Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The Danger of Disagreeing

The other day, I jumped into a discussion on Twitter that addressed Colorado voters and Lauren Boebert, the representative of Colorado's 3rd US Congressional district. Someone tried to put the blame on all residents of Colorado for her winning Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, 51 percent to 45 percent over her closest opponent. I and a few others were trying to explain that the entire state doesn't vote in specific districts and that most residents of Colorado, including many of her own constituents, are unhappy with her representation. Hers is one of seven districts in Colorado, meaning that by definition only about one-seventh of the state's voters even had a say in whether she was elected, and has leaned strongly Republican for many years. 

Someone who couldn't seem to understand this started arguing with me, and, after just a few responses, he went berserk and started posting right and left, calling me a racist and a Nazi. I don't need to prove that I'm neither of these things by explaining my heritage (we're all mutts, as they say) or detailing whom I've dated in the past or who my friends are and have been. It's just a flat-out ridiculous accusation, especially if you consider what I was saying in the thread.

Oddly, or maybe these days not so much, this guy and I have the same general political viewpoint, something he didn't realize until later. His rampage started after I suggested that I and others in Colorado, including some Republican leaders, are not happy that an extreme right, gun-collecting Trump supporter with a shady past is in congress and possibly causing trouble. Claiming that even a significant fraction of Coloradans voted for her, let alone all of them, is like insisting people in Utah are responsible for the city council members elected in Nevada. It just doesn't make sense.

Like many online trolls, Boebert can't take criticism either, much of hers coming from the people who live where she actually was elected. The Twitter troll later put up a poll on his page saying he "got into it" after someone "came at him" and didn't realize he and this person were "on the same side" and had a list of possible actions to take to help him move forward. The whole thing was weird and unsettling, and someone else on Twitter pointed out that the guy's posts tend to be consistently inflammatory. However, the damage was done. Others who don't know me liked his Tweets that called me names without even knowing what the discussion was about. 

But I'm not the only one who experiences this kind of outlandish attack. See, the left extremists have become just as radical and full of hate as those on the right, and they're as quick to stoop to name-calling and lying, sometimes even more so.

Two incidents that occurred on social media recently demonstrate how closed-minded and quick to criticize and exclude others some individuals who claim to accept and even promote diversity are.

In the first incident, a writer, Kevin Beck, posted a piece celebrating diversity and referenced a well-written article in Runner's World. In the blog post, he praised four of the five individuals who were profiled in the RW article and the author herself. It really is a good article. The fifth person profiled in the article is an outlier, someone who has been in a position of both bully and victim and has been caught in at least one lie, among other transgressions. When the blog post caught the attention of people in a Facebook group where the link was posted, several of the members were quick to criticize Kevin rather than his article, one going as far as calling him a "crotchety old white guy." Others poked fun at his use of big words, claiming he uses a thesaurus excessively. 

I know the author and have for a really long time. Comments criticizing his work upset me far more than they affect him at all. That kind of vague criticism of the piece being too long or too wordy reminds me of the "too many notes" scene in Amadeus. For the record, in all the years I have known him, collaborated with him, and spent time with him, I have never, ever seen him use a thesaurus. Whatever you think of his writing style, which of course is not at all the point anyway, the guy's just really fucking smart, and, for whatever reason, I think that upsets some individuals. A few of the same people complaining about the blog post admitted to not having read the whole thing, which makes me wonder why they would take the trouble to comment at all, but everyone likes to be heard, even those who don't have much to say. There were plenty of people who were happy to read the blog post and even agreed with the content. Kevin told me he got more new sign-ups and subscriptions in the days after that post than after anything else he's published, so maybe not everyone has the same amount of trouble with big words.

As unpleasant as it is to see someone I admire and care about being called names, it's far more concerning to see at least one of these critics lie about him. In the thread in the Facebook group, the same individual who was the first to stoop to name-calling also claimed that the blog post was an "article written by a man who has pretty clearly stated over and over again that's he's uncomfortable with so called "social justice warriors" and diversity and longs for the good old days." All of this is a lie in one form or another.  

