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"Conservoid" and name-calling
posted on Nextdoor; links and some formatting added

The Post

So, let's talk about this.

There have been repeated claims that my use of the term "conservoid" is somehow problematic. I'll get to the objections, but first I'll recap and explain what I mean by the term.

what it means

"Conservoid" is short for "conservative-identified" (conserv[o]-ID) -- as distinctly separate from a philosophy of truly being conservative. The "-void" affix indicates its deficits (compassion, critical thought, and honesty), while "-oid" in general suggests robotic or zombie-like behavior (in this case, mindless devotion to received beliefs and stances).

"Conservoid" doesn't refer so much to any particular position as it does to the general attitude of refusing to think critically about one's positions. Any given political position is not necessarily one or the other; there can be both a conservoid take and a reasonable take on the same subject.

For example: the overwhelmingly-dominant conservoid position on abortion is that it is bad and wrong and should never happen.

I (and most progressives) agree fully that it should never happen, in an ideal world -- but my approach to that goal is to support policies and laws which actually reduce the number of abortions, conserve the well-being of those who seek them, and make it easier to pursue alternatives (e.g. by providing better social supports for families, better public education, better adoption processes) -- while the conservoid approach is to support policies and laws that do nothing but punish and shame abortion-seekers and providers while working against the spread of basic knowledge which could have helped prevent those unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

why not just "conservative"?

The obvious question is: Since "conservative" is how folks of this mindset tend to identify, why don't I just respect that and call them "conservative"?

I cannot truthfully use that word to describe this ideology because that word implies something that is careful, cautiously moderate, and presumably interested in *conserving* -- when in reality it is the exact opposite: wasteful, careless, destructive. The only thing it "conserves" is the power of the powerful, which it works to enhance at every step.

I consider *myself* to be conservative, in the literal sense; people who identify as "conservative" -- and most policies similarly labeled, these days -- are anything but.

The Objections

1) Jeff Doscher: "every time you use the term ‘Conservoids’…. Should someone else say something like ‘Libtards’ to keep the balance?"

2) Tish Nowack: "How about we all stop calling people names like that? I might be conservative in some things but progressive in others. I don't want a label except my own name."

3) Joanne Beckman: "I try to counter faulty attempts to label or misconstrue my own "conservative thoughts or words" as being inappropriate "mind-reading"."

My Responses

R1: If you encounter a harmful political philosophy whose adherents consistently display a lack of compassion and understanding, then by all means use a disparaging label for it and for them. For a non-right-wing example, I often refer to a certain brand of hardline liberal -- someone who thinks that only doing *some* of something horrible is a good compromise between doing something horrible and, you know, *not* doing something horrible at all -- as a "sensible centrist". It may sound like praise, but it's meant to be every bit as disparaging.

You could call those people "libtards" if you wanted -- except the way I've seen that word used, it generally just means "anyone Left of Fox News", and totally disregards the question of whether the views make any sense or not. Also, "-tard" implies "retard", an epithet against developmentally challenged people; using it makes you look like the sort of person who would make fun of the handicapped -- or anyone else vulnerable -- just because they're an easy target.

R2 & R3: Why do you assume I'm talking about you?

If I say "x is really a terrible idea", why get upset about me using the term "x" because it doesn't fit your beliefs, INSTEAD OF saying "I agree with you, x is really a terrible idea" or at least "I don't support x either"?

Complaining about the label "conservoid" when it hasn't specifically been applied to you is kind of like saying that people who argue for the supremacy of the "white race" shouldn't be called "white supremacists" because that's a disparaging term. Yes, it's disparaging -- because what they're doing is unequivocally horrible. If you think I'm referring to you when I say "conservoid", the next questions to ask yourself are: Why do I feel like *I'm* being called out? What has been said that makes me think I'm the subject? Why do I feel like I need to defend conservoidism?

If you don't like the word being applied to you, then why defend the thing that the label is about? If the shoe doesn't fit, why do you keep trying to put it on? Methinks thou dost protest too much.

Or, more simply: if you don't like the label, DON'T BE IT.