Fifteen Minutes of Shame

Man with Make up and Make Up Brush

Don’t Tread on Me
Photo from Dollar Photo Club.

From National Review, we learn today that “Eliminating Gender Norms from Clothing Styles is Actually Transphobic” for some reason. This being the Age of Outrage, you can be damned sure that someone is going to preach the good word–which is to say, we’re not going to tolerate that shit.

But trans people should be aware that well-known faces like Jaden Smith are starting to encroach on our territory. They’re starting to wear the trans uniform without actually stating that they are transgender, and they’re claiming it for themselves under the guise of gender-neutral fashion. All of which begs the question: where does that leave us?

Well, Katie, I hope it leaves us in a place where we’ve reached (I hope, I pray) peak absurdity. This is a moment where it doesn’t matter what you say or do, someone will be offended. They’ll be offended because they prefer the social benefits of outrage over finding the good (or intended good) in what people do. They would much prefer to aggregate power behind cultivated victimhood than merely give the benefit of the doubt.

But it doesn’t matter anymore. It can’t matter any more. It’s just a bunch of people yelling at the top of their lungs, pegging the max on their outrage meters, desperately trying to enforce their view of how everyone else should behave.

It’s a funhouse version of Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame, though. In the future, everyone will spend fifteen minutes of shame at the hands of an internet lynch mob and no carefully assembled armor of social justice causes and virtue signaling can possibly save you. It will be a quiet joke told between friends, a well-meaning photo that you took (but didn’t vet with your minority advisory council), an inappropriately appropriated “ethnic” meal, a candidate or cause you supported decades earlier, a political donation you forgot to regret loudly and publicly enough, or merely daring to believe something outside of the current cultural orthodoxy.

Whatever it is, the lynch mob is closing in and your fifteen minutes of shame is coming up.

But, surely, no society could possibly withstand that, could it? No society can maintain a common fabric with so many power hungry, outraged fingers pulling at the threads. Surely, we’ll grow past this absurd moment and remember that the other people on the receiving end of our outbursts of self-righteousness are just like us: imperfect folks doing their best to get along. Surely, we’ll remember to extend them good will and the benefit of the doubt when they say something questionable (and maybe even remember that it isn’t our place to police every word that comes from their mouths to begin with).

Surely, with generosity of spirit and kindness in mind, we’ll remember that ripping each other to shreds and leaving careers, personal reputations, friendships, and dignity in tatters isn’t the best way to build the better world that we all are aiming for.