This same lie has been told off Facebook, too:

Kevin very clearly defines two different types of social justice warriors, one he supports, as he did in his blog post that ultimately caused some friction, and the other he does not because he sees those involved as not being authentic. Regarding the latter, he states, "SJW antics are invariably a power-attention-and-money grab, not earnest activism. This means that fragile alliances and bridge-burnings are inevitable and easily foreseen features of any relationships forged with such people, whether they call themselves influencers or not."

It's laughable, almost, that, regarding a blog post celebrating diversity, the critic wants his audience to believe that the author has stated over and over again that he's uncomfortable with diversity. When pressed, the critic ignored that particular part of his claim and simply went on to say that his usual response is "what I said is valid, so it's not my fault that trolls and bigots are amplifying and repeating it." Notice how quickly he tosses out loaded terms like "bigot," and, as others in the group pointed out, he tried to make something that was about ethics and morality entirely about race. He also accused the host of the Facebook group of treating a black woman differently but offered zero evidence, zero. Meanwhile, the host of the group presented evidence to the contrary. There is also no evidence that the author of the blog post ever made any statements about longing for the past. This accusation is entirely fiction. If you go looking hard enough for something you want to find, though, you will probably eventually find it, even if it's not actually there.

It gets worse. On one of the critic's social media accounts, he posted the content of an argument that unfolded in that same thread but very craftily left out the last few posts to make it look like he had the upper hand, when in fact he did not. 

Omissions like this are another form of lying. It looks like he wants to make it appear like he "won" as if a conversation is some kind of competition, which shows exactly what kind of person he is, not someone who is for inviting a civil exchange of words. Anyone who's into publicly putting down others in such a way that the ones involved aren't invited to reply is not the best example of a model for inclusivity. Then, he has the temerity to suggest that others who don't like Snell's lying and bullying could look the other way and claims, without any proof, that people want her to disappear, yet he looks pretty comfortable making public comments about people he could easily ignore. Why the double standard? 

For someone who talks about wanting to make running spaces inclusive, this individual sure is combative, arrogant, and not truthful -- that is not the best advocate for bringing about harmony in any space at all. Still addressing the string of lies in just that one sentence, the author of the blog post never mentioned the good old days, not in the blog post referenced or anywhere else, for that matter, and the critic never bothered to provide a single example. Whenever a person takes an "I'm right, you're wrong" stance without any evidence at all, there is no room for dialogue. 

People can criticize Kevin's flowery language and lengthy posts, but the truth is that he's bringing up topics that many others are too afraid to discuss, most likely because bullies and trolls who claim to be woke come out in droves to insult anyone with an opposing opinion. Fortunately, Kevin's skin is thick, so bullies and general critics who either don't bother to read the content, make assumptions about it without reading for comprehension, or just plain lie about him don't affect his drive to address difficult topics. 

The other incident involved a tweet criticizing an individual, the same ACLU lawyer I have mentioned before, for lying. The one posting about the lawyer was immediately called homophobic and a bigot, and only one person asked for more information before defending the lawyer who lied, claiming he had done great things. That may be so, but he has also attempted to damage the reputation of several people simply for voicing their opinions, and, again, he hasn't always been operating above board. This kind of scenario is the perfect example of shooting the messenger. 

Here's my problem with all of this. Online debate, even bickering, is one thing, and I think most people like the idea of a healthy or lively discussion. The hosts of the Keeping Track podcast, Alysia Montano, Molly Huddle, and Roisin McGettigan, do an excellent, really outstanding job of encouraging conversation. They are shining examples of how the running community can become more inclusive. In stark contrast to these women and others who actually invite a civil back-and-forth, are those who can't control themselves and immediately call others racists, Nazis, and bigots throw out some serious accusations, often without merit, and, in turn, look more like fanatics than those whom they are attacking. 

It's uncalled for to drag out such potentially damaging smears when simply expressing an opinion is an option. Not that long ago, an American was sued when he called some German officers Nazis because he was upset, not because they were acting like anything other than officers. Certain words shouldn't be used simply because a person is pissy. "Wah, I'm mad so I'm going to slander your name and attempt to ruin your reputation." What an awful approach to life. But that's where we are, and the more people respond to their unchecked anger with a string of hateful insults, the more division it will cause. 

