When Activism Gets Stupid
A few weeks ago, I challenged JtO, in a comment on one of his videos, to stop saying things with which I agree. I think my exact phrase was "Dammit, JtO, why don't you ever say something I can disagree with?" My point being that he usually speaks sense, and there is very little with which I could take issue in his positions.
Anyone who knows me personally will know that I love to debate issues, and I will point out any flaw I can find in any reasoning from any person who chooses to share his/her opinions. To me, this is the way that I distinguish good information from bad, how I separate sound conclusions from unsound. Any idea worth accepting is an idea worth challenging, and a major part of my character as a sceptic is to challenge ideas to which I'm exposed.
So, I tended to seek out questionable statements or conclusions made by JtO (and others, of course, I don't just pick on him. I've rifled through the posts of GWW, RockingMrE, and TheIgnoredGender, among others, all looking for errors in reasoning that I could point out. After all, any idea that cannot withstand some criticism, isn't worth accepting or believing in) over the dozens of videos and articles he's written. And, like many of the other MRAs to whom I am subscribed, I've been unable to find any serious flaw in his reasoning or conclusions. So, in a sideways compliment, I exclaimed "Why can't you ever say something I can disagree with?!"
It seems he's taken that comment to heart.
Well, that's a little hubris on my part. I don't know if he even reads my comments, or if he did/does, remembered that one in particular. But, it seems that JtO has put forth something that I can actually oppose.
In his most recent video, he talks about how well the Men's Rights Movement in Vancouver is going, and how they're hosting an anti-misandry summit at the end of September that they're calling "Mancouver, 2012". In this video, he refers to Christy Clark ejecting men from the political process (which I think is the far more pertinant issue) but only briefly. The point of the video is to promote a petition from VancouverMRA (the activist group of which he is part) that asks the government to officially rename Vancouver to Mancouver.
Now, I'm a bit confused by this. On one hand, if this is a publicity stunt designed to draw attention to the Man-couver 2012 summit, or simply satire made in response to some other undisclosed petition by feminists that is just as ridiculous, then it's pure genius. However, when I asked him to clarify, and by his own statements in his comment section, JtO continuously asserts that they're perfectly serious. It's not a joke. Men built Vancouver, and thus, it should be called Mancouver.
The snowball rolled on from there. Calls for renaming cities all across this country, such as Manilton and Manmonton, and even the country itself, Manada, poured in. It started getting silly and absurd, and through it all, JtO was asserting that they were perfectly serious.
Now, I don't know if by "perfectly serious" he means "completely legitimate". He seems to accept that the premise of the whole thing is ridiculously silly, but when told so, he simply answered with "Yes, but have you signed the petition?"
Like I said earlier, there are only two options that I see, and at the risk of setting up a false dichotomy, I'm going to lay them out here. If there's a third option, I wanna hear it, but these are the two that I see, and to me they're mutually exclusive.
The first possibility, is that he's being completely facetious, that this is a publicity stunt or satire designed to illustrate the absurdity of a similar petition or claim being made by another source (of which I am unaware).
The more I read through the comments section, the more I am inclined to believe this possibility. As one of the comments stated "It's [the petition] a reminder to a flaming bigot that men built the city that has her in office." I think, from context, that this commenter is referring not to the mayor of Vancouver, but the Premier, who, as I alluded to earlier, has been banning men, from other politicians all the way down to the serving and custodial staff, from her political meetings.
The second possibility is that he's dead serious, that he denies any role that women played in the development and sustenance of Vancouver as a city, and thus feels completely justified in demanding that it be renamed to reflect this.
When I challenged the absurdity of this assertion with the statement "Lets swap the roles and see if this is just as absurd. If feminists were to advocate renaming the city "Femcouver", would it still be justified? I think not." he replied, "Rename it Femcouver? Absurd, females didn't build the city."
In the end, it seems reasonably clear to me that this is a simple tongue in cheek action, that, despite his assertion to the contrary, isn't a serious initiative. He doesn't honestly believe that Vancouver should be renamed Mancouver.
My issue with this whole endeavour, though, serious or satirical, is that it will likely jeopardise any credibility the MRM has. The first petition to government from this group (to which I am privy) and it focuses on the arguably irrelevant detail of the city's name? It makes us all look like fools.
I draw the analogy with the people who wanted french fries to be renamed "Freedom Fries" when France refused to support the US in war. They were never taken seriously again, and I fear that this will be the future for MRAs if this plan goes on.
Even as a publicity stunt, this carries with it danger, I think. If this draws people's attention to the MRM, even peripherally, do we really want this petition to be the first thing people learn about us? It seems like all it will succeed in doing is making people think that if the name of the city is the biggest issue we care about, then we're not worth listening to anyway.
The issue doesn't stop there, either. An MRA from Edmonton recently exclaimed excitement and glee to me about a news story on the CBC talking about how the Fringe Festival posters were 'vandalised' and 'defaced' with advertisements for the Edmonton MRA group. While it means that the MRM is being talked about on the CBC, it also means that it's being associated with vandalism, no matter how benign.
Now, while the recent campaign of postering in Vancouver that resulted in a feminist assaulting a construction site safety officer didn't even make the back page of the community newsletter, the simple stickers used by the Edmonton group made it to the CBC. Not to mention that the posters put up by both the Vancouver and Edmonton groups are regularly vandalised and defaced. This goes to show that bad behaviour by feminists is ignored, but bad behaviour by anti-feminists is Front Page News™. We're already fighting an uphill battle, in my view, after fifty years of feminist doctrine influencing public zeitgeist, and we need all the public goodwill we can get. It seems to me that these initiatives, the petition to rename Vancouver, and the vandalism of unrelated advertisements in Edmonton, do nothing to further the goals of the MRM beyond garnering publicity, and that publicity is gained at what cost?
After all, how can we expect to be taken seriously or respected if we do not behave in a serious or respectable manner? For us at this time, bad behaviour, even relatively harmless bad behaviour, has a disproportionately harmful effect that, in my opinion, far outweighs any benefit such behaviour may generate.