If you’ve followed the weekend’s Twitterstorm that ended in Julie Birchill’s astonishingly offensive piece in The Observer on Sunday, this blog post by The Guardian’s Dorian Lynskey is a must-read. He says everything I wanted to say, only puts it far better than I could have done.
The debate – and I use the term loosely – has been dominated by a few dozen scolds and shit-stirrers who spend a disproportionate amount of their time “calling out” left-wing newspaper columnists for minor transgressions, drawing ever-decreasing circles of puritanical rigour, answering any dissent with a stock phrase (“Check your privilege!”, “Intent isn’t magic!”, “Google tone argument!”) and framing their tussles, via rampant use of .@ and RT, as a kind of self-aggrandising theatre. I’m often reminded of 60s activist Tom Hayden’s opinion of the more militant Mark Rudd: “sarcastic and smugly dogmatic” with “an embyro of fanaticism”.
It’s no wonder that most people, even those sympathetic to the causes involved, find this constant screech of outrage alienating — the fanatics could hardly be less destructive if they were double agents trained by Richard Littlejohn.
Although this incident erupted in the left-of-centre UK media, it’s exactly the same sort of thing that’s been poisoning the Gaming space on Twitter and Google+ of late, particularly the abusive use of “.@” and retweeting on Twitter. And you can certainly count me as one of those alienated by that constant screech of outrage.