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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 28, 2011
Many people have way too much time on their hands. And !$%*!$% or not, you need to change your language. Watch this. Seriously. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcM0DPH2bNo
 
 
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
Female here, totally found original post interesting, and humorous :)
 
 
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
Scott, I love you with every bone in my heterosexual man-body.
 
 
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
I used to think that when you referred to your readers as having above-average intelligence or reading comprehension, you were being patronizing. After all, I think most people would agree with the statement "I'm smarter than most people." Reading your comments on other blogs though, I think you're being sincere. Reading the comments on this post, and the deleted one, I also think it's pretty accurate. You've cultivated a really good readership Mr. Adams. Good work.
 
 
+36 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
Good lord. I just took 1 second to see what the fuss was about (not satisfied with Scott's description), and I lost an hour of my life. Here's what happened.

1. I was amazed at the self-centered foolishness of most responses.
2. See one that makes me mad.
3. Start to get righteously indignant at the ignorance myself.
4. Understand the pointlessness of responding.
5. Realize this is what Scott was doing all along.
6. Repeat steps 1-6.

Scott, you magnificent bastard.
 
 
Mar 28, 2011
You're right, Scott. I should not have underestimated you. My humble apologies. I'm glad you've enjoyed the fireworks as much (or more) than I have!

FWIW, I hope you'll take this in the spirit of admiration that it's intended in: You make a very passable blog stand-in for Charlie Sheen.

Keep WINNING, bro'!

p.s. Thanks for putting the post back up. =)
 
 
+21 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
Well I dunno Scott, I'm one of those !$%*! MRAs (have been for 15 or so years now) and I'd say this whole thing is sort of a success, to be honest. I suppose it might be hard to understand if you're not all that familiar with the history of this movement, or the resistance to change we have found.

I'm not going to bore you with it here either, for that matter.

What I will say is this: the issues we are bringing up wherever we go are worthy of concern, regardless of your political leanings. Issues like boys and men falling WAY behind in education, coupled with the utter lack of concern even by those tasked with administering education.

Or the 3-9:1 ratio of male:female suicides is another indication there's something seriously wrong. Considering suicide is the 2nd or 3rd leading cause of death for males (depending on age), you'd figure someone would care.

Those 'legal issues you refer to - things like 92% mother sole custody, 'child support' tables designed by a guy who owns a child support collection agency, and a government that gets paid for every dollar collected (profit motive? Government? Nah), and prosecutors making careers out of falsely imprisoning men - we feel are a bit of a concern as well.

And that's not even mentioning things like no fault divorce and such gutting the social fabric.

Nah, Scott, there's no material in there for a cartoonist after all. So I can see how you would dismiss it all out of hand. As for feminist support of some of these issues...well, frankly, I'd like to know how anyone can hear about things like an epidemic of suicide among young men, and 'justify' it to themselves. All of these issues ARE 'feminist issues'...that is, if they lived up to their own advertising. Most of us '!$%*! MRAs' used to be feminists ourselves, after all. Maybe that's why we have a vestigal victim mentality. At least we don't believe in their tinfoil hat theories of all men everywhere working together to keep all women down. Whoever managed to sell THAT tripe deserves an award.

I utilize hyperbole quite a bit when I comment on blogs, and sometimes when I write - so I understand the giggle factor in getting under someone's skin. Especially if that someone irritates you in the first place.

But the way I look at it, a little ridicule from the likes of you (as in, wildly popular cartoonist whose audience is outside the circle-jerk "gender issues" crowd) goes a long, LONG way to popularizing these issues.

I'm not concerned, at all, about being right about everything. I'm concerned about getting these things taken seriously as issues. And frankly, in that regard I couldn't have asked for a better outcome here.

So thanks for the publicity, and I'll continue to enjoy your work.
 
 
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
Once you make Top Twit, what else is there?

The beauty of the Internet, I suppose is that the firestorm isn't literally at your doorstep, so it is a bit easier to ignore, but I don't envy you the publicity. Yuck.

I'm not so into the whole online chatfest. This is the only blog I follow.

I do have a twitter account, but it is a fake. I set it up and followed a bunch of people only so that I could keep tabs on one of my kids who has shown dangerously poor online judgment in the past. He thinks its funny to make incendiary comments to get people riled up - and then doesn't bother to hide his identity. (Kind of makes you wonder what a certain cartoonist might have been doing with the Internet if it had been around when he was 13...)

