An “unbalanced response”

You know it’s a bad fucking day when I have to agree, in part, with fucking WhaleOil.

Point the Zero: I’m actually not going to rehash his situation here, because then I’d feel hypocritical for slagging off Eddie at The Standard for Point One.*

That being said, Point the First:  It’s a bit fucking rich playing the “we kept quiet about this because we are Such Noble Creatures” card as a prelude to:

but seeing as the Sunday Star-Times felt differently, a few comments.

It’s a lovely tactic of some of our Parliamentarians to try a variation on this spin, the “well I might call the member a liar, if it weren’t against Standing Orders” line.  It’s childish bullshit and, in Eddie’s case, serves as a handy warning that things are going to go rapidly downhill.

Protip:  if it weren’t okay to comment on it before, it ain’t okay now that one of the trashiest newsrags in NZ has decided it’s a good time to rake through their Most Unflattering Photos file.

Point the Second:  Pretending you’re not actually playing on stereotypes of mental illness when your entire post is about judging someone based on their mental illness is a really shitty thing to do.

People who are afflicted by mental illness are not necessarily ‘nuts’ or ‘crazy’ but I think that when we look at Cameron’s blog it is clearly not the product of a healthy mind – to those for whom that wasn’t clear beforehand, it certainly is now.

See, Eddie is a really enlightened guy because he put scare-quotes around “nuts” and “crazy”, because it’s wrong to make generalizations about people with mental illness, but hey guys, let’s not forget how fucked in the head Slater is!  Isn’t he totally batshit?  Fuck, no surprises he turned out to be headed for the loony bin, amirite?

Point the Third, as made in a comment at The Standard post:  Some people are just dicks.  Some people have a mental illness.  Some people who are dicks also have a mental illness, and you know what?  It’s really fucking bigoted to presume that the mental illness is the cause of their dickishness.

It casts Cameron’s vitriol, his unjustified and unquenchable anger in a new light when we understand that he is not in a healthy state of mind.

I thought WhaleOil was a blog I could not be paid to read before I knew Slater had a mental illness. I still think it’s a blog I could not be paid to read.  Shockingly, nothing has actually changed between then and now – but that’s probably because this quote is really an opening for some old-fashioned concern trolling.

Point the Fourth:  Yes, Eddie, you are a fucking concern troll.

Commenter RedLogix provides a handy link in an attempt to refute this.  Ah, urbandictionary, a website designed to confuse the shit out of historians from the 51st century.  And sure, Eddie’s post doesn’t exactly fit any of the [current] three definitions given, but let’s take some excerpts from those three:

The intent is to derail, stifle, control, the dialogue

A person who … expresses concern for policies, comments, attitudes of others on the site. It is viewed as insincere, manipulative, condescending.

Then let’s add in Factcheckme’s Concern Troll Bingo, drawing particular attention to:

This much anger isn’t healthy.  Have you considered therapy?

and

You’re just not thinking RATIONALLY.

And compare it all against this quote from Eddie:

It casts Cameron’s vitriol, his unjustified and unquenchable anger in a new light when we understand that he is not in a healthy state of mind. His ceaseless attacks on gays, ‘bludgers’, ‘pinkos’ etc, which so many in the Right held up as teachings to follow were, in fact, Cameron’s way of battling his own inner demons.

[Or, to jump back a few points, maybe he's a guy with inner demons who is also a conservative, reactionary, bigoted fucktard.]

Sorry, RedLogix, but Eddie’s entire post from here devolves into textbook concern trolling, with a little dig at the media.  We just need to understand that Slater is a sick person, he’s not in control, and sure he can run his little blog but he [and all his multitudinous fanboys, don't forget!] need to realise that he doesn’t mean to be a conservative, reactionary, bigoted fucktard, it’s the illness.

Please, someone tell me how this isn’t a political blogosphere variation on Autism Will Steal Your Real Children And Replace Them With Changelings rhetoric?  How Eddie isn’t metaphorically patting Slater on the head, telling him “Oh, it’s okay, widdle man, we understands dat it iz just your illness, you are weally a good boy!” – while simultaneously looking smugly around the room and declaring “See, everyone?  He’s only a Nationalite because he’s fucked in the head!  Look how little weight you can give a person’s opinion when you can slap a Mentally Ill sign on their back!  Now surely the tide will turn and the polls will change and a Labour-led coalition can just romp home in 2011!”

This isn’t manipulative?  This isn’t condescending?  This isn’t diminishing a person’s opinion because he’s angry or irrational?  This isn’t controlling the dialogue by making it all about How Cameron Slater Is Crazy, Therefore Wrong?

Point the Fifth:  Mmm, delicious strawmen, so tasty with Thousand Island “Nobody Actually Said That” dressing.

It begins in the comments:

Mental illness is no excuse for spouting bile.

Commenter Bill admittedly continues, “Neither is it a reason for dismissing what an individual has to say.”  But … mental illness is no excuse?  It’s really funny, Bill, because I haven’t seen Slater make excuses for himself in relation to his blogging.  In his response post, “Being Hugged by the Left”, there’s not a single fucking hint of “leave me alone, I’m mentally ill, that’s why I write bad things”.

