“To attempt to silence a man is to pay him homage, for it is an acknowledgement that his arguments are both impossible to answer and impossible to ignore.”
I have let the matter of the SPLC sit for a week and a half to see how far they would go, but I think that now is the time to address it before I move on.
I was unsurprised when, earlier this month, Arthur Goldwag of the Southern Poverty Law Center – an organization that is if not extreme-left, one that certainly panders to such – decided to write an article about my site on their blog “Hatewatch.” The motto of their blog is “Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right,” an interesting notion since AVFMS has criticized ideologues on both the left and the right, and since one of its founding nine values is non-partisanship.
The article, while refraining from classifying AVFMS as a “hate site” (the cataloging of which is apparently their bread and butter in more ways than one), nonetheless attempted to paint my site as something born out of partisan extremism, accused it (falsely and without evidence) of dishonestly misrepresenting others, and loosed its gang of dogmatic and mean-spirited online followers to not only attack my site but also (and more perniciously) attack anyone who stepped in to say a positive word about it, or about men and boys.
They also heavily suppressed the comments of many men’s advocates in a very dishonest and one-sided fashion.
I was undismayed by their article, however. It gave me the opportunity to clarify where the SPLC and I differ, to demonstrate how the old social justice establishment doesn’t meet the needs of today’s world, and to show how websites like AVFMS help fill that void. I seized this opportunity by writing an article of my own and commenting on theirs. My first comment was overwhelmingly upvoted. It remains there as of now, but I am curious how long it will stay up.
It was uplifting to see so many people come out of the woodwork to defend my site’s work and values, and to advocate for men and boys. Robert O’Hara, news director at A Voice for Men, wrote an article on the matter. The SPLC article (and my response to it) was discussed heavily on the Men’s Rights subreddit and Facebook. And many, many men’s advocates showed up on the SPLC article itself to comment.
Upon returning to the SPLC article later on, I saw that the site administration had deleted over 100 comments by men’s advocates. Someone who had not visited the comments section of their article might be tempted to wonder whether the reason was because many of them were simply making childish rants, personal attacks, and other generally unproductive and insincere statements (trolling). Based on my experience, such would be the go-to accusation from any extreme ideologue with which we, by now, are all too familiar.
On the contrary; much like the chaotic and well-chronicled events at the University of Toronto, the men’s advocates were generally well-behaved. It was primarily their opponents who behaved childishly, made a career out of personal attacks, trolled, and even made false accusations. And their comments were not deleted.
It is unfortunate that so many men’s advocates spent the time to make comments only to find that they had been deleted. I think there is a bright side to this, however. Since the SPLC resorted to censorship on such a mass scale, it has made much of their comments section almost impossible to consistently and coherently read. In addition, since the SPLC has decided not to delete the childish, trolling, and hateful comments of its supporters, it has forfeited any credibility it might have had for making the claim that they are deleting comments based upon anything other than political suppression.
As a result, the comments section of their article is now an echo chamber that reflects far more poorly on the SPLC than it does on my website. You now simply cannot read the comments section of every other subthread without stumbling over a space where a comment used to be, responded to only by the personal attacks of SPLC supporters. This is what much of it now looks like:
Just look at that screenshot: three comments by three different dissenters deleted. One of whom (of all people) is Pierce Harlan, a blogger at Community of the Wrongly Accused, who is well-known for his civilized approach. Meanwhile, the comments of those who responded with nothing but childish personal attacks remained. And that, folks, truly is representative of how the SPLC and their commenters like to run things.
And what’s worse, when you think about it, is that this is how they would like to run the world, if they could. But we’ve just begun:
And of course, any time people bring up the fact that men and boys are falling behind in education it is immediately re-framed by anti-male partisans as some kind of insecurity on the part of men:
Question: Is it really because men’s advocates don’t want to come to terms with women being “strong and independent,” or because these people don’t want to come to terms with the concept of male vulnerability? Given that these commenters never, throughout the entire comment thread, discussed the actual issue of men and boys falling behind in education, I’d say the evidence leans toward the latter.
And by the way, many women are advocates for men and boys as well. Indeed, most of the guest articles on my site come from women. I guess they are insecure about women gaining rights as well?
I think I stopped saying “goober” when I was about 12 years old.
