Tuesday, October 13, 2015

John Cleese defines extremists (and thereby explains social justice warriors and "tone policing")

The biggest advantage of extremism is that it makes you feel GOOD because it provides you with enemies.

Let me explain. The great thing about having enemies is that you can pretend that all the badness in the whole world is in your enemies, and all the goodness in the whole world is in YOU. Attractive, isn't it?

So, if you have a lot of anger and resentment in you anyway and you therefore enjoy abusing people, then you can pretend that you're only doing it because these enemies of yours are such very bad persons! And if it wasn't for them, you'd actually be good natured, and courteous, and rational all the time. So, if you want to FEEL GOOD, become an extremist

You can strut around, abusing people, and telling them you could eat them for breakfast and still think of yourself as a champion of the truth. A fighter for the greater good. And not the rather sad paranoid schizoid that you really are. 
—John Cleese
ETA: Just to spell this out:

1. Being an extremist says nothing about the validity of your cause. It only says something about the validity of your approach.

2. I was recently accused of "tone-policing", so I've been thinking about what makes people believe politeness and respect are not compatible with effective protest. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and all the Freedom Riders could've explained that to them.