I’ve been seeing a lot of this on a number of different fronts lately. People getting their panties in a wad because someone is doing something that is “hurting the cause.” It doesn’t matter what that cause is; it could be skepticism, it could be feminism, it could be science, it could be roleplaying, it could be any of a laundry list of things; there always seems to be someone, some group, for whom “the cause” is alpha and omega of it all, and anyone who doesn’t treat “the cause” with what they deem as a proper level of respect and seriousness is the enemy. These causes have become a sort of sacred cow to these people, to be revered, only approached in certain manners, manners approved by them of course, and only by the people that they deem appropriate.
There seem to be two things that raise their ire faster than anything: Humor and Sexuality. If you attempt in any way to inject either of these things you are quickly and vehemently decried as “hurting the cause.”
Humor is an odd dichotomy; to these people it is great to joke, parody or poke fun at those things that they disagree with, however the moment their sacred cow becomes the target they are offended. Living in the infamous Bible Belt you see it a lot. Tell a joke about a Catholic and it’s funny, turn that same joke around and tell is about a Baptist and people are up in arms. It isn’t just limited to the southern part of the country, though, you see it everywhere, especially now in our age of instant, continuous communication. It’s sad, really, to see otherwise intelligent people frothing at the mouth because someone dared to laugh, or because someone showed some cleavage.
It puts people in a bit of a pinch. “Be free!” they say, “Be liberated!” but then they don’t want you to actually talk about sex, or breasts, or anything like that, and if you do suddenly you are objectifying, or hurting the cause. It is a fine line they want people to walk, and a purely imaginary one at that. It exists only in their minds, because they have declared this or that as unassailable, and they have decided that their way is best, and that everyone has to do it their way for they seem to feel that if “the cause” isn’t some monolithic entity that it will crumble and fail.
The thing is, it won’t. No cause will fail because people have different approaches or different views. A group is more likely to fail if the leadership of that group attempts to squelch any dissenting opinions, but even a single group’s failure does not damn a cause. One guild is not all roleplay on a server. One blog is not all of skepticism, nor is one speaker no matter how well known. Nor should they be. Having different approaches, different tones, different thoughts gives breadth. Some work better than others sometimes, and others are better at others, that doesn’t mean either is wrong.
Part of it is quite likely a result of our national view on sexuality, a very closeted, Puritanical view, and one that, quite sadly, lags behind the world at large. Another part of it is, it seems to me, that many times these people who do respond so vehemently to anything that challenges their views do so because they are not so sure of those views as they would like to be. The challenge scares them, because so very often people hate to admit that they might be wrong, and they are afraid to change their stance because it is the idea that has become sacred, rather than the goal that drives the idea.
To extend a metaphor that I have seen Hemant Mehta use about attacking sacred cows; the time has come to take some of these sacred cows and lead them out to pasture, and others to the slaughter house, but whatever is done with them none should be allowed to stand in the way.
So I say go ahead, full force and move those sacred cows where ever you might find them in your way. Let those who will rant and rail against you, let them label you radical and take pride in it because if they wouldn’t do it if you weren’t threatening that sacred cow.
Librarian’s Note: The whole time I was writing this post Logical by Supertramp seemed to be on loop in the playlist in my mind. Especially the third verse:
Now watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical,
liberal, fanatical, criminal.
Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re
acceptable, respecable, presentable, a vegtable!
Don’t be a vegetable, my friends! And do not fear the labels that those who disagree with you might hurl your way. Embrace them with pride, a badge of honor in the fight for reason to prevail.