Faith prefers the absurd to the plausible. – Mason Cooley
There’s a strong temptation to accuse those who hold different beliefs from oneself of mental deficiency; one sees the behavior quite often, particularly among those who hold socially liberal positions. The adjective “stupid” or some variation on it is probably the most common ad hominem leveled against those who support censorship or intolerance, oppose civil rights, etc, so I’m loath to use such a criticism against those who believe (for whatever reason) that my profession should be suppressed. But sometimes I read arguments or articles whose irrationality, stunning ignorance or total absurdity force me conclude that their authors suffer from, if not plain stupidity, some form of cognitive impairment which I’m not qualified to diagnose. In my column of October 10th I examined a number of these sorts of arguments, but today I want to look at a few specific examples.
Every WordPress blog has a “site stats” page which reveals, among other things, websites from which people have followed links to reach the blog; one can click on the address of one of these referrals to follow it backwards to the site whence it originated and thus reveal sites which have linked to one’s own. Well, two weeks ago I noticed a link from this guest blog on a feminist website and was delighted to see that no less a person than Belle de Jour (upon whose blog the hit TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl was based) had linked my column of February 9th. Unfortunately, that delight was short-lived when I saw some of the vicious, propaganda-filled comments from disciples of Farley, Dworkin and company which followed and the disgusting way in which the blog’s administration distanced itself from its invited guest in order to kiss the arses of hatemongers.
One of these (calling herself M. Smith) was a pretty typical “trafficking” robot, while another one (Robin) was a lot like “Bedelia“, an unhappy former streetwalker apparently programmed by the prohibitionists to “reframe her experiences” and to spew out bogus statistics and patronizing “prostituted women” misogyny. But these were just stooges or “true believers”; the ones with the apparent cognitive disorder are called “JTM” and “Geneva”. These two made a great many comments (including a number of ad hominems against regular readers Sina and Laura Agustín) whose entire basis seems to be that all women are merely the three-dimensional projections of a single hydra-like gestalt entity floating in hyperspace, or the practical equivalent of it anyway. The upshot of this is that any single woman’s sexual activities performed in private magically affect all women throughout the world as though we were one huge set of Corsican sisters, and therefore all women must submit to whatever limitations are imposed on our sexuality by our rightful leaders, the neofeminists. I am not making this up; take a look at the thread for yourself. Several people point out how bizarre this viewpoint is, and their objections are either sidestepped or answered with some variation of “you just don’t understand” or “you’re naïve” or “stop selling my sexuality, it’s not yours to sell.” My pointing out that these same arguments could be used to restrict abortion rights was, unsurprisingly, ignored. Judging by their writing these women aren’t stupid or insane, so I’m at a loss to understand how they can believe something so wholly ridiculous unless they’re suffering from some kind of cognitive dissonance deriving from a deep-seated aversion to sex or men manifesting itself in this fantastic mythology of feminine interconnectedness.
But my other example couldn’t be explained that way because it was written by a man; it appeared on March 12th on the user-generated news site Gather. Now, since these are not professional writers one doesn’t expect proper fact-checking or healthy skepticism, and in this case one would be correct; the article contains the usual exaggerated and unsupported claims about “the growing incidents [sic] of children being pimped for sex acts.” But it also contains a glaring contradiction that one would think would be obvious even to someone gullible enough to swallow whatever filth the police shovel into his mouth: though the article goes on and on about “young children…forced into sex trafficking,” the story actually talks about the deception and arrest of six voluntary prostitutes, one a minor, with nary a mention of “pimps” or “traffickers” to be seen!
…The women arrested in the prostitution sting showed up at the motel after arranging a meeting with their supposed dons [sic] aka Broome County [New York] special investigators. Police would not elaborate on what led to the actual arrests during the meetings. They, however, must have developed enough probable cause at some point to take five women and one minor into custody. The women’s ages in the Backpage.com prostitution sting were 15 to 35. Six females were actually arrested for misdemeanor prostitution, and the 15-year-old girl–who was brought along for sex acts–was released to her parents. She will be charged, however, in juvenile and/or family court…
The writer’s faith in the police is touching; “they must have developed enough probable cause” because, you know, they said so and they’re the good guys. One wonders why the writer seems concerned with the “trafficking” of subhuman beings, though; in the last part of his article he assures us that “…Geebo.com…has taken proactive and responsible steps in making its site safe for all users.” All users, that is, except prostitutes; I guess we don’t count because we aren’t human. Unlike the neofeminist commenters on the Belle de Jour blog, this guy’s problem doesn’t seem to be an elaborate psychological defense mechanism but rather a type of atrophy of the critical faculty which causes him to view his subject in a startlingly childlike manner. Though judging by his picture this is a man in his 30s, the article reads as though it was written by an unusually sheltered fifth-grader.
But really, neither the naivety of the latter case nor the derangement of the former surprises me in the least; now that the internet has allowed the truth about prostitution to be presented by the women who know it best, namely whores ourselves, police and moralists no longer have a monopoly on discourse about the subject and reasonable people can clearly separate facts from propaganda, thus leaving only the unreasonable (or those with a personal agenda which supersedes reason) in the prohibitionist camp.