A recent jag in the feminist jihad has to do with what they are pleased to call microaggressions — what Jonah Goldberg recently worried might become nanoaggressions. So let’s talk about all that for a microbit.
Conservatives will frequently make merry about this kind of fevered brow behavior, assuming that these women’s-study-center-people have utterly lost it. Those who talk about microaggressions all the time must be doing so because of their microminds. But this goes wide of the mark by a good distance. What these people are doing to us is intelligent, rule-guided behavior. They are doing it because they are getting something important they want from it. Let me tell you a parable:
Once there was a game of pick-up basketball, and there were two teams — red shirts and blue shirts. The red shirts were from red states and the blue shirts were from blue states. With me so far?
Beyond the basic rules of the game, the blue shirts had only two requirements. The first was that they needed to be allowed to ref the game as well as play it, and the second requirement was that if anybody on the red team questioned any call, it was an automatic technical, and they had to go sit on the racist bench, or on the misogynist bench, depending on which eyebrow they had raised in protest.
At first the game looked kind of normal. But as time went on, the calls started getting more and more outlandish. First the blue players would flop when there was just slight contact, then when there was no contact at all, and finally they commenced to flopping whenever a red player came within three feet of them. Bam. Right on the back, and one of the others would always call it. Charging! Of course, there were some protests, and thus it was that the red state bench started accumulating a bad reputation for racism and misogyny. I mean, look at all of them sitting there. Such a poor testimony.
As I said earlier, some of the guys on the red player bench started joking amongst themselves about how stupid it all was. But then they started getting charged for micro-charging from the bench, and were made to sit on another bench behind the first one.
Pretty soon everybody was used to this system, and when a hot-headed player started to argue, or even looked like he was thinking about arguing a call, all the evangelicals in the bleachers behind him would start hissing at him. “Tesssstimony! Tessssssstimony! Sssssit down!” Most of the time he would.
In the off-season, lots of evangelicals from the bleachers would attend conferences dedicated to the question of why we were losing so many basketball games. They could actually fill arenas for such conferences, with about ten times more attendees than would show up for the basketball games themselves, and the registrations cost about five times more than the basketball tickets did.
Nevertheless, the consensus among the players remained that this whole set up was really stupid — they would talk about it in the locker room afterwards. This was the only place they were still allowed to talk about anything, and that was probably coming to an end by the next season as well. But in their remaining time, in order to make themselves feel better, they would complain bitterly about what morons the blue players were being.
But one day a new guy on the team decided to ask a question, one that seemed obvious to him anyway. “Why are they the morons?”
“What do you mean?” somebody else asked.
“I mean they are getting everything they want, they win every game, they make us conform to stupid and inane requirements, our own fans police those requirements for them, and we all go along with it. So I would ask again, why are they the morons?”
I interrupt this instructive parable to note that the word moron is no doubt considered offensive by some, and that three blue players are flat on their backs, and that one of them is clutching his ankle and making a lot of noise. On top of that, I am refusing to go to the bench, and I refuse to apologize. In addition, ascending to my personal zenith of irreverence, I refuse to apologize for any earlier expressions like lesbyterians, gaystapo, or that heretofore unremarked illage vidiots in the sidebar to the right.
This is not, incidentally, because I am a verbal sociopath. I was taught by my mother and father back in the Eisenhower years not to call people certain names, and to this day I honor the law of my mother (Prov. 1:8). Invective, scurrility and abuse are not my bag. But my mother also knew that actual charging was when you lowered your head and ran into a guy. I believe that our speech should be gracious, seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6), and that Christian discipleship that does not extend to the tongue, pen, and keyboard is a worthless discipleship (Jas. 1:26).
So I do believe in rules for polemical discourse. I believe that a biblical approach to it allows us to hit hard, and above the belt. But God defines for us where the belt is. What I do not believe in is the insane practice of putting the definitions of appropriate discourse in the hands of people who believe that every woman has an ongoing constitutional right to a childectomy, whenever she decides undertake the procedure. In his fine book, Rules for Patriots, Steve Deace rightly says that we should never accept the premise of our adversary’s argument. In this case, the premise I am rejecting is that those people have any grasp whatever of what appropriate discourse is. They don’t know what the womb is for, they don’t know what the anus is for, and they don’t know what liberty is for. But they do know what a red-shirted basketball player is for — somebody to call fouls on.
So we answer to God for our words, and He has set the standard of what constitutes appropriate discourse for us in Scripture. He has not put the bedwetters in charge of whether we are being gracious or not.
Okay then. I interrupt this line of reasoning to acknowledge that children who struggle with bedwetting have enough troubles without me making fun of them, so I am taking care not to do that. I am actually making fun of those adults who sneak down the hall at 2 in the morning for a glass of water to pour on their beds so that they can pretend to be actual bedwetters, in order to be able to shriek at me for being so insensitive. So I am not talking about real people with real problems who need real compassion. Telling a story about a boy who cried wolf did not make Aesop a hater of genuine wolf-warnings.
I am talking about those posers and hypocrites who have assumed a complete and preening authority over the public lexicon as an essential step in their drive to control all thought by controlling all language. These people are Orwellian in their up-is-down newspeak, and so I always want to have on hand a suitable Orwellian response. George Orwell once said that `whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie.” But if you are the kind of evangelical who objects to the custard pie, and not to the overweening and arrogant tyranny-speak that was so rudely interrupted by that custard pie, then congratulations, you are the problem. Just go sit in the bleachers on the other side now and get it over with.
Jesus was not polite. One time He offended the lawyers (Luke 11:45), and when they protested it He took the occasion to multiply the offense in their eyes. Nice is not one of the fruits of the Spirit. Making baskets is not a bad testimony, and docilely accepting insane foul calls is not a good one. In Acts 13:45, when Paul and Barnabas were opposed by men full of envious snark, their response was not to walk on eggs. They met envious opposition with boldness (Acts 13:46).
So what many Christians are failing to realize is that all the hubbub surrounding pc-language, giving offense, microaggressions, and so on, is a transparent trick that is being run on clueless conservatives. The bad team is the bad team, but they are not the stupid team. That honor goes elsewhere.
I refuse to let those blue guys ref the game, but I do not call them unintelligent for trying it. It has worked for them so far. The stupidity lies elsewhere, which is also why I refuse to allow the fans on our side of the court to hiss me back onto the bench.
Friend, don’t you see? You are being worked. You are being played. You are being manipulated. You are being engineered. You are being finagled. You are being cozened. You are being duped. You are being gulled. You are being snowed. You are being chiseled. You are being hustled. You are being gamed.
I trust I have made my meaning clear enough. And I am not going to the bench. Just getting a drink.