Quinn Norton Implodes – In The Interest Of Clarity
After the recent confusion caused by a statement heard on BBC Newsnight that “Men are raised to hate women” I decided to ask the journalist responsible for an explanation.
The outcome was unexpected and inspired me to pen this blog post, which in turn led to in my view, unfairly, hours of bizarre accusations from a tiny number of individuals
Although the overwhelming majority of (I realise this is not indicative of being right) people seemed to agree that clarification was necessary, and the initial statement was too much of a generalisation to be helpful to say the least, the very small number who did take issue with me seemed to fall in to two camps.
Some argued that the statement was perfectly reasonable and not deserving of question. And that it was actually my lack of understanding that was the real problem, or the manner in which I questioned.
Others seemingly fell afoul of a catastrophic inability to differentiate between the following two statements, (one genuine, one imagined):
“What exactly do you mean by that? Please explain”
“Sexism and misogyny are not genuine problems in society”.
I could not attempt a defence of the second statement, even if I were stupid enough to actually believe it, or want to.
Obviously there are a lot of good people who feel incredibly passionate about sexism and misogyny for incredibly valid reasons (captain obvious) and may have felt I was somehow denying the importance or existence of these issues. As explainable as this perception may be on some level, it is not even remotely accurate to anything I have said, implied or argued.
An objective reading of the contentions raised in my blog could not lead any rational member of the human race to conclude that this was an attack on women’s rights, or a dismissal of them.
A lot of time was wasted and a lot of noise made either trying to convince me of the existence of misogyny, disagreeing with arguments I hadn’t even made or pushing an agenda to expose my apparent sexist motivation, for simply daring to politely question a ‘journalist’, who just so happened to be a woman.
Even more exacerbating was the baffling wilful ignorance to assert that the statement was perfectly self-contained, the meaning obvious, without any need for clarification, context or further expansion.
If we can’t see eye to eye on this simple and obvious problem of language and generalisation, I simply do not know what you are talking about.
I would recommend swapping out the word “men” from the sentence “men are raised to hate women” with any other group defined by their nature, such as an ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability. Or perhaps go with “Women are raised to hate children”. I’m not going to clarify what exactly I mean by this, I’m just going to assume you can fill in the relevant blanks yourself. If you can’t, it’s obviously a failure of understanding on your part.
If you were to hear the above statements expressed on a global news network. Ask yourself, would you at the very least raise an eyebrow , and ask for clarity, or agree that expanding on this statement would be useful?
If the answer is yes for my comparisons, but not for men, then you do not hold men to the same standards of fairness that you hold for anyone else. This is prejudice. You may rightly point out the significant variations in prejudices in society in terms of frequency and volume, and you would be right in pointing out that women historically, and currently suffer significantly more inequality than men .
This is still a non sequitur. Prejudice is still prejudice, regardless of its historicity, frequency or current societal impact.
You may bang on about using ‘men hate women’ as shorthand and personal experiences whilst attacking my character all you like, but all you are doing is conceding you are being irresponsible with language whilst using subjective experience to make unfounded broad generalisations.
Perhaps you actually do believe “Men (all or most) are raised to hate women”. If so, fine. Please present your evidence and then we can have an adult conversation. Unless, of course you feel this polite request is battering you into submission. Please see this incredible summary in the comments of this blog piece:
I wonder which comment of mine on this issue made someone so angry, they unfollowed. haha I’d be genuinely interested to know.
And no, this isn’t an attempt to paint men as the victims here either. I’m interested in clarity. Have I mentioned that?
I would not even consider evidence of “men (all or most) being raised to hate women” as “proving me wrong”, I’d consider myself “educated”. My intentions are understanding and clarity, not disagreement. In other words, I’m willing to be convinced. I fully understand that just because I may not wish for something to be true, it does not mean it cannot be true.
My initial and only concerns were and are:
- Irresponsible generalisations made by a journalist on the BBC, a global news network.
- A so-called expert on internet trolling labelling someone a troll simply for politely asking them a question or two.
And then later
- The subsequent questionable attitude and responses of said person and others.
To hi-jack my quite clearly defined and honest concerns with wider and more complex issues is severely unhelpful, unfair and misplaced.
I’ve not even put forward my opinion on her statement to even be considered opposing it, for the simple reason I do not have a full outline of her view with which to do so, were I actually to find it disagreeable. I did ask though. Politely.
I’ve since been told she had clarified “some men” 5 days or so before I tweeted her. And I’ve since noticed she’s done the same to others after my blog post.
It’s been hard to keep in the loop of what is being tweeted due to the bizarre behaviour of blocking me, then unblocking me, then blocking me again. This has also prevented me from re-tweeting any of her relevant statements in the interest of balance, as I’ve noted here.
