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This weekend the top twitter meme in the solar system, at least for a few hours, involved Feminist blogs calling me an ignorant, misogynist asshole. Meanwhile, over on the Men's Rights blogs, I'm being called a wussy, asshole, douche bag.

There is still some debate on those sites as to whether Dilbert has never been funny or it used to be funny and now it isn't. I hope someone gets all of this sorted out before I write an autobiography. These are exactly the kind of facts I need to include.

Regular readers of this blog already know what the commotion is about. I posted, and later removed, a piece that mocked the Men's Rights Movement.

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I was enjoying all of the negative attention on Twitter and wondered how I could keep it going. So I left some comments on several Feminist blogs, mostly questioning the reading comprehension of people who believed I had insulted them. That kept things frothy for about a day. Now things are starting to settle down. It's time for some DMD.

First, some background. A few weeks ago I asked readers of this blog to suggest a topic they would like to see me write about. The topic that got the most up votes, by a landslide, was something called Men's Rights. Obviously the fix was in. Activists had mobilized their minions to trick me into giving their cause some free publicity. In retrospect, the Men's Rights activists probably should have done some homework on me before hatching this scheme.

I'll reprint the original offending post at the end of this post. This would be a good time to skip down and read it before we continue. I'll wait.

Waiting....waiting...waiting...

Okay, you're back. As you can see, I thought it would be funny to embrace the Men's Rights viewpoint in the beginning of the piece and get those guys all lathered up before dismissing their entire membership as a "bunch of pussies." To be fair, they have some gripes worthy of discussion, especially on legal issues. But I'm been experiencing a wicked case of "whiner fatigue." It feels as if everyone in the world is whining about one damn thing or another.  In normal times, I can tune it out. But lately the backdrop has been world class problems on the order of financial meltdowns, tsunamis, nuclear radiation, and bloody revolutions. THOSE are problems. Your thing: Not so much.

So why'd I pull down the post? That question is more interesting than you might think. And there's a fascinating lesson in all of this about the power of context.

The short answer is that I write material for a specific sort of audience. And when the piece on Men's Rights drew too much attention from outside my normal reading circle, it changed the meaning. Communication becomes distorted when you take it out of context, even if you don't change a word of the text. I image that you are dubious about this. It's hard to believe this sort of thing if you don't write for a living and see how often it happens. I'll explain.

Regular readers of my blog know that the goal of my writing is to be interesting and nothing else. I'm not trying to change anyone's opinion, largely because I don't believe humans can be influenced by exposure to better arguments, even if I had some. But I do think people benefit by exposure to ideas that are different from whatever they are hearing, even when the ideas are worse. That's my niche: something different. That approach springs from my observation that brains are like investment portfolios, where diversification is generally a good strategy. I'm not trying to move you to my point of view; I'm trying to add diversity to your portfolio of thoughts. In the short term, I hope it's stimulating enough to be entertaining. Long term, the best ideas probably come from people who have the broadest exposure to different views.

Contrast my style of blogging to the most common styles, which include advocacy for some interest group or another, punditry, advice, and information. Now imagine moving my writing from the context of this blog to the context of an advocacy blog. You can see the problem. Men thought I was attacking men, and women thought I was attacking women. The message changed when the context changed. I saw that developing, so I took down the post.

Yes, I do know that nothing can be deleted from the Internet. Yes, I knew that taking down the post would increase curiosity about it. This isn't my first rodeo. It's not even the first time I've taken down a post and others reposted it. But I didn't anticipate how much the context would change when it got reposted on Feminist websites and Men's Rights sites. I should have.

A few people appreciated the meta-joke of removing the post.  If you didn't get it, read the deleted post, consider the feminist backlash, then think about the fact that I took down my post and ran away.

And to those of you who triumphantly scrounged up a copy of the deleted piece from Google's cache, republished it, and crowed that I don't understand how the Internet worked, I would politely suggest that perhaps I do.

But I didn't take down the piece just because I thought doing so would be funny, or because I wanted attention. Those were bonuses. The main reason is that when a lot of drive-by readers saw the piece, and they didn't know the context of this blog, it changed the message of the post to something unintended. As a writer, unintended messages are unbearable.

