Twitter debates can be brutal. I’ve fallen into the trap myself where instead of rational debate a comment can be simply dismissed as moronic or an individual as stupid. But there’s a really important difference between letting off steam and consistently patronising someone.
This perhaps makes me think a bit more deeply than others because I’m dyslexic. I think back to the time that Max Mosley, then President of motorsports governing body the FIA, called the three time World Drivers’ Champion and dyslexic Jackie Stewart “a certified halfwit”. People seem to link dyslexia with stupidity, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
In the election campaign and generally I’m finding that people also associate anarchism with stupidity. The below tweet was from a Tory supporter in Croydon.
There followed a debate with Tory Councillor and the man responsible for trying to lose the Tory’s Croydon Central seat to Labour, Mario Creatura. It included the below tweet in response to him fucking up the campaign.
This is full of hidden messages. Firstly the idea that anarchists would get more support if they were polite! The use of the term “young man” is very telling. It suggests that regardless of age he considers me young and naive. Being patronised like this is frustrating but also quite funny. In the case of being patronised or dismissed as a ‘moron’ by Tories shows how they assume superiority even when they have none. Creatura is a classic example of this. He doesn’t just display the arrogance of someone who thinks they know best his patronising remark suggests he thinks he’s in authority over me.
Doing a PhD obviously means that I have to be able to back up anything I say in academic writing with evidence. I have to use critical analysis. The twitter sphere doesn’t have the same rigid standards but integrity is important so I’m always ready to explain my views to people. I don’t mind or indeed care if people disagree.
I’m now starting to get invitations to conferences and events to talk about my research and views. I live in this strange world where my professional opinions, backed up with evidence and research that I’m gathering and developing personally are gaining credence and yet at the same time in the wider world I’m getting ill informed comments like those highlighted. I’m developing professional skills which aren’t noticed in that wider world but which give me a lot of happiness and resilience. Being able to explain detailed aspects of human existence is a skill which should be cherished. I also know that I have a lot of development to go through too and so much to learn.
It’s unlikely that anyone on twitter making adverse comments will even know I’m dyslexic. This is likely to be an entirely internal issue. That’s in contrast to the Mosley comments which were understood to be directly about Stewart being dyslexic. It shows how we have to have a detachment from such abuse to stay positive. Another incident last week was Inside Croydon labeling me as (an anarchist standing in an election) the “oxymoronic” candidate. Some people in Class War just considered this to be nasty. I think it goes with politics and the style of Inside Croydon to a certain extent.
Being dyslexic can be tough. Dismissing people as moronic is something we can all fall into the trap of doing. I’m sure it’s a trap I will fall into again myself but it’s no replacement for informed debate. And it’s informed debate that the right struggles so hard with. We defeat them when we use reason, facts and figures. They much prefer to just make statements as if they are obvious and factual. As someone on the right asked me online a few months ago “why can’t you just see the world like everyone else does and stop trying to change things?”
Because things need to change. Because being dyslexic helps me see the world in ways you wouldn’t understand. Because I’m an anarchist. Because I’m becoming an academic researcher.