Skip to main content

Virtue signalling for fun and profit

Oh I got into an argument on Twitter.

You may have noticed, there's a lot of that sort of thing about at the moment. I'm not about to go over already well-trodden ground. We all know the bigots are slithering out of the woodwork. You don't need me to point it out to you. But one aspect of their current standard practice is causing me considerable disquiet.

It's the phrase "virtue signalling". Generally used to dismiss somone who's said something vaguely liberal, or left leaning. Y'know, like maybe we shouldn't make thousands of child refugees sit in a dismal camp, prey to traffickers. Possibly, being the world's sixth largest economy, we could maybe afford to take a few more.

You're just virtue signalling, cry the trolls from their bedroom in their mum's house. You wouldn't have them come to live with you.

Of course; because not being able to fit a refugee into my terraced house is exactly the same as a GOVERNMENT not being able to fit a refugee INTO AN ENTIRE FUCKING COUNTRY. Likewise

Now, I understand why the ranks of keyboard warriors wold object to the sanctimony of celebrities. I really do. It's very easy for a Gary Lineker or a Lily Allen or a JK Rowling to say things like hey, maybe not all Muslims are terrorists, the smug bastards. What do they know about not getting blown up by Muslims? Pfft, I was suicide bombed three times on my way to Subway. Bloody celebrities. AND they were out of that weird rubbery "chorizo". Bloody liberal elite.

So someone says something you disagree with and you cry "virtue signalling" which, as far as I can work out, translates to "you're clearly a nicer person than me, so I'm going to dismiss your argument by implying that you're a hypocrite even though I don't know you and I have no way of knowing whether or not you'd have a problem with a refugee family moving in next door. Because this means that I don't have to face up, in my scarred heart of hearts, to the self knowledge that actually I'm a nasty fucking bigot." This is the eternal problem of the dogmatic (both right and left, this could just as easily have been a post about the unwise bandying around of the word "Nazi"), a degree of hysteria which closes down the possibility of rational debate. An immediate dismissal of differing views.

Which is, I think, my big problem with it. It indicates no desire for engagement. In much the same way as one side uses "snowflake" and the other one "fascist". Now, I'm probably being too even handed here, but y'know, that's just me, I'm reasonable. The fact that I've taken pains to point out that there are inflexible arseholes on both sides of the debate shouldn't really imply equivalence, this does seem to be largely a problem of the right. But we should try to understand them, rather than condemn. How's that for virtue signalling?


Popular posts from this blog

Book #4 4321: Paul Auster

It would be reasonable to say that when you set yourself the challenge of reading a certain amount of books in a limited time frame, it would make sense to pick a number of slim volumes to give yourself something of a flying start. However, this 1000 page monster was a Christmas present, so it seemed slightly perverse to leave it sat on the shelf purely because of some daft task I've set myself (and also to be slightly missing the point of the whole exercise), so in the dog days of January I embarked on the exercise.

The premise is an intriguing one: the different paths our lives may take. It follows four versions of the same boy's life: Archie Ferguson, growing up four times in mid 20th century America. The conceit being that his immigrant grandfather had picked the wrong name when arriving off the boat. It speaks to the what ifs we ask ourselves, what if I'd stayed with her, what if I'd gone to x Uni, what if I'd taken that job offer, what if I'd actually tak…


Fancy that. Age, eh? It's almost as if it happens. I note that down the years I've only posted once or twice about birthdays. Truth to tell I've never been one to pay them much mind. So it seemed entirely fitting that I spent my fortieth birthday grafting away in my kitchen. Some vague apprehension that this one os supposed to be in some way marked led me over here to write this, but I feel faintly ludicrous doing sso. It did, however, lead to me looking up one of said few occasions when I posted about a birthday on here, my 29th, where I note about being proud of my students work that day. not sure what that proves, if anything. G'night.

Somewhere to come from

Gool Peran Lowen, chaps. That is to say, happy St Piran's Day. The day when the Cornish diaspora gets a bit of a lump in the throat for the old country, and dreams longingly of sheltered coves, forbidding moors and frankly ludicrous hills; as well as precise rules about what goes first on a scone, an interest in rugby that borders on the unhealthy and a good old dose of casual racism (okay, not quite as nostalgic about the last bit).

I have lived in Ormskirk, Lancashire, for over twenty years now. I lived in Cornwall for about seven. But when asked where I'm from (which happens quite a lot, a southern accent, amazingly, still being something of a source of wonder in these parts, even if I do find myself saying "lad" at the end of sentences), the answer is immediate. Cornwall. Followed immediately by the question, what are you doing up here, then?

Well, I'm not about to go into the reasons behind that (largely because they would require a degree of navel-gazing wh…