Saturday, October 27, 2012

Vox Day & co. don’t get satire or basic decency [updated]

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Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day)
Vox Day

Geek overlord John Scalzi recently published a gut-punching piece of satire in the form of a “fan letter” to rape-excusing Republican politicians from the viewpoint of an admitted rapist. I won’t reprint it here, partially to avoid disfiguring my blog with the 72-point trigger warning disclaimer it would require, and also to avoid digressing from the subject of this post, which is that Theodore “Vox Day” Beale seems to have a thing for giving me fisking fodder.

You see, it would be rather difficult for any intelligent and rational person to miss the glaring contrast between Scalzi’s pro-rape post and the decidedly anti-rape tone that pervades the rest of his blog. It would also be difficult for anyone aware of the scroll feature to miss Scalzi’s prominent first comment wherein he explicitly identifies his post as satire. (And never mind the delicate detail that rapists don’t announce their rapey ways on their public blogs.)

Which brings us to noted Scalzi-basher Vox Day, whose response was originally limited to the following:

I wonder if the SFWA will be concerned that their current president is an admitted rapist or if they'll take the approach towards him that NOW and the other feminist groups did towards Bill Clinton. Of course, unlike Scalzi, Clinton never admitted to being a rapist.

Yes, it appears that ol’ Vox found it perfectly unexceptional that a minor celebrity and a prominent icon in the sci-fi realm would out and announce his love of sexual assault on his well-trafficked website. Methinks Mensa needs to reconsider its membership criteria.

But after having the eye-searingly obvious pointed out to him by some commenters, Vox rushed to revamp his post about half-a-dozen times (according to the number of times I refreshed my browser to see it had again changed) so that it now reads thus:

Wait, he claims his confession is satire? Well, that might fool anyone unfamiliar with the concept of blown cover as cover. But even if we were to take him at his word to not take him at his word, where is the satire? Satire is supposed to be ironic, but where is the irony? What is being exaggerated? Given that a) one-third of all forcible rapists are black, and, b) blacks heavily support the Democratic party while whites are fairly evenly split, the statistics indicate that it is very nearly twice as likely a rapist would be inclined to write a fan letter to a Democratic politician rather than to a conservative Republican politician.

Hang on – so it’s not the blatantly false admission to being a criminal that took Beale by surprise, but rather, the idea that such a piece was satire in the first place? And notice how he subsequently twists himself into a pretzel trying to excuse his laughable lack of perception. Because a rapist would just have to be Black, you see, and besides, it’s totally the Democrats who’ve been mired in a scandal over claims that rape and unwanted pregnancies are just God’s will, don’t ya know.

But Vox is never content without exhibiting his crankery about reproductive rights as well:

Perhaps the satire is to be found in Scalzi's implication that living human beings created without consent of the mother do not merit any of the legal protections and rights afforded all other human beings. That must be it! After all, the assertion that certain classes of homo sapiens sapiens are defined as not human isn't merely a scientifically absurd proposition, but one historically known to be lethally dangerous.

So, an underformed fetus is considered a “human being” now? I’d like to know what criteria Vox is basing that on. It can’t be the physiology; most abortions take place before the fetus looks like anything more than a mutated gerbil. It can’t be neurological or psychological attributes, either; most abortions happen long before the neural pathways necessary for any thought at all are even formed. It can’t be the mere presence of Homo sapiens DNA; by that logic, any rock you spit or piss on would immediately be considered “human” by virtue of possessing the human genome. And any talk about “souls” or other oogie-boogie silliness would just defeat the argument altogether.

So, really, Vox, what makes a fetus not merely a developing human, but a full-fledged “human being” deserving of the same rights and protections granted to walking, talking and thinking persons? Be specific.

But Vox isn’t alone in engaging in particularly bad sophistry; here’s commenter Idle Spectator engaging in what he doubtlessly think is wickedly clever satire of his own:

Hi, my name is Gravity.

I'm a rapist. I’m one of those forces of physics who likes to force myself on women without their consent or desire and then batter them asexually. The details of how I do this based on acceleration are not particularly important at the moment — although I love when you try to make distinctions about "forcible reference frame gravity" or "legitimate gravity" because that gives me all sorts of wiggle room — but I will tell you one of the details about why I do it: I like to control women and, also and independently, I like to remind them how little control they have. When women try to do things like, jump from a tall building, I like to control them and flex my power.

There’s nothing like trying to make an astoundingly moronic point by comparing the knowing and willful acts of violence committed upon others to the unknowing and unfeeling physical forces that govern the natural world to show everyone what kind of a benighted little insect you are.

UPDATE: 10/28/12 4:18 PM ET —

Salutations to all you Scalzi-lings! A particularly red-cheeked thanks to John Scalzi for the repeated plugs. I do hope y’all enjoy your stay. (For the record, I’ve written about dear Vox Day a fair few times previously – what can I say, he’s such a wonderful whetstone – for anyone curious or masochistic enough to want to know more about the poisonous little toad-in-question.)

Oh, and I suppose, greetings to any of Vox’s own follow-ons who find their way here. To you, I suggest a mindful reading of this here blog’s commenting rules before sharing any pearls of wisdom below. Do try to be more interesting and cogent than Old Man Day has shown himself to be.