Are you proud of everything you have written?
Would you be comfortable with each note, letter, email, transcribed statement, text message, forum post, and social media entry being released to the public? Are you able to say for certain that your personal relationships, professional pursuits, and even recreational activities would not suffer in the slightest?
If your answer falls short of an enthusiastic ‘yes’, tune out whatever else is going on and focus on these words.
Since this month began, one of the Internet’s more established celebrities has found his way into the mainstream media. He also garnered attention from high-level politicians. What did he do to deserve such notoriety?
Perhaps it is best to rewind.
The man in question here is Daryush Valizadeh, also known as Roosh V. Since the mid-2000s, he has devoted his life to understanding and promoting masculinity. That meant shedding his comfortable Washingtonian existence for locales ranging from South America to Eastern Europe. He launched a blog which pooled huge readership. Eventually he published a book, which was soon followed by another. Now he is nearing twenty of them, and each has sold well.
Initially, Roosh’s blogospheric and literary pursuits revolved around attracting women and bedding them. His throngs of readers and forum members claim that Roosh’s techniques work wonders. As the years passed, he broadened his interests and what was once a colony for pick-up artistry became a symposium about traditional manhood.
Early last year, Roosh wrote an article regarding the heightened dialogue over male-on-female rape. The dialogue sprouted from university campuses, where, for the last half-decade, resurgent cultural progressivism has bolstered third-wave feminism. This misandrist doctrine is facilitated by social media - particularly Tumblr and Twitter - so those adhering to it are amplified far beyond their actual volume.
Opportunistic journalists and politicians then capitalized on a ‘mass movement’ that would not find more than ten percent support in a national referendum.
Essentially, third-wavers want rape laws to be revised so that even if consent between two adults is settled, the woman can renege following intercourse. If she decides that her mind was not 100 percent clear, the sex act, though devoid of criminal intent, would become felonious. Many colleges have adopted rape definitions which accommodate this perspective.
Roosh’s article, published on his blog, declared that our society has taught women “not to protect themselves from easily preventable acts, and not to take responsibility for their actions... I thought about this problem and am sure I have the solution: make rape legal if done on private property... If rape becomes legal, a girl will not enter an impaired state of mind where she can’t resist being dragged off to a bedroom with a man who she is unsure of.”
That was meant to be satirical. Roosh publicly stated as much after the article went online. He was trying to make a point - and instead made a world of trouble. The satire was ill-advised and worse in execution. Roosh’s remarks here are woeful by any sane standard.
Unsurprisingly, his enemies disseminated them devoid of their context. These people created a social media firestorm ahead of an international meet-up day for Roosh’s followers. Publications the world over parroted anti-Roosh claims almost verbatim. Some alleged his entire group was dedicated to legalizing rape. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, among other public officeholders, condemned Roosh’s community.
Roosh ultimately cancelled the meetings, citing concern for his followers’ welfare, and was threatened to the point that police protection became necessary. Internet miscreants spread his mother’s home address. Roosh was advised to flee the DC area, where he was visiting for the meet-up, but refused.
Regrettable as Roosh’s satire was, he - and certainly his mother - did not deserve this.
Before anyone cheers the mob, remember that, in our digital age, any statement of yours can be used by e-thugs to annihilate your livelihood. What happened to Roosh can be inflicted on any one of us. The most innocent of chatter might be ripped from context and propagated as an admission of capital guilt. Keyboard warriors revel in ideologically-fueled hatred and rationalize their misdeeds.
Speak out against this tyranny. We might not always have the chance.
Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at email@example.com