I confess that I misjudged the degree of excitement this would generate. Indeed, the big fuss didn't happen for over three weeks. I also didn't predict that critics would reprint the post one component at a time so they could dissect it, which has the fascinating effect of changing the humorous tone to something hideous. Humor requires flow and timing. A frog isn't much of a frog after you dissect it.

Then the secondary effect kicked in, like the famous game of telephone. The second wave of critics got their meaning partly from the dissected post and partly by reading the wildly misleading paraphrasing of other critics. By this point the thing gained a whole new meaning.

Next came the labeling. Once the piece had been reprinted on feminist blogs, the "with us or against us" instinct took over. I clearly wasn't supporting every element of the Feminist movement, and therefore I was presumed an enemy and labeled a misogynist. I was also labeled an asshole, which I have come to understand is a synonym for male.

Emotions about the piece were running high. When humans get emotional (yes, including men), our critical thinking skills shut down. In this case, the original post on Men's Rights became literally incomprehensible to anyone who had a dog in the fight.

I know from experience that trying to clarify my opinion always turns into "He's trying to backpedal because we caught him! Ha!" People don't change opinions just because new information comes in. They interpret the new information as confirmation of their existing opinion.

But perhaps I can summarize my viewpoint so you can understand why I'm such a misogynist asshole douche bag. Here's my view in brief:

You can't expect to have a rational discussion on any topic that has an emotional charge. Emotion pushes out reason. That is true for all humans, including children, men, women, and people in every range of mental ability. The path of least resistance is to walk away from that sort of fight. Men generally prefer the path of least resistance. The exception is when men irrationally debate with other men. That's a type of sport. No one expects opinions to be changed as a result.

Are women more emotional than men? I'm not sure how you measure that sort of thing. On the emotional scoreboard, does one person's anger equal another person's excitement?  All I know for sure is that the Men's Rights group I poked with a stick has some irritable dudes.


To the best of my knowledge, no one who understood the original post and its context was offended by it. But to the women who were offended by their own or someone else's interpretation of what I wrote, I apologize. To the men who were offended by my mocking of Men's Rights, you're still a big bunch of pussies. But your criticisms of the legal system are worthy of attention. Even Feminists agree on that point.

Thank you for making my week so interesting.

---------- original post reprinted below -------------

Men’s Rights

The topic my readers most want me to address is something called men’s rights. (See previous post.) This is a surprisingly good topic. It’s dangerous. It’s relevant. It isn’t overdone. And apparently you care.

Let’s start with the laundry list.

According to my readers, examples of unfair treatment of men include many elements of the legal system, the military draft in some cases, the lower life expectancies of men, the higher suicide rates for men, circumcision, and the growing number of government agencies that are primarily for women.

You might add to this list the entire area of manners. We take for granted that men should hold doors for women, and women should be served first in restaurants. Can you even imagine that situation in reverse?

Generally speaking, society discourages male behavior whereas female behavior is celebrated. Exceptions are the fields of sports, humor, and war. Men are allowed to do what they want in those areas.

Add to our list of inequities the fact that women have overtaken men in college attendance. If the situation were reversed it would be considered a national emergency.

How about the higher rates for car insurance that young men pay compared to young women? Statistics support this inequity, but I don’t think anyone believes the situation would be legal if women were charged more for car insurance, no matter what the statistics said.

Women will counter with their own list of wrongs, starting with the well-known statistic that women earn only 80 cents on the dollar, on average, compared to what men earn for the same jobs. My readers will argue that if any two groups of people act differently, on average, one group is likely to get better results. On average, men negotiate pay differently and approach risk differently than women.

Women will point out that few females are in top management jobs. Men will argue that if you ask a sample group of young men and young women if they would be willing to take the personal sacrifices needed to someday achieve such power, men are far more likely to say yes. In my personal non-scientific polling, men are about ten times more likely than women to trade family time for the highest level of career success.

Now I would like to speak directly to my male readers who feel unjustly treated by the widespread suppression of men’s rights:

Get over it, you bunch of pussies.

The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It’s just easier this way for everyone. You don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner. You don’t punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don’t argue when a women tells you she’s only making 80 cents to your dollar. It’s the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.

