Tuesday, March 12, 2013

This is what politics does to people.

This past weekend I attended the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa. It is a meeting of conservatives, not libertarians, but Institute for Liberal Studies executive director (disclosure: the boyfriend) Matt Bufton was invited to debate whether the government ought to get involved in "supporting the family," the ILS held three ideas-based talks, and I share Alexander McCobin's optimism that libertarians can work alongside the conservative movement on many issues (and social democrats/progressives on many others). So there we were, with bells on.

On Sunday morning after the conference had wrapped up, I noticed I'd been tagged in the following tweet:

How was Dr Rape Ron Paul? Great conservative gun toting crazy values
Note: Perhaps because it was early on the first day of daylight savings time but I did NOT see the use of "Rape" in the initial tweet or I would not have responded at all. 

After a weekend of outreach to people I typically find myself disagreeing with (and having missed the "rape" comment), I tried extending an olive branch by offering that while Ron Paul's speech was fairly standard, I had been happy to see an anti-war message presented at all at a conservative conference.

Obviously I hadn't read anything else by him - this guy is obviously just trying to troll conservatives, as evidenced herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here so maybe I shouldn't have responded to him at all, but I did a few times (you can see my responses in the conversations). I purposely did not look at the replies after I stopped responding.

That is, until today. When someone else tagged me I accidentally saw his last tweet. It was:

← Gun Supporting Crazy Conservaitive who does not mind getting raped By Ron Paul

Clicking on the image will take you to a link to the conversation.

This time I did not miss the much more direct rape reference. As many readers of this blog know, I have very strong feelings about contribution to rape culture. Rape is not a joke. I don't care that he doesn't like Ron Paul. I don't like Ron Paul. I don't care that he said this to me. But I do care that he think it's OK to have said something like this at all.

And I care that politics drives people to this point.

I don't know anything about "TheRealDamany," but I assume that in real life he's more or less a well-meaning guy. He seems to care about important issues that need caring about. He shares my displeasure with the Harper government. Glenn Greenwald as a mutual follow suggests we are both worried about issues like the drug war, torture, and the war on terror's effects on civil liberties. We're both concerned about institutionalized discrimination and poverty. I'll even bet in spite of it all we're both anti-war.

Sure, we disagree on some things, too, but I'd be willing to bet we agree on almost all the ends we're after. We only differ on the means.

But the tribal nature of politics makes us forget what's important. Politics allows and encourages us to dehumanize our opponents, or find other ways to excuse treating them as less than ourselves. Politics leads someone who claims to (and probably does) care about womens' rights to toss around the word "rape" and suggest his (female) opponents are asking for it.

Politics makes everything worse.


PS - Follow me on twitter! I'm unreasonably civil. ;)

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