Nu-Bullying: “Accountability” Is Code For “Vengeance”

Why deplatforming is never okay

Bullying is a scarring experience. Society’s focus on the prevention of bullying is good and necessary if we are to be compassionate.

I’m concerned that there is a new form of bullying and it wears a compassionate mask. It can be difficult to parse this phenomenon as a form of abuse because it doesn’t look much like the arrogant, abusive style of bullying we are used to. In fact, it believes itself to be supremely empathetic and moral. I call it Nu-Bullying.

The Nu-Bully believes he is more virtuous because he bullies. To him, the only way to be truly moral is to obtain and use power against those who disagree. The Nu-Bully believes that free speech is vaguely dangerous because it allows people with the wrong opinions to have a voice. “Why would you give that person a platform,” he asks.

When social media does its work, people are whipped into an inhuman frenzy. There are protests, calls for boycotts, and general online mob violence, all for the crime of “giving a platform” to ideas the Nu-Bully disagrees with. This is because the Nu-Bully has been conditioned to believe that disagreeing with him is only possible through the summoning of that dreaded demon, Hate, the ultimate thought-crime. As a result, the Nu-Bully will often support the radical reorganization of society to his advantage, or some kind of dramatic upheaval of societal norms, in order to fortify against the possibility of himself and his team ever being in that dangerous state of being out-of-power.

Nu-Bullies Are The New “Religious Right”

Publicly adopting pseudo-moralistic stances on large scale social issues is a very easy way to look good to your friends and neighbors without actually accomplishing anything. This is known as virtue signaling. There is also the related phenomenon of inverted virtue signaling: Playing the victim. If you appear hurt, you win an automatic moral victory. Social media makes this dopamine hit easier to get than ever before.

Getting social points in this insufferable way is the direct memetic descendant of the old fashioned American Religious Right. You know the type; They lecture people self-righteously for not living up to an impossible ideal, one which they hypocritically never bother to try and live up to themselves. Though, by being morally overbearing and generally bossy to those around them, they are able to feel as though they have done “the right thing.” Thus, they rationalize treating the people around them poorly in name of being supposedly “good” in a greater, more abstract sense.

Often times, when someone has something in their personal life that they don’t want to deal with, they compensate by attempting to change the rest of the world instead of making an effort to improve themselves and their situation.

Intentionally trying to ruin the life of someone we disagree with is tyrant behavior. Calling ourselves “activists” or some other faux-honorable moniker in order to frame ourselves as righteous while acting tyrannically is downright dangerous. If we normalize the destruction of dissent, it will not continue to work in our favor; Eventually, it will be directed back at us.

The people we disagree with the most, those with the most horrible opinions of all, still have the right to speak. That is a good thing. Chances are, we offend our opponents right back, and they’d probably like to silence us also. It’s a situation of Mutually Assured Destruction; If either silences the other, we have already silenced ourselves. That’s how a republic functions. People with controversial viewpoints ought to be afforded respect. If they can still offend us, we can be sure that our freedom of speech is also intact. We should make sure someone else still has the right to offend us every day. If we deplatform someone, we’ve justified deplatforming ourselves. If we can’t find anyone who is allowed to have an opinion that offends us, then we no longer have the right to free speech either.

If someone cannot exercise free speech in practice, regardless of who is limiting speech or how they’re doing it, it is still an injustice. Limiting the right of a person to speak freely is still tyrannical, even if it’s confined to the private sector. Whether it is accomplished with government-encouraged snitching by private citizens, or just through a social climate that encourages the shaming and social ostracization of anyone with a different opinion, it’s still wrong.

What the Nu-Bully doesn’t realize is, in a world run by resentment and cancellation, he won’t actually get to decide what counts as “hate.” To the other team, our disagreement with them looks pretty hateful. The positions and policy actions the Nu-Bully advocates will get him deplatformed also. Resentment-based ideology always attacks that which it claims to value eventually.

If we support radical social upheaval for our own benefit, or if we believe hate and venom are acceptable if used in service of “good,” or if we find ourselves justifying doxxing, cancellation, modern Struggle Sessions, and mob violence either online or offline, if we habitually use scary “verbal kill shot” words as bludgeons against those we disagree with, then we must stop and ask ourselves if we’d be willing to accept this treatment in return. If we allow it against “them,” we can rest assured that “we” are next.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

- Martin Niemöller

Endeavoring to say the quiet parts out loud. Published by The Startup and UX Collective. Subscribe:

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