How many times do we men suppress our natural instincts for sex and aggression just to get something better in the long run? It’s called a strategy. Sometimes you sacrifice a pawn to nail the queen. If you’re still crying about your pawn when you’re having your way with the queen, there’s something wrong with you and it isn’t men’s rights.

Fairness is an illusion. It’s unobtainable in the real world. I’m happy that I can open jars with my bare hands. I like being able to lift heavy objects. And I don’t mind that women get served first in restaurants because I don’t like staring at food that I can’t yet eat.

If you’re feeling unfairly treated because women outlive men, try visiting an Assisted Living facility and see how delighted the old ladies are about the extra ten years of pushing the walker around.  It makes dying look like a bargain.

I don’t like the fact that the legal system treats men more harshly than women. But part of being male is the automatic feeling of team. If someone on the team screws up, we all take the hit. Don’t kid yourself that men haven’t earned some harsh treatment from the legal system. On the plus side, if I’m trapped in a burning car someday, a man will be the one pulling me out. It’s a package deal. I like being on my team.

I realize I might take some heat for lumping women, children and the mentally handicapped in the same group. So I want to be perfectly clear. I’m not saying women are similar to either group. I’m saying that a man’s best strategy for dealing with each group is disturbingly similar. If he’s smart, he takes the path of least resistance most of the time, which involves considering the emotional realities of other people.  A man only digs in for a good fight on the few issues that matter to him, and for which he has some chance of winning. This is a strategy that men are uniquely suited for because, on average, we genuinely don’t care about 90% of what is happening around us.

I just did a little test to see if I knew what pajama bottoms I was wearing without looking. I failed.

 

 


 
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Mar 30, 2011
Scott, I am writing regarding your one-sentence summary of your views.

I'm pretty sure Frederick Douglas' biography is direct proof that emotional charge doesn't ruin your ability to rationally discuss. His clarity & poignancy are otherworldly.

And even if you think that the vast majority of people can't overcome their emotional investment arising from being date raped and not believed by the cops, having someone yell !$%*!$%* at you just for !$%*! & giggles, reading about a Mexican kid being shot and killed for throwing rocks over the border and hundreds of Yahoo commenters agreeing that it wasn't an overreaction, even if you believe that level of overcoming isn't possible for the vast majority of people, you should at least agree that we have to try and engage discussion anyways, lest these emotionally charging events continue indefinitely. If you admit that some people deal with !$%* that enrages them to the point of irrationality, yet refuse discussion, at least come up with another solution for ending that !$%*. But this is all moot! Have you truly never met an emotionally charged person who can argue logically? Have you truly met so few you believe they are exceptions to an overarching rule?

Oh, and you really can't call MRA's !$%*!$%*! and expect me to believe you don't at least tacitly uphold sexism. I don't know what world people live in when they deny that !$%*!$% means "weak & cowardly & womanly by virtue of having a !$%*!$% cuz you know, the lack of a Y chromosome makes you a whiny little !$% !$%*!$ (there's me getting emotional...) I understand entirely that a good deal of people use !$%*!$% and truly mean just "cowardly," but that means !$%*-all to youngin boys & girls who hear it along w/"man up," "grow a pair," "you play like a little !$%*!$% "you throw like a girl," "stop acting like a !$%*!$% "man up," etc.

I love Dilbert and don't particularly care its creator doesn't seem too wise. My favorite musicians don't either. But I am glad you seem sympathetic towards those men & women whose plight arise directly from our culture's !$%*!$%*! notions of gender.
 
 
-6 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 30, 2011
I found this post via the nutters at Shakesville (a constant source of hilarity), and I registered just to tell you how awesome you are. Right on!
 
 
Mar 30, 2011
... and no, they weren't deleted because I used bad words or called anybody names or anything like that. And yes, they were deliberately meant to tweak certain people. Apparently I succeeded.
 
 
Mar 30, 2011
All these people losing their minds over a simple blog entry make me laugh. I commented on it (and when I say "it", I basically mean their overreacting and hypocrisy) over at ComicsAlliance but all those open-minded, forward-thinking, extremely tolerant, highly educated, smartest-people-in-the-room somehow managed to delete all my comments after they had been posted. Wow, I wonder how that happened? It couldn't have been because I have a different opinion than they do, could it? THAT wouldn't be right...
 
