Don’t Let the Bad Overshadow the Good
As “a person of color”, I’ve often been subject to, or witnessed, racial slurs and taunting, particularly in my younger days. When I was in junior high and high school, these experiences had a real impact on me, making me feel powerless and alone. But by the time I got to college, though I still didn’t like them, I had the attitude: “I’m glad I found this out about the character of the people making these slurs, even if they’re not directed against me”. By that time I realized that no matter what other shared interests I might have with such people (science, sports, humor, etc.); and whatever other intellectual skill or talent they might have, they were deeply flawed and thus of no possible value to me.
Given that it takes years to really get to know someone, I came to consider a person revealing his racism early on as a good thing, for in so doing they saved me enormous time and energy. Indeed I came to the point where I wished that any racist were openly so, because those who hid their true views, not only ended up ultimately having the same noxious effect on me, they doubled it by wasting my time in the interim (and the hurt was worse).
I have the same attitude towards recent events* in the Objectivist community. I’m exceedingly glad that — no matter how “intelligent” they might otherwise be — scum like Rory Hodgson, Dan Edge, Shea Levy, etc. have “outed” themselves with their public spewings, making all too clear their essential characters. I benefit by now being able to shun them; no longer sanctioning their contemptible behavior, nor wasting any further time, energy or other resources on them. And if my reaction is typical, then it’s a good thing that they delivered their vilifications and calumnies early in their involvement in the Objectivist community. Getting rid of them now is analogous to performing a clean, but painful cauterization of a wound, rather than harboring a festering infection which could cause real damage. (Of course, given the particular level of venom displayed by those listed, it was probably inevitable that they’d reveal their true selves sooner rather than later.)
Unfortunately however — because they’re such loud and obnoxious bullies — these few disgusting individuals can give the unfair impression of representing their entire peer group. That’s simply not the case. For example, I’ve been privileged to see the workings of the Undercurrent’s editorial list, whose staff is also comprised of young Objectivists. Everyday I’m struck by how judiciously and rigorously they strive to operate. Ideas and arguments are subject to extremely careful deliberation, scrutiny and multiple editing sessions before they’re made public. Indeed, many posts and articles — despite having significant effort already put into them — are squashed because they’re deemed inadequate for whatever reason (not graspable by an average audience, attacking a strawman, etc.). This of course isn’t to say that the Undercurrent’s product is perfect, but to me it’s extremely inspiring to see the staff consciously engage in the very exacting process necessary to achieve objectivity. And I’m sure there are many other young people out there quietly doing the same — it’s just that I happen to see the Undercurrent’s process daily. (To avoid any confusion, all opinions in this post are mine alone; my using the Undercurrent as an example should not be construed as their endorsement or even knowledge of my personal position on this matter.)
It’s a fact of life that building a reputation takes a long time, but ruining one takes only an instant (just as being honest is a life-long task, while being a liar means only telling one or two lies). The vociferous scumbags are the minority, but because of their pathological need for attention and their bullying tactics, they often get the spotlight. Don’t let them eclipse the many better people in the Objectivist movement who are taking all the slow but necessary steps towards honor and integrity. In the end it is they, not the dregs, who will determine the course of our culture.
* If you’re a normal person (i.e. a person with a life), lucky enough to be unaware of what I’m referring to here, I emphatically urge you NOT to spend a second of your precious time to investigate or research it. There’s absolutely no value to be gained. Unfortunately, I’ve spent a few weekends wading through the muck just to get a sense of what’s been going on. The latter fact explains this post, the former why I won’t be commenting further.