For about eight months I was a staff writer for a horror website called Ginger Nuts of Horror. I spent many long, unpaid hours reading books and writing reviews of those books, sharing the site’s social media posts, and generally supporting the site and its writers. And then I was kicked off the staff for expressing, on my own social media outlets, the same political opinions that millions and millions and millions of other people have. You probably share many of those opinions.
When he kicked me out, site owner Jim Mcleod didn’t tell me, “Look, man, I disagree with your political beliefs, so you’ve got to go. You’re out.” That would require courage. Instead, he simply ousted me from the various accounts and processes available to writers of the site, ignored my courteous request for an explanation, and hoped that I would quietly disappear. It’s not the first time he’s engaged in this pusillanimous unpersoning process, and it will no doubt not be the last. Leftists love purges.
Whenever anything unfortunate happens, my go-to thought is, “Well, it’s bad that it happened, but it would be worse if you didn’t learn anything from it.” There’s value in failure, in setback, in even a stubbed toe. Getting kicked off of Ginger Nuts of Horror rates at around the stubbed toe level on the Life’s Setbacks Meter, but it’s worth discussing because you can learn from my mistakes.
My biggest mistake was ignoring the red flags. Those red flags, the feelings in your gut that tell you something’s wrong: they’re there to protect you. Red flags never disappear: we just paper over them and tell ourselves that they’re unimportant, or even worse, not really there. A good example in my case is when Jim Mcleod posted on social media, “If you share memes from places with titles like RIGHT WING……please be advised that you will receive an automatic unfriending[.]” While I’m not one to do such a terrible, proscribed thing myself, I am a right-winger. Still, I ignored the (literal) writing on the wall, and as such allowed myself to be put in the position of getting purged. What made this bizarre social media post even more unfortunate was the number of people who approved of it through Likes and comments, many of whom are writers themselves. Imagine how they feel about those readers who don’t share their politics.
Another red flag was the site owner’s enemies list: he has a digital list of people who are considered persona non grata for reasons that range from the personally petty to the virtually nonexistent. The irony of someone who hates the right wing so much having a Nixonian enemies list was not lost on me; I kept a screenshot of it for amusement’s sake. Nevertheless, I ignored the character-defining importance of this red flag, which I shouldn’t have.
The third and last of the important red flags I papered over was the prevalence of leftist social commentary on the site under the guise of book and movie analysis. The lack of ideological balance wasn’t troubling; this wasn’t a news site, after all. The inclusion, however, of social justice boilerplate into the discussion of genre fiction bothered me, and I foolishly ignored it.
When it comes to red flags, the important lessons to take away are:
1) When they tell you they don’t like people like you, take them seriously. Even if they don’t know you. Life’s too short to work for people who don’t like you. Don’t feel like you have to hide who you are to please people who don’t like you.
2) O’Sullivan’s Law has yet to be broken. Radio Free Europe’s John O’Sullivan famously said, “All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.” If they’re not left-wing already.
3) Your forbearance is weakness. You don’t get plaudits for keeping quiet when you disagree. Not swinging the bat every time someone throws the ball used to be a prized quality, a sign of manners and reserve, but no longer. Silence equals consent. Speak up for yourself and your beliefs.
4) The work you did with them, the work you did for them doesn’t matter: what matters is that you have the right opinions. And if you happen to have the wrong opinions, you’d better keep quiet if you know what’s good for you.
See, to the SJW, your differing opinion is HATE. And hate of any kind can’t be tolerated…unless they hate you, which is justified because you’re hateful. That I kept my hateful political opinions carefully separate from the writing I did for Ginger Nuts of Horror didn’t matter, because I had the temerity to have such hateful opinions and express them in my own space.
This of course begs the question: if Jim Mcleod didn’t bother telling you why he kicked you out, how do you know it’s because you’re a conservative?
I always knew. Always. What else could it be? I had never disagreed in public or private with site owner Jim Mcleod or any of the other site’s writers on any issue at all, but I did express my thoughts about current events on my social sites. Like this, for example, which I suspect was the beginning of the end for me. (The linked Facebook post was a reaction to comments made by pacifist, left-wing media personalities in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.) What really confirmed it was when Jim Mcleod, in a subsequent social media posting aimed specifically at me, called me a Nazi.
Consider that for a moment: I spent hours of my time contributing to his site for no pay, asking for nothing at all, and, from the safety of a computer keyboard hundreds of miles away he called me a Nazi. We’ll ignore the appalling torture of logic that would cause someone to refer to a Jewish man like myself as a Nazi; I can only assume he’s not familiar with actual Nazis, in which case it might be valuable to put him in touch with those kinsmen of mine who have had personal experience with Nazism. Those, that is, who weren’t murdered in concentration camps by real Nazis.
I understand that name-calling, especially nasty name-calling, is the hallmark of the SJW; in many respects the Nazi label no different from a toddler calling someone a “poopyhead,” and has the same quality of thought behind it. Still, it’s troubling: by referring to everyone or everything you disagree with Nazis or Nazism, it robs meaning from the term and serves to mitigate the horrors of the Holocaust. It’s a soft form of Holocaust denial.
I know it’s a small thing, and spats like this don’t end a career. They don’t even harm it. If they didn’t make you, they can’t break you. Just don’t ignore the red flags like I did. Know who you’re working with. Even if you don’t hate them, Social Justice Warriors hate you. Anyone who calls you a Nazi is full of hate. It doesn’t matter that you don’t put ideological constraints on who you should associate with: they do. If you don’t share their politics, you’re the hateful one.
To quote Milo Yiannopolous, “[H]ere’s the dirty secret about social justice warriors: nothing bad happens when you tell them to go fuck themselves.”
Make sure you say it first, is all.