Last night I spent an hour chatting via IRC with author Wendy McElroy and about a dozen other people. Normally I find chatting a waste of time, but the topic that McElroy wanted to talk about intrigued me — dealing with unreasonable claims/positions/demands by people whom you are ostensibly defending.
In McElroy’s case, she has done a lot to promote the cause of the Men’s Movement and true sexual equality, and in return receive a lot of hostility, anger and even threats from some people involved with that movement. Some of the hostility is downright silly. McElroy calls her position Individualist Feminism, but for some in the Men’s Movement, the “f” word is just too much and they draw a line in the sand — if you’re going to call yourself a feminist, they want nothing to do with you (and, in fact, will react abusively).
One of the really odd things that was apparent from the chat was that many of these people were upset because they believe McElroy has some sort of power or influence and that what she says or does not say has far reaching effects. Now I’m a big fan of McElroy, and am glad she’s been writing for Fox News regularly the past few months because I enjoy reading her work, but power and influence? I don’t think so.
But I wasn’t all that surprised since I’ve had the same argument thrown in my face when it comes to animal rights. One of the things I like about running a web site is the independence — I have considered going to work for organizations in the areas that I write about, but could never be satisfied giving up that editorial independence. There are two things, for example, with which I have problems with in the anti-animal rights community: a) the tendency to support cockfighting (which, in my opinion, is both a dead end morally and politically), and b) the tendency to exaggerate the case against some animal rights groups.
In the last six months after writing about cockfighting and defending an animal rights group against what I thought were baseless accusations of being involved in terrorist activities, I received e-mails from people outraged at the comments. The basic argument was that given the prominence of my site, such comments could only aid the animal rights movement.
Bah! Who cares? What’s the point of rejecting the group think of one movement just to turn around and adopt the very same principles?