of my junior year, I found myself in a grouchy mood and wrote an article for my college publication that offended so many people, some called for my resignation. I received email threats and was harassed and publicly shamed even by fellow staff members. It was tough, worst of all because I didn’t feel everything I said I felt in my column. I remember thinking I was going to be punished forever for an article I wasn’t particularly proud of, and that no one wanted to see me other than the girl who’d upset some folks with my 600-word article. None of the good work or highly lauded columns I’d produced mattered to anyone. A single article made them want to demonize me forever and be their punching bag anytime they needed someone to direct their anger at.

That was almost five years ago, but earlier this month, a colleague brought up the article I spent my final years of college trying to forget, as he’d heard about it from a mutual friend who’d been joking that I’ve been a huge firebrand since college. My demeanor immediately changed. I reacted with hostility and began to cry. Why did this single thing I did as a 20-year-old continue to follow me? I’d worked so hard to put it behind me, and others were still mocking me for it.

Part of that is, unfortunately, the price for writing stupid stuff in the Internet age. To deal with it, you grow a thick skin and get over it. You may also say, “Yes, what I wrote back then was wrong, and I know it.” Admitting it is the first step to fixing your problem, and I think once you do that, it should be like a reputational bankruptcy case–you lose a lot of credibility for the original stupidity, but you wipe your slate clean and start over again. It should not be allowed to dog her life forever. A year or two, maybe, but people do need to recognize that people change and must drop the subject sooner or later–preferably sooner. If I was hiring her 10-15 years from now, we might joke about it, but I wouldn’t let it guide my actions. Nobody is defined by a single moment, no matter how hard authors and politicians try to make it so. That isn’t fair or just.

However, Donovan also writes (emphasis added):

What I wrote was nothing like Martinson’s email, which is most certainly unacceptable to send to anyone, let alone sorority sisters you supposedly love like family. Martinson should have known better than to talk like that and use slurs, but I don’t think it was right of the internet to shame her in the way that it did, and I don’t want her to think the rest of her life has to be defined by this single email. If anything, she knows to be more careful with the way she presents herself on social media and online, and hopefully she realizes there’s more to life than a poorly executed Greek event.

She left the sorority, and she’s doing the right thing by going dark. Once the dust settles, she should release a statement of apology, and hopefully she will be able to rebuild from there. You may not like her (she doesn’t sound like someone I’d want to hang out with, and I’m certain I’m too “f-cking AWKWARD and boring” for her), but I don’t think she should be punished forever for this, at least if she shows some remorse once the interwebs is finished chucking stones at her.

Au contraire.

It is absolutely right for the Internet to mock her and shame her for what she did. And contra commenter Michelle Adams, we should condemn her for her actions. Again, how else does one learn what is right and what is wrong? It’s a corrective mechanism, and it works pretty damn well. Sure, not all mocking and shaming and condemnation is right–I mean, if a Nazi guy tried to “mock” me for being friends with Jews, for example–but for the most part, when someone goes really out of line, it is absolutely correct for other individuals to mock them for it. Would you not punish your children if they did something wrong? (If you genuinely say “I wouldn’t” to that question, then tell me how are they going to become good, upstanding adults instead of degenerate assholes who use everyone else as tools to meet their own inner desires?)

This lauding and coddling of bullies makes me want to vomit, as I’ve said before. And as I’ve said before, this is unnatural. This is not how things are supposed to work. Or at least, not in the past. I guess the new standard now is for people who are mean assholes who use others will be praised and supported, while those who are nice, hard-working people will be denigrated and left in the cold.

If that’s the vision of the world these people want, then I want no part of it.