I've banned him from all electronics for months at a time - and when he is online I stalk him with a fake account. So far so good. Other than offering to give away my laptop, he's showing reasonable maturity.

The experience has exposed me to a lot more online oddness than I would have ever sought out on my own. It's a weird world out there....
 
 
Mar 28, 2011
I wasn't offended. Also, I read every day.
 
 
Mar 28, 2011
By far, this has been one of the more interesting instances of "He said, he said" I have seen in the virtual world in a while! Not so much in the initial blog post that sparked some fires, though I enjoyed it thoroughly as it was intended (humorously), but in the response of the author of the blog. Few people can breakdown the components of a situation in a clear, and entertaining, way without sounding defensive or as was mentioned, like they are 'back peddling'. It isn't easy being sane or thoughtful in a digital forum, and giving a fair shake to opposing views or interpretations is only recognized by a handful of people. Thanks for taking the hit, Scott, for all the entertainment you provide on a daily basis!
 
 
Mar 28, 2011
"When humans get emotional (yes, including men)"

Gotta love the fact that you are still poking the beast. Even if it may be a red wine (or Bud Light) infused beast.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
The irony is that had you made a similar post about AIDS, the KKK, facism, or anything more extreme, people probably wouldn't have flipped out so bad because they would understand it to be satire. They can be considered universal sufferings (everyone is adversely affected by disease, racism, and Nazis). You make a comment about peoples pet issues, however, and a very vocal minority goes ballistic. Perhaps these issues are not main stream enough to be adequately satirized.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
I wonder if all the attention will be a positive thing, even if it appears negative on the surface? I guess financially, it'll probably be a wash, though I can't imagine anyone who appreciates the humor of Dilbert being upset enough to stop paying for it. I'm wondering if the attention you generated to the topics will end up helping some folks out?

In any case, keep up the good work. I feel like those of us who read your blog are part of some support group meeting in a dark room and a huge bunch of raving lunatics just stampeded through. Although, on second thought, that was even more entertaining than usual.
 
 
Mar 28, 2011
Scott, you know exactly what you're doing... Winning.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
Interesting post Scott. You are very subtle in passing the message to your followers that the non-following rabble are a bunch of flaming morons. But we knew this already, that's why we follow you and not the feminatzis or the machomaniaicals. Keep up the good work for the cause of brain diversification, it pays off for us in providing a center position in the world of the absurd.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
I actually enjoy my ...right....to not have to jump up and freak every time a spider is seen casually playing in the same room. I don't think I would give that up for the world. Although I do have to give it up when some other people are in the room........so I can hear the Three Stooges again. Live is full of compromises.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
I feel the same way about the topic of gun ownership/control. It is an emotional issue in which both sides of the aisle have their own pre-formed opinions and nothing is going to sway their position. Those that support the 2nd amendment usually are the "live free or die" crowd (of which I admit I am a card-carrying member) and the other side are the "guns are evil" folks.

Taken to extremes, neither side can sit down and have a rational discussion about it so there is really no point in even discussing it. I once had a discussion that when like this..."Well, empirical studies by the FBI shows that states that enact liberal concealed-carry laws actually saw a significant reduction in violent crime after the enactment of those laws (me)". Response - "That can't be right (my boss)". "It's true, what's more, if you look at countries that enact strict gun control laws such as England, they've experienced a corresponding rise in street violence and home invasions as well as the death and injury by knifing increased (me)". "Your making this up (my boss)". "I'm not necessarily saying there is a direct linkage between countries with more guns having less crime but I am saying that the linkage between gun ownership and violent crimes from a statistical perspective is non-existent (me)". "Well that is just stupid (responded my boss)".

As you can gather from the above quotes, no matter what I said or what research I had, my boss (and friend) would have none of it. I actually respect him as a smart and sophisticated person but this was one subject that he just plugged his ears and went "la, la, la, la..."

I wouldn't mind you Scott, doing your take on this topic similar to what you did with the men's rights thing (even if you are against my viewpoint).
 
 
Mar 28, 2011
You rock, Scott! Offend away...........
 
 
+27 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 28, 2011
I was okay with the entire post until I got to the very last line, which caused me to picture you writing the blog while wearing non-matching pajamas.
Now the image was disturbing enough, but everyone knows that only ignorant, misogynistic, douchebag wussy a$$h0les wear non-matching pajamas.
 
 
Mar 28, 2011
Scott rocks!! I respect you even more now.
 
 
 
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