16 responses

  1. Steph
    May 17, 2012

    Ok, I am guilty of giving it the “work read”, thus assuredly I was implying more than comprehending.

    I suppose I implied rather than truly read, because it never occurred to me that someone would bother to write a post so banal as ‘”privilege” is a loaded word in the context of straight white males’ .

    Wow. No kidding.

    Furthermore, IIRC, the guy then acted like a lunatic in the Comments section regarding mention of the word “privilege”. Kimberly-Clark should have hired the guy to defend the word “Kleenex” and we’d all be using “facial tissue” instead. Cripes.

    Sorry bro, but Derrida said it best– “there is nothing outside the text”!
    (except he probably said it in French)

    • Bill Ruhsam
      May 18, 2012

      Scalzi call his commenting policy, “The Mallet of Loving Correction. ” and his official written policy is pretty clear that he will dispose of things he feels, from his perspective, are unworthy of his blog.

      He may occasionally go overboard, but he doesn’t have a crop of trolls either.

      • Steph
        May 18, 2012

        No, instead he probably has an echo chamber?
        (apologies, I have not done an exhaustive study of his, uh, moderating style)

        Not that there is anything wrong with this– it’s the d00d’s blog, he can do what he wants.

        But we’re supposed to talk about something absent the something? That’s awfully Saussurean.

      • Bill Ruhsam
        May 18, 2012

        Having not much knowledge of Sausser, beyond he was involved with linguistics, I can’t say.

      • Steph
        May 18, 2012

        Well, if nothing else, I am getting to trot out all my fancy Lit Crit lernin’ ;-)

        I’m just saying– if you call comment moderation “a mallet of loving correction”, then you’re immediately framing the conversation as “I’m right, you’re wrong”. Perfect conditions for making sure people toe the line, sure, and as a mod, I understand that– but the risk is that dissenters clam up for fear of being branded a troll. Result = echo chamber.

        And, under most circumstances, well, who cares?

        But, if you’re making a scene about a specific word (i.e., ‘privilege’, in this case), then maybe you should re-think your approach. In my mind, this guy wants it both ways.

      • Bill Ruhsam
        May 18, 2012

        Your points are valid, but I think if you read his stuff, and the commentary on his stuff, you’ll find that he’s not nearly so over the top as you might think. He tolerates dissenting opinions.

  2. Chris
    May 18, 2012

    I think Mr. Scalzi has once again done a fine job writing lucidly about a controversial topic. Although I was forced to wonder if he had simply become bored with Left For Dead and just wanted to take some big meaty swings with his Mallet on the inevitable zombie like trolls. (Zombie trolls are certainly as unpleasant as they sound.)

  3. Steph
    May 18, 2012

    Yeah, I’m not trying to be all douche-y, either. The guy’s got a right; it’s his blog!

    I don’t find the post very inflammatory or anything, I just think it’s kind of funny. And I’m not sure that comments out of bemusement was what the guy was going for…but whatevs!

  4. James May
    May 26, 2012

    Thank you for that semantic gibberish that amounts to the same stupidity as Scalzi’s while riding above it like scudding but sad clouds.

  5. Bill Ruhsam
    May 26, 2012

    Wow, James. That almost sounds artistic! Were you shooting for artistic, or just ad hominem bullshit? For the record, I don’t tolerate ad hominem bullshit. If you have an opinion, you’re welcome to it. If you’re going to attack, I’ll just dump you back in the moderation bucket.

  6. Steph
    May 26, 2012


    lol. exactly.

  7. Bob
    June 3, 2012

    And your post has the same failing as Scalzi’s post. He equates white privilege to gravity…a supposed fact, just as you do. Even in the face of hundreds of reasoned comments and statistics to the contrary; instead of engaging, he simply says all of the actual proof (whereas he has none) is irrelevant. White males are the whipping boys of society now, with fewer privileges than any other race or gender. That’s a fact. If they are still successful in spite of that, it is on the basis of actual work and merit, where nearly every other class and race is given handouts and advancements regardless of merit.

  8. Bill Ruhsam
    June 3, 2012

    Bob: I agree. I’m positing the existence of white privilege, and without getting too metaphysical (or philosophical) I will note that your comparison is apt: gravity is a fact, as is white privilege in the U.S.

    I’m curious about the statistics you mentioned. I’m not going to wade through the commentary over at Scalzi’s post to look for them (did that once and I don’t need to do it again) so if you have any particular ones in mind, I’d be delighted to look at it. My apparent unwillingness to accede the possibility that white privilege is a myth comes from a lifetime of paying attention to our great country, and its history. If you have a good argument against it, please bring it forth.

    “White privilege” is a bad term, just like “illegal immigrant”. They both assume the thing they are trying to label. I will acknowledge that fact. There isn’t currently any other easily encapsulated phrase available, like “undocumented immigrant” for the immigration debate.

