The purity police

theres an old joke that goes “Two fishermen were pulling up crab traps and throwing the crabs into a big box on deck. one of the fishermen noticed that one crab had climbed the side of the box and was about to escape over the side. He called to the other fisherman and asked ‘hey should one of us go push that guy back into the box?’ without even looking up the other fisherman replied, ‘dont worry about it, those are liberal crabs, they’ll pull each other back down”
 One of the more frustrating things to witness is people who supposedly share a cause and outlook attacking each other instead of the “enemy” that all are supposed to be united against. I often wonder why my fellow liberal, progressive types are so quick to atack each other, to question our allies ‘purity’, and to nit-pick insignificant differences of opinion when on the whole we share common goals and beliefs. I used to think that this was a particular disease of lefties like me til I talked to other folks, conservatives, religious folk, even people in the same meditation groups or art collectives; all had found their own groups attacking inwardly before taking on the foes they had supposedly united against.
 As a single example I recently began reading a website begun by a feminist who also was an actor director. The avowed purpose was to celebrate womens writing, point of view, and struggle. When the sites creator made a quick post about finding a favorite lipstick the comments erupted with angry readers blasting her for writing “unfeminist” things, rageful posts about her site was bullshit because it dared to mentio that this person liked make up. All the positive work this sites author did was immediately disregarded in the light of her “crime” of having a vision of feminism that the keyboard warriors disagreed with. Why, I wondered, was the reaction so visceral, why were the folks who had clearly come in support been so quick to turn on and attack the posts author?
 Conservatives attack each other for not being “true” conservatives, even video gamers denouce those who play online wargames as not being “real” gamers. It made me think of my teen age years as a punk rock kid and the way we constantly sized up every other punk kid around as a “poser”.
 The more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that the fact that these people doing the attacking all followed a similar pattern regardless of the camp they identified with. I now think that the universal nature of this behaviour points out something in these folks that goes beynd their individual gripes. These folks want a reaction, they want to person they are questioning to feel it, they want some kind of emotional payoff as a result of their attack.
 People tend to be attached to their groups because they have a very strong feeling for their cause, they care enough to invest time an energy in the cause and they believe that their cause is worthy of the effort they put forth. The irony is that whomever is the “enemy” doesnt give a shit about and usually actively belittles the “cause”. e all want a payoff for our effort and we simply dont get that payoff from the “enemy”.
 For example, if you are pro-gay rights like me and you call Rush Limbaugh a homophobe he will just laugh and say “yea, so?” But if you call me a homophobe I get upset and feel the need to defend my pro-gay bonafides. In short, if you call me and Rush both homophobic you wont get any payoff from Rush, he embraces his shitty politics and sees them as a compliment while I will be upset and go out pf my way to try to “regain” your approval. Fellow believers hae a psychological interest in defending themselves while the “foe” takes it as a compliment.
 the sad fact is that people part of a common belief system become frustrated at their lack of effect on the rival belief group and out of that very frustration they attack the only people who give back that juicy energy, their comrades! The only time a group seems to submerge this shitty self-testing is when a bigger, more dangerous belief system threatens. Take, for example, the times when anti-gay police harassment was rampant in New York in the late 1960s. After continuous, unprovoked police attacks and abuse, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn united to resist and fought back; and thus began the modern gay-rights movement. The first bottles thrown at the police were thrown by drag queens, who by necessity were allied with the gay, trans, BDSM, and bisexual patrons against their common enemy, the police. Today we have pro gay groups splintering off, banning Drag Queens from pride parades, the shunning of BDSM from “mainstram” gay rights groups, and conflict as gay groups divide along racial lines. It appears that as strides are made in the rights of Gay Americans the survival mentality then gives way to smaller and smaller sub-genres competing with each other for legitimacy and space within the movement. 
 The internet has made communication within your chosen community easier and spreads the word quickly and efficiently, unfortunately it also gives people instant satisfaction when trying to reach out and hurt someone. If you still get your jollies making another person squirm then attacking someone who is supposedly an ally will give you more of a reaction than attacking those who already dont give a shit about what you think. The ease and audience that social media allows those self-policing accusations to happen just further feeds the ego driven to try to force others to dance to their tune. 

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