Now we have thought-control and consistency issues

Moral fascists might reconsider some of their ploys if they could see the religion in their "science."

The latest Fast Women newsletter (and when I consider an online info-dump a legitimate publication, I italicize it no matter its electronic provenance; this place, of course, is “Beck of the Pack”) takes another shot at bad white men in running — a now-standard inclusion, but a remarkable feat this week considering the newsletter’s resounding silence on another narrative from the same bin: The chief executive of perhaps the country’s most prominent women’s running-apparel company, who happens to be white and female, is apparently not talking to the public in the midst of an intellectual property dispute with a fellow progressive runner and businesswoman, who happens to be queer and Latina.

Since this CEO protects her tweets and maintains a private Instagram account, it’s unclear exactly what matters the parties agree on and what the ultimate resolution might look like. But even if the complaint turned out to be without merit, it should at least be news in the joggingverse. Does anyone even need to run the thought experiment in which Sally Bergesen and Oiselle are replaced by the white male head of a men’s apparel company and all other variables are held constant? The result would be a glorious online piranha-feed on the executive’s tender-bits — if not for the initial offense, certainly for his continued reticence, as he would rightfully be accused of having no spine, spunk or guts in his balls. But as far as I can tell, not one hair on the backs of the “Holy shit that’s more racism” running-promotion crew has twitched in the direction of the scandal.

Although a national election with the flavor of a couple of hundred million overgrown toddlers intentionally crapping their pants at the dinner table offers good cover, it is absolutely impossible for me to believe that the various self-appointed consciences of running have failed to notice the fracas, especially the ones who have had checks cut to them by Oiselle. So if nothing else, the world now has confirmation that some of the more reliably bellicose voices for equality are willing to murmur about other stuff when a trailblazing icon appears to slip in her own dung-heap. This internecine battle between strong-willed women runners, in all seriousness, might as well be a puzzle created by an artificial intelligence program specifically to challenge the consistency of the collective moral outrage: “What if one of your own commits what even looks like a social-justice sin?” So far, no one has appeared eager to answer that question.

I’ll have more to say about this after the CEO emerges from her public-relations cave, by which time it may have been given some media play. But none of it bothers me; I’m not, after all, a loyal Oiselle customer. More troubling is the idea that we as runners must always maintain conscious awareness of our own racism and sexism and be accommodating of any discussions that ensue — even when the demand itself is openly racist or sexist.

From the same issue of the Fast Women newsletter: “Erin Strout wrote a good piece about why we can’t separate running from politics and social justice issues.” First, please watch for and learn to reject the use of “we” in almost any persuasive context; this not-so-sly tactic usually signals the advancement of an idea that on its own fails the sniff test, and can only gain popularity if a critical mass of energetic evangelists bounce it uncritically around social media. Wade does it here and Strout does it in her article, although neither is on the same planet as Lindsay Crouse when it comes to this primitive gambit. Second, it is, self-evidently, not a “good piece” at all but a ghastly one. It’s more foghorn noise about why you, my white male friend, need to saddle yourself with guilt every time you lace ‘em up — even when the people demanding this openly have no respect for who you are based solely on your gender, race and age.

The combination of bland and infuriatingly wrong is hard to pull off, but this isn’t the first Women’s Running article to strike that rare, discordant combination of notes. Most of this one is well-researched history mixed with breathless complaining about how everyone needs to work harder to promote inclusivity and random accusations. Although its primarily audience is obviously women, I hope any reader would balk at least a little at the articles thesis: That running needs more politics, not less, anywhere and everywhere, because the two are simply inextricable. It relies in part on weird bootstrapping: You’re able to be a runner thanks to the efforts of those who came before you, but because running is practically impossible owing to inequality, those in the running community must make striving for equality the centerpiece of their entire outlook.

The piece reads at first like a mandate to self-reflect about racism, sexism and other -isms, but what it really represents is a middle finger to people like me who defend Laz Lake and others who reject the combination of ignorance and self-righteousness when deciding what conversations to host in our own online and head-spaces. It says, get ready, because the show is just starting.

It was this sentence, though, that jumped out at me most.

Cain’s story unleashed a conversation about the destructive culture underlying sports at all levels, where outdated science and antiquated training philosophies (many perpetuated by a male-dominated coaching profession) often result in eating disorders and emotional abuse.

We aren’t told what this outstated science supposedly is, and we aren’t presented with any evidence is that women don’t sometimes screw things up as grandly as men do. (Stories of emotional abuse or sexual exploitation by women track coaches, some of them quite successful, are hardly unheard of; this one has bad actors across the spectrum.) What we do know, however, is that Strout’s idea of sound science includes trying to invent a scenario that justifies someone with a pair of testicles competing in women’s athletic events, and expressing indignation that anyone has the temerity to object. She’s not alone in this Bizarro version of women’s advocacy, but whatever people are agitating for when they want testes essentially excluded from running except in the women’s 800 meters, it’s not sound science.