Tricia Griffith of Web Suleths says that nobody should be allowed to make false accusations against another person and attempt to tear a person's life apart, but, for the most part, it's legal. You can call someone a racist, bigot, or Nazi online with little to no repercussions. I know this doesn't matter to those who live in a small online bubble among like-minded individuals who like to see bullies attack anyone, no matter the reason, but these types of bullies will lose potential allies because of their bad behavior. 


  1. At the risk of repeating myself:

    The misrepresentations of my and others' writing appear to be the result of either not actually reading it--at least not for comprehension--or simply lying about it. But another, even more possibility exists, and that is that this crowd agrees that the lying and gaslighting antics of anti-white racists and anti-female gender activists are perfectly okay, even desirable, even though their only outcomes can be bad ones.

    The other thing about the willful dismissal of older running voices is that it's not just bad marketing strategy, it makes these color-and size-crazed influencers who can barely move in a straight line or write their way out of a wet paper back look like fucking morons. Some of them genuinely are, but most have just been transfixed by Wokism and are intellectually worthless in these conversations as a result.

    They know this, and it's why they do what little they can to try to limit the spread of my posts.

    I can, like you say, tolerate criticism of my writing quite well (I prefer it to be on point rather than blind so I can improve) and -- unlike Wokish people -- I don't think all of my views are unassailable. But when people start the canceling and attempts at censorship -- and this is well underway, because both Murphy and Schranz's commenters have taken aim at them for sharing my stuff even without comment -- that's when I start to really fight.

    And I am not a coward who makes idle threats against inanimate screen shots, nor am I in the "Let's ruin that person's life over this!" camp. But I want people to start answering for what they say and do, and I'm not the only "old" person who feels this way (and could still outrun a 10-person relay team of these shuffling goobers over any distance).

  2. Hah, I think Kevin just proved right my URP comment that you cited, Lize. As I said, here we are again, wading right back into the muck of online grievance.

    What's interesting is that I agree with Kevin on a fair amount: the insidiousness of "woke capital" (what we used to critique as 'cultural capitalism' in academia), the fact that "inclusivity" discourse often avoids reckoning with material structures of inequality and power, and the civics-sapping nature of social media outrage.

    But, at the risk of repeating myself, I think this "very online" debate is stuck in self-reinforcing grievance: both sides are pointing at each other saying, "You're a cancel-culture bully!" "No, you're a racist!" "No, you're a gaslighting moron."

    Meanwhile, Rome continues to burn.

    Lize, to your point, there are better ways to disagree. And this ain't it.

    Anyway, thanks for the post.

    1. Thank you for your input, but neither Kevin nor I lie to prove a point. This isn't about a disagreement; it's about people being dishonest and tossing out loaded insults instead of simply offering a viewpoint. Calling someone who is acting like a bully a bully is not the same thing as calling someone a racist or a bigot or a Nazi; it's just not.

    2. "Rome continues to burn."

      If you think that there are bigger problems in the world than what I write about in my posts, then instead of not reading them and leaving comments that make you look like an idiot, a liar, or both, just don't comment at all. It's an option people commonly exercise when they haven't read the selection presented, and leads to fewer misunderstandings.


      I don't care "the manly brass tacks of the sport," whatever those are, although you apparently do. It doesn't concern me that individual dipshits are lying for effect -- there is nothing new there. But now the media are getting involved and people are being dragged for real. If you have no problem with that, again, move the fuck on to whatever you find more important in life.


      Your pussified, equivocating "I actually see problems on both sides, but your side should shut up" is unconvincing -- you just don't want these SJW assholes criticized, for acutely personal reasons. You live near the censorship capital of the United States. Just own it.

      Either way, everyone you want to pipe down about certain things has been advised You can stop typing and put your thumb back in your mouth or ass wherever it was before.

  3. Jesus, my man. I’m sorry for whatever made you so foul. Seriously.