Even “some” requires context and clarification. Which men? Where? Why? She says “in the context of men who harass women” but starts the statement with “the social problem is…”. Online society then? Or just the harassing enthusiasts society? Are only men responsible for trolling, harassment and online abuse then? Words. Mean. Things. Some clarity from the expert would be appreciated.
It’s also telling that those among her own camp who decided to take me to task on the issue actually assumed she meant ‘”most”, and was happy to argue that to me on her behalf.
Obviously I’m not holding her responsible for the views of her followers (she does not return the courtesy), I’m simply pointing out the disconnect her unclarified generalisations have caused even amongst those who actually subscribe to her views (or non-views, as I’m no clearer to what they actually are).
At this point I realise how dull this whole episode has become, but should unfair accusations of sexism or an anti-feminist agenda rear their ugly head in the future based on this silliness, I’d very much like a record of the nonsense from which they arose.
Please note that all the thoughtful comments and objective input have not gone unnoticed, and this experience in no way changes my views on the importance of feminism.
So here goes, swiftly followed by a firm washing (perhaps scrubbing) of my hands of the entire affair. I’ve got spelling to correct.
Quinn appeared to reiterate her accusation of Trolling again, the next day, but plucked a dash of anti-feminism out of the air this time too. The persecution complex is sowing its seed.
A very odd comment to make to a stranger, and also very personal. ‘Useless meaningless things’ is an odd way to describe criticism, or calls for clarity. I respond, but stay on topic. I’m not interested in personal jibes.
I then had the misfortune to be introduced to one of her followers,
The disagreement starts reasonably at first, but it becomes clear this is nothing but an agenda to draw me on misogyny, then paint me as a misogynist. When I stay on topic, and refuse to be drawn, they get desperately impatient and play their hand anyway. this ranks as one of the most intellectually dishonest exchanges I’ve had on Twitter. Those that are familiar with my exchanges will understand the gravitas of that claim.
I disagree. From then on, despite several reiterations, it’s clear they simply want to debate misogyny, rather than any of the points raised in my initial blog. The agenda behind this becomes clear eventually.
This. Went. On. For. Hours. With my relentless intent to stay on topic, they then begin a new tactic to paint me in their desired shade. Guilt by association. I was now to be held accountable for the questionable statements of others.
This refers to a statement made, which I still have not seen, to a female member of Twitter who was arguing for the statement made by Quinn. I did a search for it to include in this blog, but I couldn’t find it. If anyone else can, I’ll include it. I’ve no doubt it happened though, it’s either been deleted, or my search for “gspellchecker” + “cock” is bringing up fewer results than I’d anticipated.
As you can see, I’ve clearly stated I did not see it. I often get when debating, up to 50 messages every few minutes. I skim passed some, read others. There’s no real system involved to this. This may seem like an exercise in excuse making, so let me be clear. I like clarity.
Even if I did see the comment “you’re not getting enough cock” I probably would have ignored it anyway. It’s crude, childish and I’m not interested. I cannot police every tweet sent to me, nor have the desire to wag a finger at every childish comment made. I’m interested in adult discussion.
And regardless, as “offensive” as it might be perceived, you do not have the right to go through your life protected from offence. But luckily as an adult, you have options. Block. Ignore. Right to respond.
Incidentally, I received this today. Probably a troll.
What did I do? Ignore it. Why? Because it’s childish and I’m an adult. Is it reasonable to hound the other two named in the message and accuse them of condoning? I think not.
Holding me accountable for such puerile behaviour, which I confirmed I did not even see is desperate straw man production designed to compensate for lack of argument. Perhaps @Conniptions would be interested to see I reported a person to the police for misogynistic behaviour recently. Perhaps that doesn’t fit their agenda.
Why did I take an interest in this one? Because it was a threat of murder, and therefore against the law. I assume I am exonerated from being a misogynist now. If puerile name calling on a social network is your chief concern, perhaps have a word with yourself regarding your description of me.
Despite my clarification that I did not see the comment, the relentless agenda to convict me by association continued.
And even a day later they are still telling people I was arguing something I wasn’t, and how I’m responsible for someone elses statement.
It falls to another level of desperation when I’m then painted a misogynist for someone else’s Star Wars related bio joke.
You can look it up yourself if you want, and weigh in with your opinion on the severity of the ‘rape joke’. Again, I’m not responsible for every off-colour or ‘offensive’ remark made on Twitter. I can only try to set an example by not behaving that way myself, and refusing to acknowledge or retweet behaviour of this kind.
When their guilt by association tactics to paint me as a woman hating “knob” don’t succeed, they play their hand and go full tilt babble. This is simply extraordinary to witness.
So now my polite questioning is an “attack” and its intent clearly designed to undermine women. Ahem. *Her. It seems @Conniptions is arguing my intentions are sexist based solely on no other information than the person being questioned is a woman.