 
+20 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 30, 2011
Love Dilbert; I read the blog, I'm pretty sure I get the humor.

I didn't find parts of the post amusing. I don't think I'm being overly "emotional" or hyped up about it, I merely disagreed. Scott, surely you can understand that it sounds offensive to tell people that they just didn't "understand" your post . Well what if people just don't agree with you? It is a possibility.

True objectivity is a fantasy. Emotional or not, everyone has their own bias. Being "unemotional" does not equal "being rational".
 
 
-4 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 30, 2011
When I read the original post "Men’s Rights" I thought it was funny, and spot on. I certainly couldn't see anything controversial in it at all. Perhaps living in Thailand, where roles and expectations between men and women are very different from the West, has given me a different perspective. I'm astonished at the negative reaction to what seems universal truths about men and women - it's just that many people in the West, in particular US and UK don't accept the truth anymore and have decided to live in a virtual world of politically correct thinking and language.

An example of this would be the teaching of creationism in schools. There is no evidence at all for creationism, God or any other religion but we insist on making our kids stupid by pretending these concepts have some basis in reality. Meanwhile all the stuff they should be learning, science, maths, physics - you know, about the real world - suffer as a result. We live in a world where we pretend to be so democratic that everything is allowed, even when it has no basis in reality.

So it is with labeling. People would prefer to assign a label to someone rather than think it through themselves and base their views on facts. Here's a fact: "all terrorists are Muslims" Why don't Governments address this fact? Because it is labelled as racist or unfair to the vast majority of Muslims who are peaceful, though strangely silent and unbothered about the violence which has grown from their faith. If we accepted this fact global counter terrorism could focus on the real problem, for example, we would target Muslims at airport security and give little or no attention to children, women and the elderly. This would be the right thing to do. But we don't do it because it's an "unacceptable label".

We should celebrate the very few people who have the ability to cut though all the crap and tell it the way it is, people like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Ricky Gervais, Scott Adams, Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, whatever their field.
 
 
Mar 29, 2011
Scott,

You thought that this would be funny? I am glad that guys like you are too worry to make fun of racist stereotypes. I only wish that you were just as worried about putting out sexist stereotypes as jokes.

Not funny Scott.

Sure, lots of your buddies here are embracing your manliness - just how manly is it to pull your blog?

Your blog entry showed your ignorance and your attempts to hide it proved that you are a coward.
 
 
Mar 29, 2011
Hi Scott

Just really glad you can shake things up a bit! Political Correctness = freedom of speech is withheld (sorry).
 
 
Mar 29, 2011
You can wake up somebody who is sleeping. You can not (not by decent means anyways..) wake up somebody who is pretending to sleep -- saying in my native language.

It's no use, Scott.
 
 
Mar 29, 2011
Scott, please repeat after me:

I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN. I AM NOT ANDY KAUFMAN.
 
 
-39 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 29, 2011
Mens Rights Activists are a bunch of !$%*!$%* Really? I'm a former Marine. I take very seriously the fact that we are leaving to our sons a world that is hostile to them. Boys commit suicide four times the rate of girls. Girls now make up 60% of college graduates, and a majority of M.A.s and Ph.D.s, a reversal of fortunes to profound as to be stunning. When girls were behind, we blamed society and passed Title IX. When boys are behind, we blame the boys and pretty much do nothing. Rape is not so vague a term that it shocks the conscious. To think we are imprisoning our young men and branding them sex offenders for the rest of their lives is considered petty by Scott Adams is revolting. To think that the population in our prisons is the highest in western world is atrocious. I'll tell you who the !$%*! is...and it ain't MRA's. It's a guy who writes a funny cartoon, but is apparenty so dense that it seems improbable that he actually does write it.

[Your objection to your own hallucination of my viewpoint is noted. -- Scott]
 
 
+15 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 29, 2011
The spammer selling shoes etc. is probably a guy.
 
 
-8 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 29, 2011
cgianacas - There is a pragmatic truth to the idea that if guns are outlawed only criminals will have guns. In this case replacing "criminals" with "nutjobs" retains the underlying meaning. I don't know if I will agree with your assertion of the relative nutjob quotient - I'd like to see the underlying statistics related to nutjobbery and what construes a true versus false nutjob.