Why, it’s almost like someone thought “Cameron Slater has a mental illness”, and reached into their handy bag of Mentally Ill Stereotypes, pulled out “people with mental illnesses are just whingers who can’t handle the real world and use their illness as an excuse to be slackers”, and just went from there!

It continues:

No excuse for the stuff that guys spews out or anyone else who uses mental illness as a reason to be so personally rude against some.

Sorry, torydog, could you, um, actually point me to where anyone was making excuses – except for Eddie, in his not-actually-concern-trolling-at-all,-no-sirree post?

Even Scott from Imperator Fish gets in on the trend:

But that won’t excuse the vitriol expressed on his blog towards “bludgers” and “troughers” (to use his words), and his generally abusive manner.

And follows up with an entire post on the topic, also taking the opportunity to point out, in response to Slater’s rebuttal, that OH HEY SOME REALLY BAD PEOPLE HAD MENTAL ILLNESS TOO.  In the interests of balance, obviously.

Point the Fifth:  Episode Two:  Attack of the Hypocrisy, Return of the Smug Bigotry

IrishBill brings in some concern-trolling reserves, stating:

I believe Cameron is ill and I actually feel slightly sorry for him. I don’t believe his blogging/political activities will be doing him any good.

As a warning I will be monitoring this thread and moderating any personal attacks regarding Cameron’s illness.

lprent agrees, but apparently the magical formula for moderation is something really blatant, like “Cameron Slater is bugfuck crazy and should be sterilised for the sake of human evolution”, because apparently there’s no problem with

Having the opportunity to magnify the negative aspects of his personality in the way he does while he blogs can’t be healthy

or

At the risk of being banned, I didn’t need the SST story to tell me that Slater had mental issues.

And there’s certainly nothing wrong with some good ol’ general mental-illness bigotry:

I feel those around him who are his friends and associates also need to take some responsibility for encouraging how he writes and how he expresses himself in the public domain.

After all, it’s so clear he needs help because his blog is obviously the product of a sick mind.

People have noted that he is never depressed when attending bloggers drinks parties.

Because if you can, at any time, maintain a facade of normalcy, or if you ever, at any time, try to engage “normally” with other human beings, well, you can’t be that ill because you don’t look sick.

I actually feel a little bad now for chastising him for being so vitriolic and hating, but at the same time it’s upsetting that so many take him so seriously.

People with mental illness should never be taken seriously, kids.

What he says he believes and writes does not match with the world he actually lives in.

Because all mental illness erases a person’s ability to see the world “rationally”.  It couldn’t be that Slater is a rabid right-winger with no concepts of his own race/gender/class/wealth privileges.  Fuck, if “your view of the world is very different to my perception of it” is grounds for a diagnosis of mental illness, then every individual on Earth must be qualified to diagnose at least 50% of the world’s population as mentally ill.

Point the Sixth:  Generic Internet Arguments Get You Nowhere

There’s the “Teacher Teacher He Hit Me First” argument:

“but I would really like to see him just being left alone by all.”

Fair enough, but I can’t see him returning the favour anytime soon.

Ah, yes, because if someone with a blog like fucking WhaleOil does something, it must be okay.

And the fucking tone argument:

No one said it was a “right-wing thing” Stan, calm down.

Except that Stan was kind of quoting Eddie directly:

It’s interesting that several other prominent right-wing bloggers

If Eddie’s not drawing a line between mental illness and right-wing bloggers, r0b, then he wouldn’t fucking say it was “interesting and continue with an argument about how obviously the rabid right are all nutters using blogging as therapy, and therefore aren’t people to be taken seriously.

Fuck, it’s the fucking Act Party’s “we only said SOME DPB recipients are welfare queen whores” spin all fucking over again.

Point the Seventh: Let’s try to defuse things by jokingly linking mental illness and “crazy” Internet behaviour!

I have a few suspicions on the ‘left’ side.

FUCK YOU, LPRENT.  And DOUBLE FUCK YOU, IRISHBILL, for going on to explicitly name a blogger who ZOMG, HE’S SUCH A NUTTER ON THE NET WE ARE TOTES JUSTIFIED IN COMMENTING ON AND MAKING ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT HIS MENTAL STATE.

It’s kind of funny, really, how the moderators state “no personal attacks on Slater” but it’s open fucking season to make gigantic, generalized personal attacks on people with mental illness in general.  It’s absolutely peachy to make assumptions about people’s blogs and what they say about those people’s brain chemistry.  There’s no fucking problem implying that people with mental illness shouldn’t get paid any attention, or shouldn’t be listened to, or that all their arguments are to be taken with a grain of salt because hey, THEY’RE CRAZY PEOPLE!

Point the Last:  Some kudos to the people actually fighting the narrative over there:

marty mars

Lew

maria von trapp

Thanks, people.  And remember,

mental illness isn’t a laughing matter

it’s just a really good excuse to diminish people’s intellects without having to actually challenge their ideas.

PS: The first commenter to imply that I’m “taking this personally” and “getting worked up over nothing” because I’m either PMSing or have a mental illness will get a gold star for efforts in predictability.

