Spare the Scolding

There's probably a need for a long piece on this, but some recent trolling of yours trully--minor, minor stuff--has brought it to mind.

There's probably a need for a long piece on this, but some recent trolling of yours truly--minor, minor stuff--has brought it to mind.

It often drives those who have dedicated their lives to issues of social justice nuts when people criticize them on their tone. I've heard "here comes the tone patrol," or some variant of it now and again out of the mouths (okay, off of the fingers) of people who I respect and admire. Not directed at me, mind you, when someone is off on a rant of any kind--whether I agree or not--I just let them do their thing and wait until it's discussion time again. Learned that lesson from my own experience as a most excellent pontificator: righteousness brooks no word in edgewise other than Hallelujah.

But I just need to put this out there: scolding, and other forms of public shaming, are just rhetorical flourishes that energize your political base. They don’t do a damn thing in terms of winning hearts and minds. If anything they harden attitudes, particular the attitudes of adolescents whose entire charm as political entities is summed up in the phrase “Fuck You, Grandpa.”

I say that with love, because it is an adolescent’s job to call BULLLSHIT wherever and whenever, even if they call it when they are the ones full of shit. Which they don’t realize until they are old, old enough to care about the dispositions of they lawns, which someone is now off and GET OFF MY LAWN!!

But I digress.

Here’s what I’m saying: scolding and shaming are cousins to taunting and taunting is totally Dark Side of the Force shit.

When I see people using those tools in service of good causes I just smack my head and wait for the shitstorm to come and go.

Now there are those people who overreact and think that pointing out something is the same as scolding or shaming. These are largely lost causes. Not much to be done there.

What I do beg the Jedi amongst you to consider is whether or not you’re giving into the desire to one up and score points on your opponents just for its own sake. I know how good that feels, it is awesome. Yet it can also perpetuate a cycle of emotional violence that in the wrong heart can turn toxic. Even deadly.

You don’t have to give up the tactic entirely: the powerful need to be scolded and shamed. The jester’s rule applies, however: are you punching up, or punching down? Are you endowing faceless opponents with the power they pretend to have, or the power they actually have?

It’s never easy to do battle with the Dark Side, just be mindful, okay? Last thing we need is to be breeding Sith in the gladiator pits of Twitter and Reddit.

(Okay, so that might have gone a little long. I’m also hella comfortable slipping back into the old Jedi ways now that it’s safe to like Star Wars again. For those of you scoring at home: I'm clearly of the Consular tradition.)