When all is said and done, I don't want to be the guy waking up with a baseball bat to an armed robbery; the odds aren't even close to even (nutjobiness notwithstanding.)

Josh
NRA/DNRC Member
 
 
-5 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 29, 2011
Ah, go against the majority opinion and see what it does for the rating of your comment: -12! People are still rating on the basis of agreement/ disagreement.

I guess that means that the majority doesn't want to hear your serious opinion every now and then, as I suggested. You know what that means: you're an expert humorist but not to be taken seriously.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
Do I have to state my credentials before I comment? Well, I'm a long time reader, a female feminist who has only just discovered the MRA. I agree that they are a bunch of !$%*!$% (I would use a nongendered term myself). I agree that some feminists overreact or lack a sense of humor. I only read about this on one feminist site that I feel maintains humor and rationality, and here.

That being said, I read the initial post (google reader saved it even after deletion...interesting). I thought it not up to usual standards. I wondered a bit why on earth Scott would want to wade into this, especially since my impression was he didn't know what he was getting into. <-- not to be condescending, just how I saw it.

I am often intrigued and mentally stimulated by this blog. This piece didn't do it for me, but hey, no blog 100% does. No worries. I kind of hope Scott stays out of this arena. These issues, IMO, don't need Scott's special touch or any DMDing. They (both sides) have plenty of trolls already, and there's a fine line between the two.
 
 
-50 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
I admire "Dilbert" and think it touches a nerve concerning the workplace. But your comments on men's rights is simply put (best case) misinformed (worst) neanderthal bigot at best. You did forget one other area where men excel, violence. As a listener on a mental health crisis line, men are 99.99999999999999 percent (not a real number but you get the point) of the abusers and rapists. I have done this for over 18 years and I have yet to receive a real male abused case. Usually they justify it as she provoked me first.

While women's lot has improved, we have a long, long way to go and citing how there are government agencies devoted solely to their needs only goes to show why there is a problem. Comparing them to mentally handicapped is insulting to both groups. (Being patronizing is just rude and stupid and sets up the "superior" one for a fall.)

This is not intended to be some "liberal/conservative" rant. But you have to treat people fairly and not make stupid assumptions. Seems to me that is exactly what Dilbert is about. Live up to your own strip. Please.
 
 
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
Well, it's an interesting problem. Take the two issues of women's lower average pay and men's tendency to lose custody in a divorce. They could both be due to men's usual reluctance to put as much time into childcare - or, conversely, they could both be due to women's usual insistence on taking time and resources to take care of children.
Another interesting datum along these lines, is that there are microlenders who will not lend to men - they tend to spend too much of their money on tobacco, sweets, and alcohol, and have more trouble repaying loans. Women, they say. make better borrowers - they tend to spend on food and education for their children, and their business.
 
 
Mar 28, 2011
Awesome and I concur with Mjmoon...keep up the good work. As for Factory, you do bring up some serious concerns regarding education and male suicide rates...As a mother of a gifted son, that is not something to laugh at, trivialize or "whine"about - Indeed it is a problem that needs to be fixed.

In terms of the legal system - you have only to thank your founding fathers, 100% White Rich Men and many who seemed to prefer marrying widows with children(Kenneth C Davis DKMA History Series and etc). They had no problem taking the woman and the kids and providing for them. Thus the reason the child support laws are the way they are now....

Having said that, I do believe the legal system is making some attempt to correct itself in terms of child custody laws. In my particular case, I hate it. But in all cases, it may not necessarily be a bad idea. I know women who can be equally abusive and neglectful as some men, if not worse. Witness Florida's recent tragic nightmare(s) with DCF...

 
 
+27 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
Dude....

Some babes around the coffee maker at work were putting you down, and I would have rushed to the defense of my favorite cartoon-maker, but I was, like, busy ... or something.

"Men... genuinely don’t care about 90% of what is happening around us" would be a call to a revolution, except that it isn't.
 
 
Mar 28, 2011
Brilliant post - bravo. I also got stuck in the ignorant, puerile drivel on other websites re: this whole brouhaha. Makes me glad I live in Australia - significantly lower nutjob quotient than the US. Also we don't give our nutjobs the right to bear arms. Far better state of affairs.
 
 
 
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