The main reason I’m scornful of this nonsense isn’t that it’s all wrong, it’s that it’s not part of any sort of good-faith movement. (I use “SJW’ as the slur I assume it’s intended to be, aiming it at insincere or self-aggrandizing activists, not everyone with the audacity to care about social progress.) When you openly and continually complain about white men as a bloc while somehow expecting a lot of those men to support you, then you either have a lot of confidence in your raw charisma or you’re putting far more emotion than intellect into your cause. I think I officially slammed the door on being at all helpful in this area when I was told one too many raucous times about my “white privilege.”

Of interest here is that anyone in the approximately 24-to-35 age bracket living in a major metro area and advertising themselves as a freelancer writer and editor is almost surely not living on their own financial steam, and is enjoying help from either mom and dad or a domestic partner. Or has about nine roommates. I’ve never complained about having a flat-out Ohio Valley hillbilly as one parent and another who was a college dropout, or about being a financial-aid kid at every step of my long-ago education. But combine this with having an article stalled and then cratered by a cowardly editor for excessive white-maleness by a publication proud of its open racial and gender quotas, and watching whining about made-up crimes by white male announcers, and parsing the constant screeching noises from people who insist that you share their thermonuclear level of sanctimony about absolutely everything even when misinformation and selective reporting are required to advance their views…and, well, I’m thinking some of you have lost a nominal ally.

My mom created in me the rudiments of a male feminist; nothing else explains it, because left to my own I suspect I would never have cared much about social causes. When I was 10, she had me and a friend’s son campaign for the re-election of Gov. Hugh Gallen (D.-N.H.). I met Jesse Jackson somewhere along the way. I heard a fair amount of passionate talk about obvious examples of sexism, one of them being the idea that anyone, male or female, should not enjoy complete body autonomy (she didn’t blame this on the cross-wavers; I figured that out later and became antithetical to religion on my own.) I have never voted for a Republican in my life and never will, although “nonvoter” might look great if I’m alive in 2024, and over the years I’ve forked over probably five hundred to a thousand bucks to Planned Parenthood.

Why? That’s become a very good question. If the Supreme Court decides to hijack the reproductive apparatus of every woman in America, I myself lose nothing. If the U.S. fails to expand healthcare delivery in some way, that changes my anticipated number of annual doctor and hospital visits to zero and zero, respectively; the rest of you can only hope to be so blase’. I place far too little overall value on the animation of my 140-pound meatpile to worry what I will and won’t have or be given in fifteen or ten or five years. Come to think of it, I don’t give a rat’s ass how much child care or tuition costs. It’s tempting to care, since I have the time and see others doing it, but in all seriousness, why?

To sum up: Openly despising a group of people based on their gender and race, yet expecting them to spend precious time worrying about your various niche discomforts, is a strategy that could use some refining.

And that is primarily why I refer to this kind of extreme anti-racism a religion. The idea that everyone has to do and think the same thing at once to advance equality (and this isn’t about “equality” in the least, yet another topic for another day) turns smart people into morons, reasonable people into hypocrites, alert analysts into uncomprehending goofs, and otherwise jovial-enough runners into seething online cauldrons of ignorant, accusatory spew.

There are better ways to move people toward your point of view than lecturing and insulting them at the same time. I do a lot of that here, but I can afford to because my audience consists of two-thirds half-asleep sycophants and one-third fellow bedraggled sexual fetishists.

In the end, much of my despair over the state of the world is the same as every other scold’s: “Why don’t more people think like I do?” To barely make a dent in my own wish list, I would prefer that people not believe in obviously made-up celestial shitlords and use this belief to advance backward and unhelpful ideas, and to excuse voting for someone like Donald Trump only because he promised to install anti-abortion tosspots and vacant-eyed cultists on the U.S. Supreme Court. But everyone who votes for Trump knows he’s an utter imbecile; Trump cannot pretend otherwise, and when he insults others, however viciously, it’s with the bearing of a schoolyard bully who finally got his ass whooped at recess and is now yammering at his adversaries from the safety of his mother’s minivan yonder. I suspect the people at Trump rallies know that they, too, are clueless. In way, the constant lying removes all pretense that any sort of cooperation or even admiration is involved.

But SJWs have a special gift for infuriating others because of how openly they declare alternative viewpoints to be both incorrect and obnoxious. They insist that you think about your own (usually presumed) privilege as well as their privations at every turn, even when this clearly represents a form of intellectual trespassing. (What if I want to think about my latest lab results when I run, rather than reflect on the hundreds of runners being called fags and worse — maybe even me — by passing motorists at the same instant? What, in fact, if I can’t help it? Granted, those lab results were years ago.)

I promise few things with any real confidence, but my more insistent fist-pounding about the infestation of running by culture-warriors and cancel-cartels has centered on the assurance that these gangsters invariably eat their own; what’s happening with Oiselle and Fear Her Fight Athletics seems to be a textbook example. When you set lofty moral and basic procedural standards for everyone else, and often only give the appearance of attaining them yourself though various forms of deception, you can expect to become a victim of your own machine eventually.