Wednesday, January 01, 2014

John Scalzi Gets It Wrong In "Lowest Difficulty Setting"

This isn't very good.

For one thing, the reasons that people deride "privilege" as used by the SJW lackwits is that (a) they use it like a bloody mantra, spewing it out in almost every sentence, and (b) it isn't the right concept to use in order to understand the relevant problems. Contra Sclazi, nobody cares that it's not "our" word, for chrissake. New terminology is great when it's more accurate. When it's less accurate, not so much. And when, like "privilege," it is part of a tissue of confusions, then no sensible person is going to want to use it.

That having been said: Scalzi's game metaphor isn't new. I've used it myself for a long time. But Scalzi just doesn't get it right. Straight white male s not the "lowest difficulty setting." Rich is the lowest difficulty setting. If you want the best odds in the game of life, take rich anything over poor anything. If you think that a poor white male is going to have a better shot at happiness and success than a rich, non-white, non-straight female, then you're living in a fantasy world.

The thing about these people is that they are more concerned about whining about the hated straight white males than they are about accurately describing--let alone solving--the relevant problems. It seems to be true that, on average, you are likely to encounter a smaller number of hassles in your life if you are a straight white male--as opposed to a straight white female, a gay white male, a straight black male, etc. etc. Yep. What sensible person denies this? That's just another way of putting the point that there is still discrimination against females, blacks, homosexuals, etc. But Scalzi gets it wrong when he writes:
This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.
No, no, no. For the love of God, put a little thought into it if you're going to write stuff like this. Rather, it means something more like:
Reaction rolls from many--but not all, nor the vast majority of, nor even most--NPCs in the game are more favorable to you than they would be if you weren't a straight, white male. All characters will have certain fairly uniform barriers thrown up in front of them, and they will also have idiosyncratic ones thrown up. The distribution of these barriers won't be fair. Not at all. If you're male, you'll have to fight many battles that you wouldn't have to fight if you'r female, and if you're female you'll have to fight many battles that you wouldn't have to fight if you were male. On average, though, you're going to have to fight more battles if you're female. And so on. If you are  non-straight, non-white, non-male, non-rich, non-attractive, non-cool, and any number of other non-s, you are likely to have more unfair barriers thrown up in front of you than if you are straight and/or white and/or male and/or...etc. Your leveling-up thresholds absolutely won't come more quickly just because you're straight etc., but you will, on average but my no means always, level up rather quicker because you will, on average, encounter fewer barriers, get better reaction rolls, etc. (see above). You absolutely will not "gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for," but, again, you'll on average have things a bit less bad than you might have, so you might expect, on average, for those advantages to translate into some advantage with respect to accessing map areas. The game is by no means easier to play "automatically," but you can, on average, expect it to be less hard than it might have been if you had to not only face all the shit you do have to face, but also had to face extra barriers and battles as well. In short, if you want, on average, the best shot at the game of life, choose to be a rich, white, male, straight, attractive, cool person. And if you get to choose only one of those, choose rich.
That's way more accurate than Scalzi's thin gruel, and it's just off the top of my head.

Whining about how easy straight white males allegedly have it isn't reasonable, it's predicated on an error, and it's not advancing the discussion. Admitting--as every sensible person has for well over half a century now--that there is still bias against females, non-whites, and homosexuals gets at everything Scalzi and the lackwit SJWs want to get at, but without the false suggestion that life is easy as pie for straights, whites, and males.

Seriously. All these people are doing is annoying people like me--people who, in general, share their substantive social and political goals, but who have a low tolerance for bullshit.


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