Shaming as strategy
The Poster in Question

Shaming as strategy

So there is a new imaginary problem that people are complaining about on the Internet.  A summary of the complaint for context, but I really don’t want to engage in it. Understand, based on my calling in life I have no problem defending misguided people,

Racist Misogynist Poster
The Poster in Question

but what is happening is that a few people are angry that an insensitive person used specific imagery designed to “shock and awe” in order to get attention for his event. He used what is understandably called a racist image to promote a completely ordinary, otherwise uninteresting music show. He did this with the goal of getting exactly what he is getting: attention!

And to be clear, there’s no suggestion that he is consciously racist or misogynistic, simple that he is insensitive.

I’ve already talked about that more than I want to. As this blog has long been centered on *how* to argue, or *why* to choose certain rhetorical strategies more than *what* to argue, the interesting part to me is the techniques in the arguments, not against the racist, misogynistic poster creator, but against the people who say “Racism?  I Just don’t see it!”  I want to talk about the shaming of the people who are simply saying “it’s art”, “it’s stupid, not racist”, or “it’s really unimportant”. Because the argument against these people spueaking is very very scary to me. what’s more so, it is much more frequent than I imagine it should be.  Look at these screen captures so I don’t take anything out of context (to be clear, these are two separate comments — click more):



Facebook shame posts

If you don’t agree with us, “I am having a hard time understanding why you would not… look the other way”.

“Why do you care what we say here”

“It always amazes me how so many who want to bash our concerns want to act as if they are somehow more evolved when they defend Neanderthal  ideas and behaviors.”


Anyone familiar with any post I’ve ever written knows everything comes down to 1. Comic Books, or 2. Judaism, and since the last post was about Batman and Spider-Man, let’s go with #2. *Here’s Why:*


 First they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

 -Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller


This is why we feel the need to speak out when we disagree with who you shame.

This is why we feel the need to speak out when we disagree with how you shame.

The goal of the people who are angry about this promotional poster, is to shame the person who made the poster and the people who are benefiting from the poster, the bar, into changing what their actions. They’re engaging in the old tactic of social shaming to get what they want. And if you disagree, I respect your opinion, but you’re a Neanderthal as well.

The twist.

The interesting twist to me is the revolutionary argument “Hey, don’t get mad at us because we’re shaming people. If you don’t support us why are you interested.” It’s insulting and it’s ad homonym. As if it’s wrong to stand up and say, “Hey, what you’re arguing for is not right. More importantly howyou’re  arguing for it is worse.

The real interesting thing is that the defenders of free speech and art are saying functionally “hey, the guy might be an idiot, he might be ignorant, but I don’t really  feel the need to label him a ‘misogynist-racist” and I don’t think you need to call him names.” Functionally the opposite side is shaming the shamers, which is interesting evolution in how these arguments play out. Basically they’re speaking a language the other side understands.

When we chunk down to the root we have to remember:  this is on Facebook and it’s on Facebook provided by them who excel in self-promotion, and it benefits not only the people against the original poster, because they get a tribe of people on their side stinkin’ mad, but it also benefits the guy who’s trying to promote his cause is what he wants to do is get people to know about his show. Ideally if they know about his show they might want to come to the show. And they might buy a drink or two drinks and help make money at the bar.



sid vicious in a swastika

Quite frankly, this is the single most successful promotional poster this artist has ever made, the most successful “reclaimed art” he’s ever made. Furthermore, it’s in the musical tradition of NWA using the N-word,  Sid Vicious wearing  a swastika, or Eminem rapping about killing his wife. Multiple times. Art isn’t always meant to make you feel good, good art is meant to make you feel. I’m going to stop here before I declare this music poster the next Pisschrist or the promoter Carina Ubeda. (Whatever you do, don’t click on that last one).

My problem was with the argument that hey, “if you don’t think you’re correct why are you interested at all. If we’re not correct just ignore it and move on.” I not only think that’s not healthy I think that type of argument is un-American. Why do we stand up for the people teamed up against? Especially when it’s something we relate to as free speech? Generally because of another quote that is so Ingrained in the American Psyche, despite it being written by an English biographer about the French writer Voltaire:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

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