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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?


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