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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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When I walked to Tesco yesterday I found myself sauntering past a very long queue of traffic trying to get into the Eastgate Centre, perhaps to stock up on last-minute booze - whereas I was only after soured cream. Detecting feelings of smugness, I prepared to suppress them in my usual authoritarian manner, then made a conscious decision not to, but rather - as an experiment - to view them positively, for all the world as if I were President Trump.

"There's nothing wrong with feeling smug," I told myself. "You deserve it. In fact, I think it's very brave of you to so honest about your feelings. Also, smug is so very in right now."

Didn't I do it well? I don't think anyone in the history of the world has been smug more expertly. But it hasn't changed me.

Today I decided to take a stroll around the zoo, an impulse that seems to afflict me only on New Year's Day, although this time I was in Bristol rather than Borth. I'd not been to Bristol Zoo for several years, and it was a rather nostalgic trip, which gave me a chance to compare meerkats, assess hippos, and so on.


The strangest part was the overhead conversation while watching the otters. A small boy - maybe four years old? - was there with his father. Looking at the pair of otters, he remarked: "I don't like the female otter." (How he could tell the difference is beyond me.) Not getting any reaction, he added after a few seconds: "I don't like girls."

"You do like girls," replied his father. "Because you got a princess dress for Christmas. And" - with a heavy emphasis - "you like wearing it."

It seemed a strange argument: does it really follow that a boy who likes princess dresses will also like their traditional occupants? Then I wondered whether it might have been partly for my benefit. After all, a few minutes earlier, when we'd all been looking at the golden lion tamarins and the boy had said the word "Fart!" very loudly, the father had apologised to me - so he was clearly sensitive to the way he was seen by others. If so, I suppose the first part - "You got a princess dress for Christmas" - was an example of what is fashionably called virtue signalling ("I am not one to force my child to conform to gender stereotypes"). But the second part - "And you like wearing it" - was a pre-emptive clarification, just in case I was a Mail reader ("Nor am I one to force my son to wear dresses").

From the boy's point of view, however, it must have all sounded like non sequitur upon non sequitur, though he was too polite to say so.

I am so incredibly bored by people who call everything "virtue singling." It is so often overused these days by the hardcore conservative crowd to shut people up, not dissimilar to the overuse of "hate" by the liberal side. Also, I like how every opinion that the republicans don't agree with is "a meltdown" these days, regardless of how it is expressed ("oh look, liberals are in a complete meltdown over X again!").

Yesterday I left a single comment on twitter which was "I agree that innocent men should not fall in this battle but I think you are overlooking all the innocent women who did not even rise and are not rising while this is going on" and within two minutes I was explained that I was both just virtue singling and having a meltdown at the same (by two separate people). I just assume that I am really good at virtue singling by now if I can do it even in the middle of a meltdown. But these are very often the first two responses to any critique of republican points of view and it is getting old.

Edited at 2018-01-04 01:58 am (UTC)

The word's meaning has been more or less smothered at birth under its negative connotations (hard to believe it was coined less than three years ago). A bit like Social Justice Warrior, which always sounds to me like a really cool thing to be, but which I've never heard used other than negatively. There's a term ripe for the reclaiming!

Oh boy, I am not sure "SJW" can be saved now. I actually only view it as entertainment these days. The movement got so polluted by opportunistic whiners and teenagers seeking attention (as teenagers always did) and the conservative crowd took advantage of it so skilfully in the media that saving it will take time.