Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rules of Engagement

Recently I have seen a bunch of Facebook posts by my friends doxxing Roosh.  Doxxing is the act of publishing home addresses and other identifying information online.  Roosh is also known as Daryush Valizadeh, aka the asshole behind the website Return of Kings which is a site about pickup artist technique, misogyny, and anti feminism.  Roosh is the worst.  He advocates for all kinds of disgusting regressive things including but not limited to not letting women vote, forced gender roles, and outright male supremacy.

But doxxing Roosh isn't the right path here.  I see this as similar to capital punishment, in that it can feel great to see the guilty punished savagely, but we must take care not to become evil in the process.  While the things Roosh has done are much worse than doxxing him, we should not be so quick to punish people in ways we would not tolerate in return.

Many of the people doxxing Roosh have been horrified at the way Gamergate has doxxed or threatened feminists.  But how can we criticize it when we engage in the same behaviour?  Can we in all honesty talk about how we must protect one person from a heinous act while gleefully inflicting the same on another?  I think this is terribly hypocritical and is definitely not the just course.

We can and should talk about how awful and wrong Roosh is.  When he tries to hold meetings we should talk to businesses he associates with and make them see how they should drop him immediately.  If he can be brought to justice for crimes committed, by all means we should pursue that vigorously.  We should, in short, do all the things we can to stem the flow of filth from this man, but we should not stoop to terror tactics and violence, because that is tacitly condoning those tactics as a legitimate way to deal with these disagreements.

Moreover I think that Roosh may even *want* this.  His message consistently tries to portray men as the victims, as the ones being punished by the matriarchy.  Doxxing him and threatening him just furthers this part of his agenda.  He has cancelled events on the basis of threats against him, citing safety concerns, and I think that is actually his plan.  Getting his followers to believe they are being oppressed cements his influence.

Roosh isn't likely to suffer from his address being published.  He cultivates this image of himself being under assault at all times.  But doxxing being a normal thing we do to people we don't like is something that will cause a lot of real suffering among other people.  We need to spread the idea that it isn't okay, at all.

You can't go about saying "Do as I say, not as I do." and expect to change the world for the better.  It is hypocritical, wrong, and, perhaps most tellingly, ineffective.


  1. This is exactly the reason why I am against ALL censorship. If we allow everyone, even the hateful people, to speak freely and fully, it will be immediately obvious to whom it isn't worth listening.

    I think the line, though, is when a speaker of influence calls for hateful or violent ACTS, and it sounds like this guys falls into that category. In that case I think that he should be arrested! Obviously that isn't happening and I completely see the frustration of those calling for vigilante justice.

    Let's just hope for an enlightened vigilante?

  2. He does call for all kinds of awful things, but in roundabout ways that are hard to prosecute, I am sure. I would definitely like it if Roosh was taken off the market lawfully, but I don't know that it is likely to happen.

    In these cases I totally understand the desire for vigilante justice. I just think that promoting vigilante justice almost always makes things worse overall, not better.

  3. There's no such thing as an enlightened vigilante.

  4. I think vigilanteism is a bad thing but it's not the worst thing. The worst thing is a complete vacuum of justice where everyone just takes what they can based on how much power they have. Vigilanteism is an extremely rudimentary form of justice but it is basically the precursor to every other form of justice we know, and when there is a complete absence of justice, it is going to show up every time.

    People feel like they want this kind of action against Valizadeh because he is obviously doing something wrong and our society seems powerless to do anything about it. I don't think it is really hypocritical. It's not hypocritical to think that a person who robbed you should go to jail even if you don't think you should go to jail yourself. He *is* advocating for violence against women because they are women, but apparently doing so with weasel words means you aren't doing anything wrong.

    So if he angers people to the point that one of them decides to take action, I'm not going to lament vigilanteism. I see how it is a palatable alternative to the situation we have. We don't live in an equitable society under rule of law, and the internet has made social sanctions (you can't act that way because no one will like you if you do) impossible.

    I agree that it is ineffective, though. The fact that I've heard of this guy - that he has thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?) of followers instead of two - is the problem. Those people don't go away if one of their many spokespeople do. But what *is* effective? Ultimately we have to live with the fact that hate groups are going to exist because no amount of effort can completely stamp them out. But the human condition is Sisyphean anyway, and people continuing to *try* to stamp them out is part of why groups like the KKK exist as tiny niches on the periphery of modern society.

  5. I agree that people striking back against Roosh when the law cannot intervene is reasonable, even good. However, there are types of striking back that I condone and types I do not. Telling convention centres who have booked his events that they are going to get protested at and boycotted, thus causing his events to cancel? Fantastic! Doxxing him? Not so much. So for me, it is not that people fighting back is a problem, just that there are some things you shouldn't do, because doing so normalizes them.