Misdirection is an important method of deception, whether you’re deceiving people as entertainment, like magicians, or deceiving people as a tactic, as in politics. As long as your misdirection attracts, and keeps, people’s attention, you can do whatever you want with the other hand, literally or metaphorically.
I’ve talked about how I think various political issues are hiding misdirections: gun control as a way to hide the use of guns by the State, immigration as a way to hide the effects of neo-liberalist policies, and the minimum wage as a way to hide the control that the power elite has over people’s livelihoods.
Misdirection also applies to prejudice. Take sexism, for example. So we are told by the sex-pozzies that pornography and prostitution lessen rape and sexual assault. As I detailed in my recent entry “The catharsis theory used to defend pornography,” this conclusion is based on a deeply flawed model of internalization, at least insofar as pornography is concerned. But more relevant to this topic is the fact that this equation is a misdirection from the fact that prostitution and pornography are themselves ways by which men can rape women with impunity. Many pornography actresses (13.6%, according to one study, although there was no gender distinction made there), including famous ones, have reported coerced sex taking place on movie sets. A majority of prostituted women (around two-thirds) report having been raped “on the job” (although this conception of rape implies that paying someone for sex is consent, which I disagree with).
This is not to put a number on the rapes in pornography and prostitution, or to debate their relative importance compared to rapes in other areas. The point is that concentrating on these assumed beneficial effects erases the fact that they enable many rapes. Sex-pozzies do not want you to look at the rapes they are enabling, therefore they use misdirection with the “lessening rape” tactic, which is also a clear projection, since they are actually pro-rape. But they support the rape of “bad women” (i.e. women who supposedly get pleasure from violent sexual acts in pornography or prostitution), not of “good women.” To them, the rape of “bad women” needs to remain hidden, and they do so through talking about the rape of “good women,” a standard divide-and-conquer tactic (“we’re not like them so we need to respect their choice, although we would never make that choice ourselves”).
Childism has its own misdirection in the form of “stranger danger,” an old propaganda line which states that children must be protected from strangers trying to kidnap them. Clearly, children getting kidnapped is an extremely bad thing, but the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that only 3% of its kidnapping cases are caused by strangers. The vast majority of children are kidnapped by a parent, caretaker, or acquaintance. So there is another misdirection here: our attention is directed towards people who we can easily imagine as dangerous kidnappers, strangers with candy, while the real danger is the parents and people close to the family.
The same thing is true of assault and abuse against children in general. For instance, parents are far more likely to spank a child than anyone else, but we are told that spanking is not “really” criminal and that it prevents children from becoming criminals later in life. That may be so, although I rather doubt it, but either way this hides the truth that parents are the real danger. By directing our attention to the idea of strangers as the source of danger, they distract us from the fact that the vast majority of abuses take place within the home. In this generation, parents are reported to be afraid of letting their children play outside: I fear for the children who are stuck inside, with the people who are most likely to assault them.
But there is, again, this divide-and-conquer mechanism: we need to “discipline” the “bad children” so they don’t end up as criminals on the street. “Good children,” that is to say, obedient children, have nothing to fear. So the standard story has a “good child” get kidnapped by a sinister stranger with candy, as a way to divert attention to all the abuse inflicted on “bad children.”
Racism has its own misdirection, at least in the United States: we call it the politics of respectability, the principle by which black people need to “clean up their act” by erasing the behaviors and language proper to black American culture in order to gain respectability. According to this principle, it is the people who adopt black culture, meaning that they speak black English, listen to rap, use drugs, or wear their pants low, who are oppressing black people. If these people were to be “reformed,” then black people would be respected and racism would end.
This is another clear example of both misdirection and divide-and-conquer tactics. It is clearly not black culture that is putting millions of black people in jail, segregating their housing, or raising their unemployment rates. All of these points have to do with the massive systemic racism wielded by the power elite (which is 95% white) in order to keep black Americans as second-class citizens, which both affords white people some protection from the worst of the State and, as we’ve seen historically, prevents solidarity between white workers and black workers.
Again we have the division between good and bad black people, the former being those who adopt white culture and are “unthreatening,” and the latter being those who adopt black culture and are “threatening” to white people (such as how police officer Darren Wilson described an unarmed 18 year old who was one inch taller than him as a “demon” and a “Hulk Hogan” who he had to shoot because he was “bulking up”). I think there are two parts to that: one is that it’s easier for the privileged to divide the oppressed against each other, and another is that it’s easier for the oppressed to go after each other than to go after the privileged.
Also, it’s easier to maintain your moral status if you’re going after “bad” people, and I think childism has a lot to do with that. From the youngest age, we learn to associate obedience with goodness, and disobedience with badness. I’ve talked about this in regards to the obedience circuit: we are all indoctrinated to support authority and go after its victims. This applies to everyone; even people like me (and, I presume, you), who hate authority, adopt their position as a reaction to that indoctrination.
Yet another factor is the fact that we all want to believe that we live in a just world, that people who are abused somehow must deserve it. Because if they didn’t deserve it, then it could happen to us, too. And that’s a very scary thought. But the premise that it only happens to “bad people” is satisfying to us, at a conscious or subconscious level (I admit that even I get this sometimes), because we know we’re not “bad people,” and therefore it can’t happen to us.
So while it appears that pornography and prostitution, child abuse, and systemic racism, are unrelated, isolated issues, they do partake of the same impulses within the human psyche, and their supporters use basically the same tactics. All these issues are strongly related.