# A shibboleth for idiots

(Prompted by the following extremely insightful comment on the Guardian website: “Corybn who is the Tories’ poodle on Brexshit. Yeah, he’s great.”)

Like a lot of people (I suspect), I have a very hard time getting my own beliefs about speech norms on the internet in order. Whenever I have pinned down a behaviour that I think is always bad, somebody else can come up with a persuasive argument that in this case it is not only acceptable but right. On the whole I’m in favour of civility, but there’s no denying that incivility can be effective and is sometimes justified.

What is plain rudeness and what is the righteous frustration of the oppressed? What is a good-faith call for politeness for strategic ends and what is malign tone-policing? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to cleave out consistent rules to follow and I’ll have to consult my conscience case by case forever. This is probably all to the good.

That said, here’s one rule I have managed to work out: satiric misspellings (like “Brexshit”) are stupid and anybody using them, of any political persuasion, looks like a moron. Lieberals, Liebour, Tony Bliar, the ConDems, Drumpf, Shillary Clinton, Killary KKKlinton, Amerikkka, Micro\$oft, Microshit, Brexshit, freeze peach, muh soggy knees, feminazis; cut that shit out.1

I guess the point of these usages is to very concisely communicate strong opposition to some person or institution. Unfortunately they also equally concisely communicate that the writer is an idiot.

There. I have finally put in place one solid stone in the rules of discourse. When I eventually solve all political discussion forever, I’ll look back to this as the first time I was sure of anything. That’s all I know for now though.

1. Same goes for putting baby speak in the mouths of your opponents: talking about hurting people’s “fee fees”. Pathetic. ↩︎

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