Rejecting Guilt By Association

Regardless of what mortals you follow, adore, admire, and pay homage you will at some point disagree with them.  Whether it’s most of the time or almost never, no one will ever hold exactly all the viewpoints that you have come to cherish.

A tweet from Milo Yiannapolous prompted the above line of thought in which he voices disagreement with libertarians on the NSA spying incident – color my libertarian tendencies irked.

Obviously, he is mistaken, as his his later tweet about Snowden being a traitor and not a hero.   I’m also above reproach in my conclusion. 

Today, the internet echo-chamber or “communities” as we call them is often bereft of any actual substance in discussion when it comes to disagreement over just about anything.  Dissenters are labeled “concern trolls” or just “trolls” in general.   In fact the word, “troll” has lost it’s meaning because of the abuse of the term.

Throw in “safe-spaces” and this takes on a whole new layer of people who immediately dismiss anything that comes from an opposing side.   If you make the mistake of identifying with a label that is considered “bad” or triggering, everything you say is immediately dismissed – regardless of the validity of what you say.

We need to start judging statements, comments, and opinions based on what they actually are –  the merit and validity of them – instead of who said them.    Whether they come from a radical liberal feminist or a neo-con warhawk, it shouldn’t matter; we need to reject guilt by association.

Encountering the “Other Side”

Take for example Cindy Brandt’s site/blog which I recently came across and her post, “You Don’t Need To Tell Me You Don’t Agree.”   She actually makes alot of good points, despite certain… social justice affiliations.

Well, I don’t agree.   Okay, I couldn’t resist.  Take a look at this specific observation:

“Which one of us agrees on everything with any other single person? No one! Certainly, many of us share similar passions and congregate according to common interests, it’s only human to interact with those who you resonate easily with. But if you dig deeper, or you spend enough time together, it isn’t long before one discovers there are indeed some, if not many points of disagreements with those we are in relationship with.”

As she points out, no one will  ever agree on everything, but with today’s identity politics and culture its often either all or nothing.  If someone doesn’t share enough “similar” passions, interests, and convictions,  chances are that most people won’t give anything they say the time of day.   This is more likely if they know about your “opinions” and affiliations before they evaluate what you’ve actually said.

“If we are honest with ourselves, adding the phrase is a form of social insurance. We want to protect ourselves from the risk of being associated with certain things this person represents. “

It certainly is a form of social insurance, but why?

People seem conditioned to pre-judge and make assumptions based on labels and what they “represent”, so what choice is there but to adjust? Unfortunately, this is the reality of where we are at.  It rather sucks that these qualifiers are needed, but can anyone point to topics of conversation where they aren’t?

The risk of being associated with someone who is deemed a racist, bigot, homophobe, ect or any other culturally deemed demagogues can be cause for your employment to be revoked. Consider Razib Khan who was initially hired by the New York Times, but then let go because of his “association” with right-wing publications who were deemed to be mired in racism.    So much for diversity of opinion right?

Whoever was working here must have spilled this paint...
Whoever was working here must have spilled this paint…

Shockingly, the fact that he isn’t even white was enough to save him from the wrath of social justice warriors who usually excuse certain people from terrible actions, deeds, and statements based purely on their genetics.  Another mighty journalism giant bows before Gawker and SJWs.    Apparently, all you need to do is label someone a racist enough to make them suffer the effects of today’s modern heresy.

For instance, Cindy describes herself as “social justice-y” on the side bar of her site.  GASP!

Someone, pull the alarm.   Danger is near.

  My spidey sense is tingling.

Now a large amount of people will probably dismiss anything she has to say because of the affiliation with social justice.  Don’t make that mistake; don’t fall prey to guilt by association.  I  may fall to this ever constant trap subconsciously, but then force myself to read what is actually state.  Some exceptions are made for Tumblr…

I strongly disagree with almost everything  modern day social justice folks advocate – what normal sane person wouldn’t – but I won’t necessarily dismiss something because of who is advocating it.

“We can dialogue with people as people, other human beings with different personalities, life experiences, and ideas. We can celebrate common ground without erecting walls or drawing boundary lines. We can connect without disclaimers, embracing the whole of our conversation partner along with her ideas. Let’s base our conversations with one another from a place of shared humanity instead of basing it on fear by association. “

Is this really possible? Can we connect without disclaimers? I don’t think we can.

Tales From The Online Crypt

I recently encountered and “argued” with some conservatives on TheRightScoop about the subject of police abuse.   Obviously, they deny this is a real problem.  In order to even get them to look at anything I have to say, I had to utter the following disclaimer, “I’m not a democrat…”

This is of course true, but if I didn’t point this out, said conservatives would assume I’m some sort of liberal because I disagree with one of their viewpoints.

Behold, the current state of online discourse.

If you disagree with someone on an issue you are immediately considered to be a follower of the opposing “side”.   If you disagree with some of the trash on the Huffington Post, you are a right-wing bigot, ect, ect, ect.   If you take issue with something on Breitbart you are left-wing marxist, socialist, ect, ect, ect.    Qualifiers are absolutely necessary.

“The power of association, of tribes, of communities, is so strong that we take extra measures to ensure boundaries are clearly marked, compelling us to insert disclaimers even in casual conversation. We are so fearful of being grouped with the “wrong” crowd as perceived by the person we are speaking with.

I do not think this is a healthy way to dialogue. I think it is a sign of disrespect to curate someone’s ideas, extracting it from their whole selves with all of their complexities and personhood.”

She is right; it’s not a healthy way to dialogue.   Yes, we must consider the context of a person – if that makes sense –  which is necessary to fully understand their ideas and why they have them. However, in today’s charged, “guilt by association” culture, you absolutely have to introduce qualifiers into the conversation or anything you say will be dismissed based on you supposedly are.

The need for safe spaces...
The need for safe spaces…

One popular “Debate” tactic is Godwin’s law.   To sum that up, it means that you equate a certain argument, idea, or even person to Hitler.  This of course invalidates anything they have to say.  Or does it?

Just because Hitler said something, doesn’t qualify it as being incorrect – such as his radical environmentalism, state control of “healthcare”, ect.   In fact, I’m sure almost everyone today holds some positions that Hitler advocated on economics, state control and power, and the environment.

Color me shocked.

This time-held tactic is “guilt by association/wrong by association” and is employed by disingenuous teenagers, tumblrites, and many adults who want to shout down others based on who they are, rather then what they’ve said on extremely important blogs and websites where their comments clearly make a difference.


Don’t be one of “those” people.

People who engage in daily displays on their Facebook feeds in guilt by association tactics usually have something in common;  they are angry, upset, and jaded.

Their life is a never ending stream of  un-fulfilled selfies, self-loathing, and vicious attacks on anyone who looks like they wallowed in depression for weeks upon end.   All of these bitter people online have one goal in mind; if they can’t be happy – neither can you.

Go outside of your bubble and live.

It’s been said that you can’t argue with certain people, and that is true. Argument however shouldn’t be the goal of every interaction.  You don’t need to “win”.    All you need to do is engage, discuss, and see if any new seeds are planted in either your mind or your “opponent.”   In order to any of that, you must reject guilt by association.

Perhaps, you may just develop a relationship with someone where you don’t need qualifiers, but you must take the initiative to do just that.

I encourage all to go out and have face-to-face conversations with people you know you disagree with. You will be surprised at what happens when both of you or others involved have a conversation that isn’t based on “convincing” anyone of a particular point, but is focused on the exchange of ideas and worldviews.

This is how you grow and become a more rounded individual.

 It is one of the first steps in today’s vicious culture in becoming a renaissance man.

Reject guilt by association.

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