    Lastly, going back to Scalzi’s post (and outside the discussion that you and I are having right now) I’ll defend the guy by noting that his post never attempted to weight his metaphor with any discussion surrounding the pros or cons of affirmative action or minority preference.

    James: Note that Bob’s comment is a great example of how to call someone’s post stupid without calling them stupid. While it’s a fine line, it’s an important one.

  9. Bob
    June 3, 2012

    (Sorry for reopening this, I didn’t realize this whole controversy is over 2 weeks old now!=))

    One example that comes to mind is the rate at which white males are now going to college, and their graduation rates. In the 60′s, white males made up 70% or so of the graduating classes. I guess that could have been an example of ‘privilege’. Now, white women in some colleges outnumber males more than 2:1, and 60/40 in general; they also graduate at higher rates. While there has been a huge push for ‘women in college’ since the 70′s due to the disparity then…do you really think there will be a huge push for increasing male participation rates in college and programs to go along with it now that they are in the minority? I still see commercials and media campaigns trying to increase women’s college participation, even though they are already in the majority and still growing.

    I guess the bigger issue for me is what is ‘privilege’? Scalzi defines it as life on easy mode. But what makes it easier? I grew up solidly middle class…but was that privilege? Or is it that my father worked 70 hours a week and was on the road 28 days out of 30 to provide for us? Are many of these privilege discussions really talking about the fact that contrary to popular belief, a higher percentage of white males (and everyone else who chooses to) work their asses off for what they have, and earn a decent life? Is it really easier to think it is the luck of the draw and being born white in America that makes people successful? What a rubbish argument. Correlation and causation and all that.

    Asians are generally even more successful than whites; is it the fact that they are ‘whitish’ or the fact that they excel in education due to their family structure, lower divorce rates, huge amounts of discipline, and hard work? It sounds like ‘privilege’ is more like the quote ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.’ Asians had a pretty raw deal for much of the 20th century, including heavy racism and internment camps. However, their culture still chose (and chooses) to practice activities that lead to success, and it has nothing to do with their color (or lack thereof).

    And there are foreign born blacks, who by every standard, perform better and are more successful here than native blacks. Is it because the foreign blacks have privilege, or because they don’t practice activities that make success difficult or impossible? Foreign blacks probably start with half the ‘skill points’ of their American brethren, and simply work harder to overcome that disadvantage. I was very lucky to work with one of the ‘Lost Boys’ from the Sudan, who grew up under circumstances you and I likely couldn’t imagine. He thinks the whole discussion of race in America is fruitless and pointless, because he, like many foreigners, finds that the biggest predictor of success in America is effort, not race or gender. That is why people still flock to the US.

    One thing I can’t understand is that neither Scalzi nor any of the other posts I’ve read on this subject even define the attributes of so-called white privilege. The two most obvious I can think of are high school and college graduation rates (at least as predictors)…white women win on both counts, with more graduating both high school and college. Shouldn’t that put them on the top (or bottom, as Scalzi defines it) of the ‘easy life’ scale? Some examples of where white males have it easier would at least help me figure out the argument, because from what I can see, PEOPLE in America have opportunities.

    And the constant noise about race and gender doesn’t change the fact that a black teenager with 2 parents (obviously that one is outside their control) who grows up in a loving home, chooses to finish school, gets a trade or goes to college, and learns to type, will have the same approximate outcomes as a white kid with the same circumstances.

    To make that outcome more likely does not require any type of ‘privilege’, and it doesn’t mean that because more whites grow up in those circumstances they are ‘privileged’. It requires a culture that encourages stable homes, two parents, and a good work ethic. Sadly, we increasingly don’t have a culture that does that. Instead, we have a culture that insists that it isn’t good choices that create positive or negative outcomes, but color or gender or discrimination or other factors, completely removing peoples’ choices from the equation.

  10. Steph
    June 3, 2012

    What he said.

    (and yes, I am lazy. Too lazy to even dig up a Lit Crit joke to threadjack for my own amusement)

  11. Brigadon
    January 11, 2015

    You know, there IS an alternate term for ‘White Prilege’. A perfectly reasonable, perfectly logical term that is well understood.
    That term is ‘White superiority’

    The fact of the matter is, if you assume that white privilege exists, nothing can exist without a reason. Therefore, that reason HAS to be that whites are superior somehow.

    I have a strong impression that those who trumpet about the horrors of white privilege are, in the end, absolutely convinced that they are fighting as ‘the little guy’ against a force of nature, that force of nature being, in the end, white superiority.

    Frankly, you cannot have one without the other… Me, since I believe that ‘white privilege’ is an absolute joke of a word because it apparently conflates CEO’s and trailer trash, refuse to assume that white superiority exists because white privilege exists… Nothing exists without an evolutionary imperative for it to exist, in some form.

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