Musings on Special Snowflakes

I’m a skeptic, humanist, atheist, secularist and feminist who is part of the LGBT community. I’m telling you this so that you can see that people have reason to disagree with my opinions on a regular basis. It happens and I welcome it. We all have our opinions and we’re allowed to voice them and to disagree with one another. Sometimes we might *gasp* change our minds.

Yet, in the last year or so I’ve found myself being labelled as a “social justice warrior” by those I debate with online. So often have I seen people respond to my points by typing #SJW, #SafeSpace, #Triggered, or #SpecialSnowflake.

It happens so regularly that I’ve invented a sort of law; the quicker someone is to label you as such, the more racist they are. Just need a name for it.

It’s an assumption on their part that because I am a young woman (though it happens to male friends too) with lefty ideas I am part of the regressive left movement that seems to relish is closing down speech that they do not agree with. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Someone once pointed out that I had short hair and “look gay” as evidence that I was a so-called Social Justice Warrior which, I must say, was such a charming and convincing argument.

I almost lost a job once for publicly criticising faith healers and I have seen friends and people I admire no-platformed and mobbed with hate because their opinions are considered inappropriate. A male friend of mine was once the subject of a hate campaign because he shared a Jesus and Mo cartoon. I’ve previously blogged my opinions on free speech and attacks against it and how easy it is to think you’re being rational when you’re not. Here are some examples:

Hate Speech: Atheist Students
Jesus and Mo Walk Into A Freshers Fair…
The Shirt That Matt Wore
Banning Books: You Are Your Child’s Enemy

It is so frustrating, then, that people so easily presume I am like this just because I don’t agree with their ideas that take root in right-wing ideology. Dismissing people as SJWs or “special snowflakes” because they don’t agree with you is such a presumption. It appears to be a tactic used to dismiss the need to address any claims or points I am making and it’s as dismissive and as counter-productive to rational discourse as no-platforming speakers because of a so-called safe space policy.

I understand that trigger warnings are useful in some instances but it is my opinion that the idea of “being triggered” is over-used in some areas of society by people who don’t want their ideas to be challenged. Whether that’s ghost hunters who don’t like skeptics, theists who don’t like atheists or feminists who don’t like a certain type of other feminist.

But whether such people are wrong with their tactics (which I think they are) doesn’t really justify this new-ish way of dismissing an opponent. #sjw is the new way to justify not answering points raised against you when your argument is weak. A new method of avoiding the burden of proof.

Naturally, this begs the question – who is really the special snowflake, hmm?


 

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Hayley Stevens

Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

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