 

Edited to add 19:46: Just so as to establish this as something of a pattern of neurotypical ableism on the part of writers and commenters at The Standard, let’s not forget that referring to something erratic and unpredictable as “schizophrenic” is totally okay because The Herald do it.

*The act of linking to the thread in question is a tricky one, because of course it’s basically a big flashing arrow screaming BUT YOU CAN FIND IT ALL HERE – but at the same time, context is always a good thing.

9 comments

  1. RedLogix

    When you first meet my younger brother you might well consider him a rather rude and socially inept person. He’s likely to ignore you, misunderstand what he does respond to, and has absolutely no sense of humour about some things, and looses his temper over small slights and inconveniences. Worse still he’s likely to just get up, and walk right into you on his way out of the room.

    It can be quite unsettling and bizzare.

    However if I was to let you know that he has limited hearing and eyesight, you’d suddenly re-evaluate his behaviour, and your response to it, in light of this information.

    As for Slater, where does repsonsibility for his actions stop, and where does his illness start? I don’t know; but like it or not, it’s a reality about him that I want to take account of.

    Or where we all to just go on pretending that mental illnesses don’t exist and are never mentioned in polite company?

    • QoT

      Yes, RL, that’s exactly what I was saying, that we should just pretend that mental illness doesn’t exist.

      Oh wait, except that I wasn’t, and I frankly doubt that you genuinely read that in my post.

      Nobody on Eddie’s post was talking about “taking account of” Slater’s illness. Almost every expression of “sympathy” was an excuse to say “but he’s still a dick” or to downplay that someone *can* actually be a rightwinger, be a bigot, be a troll without it being due to mental illness, and nobody actually bothered to temper their statements with, “but just because a person has a mental illness, we shouldn’t feel free to utterly write off everything they do.”

  2. RedLogix

    It seems like you and I read two totally different threads. Most people took a line something like, “ok so he’s ill, but he’s still at some level responsible for his actions”, while generally trying to be respectful of the fact that mental illnesses, especially a very common one such as depression, can strike at anyone, anytime.

    I guess that is the underlying difficulty here; with a physical illness you can more readily separate the choices of the person is repsonsible for and the unavoidable effects of their illness. But with mental problems it’s so much more difficult to determine who is doing the talking at any given moment.

    I could point to our legal system, that accepts mental illness, if sufficiently severe, in mitigation or total lack of culpability for the most dire of criminal acts… yet the public often has difficulty accepting an acquital on these grounds. Yet if I’m reading your position correctly, you wouldn’t allow for mental illness as exoneration for any act?

    It’s a tough topic, and it’s inevitable that people will have strong and differing views on, but how useful is to to label it all ‘concern trolling’? I could point to the fifth urban dictionary definition… a meaningless phrase.

    • QoT

      Seriously, RL? The only reason there is to say “he’s still responsible for his actions” would be if HE had ever said, “I write angry blog posts because I’m mentally ill, you can’t criticise me.”

      The FIRST person to say “we need to remember he’s mentally ill” was Eddie, who promptly followed it up with “besides, anyone could already tell he was nuts!” and thus a big circlejerk of ableism and superiority complexes began.

      This actually has nothing to do with the extent of culpability of mentally ill people, and I would appreciate it if you would stop derailing my post on this basis.

  3. RedLogix

    I am correct in suggesting that this para encapsulates what you are saying?

    it’s just a really good excuse to diminish people’s intellects without having to actually challenge their ideas.

    I think Bill pretty much said the same thing:

    Mental illness is no excuse for spouting bile. Neither is it a reason for dismissing what an individual has to say.

    Which seems to cover the bases, but still leaves me wondering exactly where and how to draw the lines. I lived with a partner who has a severe personality disorder for 17 years, and after all these years there are still many things I cannot understand or resolve. The truth became an entirely volatile, whimsical thing… and much of it now lost to all of us. Living with an ‘unhealthy mind’ is no fun, for close family least of all.

    I should let Eddie defend himself, but I think you misrepresent him, I’ve re-read the thread quickly and nowhere can I see him saying, “besides, anyone could already tell he was nuts!”.

    What he does say is, “I think that when we look at Cameron’s blog it is clearly not the product of a healthy mind “… and I agree with Eddie; yet it’s still not the same thing as running the guy down as ‘nuts’.

    • QoT

      RL, if “obviously the product of an unhealthy mind”, “to those for whom it wasn’t clear beforehand” and “we should see [his blogging and others'] for what it is” and “obviously unwell” doesn’t read as “I feel happy writing off all of Slater’s work as irrelevant because he’s nuts” then we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

      The fact you refer to a person with mental illness’ perceptions as whimsical speaks fucking volumes, though.

  4. George Darroch

    Thanks for this QoT. You say what I wanted to say eloquently and thoroughly about this hypocritical piece of concern-trolling against those who suffer mental illness.

  5. Lynn Prentice

    You should have seen the comments that Irish and I simply killed.

    However we pretty much let through comments that were in the normal range of what we’d allow. Keeping an closer than normal eye on that thread was a bit of a pain. I was in the middle of debugging some painful code.

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