Sunday, February 7, 2016

Opinion: RooshV

Ordinarily I try to keep my opinions about the furor going on in the world off of this blog. It is not part of the scope of this blog's purpose. I try not to muddy the waters with stuff that is completely tangential. That said, I do have a special case here. RooshV. You've undoubtedly heard of the man, his mission, and the backlash he is experiencing. For the most part, I have to say that I feel that much of the public criticism and condemnation is well deserved and that he is, as a person, one of the most repulsive people I have ever had the misfortune of interacting with via the internet. (One conversation, only a few lines, and I came away entirely disgusted. I will not link to it. I had said conversation under an alternate pseudonym and I will not be sharing it here. That conversation does not have any bearing upon what I am posting here.)

So, if I approve of the public scorn and condemnation this man is facing, what am I discussing him here? It is the fact that people are lobbying Amazon books to discontinue carrying his works. It is the fact that people are actively working to have his books removed from the public sphere. While there is a great deal of good intentions here in this campaign, it overlooks something crucially important and the flaw with their efforts. What they are seeking to do is to censor the marketplace. As much as I scorn and despise the man, I can not condone the censorship efforts being put forward by the community.

It may be that RooshV is the Marquis De Sade of our generation and his work is morally repugnant to a enormous portion of the population. Our disgust with his work, however, does not give us the right to silence him. Because someone out in the world is going to pick up our work and find it morally repugnant. Someone in the world is going to look at the egregious approval of censorship on the basis of moral outrage and decide that the censorship of our own work is appropriate based on the precedent established in the censorship of RooshV.

Yes, RooshV's work is repulsive. Yes, there is reason to suspect that he has engaged in sexual assault of multiple people over the course of time and that he should be the subject of inquiry on the basis of this. And yes, we, as a society, should shun pro-rape materials and stances. (I personally feel very strongly that rape should carry a higher punishment than it does in here in the US but I do not know what that higher punishment should be.) All of these things, however, does not excuse censoring him.

If you want sites like Amazon to stop carrying his work, use market forces to get it removed from the shelves. A book that does not sell well will not be carried by a distributor because it is not cost effective to do so. Use your dollar to get his work out of the public sphere. Be openly critical of his work and exhort people not to purchase it. Challenge his supporters and dismantle their arguments, revealing how wrong they are.

This is how books leave the public sphere. It is by way of market forces and the lack of demand for their work. If he is not profitable, he will not get sales. Not only will this move the distributors to stop carrying him, it will limit his ability to spread these ideas because he will no longer be gaining profit from these books. If you want to stop him, this is how to do it whilst preserving the freedom of speech that all artists and authors require to engage in their work. This is how you do it and preserve the ability for us to speak out in dissent against ideas that we do not approve of.

Censorship is never the answer. RooshV's work is disgusting and the ideas he espouse are dangerous and repulsive. But I do not condone censoring him. And neither should you, for the sake of retaining your own voice.

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