I think this exchange speaks for itself.
So, as we can see, without so much as expressing any view on women, I’m now a misogynist for asking a polite question to a journalist, who just so happens to be female, and for being caught in the crossfire of a few childish tweets,
A quick glance of their timeline will reveal a fixation on the issue of sexism. And if silence is condoning, perhaps I should draw your attention to this, about their own failures (read from the bottom up).:
Oh dear oh dear. So, at worst you are condoning sexism yourself, or at best you are simply a hypocrite, especially since you actually did witness the incident. Or perhaps, it’s just incredibly unreasonable of me to hold you accountable for every little thing some other plant pot says.
What’s the point of documenting all this you may ask? Because I care. These are accusations I cannot take lightly. To Quote Hitch: “Up with this, I will not put”.
It gets worse. Despite this conversation moving back and forth without mentioning Quinn Norton by name, she decides to tweet me. What follows is bizarre behaviour. I think she may be broken. I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed such a misjudged and petulant display from a media ‘professional’ since this. Before I proceed, I’d like to share a quote from Quinn Norton, online troll expert, from the very Newsnight piece in question.
On trolls, of which I was so ungraciously labelled:
The best thing to do is to let them have their account, and to block that account so that you don’t see it.
This is superb advice, advice I advocate myself, and would expect to be given from an expert. It’s rather puzzling then that she does not seem to heed it.
I don’t recall anywhere in the piece, words to the effect of:
The best thing to do is accuse them of trolling when asking polite inconvenient questions, in a way to ensure all your followers see it (I have 11k), then insult them personally. Then block them. Then, unblock them to unleash more erratic messages, regardless of the fact they haven’t tweeted you since. then block them again.
I suppose the right thing to do is easier in theory than practice, expert or not.
Ladies and gentleman, Quinn Norton, Journalist, Expert, Erratic Behaviour Enthusiast, Career saboteur
There’s nothing in her jibe to really grapple with as far as the issues are concerned, so I light-heartedly make fun of her initial unclarified statement, which led us here to begin with.
A request is then made to “Just leave me alone”. I had been doing as much, but unfortunately one of her followers was committed to painting me as a woman-hater. Whilst defending myself, without mentioning her, she decided to engage regardless.
This is the one that had me scratching my head the most. This is a bizarre appeal to emotion. Notice the “.” at the start of the statement. This ensures the statement is seen by all 11k of her followers, and not just those involved in the conversation.
What an incredibly dishonest misrepresentation to make of our conversation. I have no desire for Quinn to remain silent (well, not at least I didn’t initially). I was actually actively encouraging more words from her, in the form of clarifying her irresponsible statement, which she does not appear to be helping with this subsequent childish attitude.
As a result of this appeal to emotion technique to her followers, I received the following messages.
It’s telling that any rational voices were seemingly absent, and the only ones that responded to her call for back-up were these abusive clowns. Perhaps the more rational among her following were too embarrassed to get involved:
It’s interesting to note no response to the following questions:
I’m not a gambling man, but knowing what I know about the thoughtfulness of the people I’m lucky enough to have following me, I’d wager Quinn’s mentions from people ‘following’ me are of a slightly higher standard, for the most part. Despite all this, not one cry of “trolling” or “abuse” or “bullying” from me. Why? Again. This is childish and I’m an adult.
We continue with the childish attitude parade:
So, asking a ‘public figure’ to clarify their statements, writing a blog about it, is now compared to devious, and illegal activities such as ‘stalking’. The desperate need to paint me as something I’m not is fascinating at this point.
So many tweets start coming at me now in quick succession, that my android phone (hootsuite) app can’t handle them enough to display them in my mentions. I have to go to her timeline to read the missing parts of the puzzle.
A bizarre demand is then made. Apparently everything I’ve done, asked and said boils down to my intent to attack public women, and if i don’t stop responding to Quinn, or exercising my right to free speech immediately (polite and civil I might add) I am confirming my guilt. I heard similar logic in a playground once. It went along the lines of “The next one to speak is a gay”. I think we can all see the issues with that brand of reasoning.
I then suggest she follow her own advice. This is now caricatured as showing my fangs and true colours. if someone can demonstrate a way of remaining more civil, and on point in the face of such petulance and inflammatory accusations I will consider them my new best friend.
I make my dismay at the comment known.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s nothing to do with your gender, but your irresponsible comments, lack of professionalism and an attitude, which stinks.
I now intend to draw a line under this. I believe my blog/tweets speak for themselves. I no longer feel the need to respond to what other people choose to misunderstand. It’s now for the internet to sort out.
In closing, could my understanding on issues relating to women’s rights benefit from some expansion? Undoubtedly. Is that likely to happen whilst genuine inquisitiveness is cut down with accusations of trolling and sexism? Doubtful.