Saturday, February 28, 2015

It's not censorship, it's capitalism

DISCLAIMER: I am not a socialist. I do not support socialism. I am one of those odd feminist birds who actually supports capitalism. Of course I know it can be corrupted, as can any system of wealth distribution, and I know that it's not perfect and could use some help lately. I say this because whenever I mention that I'm a feminist, I immediately get labeled a socialist, which apparently means I have nothing of value to say...of course it's said by people who hate feminists and think I have nothing of value to say anyway, so I don't see the point, but there it is.

It's very interesting to me that MRAs seem to be ardent supporters of capitalism but they don't understand one very simple idea: The invisible hand of the market.

This is a favorite term amongst capitalists. One of the basic ideas under the "invisible hand" theory is, let companies go unregulated and behave as they will. Unintended social benefits and/or consequences will occur. If they behave well, society benefits and they benefit. Consumers will continue to financially support them because they see this benefit. If they behave badly, society will suffer and they will suffer. Consumers will stop financially supporting them because they see this consequence.

Short version: A company is awesome, people keep shopping there. A company does something shitty, its consumers find out, they stop shopping there, the company has to change or go out of business.

You can believe that theory or not. I'm not here to argue that. What I am here to argue is that it's a widely stated, yet wildly inappropriate, sentiment that somehow, this is censorship. Apparently, if the "invisible hand" is being used to allow businesses to discriminate against gay people it's fine, but if the "invisible hand" is being used to shut down misogynist websites, it's censorship.

Censorship might seem an odd thing to point out in the context of economics, but stick with me for a bit. I promise, this is going somewhere. The invisible hand is something that everyone needs to understand. You don't have to agree with it, but you have to at least understand it. Most specifically, it's something that feminists and MRAs need to understand.

Let's say I'm a Comcast customer. Comcast starts supporting the clubbing of baby seals. I do not support the clubbing of baby seals, so I write a letter to Comcast stating that I disapprove and if they don't change, I'll take my business elsewhere. It turns out thousands of other Comcast customers have done the same and Comcast starts losing money. Because of the damage to their business, Comcast decides to stop supporting the clubbing of baby seals. This is perfectly acceptable, right? No one would argue that we're not allowed to write these letters or withdraw our business, would they? No would argue that we're violating the first amendment, would they? No, because this is the invisible hand.

Let's say I'm a Washington Post customer with a paid subscription (and even if you don't have a paid subscription you're still a paying customer because you're barraged with ads and cookies). WaPo starts publishing misogynist articles. I do not support misogynist articles, so I write a letter to WaPo stating that I disapprove and if they don't change, I'll take my business elsewhere. It turns out thousands of other WaPo customers have done the same and WaPo starts losing money. Because of the damage to their business, WaPo decides to stop publishing misogynist articles. Suddenly, this isn't perfectly acceptable? We're not allowed to write these letters or to withdraw our business? We're violating the first amendment? Yes, because of....stuff....and....things........er something.......censorship........um.........Will Farrell?........No.....whatshisname......Warren Farrell......yeah.....men are oppressed n shit......so the invisible hand doesn't count now.

WHAT?!

I don't know, but MRAs seem to think this way and I have yet to see one coherently explain it. MRAs have a bad habit of calling this censorship when in fact, it is the invisible hand, a concept they support. Consumers used their buying power to influence companies' behavior. That's sorta like.......one of the main tenets of capitalism, right? I'm not totally misunderstanding free enterprise and buying power, am I? I got an A in economics in college, I'll have you know; and it wasn't because I was just some hugely insatiable slut who blew all my teachers. Quite the opposite.

Even if this weren't a matter of economics, it still wouldn't be a violation of free speech. Free speech doesn't mean, "I get to blabber out whatever I want and there are no consequences! Any and all consequences are censorship!" MRAs seem to have a clear understanding of this when feminists blabber out whatever we want and MRAs don't like so we must suffer the consequences of their threats to rape and kill us complaints. Somehow the concept is lost whenever MRAs blabber out whatever they want and feminists don't like it so MRAs must suffer the consequence of our complaints.

In either case, it is not censorship. It would only be censorship if you were blabbering out whatever you wanted and you got put in jail or fined or tortured or otherwise punished by the government for it. This still happens in an appallingly high number of places. All over the globe, people are IMPRISONED and TORTURED and DIE regularly because of what they say, write, and believe....yes STILL. Avoiding this was one of the main principles in the founding of our  nation. Most Americans, even the dumb ones, know this, which is why we tend to be pretty touchy about regulating speech, even hate speech!

Look, MRAs and other misguided souls, freedom of speech is a two way street as is the invisible hand. MRAs have the right to call me a fat, ugly, cunt as much as I have the right to call them basement dwelling, bed wetting fartgobblers whose mothers should have taken advantage of Roe vs. Wade when they had the chance. MRAs have the right to withdraw financial support and to write complaint letters and to call 800 numbers every bit as much as feminists do. No one SENSIBLE ever said otherwise.

Sometimes you get your way, sometimes you don't. When you don't get your way or when the other side does get their way, you don't get to cry, "CENSORSHIP!" If you have to cry, what you should be crying is, "FREE MARKET CAPITALISM!" but since you support capitalism, you can't bring yourself to it. Every company has the right to try to make money. If they're doing something that makes people not want to give them money and they choose to stop doing as a result, that's the invisible hand.

Know thy economic theory! Otherwise people like me can and will use it against you.

This is NOT the invisible hand you seek!




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