This next SPLC supporter just comes out and says – in response to a deleted comment, no less – that (s)he’s not interested in having any real conversation on civil rights or equality, only in personal attacks:
Let it be known that these kinds of commenters will never become a regular feature at AVFMS, nor will such dishonest and one-sided censorship. Let “veteran civil rights organizations” like the SPLC do things their way. Which they do, a lot. Commenter Aron was perhaps the worst…
…but Reynardine was pretty bad as well:
Here’s where Reynardine redeems herself, however:
And another comment from Reynardine, one which – like so many of these SPLC supporters – immediately follows a deleted comment:
“Dildo Daggins.” Yes, folks: these are the types of comments that the SPLC deemed appropriate and productive, while many of the arguments men’s advocates made were deleted. Mark Neil noticed this trend and said:
And perhaps it seems that way, because it is that way. Ian Weaver also disagreed with the tendency of the SPLC to censor comments. His comments stayed up…for about a day or two. The remains of the comment subthread he started are nothing short of proof of his point:
Yes, funny how that works. It’s almost as though Mr. Weaver knew what he was talking about.
But the SPLC didn’t just delete people’s comments. They also banned people who commented regularly. One of them was Zimba Zumba, who wrote about his experiences on the Men’s Rights subreddit:
Zimba Zumba is a regular commenter on various social and political blogs. On an article on Alternet he also met up with SPLC commenter Reynardine, where she threatened to dox him:
Not too long after this, we see Reynardine – who just threatened to cyberstalk Zimba Zumba on the AlterNet article – now on the SPLC article falsely accusing Zimba Zumba himself of considering cyberstalking her:
I tried to let the readers know that her statement was interesting given that she had just threatened to dox Zimba, but discovered that I could no longer comment on the article. After deleting roughly 100 comments from men’s advocates, the SPLC decided to lock the thread so that (presumably) no one could comment:
I also noticed that the SPLC deleted all of the comments by Janet Wilkinson, a woman who commented heavily on the article and who has helped me in email campaigns in the past. And to think that for all the talk about opposing men’s advocates who they falsely accuse of “silencing women’s voices,” they are quite happy to silence women who disagree with them.
Is the SPLC afraid of women’s voices?
Interestingly, one of the first comments said of the SPLC article, ”An excellent and well written article…I will take a look at Jonathan Taylor’s website when I get a chance.” His statement is interesting: if you believe an article that comments at length on a website is well-written (which I presume also means that the article is rooted in verifiable facts), wouldn’t it make sense to actually visit the website and verify the claims the article makes about it before you judge whether the article is well-written?
And this is another problem with the SPLC community: to them, facts don’t seem to be terribly important. Their article about my website was first brought to my attention because I viewed the “referrals” to my website in my site statistics. I noticed that there was one (yes, only one) person who had clicked the link to this website from the SPLC article. When I immediately looked up the article, I found that there were already about 30 comments by people who were all talking about this site, most (if not all) of whom had very likely never visited it.
One of the nine values of my site is evidence-based inquiries and solutions. Evidently it is not one of their values. To the True Believers, dogma, intolerance, mean-spiritedness, and blind partisan tribalism are values to be celebrated.
The SPLC and its supporters have demonstrated time and time again their mentality: if you are not – like them – hanging by your fingernails on the extreme left end of the political spectrum, it can only be because you are on the radical end of the opposite side. We might well remember the wisdom of Obi-Wan Kenobi from the Star Wars remakes: “only a Sith deals in absolutes.” And actually, someone made that very point in the SPLC article. Before his comment was deleted, of course:
I’ve been up and down the entire comment thread several times. I’m not going to critique the whole thing. It’s something you have to see for yourself anyway. But I’ve compiled a list of those whose comments were deleted. Let me know if I left anyone out:
The SPLC Censorship Roll of Honor (in no particular order)
M the Atheist
Websites and organizations like the SPLC and their partner Manboobz may occasionally have a point criticizing a few other websites and organizations. But as I have demonstrated now and in the past, when it comes to assessing my website their efforts are still lacking.
And they are entirely predictable by now. All of their vacuous and underhanded insinuations, all of their baseless accusations, and all of the hateful and childish rhetoric of their supporters, have only served to strengthen my website. They thought to capitalize on my website to legitimize their own existence, but things have worked out to quite the contrary.
In the future, AVFMS will have other challenges. Real challenges. I suppose that, during the year AVFMS was launched, these were a good warm-up. I can’t promise that I will pay them much attention in the future, however. They are occasionally useful to clarify to the world where our values differ, but not to dwell on. There is more important work to be done.
2014 is fast approaching.
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