Scott Alexander took note of the Irene Gallo episode in his excellent post on the morality of intertribal warfare between SJWs and anti-SJWs, “Fearful Symmetry.”
The “mirror neuron” was a theorized but now mostly discredited idea that humans and perhaps a few other animals had specific neurons that fired when recognizing and emulating another being’s thoughts. The sympathy or empathy they were supposed to generate has always been one of liberalism’s strongest weapons.
A Christian doesn’t decide to tolerate Muslims because she has investigated Islamic doctrines, she decides to tolerate Muslims because she can put herself in a Muslim’s shoes and realize that banning Islam would upset Muslims in the same way that banning Christianity would make her deeply upset.
If the fear and hypervigilance that majority groups feel in social-justice-dominated spaces is the same as the fear and hypervigilance that minority groups feel in potentially discriminatory spaces, that gives us a whole lot more mirror neurons to work with and allows us to get a gut-level understanding of the other side of the dynamic.
Scott Alexander quotes from a comment on an earlier post:
About the same time that sort of thing was happening in that online community, the same thing was happening in the real-world meat-space gatherings, also quite literally with shrill screams, mostly by [redacted] [redacted]s, who would overhear someone else’s private conversations, and then start streaming “I BEG YOUR PARDON!” and “HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT!”, and by [redacted] [redacted]’s who were bullying their way onto programming committees, and then making sure that various speakers, panelists, artists, authors, dealers, and GoHs known to be guilty of wrongthink were never invited in the first place. Were it not for the lucky circumstance of the rise of the web, the market takeoff of ebooks, especially a large ebook vendor (named after a river)’s ebook direct program, and the brave anchoring of a well known genre publisher that was specifically not homed in NYC, the purging of the genre and the community would have been complete.
Almost nobody wants to physically murder and maim the enemy, at least at the start. That’s, well, the Final Solution. Plan A is pretty much always for the enemy to admit their wrongness or at least weakness, surrender, and agree to live according to the conqueror’s rules. Maybe the leaders will have to go to prison for a while, but everyone else can just quietly recant and submit, nobody has to be maimed or killed. [The social justice community] almost certainly imagine they can achieve this through organized ostracism, social harassment, and democratic political activism. It’s when they find that this won’t actually make all the racists shut up and go away, that we get to see what their Plan B, and ultimately their final solution, look like.
I think Irene Gallo is very talented and focused on her work, and that she sincerely did not question what she had heard from people around her, that Puppies were “unrepentantly racist, sexist and homophobic.” It was poor judgment to post a Facebook update entitled “Making the Sad Puppies Sadder,” plugging “The Geek Feminist Revolution” by Kameron Hurley; the title of the post alone was a slam at part of the publisher’s audience, and unwise. Her off-the-cuff explanation of what Puppies were was just stating openly what everyone around her thought, and she presumably assumed it was uncontroversial among people reading her. The audience for *that book* would definitely be likely to agree with her… but it was still unwise to be doing PR that denigrates whole classes of customers.
I have some sympathy for Irene; social media mobs fixating on an unwise comment or tweet are never good for anyone, and I suspect she wouldn’t hurt a fly or intentionally be rude to anyone. But the incident *does* reveal the likely consensus in her immediate social environment, a consensus which is dismissive and intolerant of people in the other tribe(s). You can see this dismissive attitude among some commenters on File770, who use snark and ad hominem attacks to repel anyone they suspect has Puppy sympathies.
So now let’s talk Brad Torgerson, who has been roasted there with a lot of guesses and insulting presumptions. I was only paying a little attention when I read about the SP3 efforts and started to notice Brad. I suspect he, like other SP3s, expected their little protest to result in maybe a few noms, and he slapped it together in the limited time he had. Now we have people with the benefit of hindsight asking why it was so slapdash — the answer is because they didn’t expect to be very successful, and they were as shocked as anyone when they swept a few categories. We can now guess this was because of the more militant RPs truly block-voting, but no one knew that would happen, so it’s not reasonable to rake him over the coals for not being a strategic genius or putting together the best-thought-out list of nominees.
I know enough about Brad to assume that he’s generally kind and polite to everyone in person, and doesn’t go after people who don’t attack him. He is not perfect, but far from “unrepentantly racist, sexist and homophobic.”
This “attack the slightest flaw” pack behavior is destructive, and I would hope most commenters at File770 are kinder in person. And spending too much time warding off Vox Day is just feeding him; he thrives on chaos and being the center of attention of outraged Right Thinking People, which gets him more fans, and so on. Do you help or hurt someone like this by constantly speaking of them? Like Ann Coulter, he is making a career of being tactless and violating social taboos. This comment fragment from Scott Alexander’s post gets it right:
Vox does this cutesy coquettish flirting with white supremacy precisely so he can say “Why are you getting mad? I didn’t say neo-nazis were good I just said they might not be so bad, why are you getting all upset when I’m just trying to have a calm conversation?”
It really impresses his fans but all I see is a little kid waving his arms in front of his sister’s face and going “I’m not touching you! You can’t get mad because I’m not touching you!”
SJW leftism is the mechanism by which the scribes and academics in our society co-opt the victimization of distant others to defeat their imagined opponents — people independent of their committees and those who are too busy working in profit-making enterprises to watch their every utterance for perfect political correctness. The debates over “rape on campus” are not about rape, really. They are about using the victimization of rape survivors to ideologically cleanse academia, assisted by the current administration’s Title IX bludgeon. It only works because it isn’t rape survivors against evil rapists, it is administrators of universities and the US Dept. of Education against young men and the few remaining professors who might not toe the party line on sexual politics. And it plays into a manufactured “war on women” theme intended to put another Democrat in the White House.