I’m probably going to break some unwritten rule here, by explaining how the magic’s done by people like International Lord of Hate Larry Correia and Vox Day, who’s probably the Intergalactic Lord of Hate, only he doesn’t care about titles. I think somebody called him a Sith Lord at least once.
But basically, a lot of people criticize them one the grounds that they say mean things on the Internet. Basically, that they’re rude.
Here’s the thing. They know they’re rude. In fact, being rude is the point.
Because when you start pushing people’s buttons, that’s when you find out who has the intellectual chops to take an insult and come back swinging with wit and reason, and who turns into an emotional berserker spewing playground insults, ’cause that’s all they got.
And don’t think I only say this because Vox has never insulted my tribe, so I can’t empathize with the pain. Lemme tell you, he most definitely has insulted my tribe. Okay, so maybe I’m a weird woman and people saying mean things about women on the internet doesn’t get under my skin, but have you heard what that man has to say about Calvinists? Ye gods. But rather than getting upset and leaving in a huff and telling everyone how hateful Vox Day is towards my people, I stuck around to see what he’s got to say. No Spanish Inquisition enforcing doctrinal purity appeared. Differing opinions were expressed, fought over, and in the end, tolerated. When persuasion failed, nobody got banned!
And when you filter past the deliberately inflammatory rhetoric, Vox uses the same tactics for all positions: facts and logic. He’s even willing to change his mind on things – if you can show a convincing reason why. And that reason has to be based on facts and logic – not emotions. Sure, sometimes that means the conversations devolve into semantic arguments about axioms, but that’s beneficial too.
The rudeness is basically an entrance test to separate those who can engage their reading comprehension even if somebody is deliberately trying to piss them off from the people who operate on all-emotion-all-the-time. And its secondary purpose is to make it painfully obvious to the spectators which is which. The frothing-at-the-mouth trolls look even worse when they’re contrasted with the commenters who make well-reasoned disagreeing posts. These guys are the fire-and-brimstone preachers going toe-to-toe with fanatics on the other side, not the guys you call in when you want to have a calm discussion with delicate minds.
I have a personal anecdote of something that happened “in meatspace” as an illustration. I have two friends from college, and the three of us were bunking together at a hotel for one of our reunions. Friend A is an outgoing New Yorker of Puerto Rican extraction who’s as up for an “argumentative” discussion as I am – and over breakfast we started discussing gun control, due to a news story that was on the TV in the continental breakfast room. We were having a great time – and not “arguing” in the sense of being angry with each other, but “arguing” in the sense of debating passionately – and neither of our feelings were hurt (we weren’t hurling insults or anything, just being forceful in our respective opinions). But Friend B is a much more quiet personality, and became increasingly distressed by our discussion – not over the content, but over how we were conducting it. I can only suppose she feared that we were about to destroy our friendship and have a terribly awkward rest of the weekend, forced into close proximity. The two of us cut the discussion short once we’d realized how badly we’d scared our friend, and reassured her that we weren’t angry with each other at all and that everything between us was just fine.
And that’s a cultural difference, right there – as well as a personality type difference. Some people can’t handle forceful debate, much less deliberate provocation. But that doesn’t mean that forceful debate is wrong. Provocation can arguably step over the line, but that’s a nitpick conversation that has to be pursued on a case-by-case basis. One thing’s for sure, though – if your opponents are using deliberate provocation, then it’s certainly not categorically out of bounds to use it yourself. And it’s illustrating to see how various audience members respond, because when two sides are using identically “offensive” tactics and only one side gets criticized for it… well, the hypocrites are easily spotted!