May 25, 2010

Amanda Marcotte’s road to hell paved with empathy

While researching my previous post, I browsed left-wing feminist blogger Amanda Marcotte’s recent work. It reminded me of why I get so angry at people who seem to think they own the patent on compassion while they support policies that unintentionally hurt the less fortunate. I discovered Marcotte when she publicly called me a loser because I write a libertarian blog about Playboy. Still, she implicitly claims to feel sorry for me in this passage from a more recent post: As time goes on, every wise and honest person will eventually recognize Judith Rich Harris as the Copernicus of child development. To the degree that misogyny among American men is the problem Marcotte says it is, it must be because of the way American boys children* socialize each other—and not a direct consequence of the way American parents treat their boys.

Ah, but does Marcotte really know what empathy is? In opposing school choice, she effectively favors a public-school monopoly for America’s poor and middle-income families, who have much less discretionary income for private schooling than wealthier families. Let them eat cake, indeed. Besides the direct name-calling I’ve already mentioned, I believe I have good reasons to take her stance on school as a lack of true empathy for me, thank you very much: Jokes about schoolyard bullying, even as presented in entertainments like The Simpsons and A Christmas Story, may become even more ambiguously funny after a study of Harris. After all, jokes about prison rape aren’t necessarily funny, either. It’s obviously not the moral equivalent, but the difference is only a matter of degre.

In light of Harris’ scholarship, my seemingly endless guilt over my failure to stand up to my father when he was alive is certainly the effect, not the cause, of having such a horrible time with the brutal machismo of the public junior high school locker room.