The Misadventure of the Crowded House


I began writing The 1585 almost nine years ago.  I started the site because, one day, through the window of a crappy temp job I had in the Chicago Loop, I saw a bunch of kids holding signs.  They were being tricked by religious people into protesting something they didn’t even understand.  That made me angry.  It still does.

From late 2006 until early in 2013, I used this site as a platform to attack — sometimes with extraordinary viciousness, and on very rare occasions with only a moderate amount of viciousness — everything about my culture that I saw as illogical.  This included religion, naturally.  On the other side of the political spectrum, it also included political correctness, most often in the form of academic feminism.  At the time, I was the only person on the internet doing this.

And now, needless to say, I am not.

The phenomenon of the guy on the internet who busts everyone on logical fallacies and whose favorite targets are religion and feminism is a cottage industry now.  A trope.  A zeitgeist.  A meme.  I always thought I was more-or-less unique, but apparently not.  I even used to wear a fedora.  I think I should get a pass on that because I was a competitive swing dancer at the time, but that’s up to you.

I suppose it should have occurred to me that the things that occurred to me had not occurred only to me.  Being cheesed off with PC feminism just meant I was a man who went to college in the ’90s.  The year I graduated from college, George W. Bush was elected president, and that likewise took care of the “being cheesed off with religion” part for a huge segment of the population in addition to me.  I was only a matter of time, and so were a lot of other people.

I’m smarter, funnier, and more handsome than they are, but that’s not important right now.

The idea of a Logical Coalition against fundamentalism and PC made sense at the turn of the century (old people, be advised I mean 15 years ago) because both camps seemed to be wielding considerable power and making what were basically the same stupid points even though they didn’t realize it (“Sex and science are bad because XYZ!”  “No, sex and science are bad because PQR!”).  But still, my beef with PC was always secondary.  Primarily, I hated right-wing fundamentalism, and I only bothered arguing against PC because I thought it hampered the ability of the left to make effective counterarguments (“Whatever batshit thing I believe is true because I want it to be” versus “No, whatever batshit thing I believe is true because I want it to be” is not a very compelling debate).

But then, after the Republicans played the frog in a nationwide game of frog baseball in 2008, the fundamentalists crawled under a rock to inform the pillbugs that their eyes were irreducibly complex, and everybody in the Logical Coalition decided their work was done and went home.

Except the ones who primarily hated feminists.

Flash forward a few years, and suddenly everyone who even knew the word fallacy was also wearing a t-shirt with a “make me a sandwich” joke on it.  Actually, it was kind of like how the Republican party went from being the party of Lincoln to the party of big business in the first place:  the GOP was founded by abolitionists as a single-issue party, but then, in addition to the good people who had genuine moral objections to slavery, the northern industrialists joined because they knew that if slavery ended, the freed Blacks would have to move north in search of factory jobs, thereby driving wages down.  When slavery ended, the abolitionists lost interest, and the business tycoons were the only ones left.

I had another analogy that was even better, but it was about Lord of the Rings and extremely long.

oliphant guy
Short Version: This guy is Alex Jones.

As time wore on, I felt increasingly bad about arguing with feminists.  But I persisted, because religious zealotry had receded into the background, and academic feminism was the only game left in town (town being the internet) as far as megalithic movements that regularly based their tenets on identifiable logical missteps.  Besides, I still wasn’t over the way I was treated in college, and I’m still not, and probably never will be.  But that’s my problem, and it’s not as important as the fact that I think the crucial distinction to be made between academic feminism and feminism in general has been lost.

Feminism in general means acknowledging that women have it worse than men in society, for reasons that are largely fixable, and believing that society as a whole, as well as any number of substrata therein, needs to be reworked so as to be more open to women’s perspectives and amenable to women’s needs, not only because women specifically would benefit from this, but because civilization at large would.  That is pretty obviously all true to anyone who isn’t a shithead.

Academic feminism means believing that everyone is supposed to be fat and that adjectives are a form of rape.  That is both stupid and clearly different from the other thing.

About two years ago, I got to a point where I felt like anything I had to say, as entertaining or as smart-for-the-sake-of-smart as it might be, was probably just going to make things worse instead of better as far as the big picture was concerned.  So I stopped.  And I told myself I wasn’t going to come back until I had something to say that I genuinely believed was going to help, as opposed to just making people laugh and demonstrating for the thousandth time how incredibly clever I am.

Now I’m back, because now I feel as though the internet could benefit from my being exactly what I started the site to try and be in the first place: a voice that isn’t saying the same thing as everybody else.  And to the extent that I may have had any hand in creating the “everybody else” that’s been shitting all over the internet for the last few years, I’m sorry.  I never want to feel like I’m one of, or be confused by anyone with, those guys again, and I’m going to try harder to keep this from happening.  I still have the fedora, but that’s safely packed away in a box, and I’m only going to take it out if I ever take up swing dancing again.

A lot has happened while I was away.  I’ve been studying Hinduism and Buddhism and taken up yoga and meditation.  I got married, got divorced, and had an amazing baby daughter whose interests include tambourines, mashed-up avocado, and tambourines covered in mashed-up avocado.  I achieved the exact opposite of a lifelong dream by losing on Jeopardy!.  I finally figured out what that great song was that I heard once on the car radio in 2008 but without catching the title or artist or remembering any of the words so I could ask people what it was (if you’re curious, it was “Graveyard Girl” by M83).

Because of all this (mostly the amazing daughter, but also the meditation, and quite possibly to some small extent the M83 song), I have become more interested in being who I actually am and taking a longer view towards trying to make life better for the kinds of people I care about, and significantly less interested in putting on a web-based act in an effort to try and get strangers to start calling me the Wolverine of Atheism, or whatever the fuck I was doing before.  I’m 37, for christ’s sake.

Yes, I realize that the actual Wolverine is a lot older than 37, but that’s not the point.

The point is, I’m back, and now I’m a… whatever you’re supposed to say instead of “nice guy,” now that you’re not supposed to say “nice guy” anymore.  A decent sort of chap?  I have no idea.

Maybe that’s what I’ll try and figure out next.

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