For most Americans, the recent mass murder in Aurora, Colo., was an unspeakable human tragedy; if the story had any political dimension at all, it was guns and gun control (or the lack thereof). But for a vocal few in the misogynistic online world of “men’s rights” — and no, not all men’s rights activists are woman-haters — the takeaway was the evil of “male disposability.”
In the first few days after the shooting, a number of mainstream news venues, eager to find something uplifting to report on, focused on the heroism of some of the victims. “Three survivors of the Colorado movie-theater massacre escaped with minor wounds, but were left with broken hearts because their heroic boyfriends died saving them,” as The NY Daily News put it. “In final acts of valor, Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn and Alex Teves used their bodies to shield their girlfriends as accused madman James Holmes turned the Aurora Cineplex into a shooting gallery.”
Less sentimental was The Wall Street Journals’ James Taranto, who, on July 24, let loose with this astonishingly sour and unchivalrous tweet: “I hope the girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of the sacrifice.” Twenty-four hours later, after a deluge of negative comments appeared on his blog, he took down the tweet and issued an apology, in which he tortuously explained that he had merely been expressing his wish that the women would use “the gift of their survival well – to live good, full, happy lives.”
Taranto’s faux pas wouldn’t have even borne notice at A Voice for Men, one of the men’s rights websites the SPLC wrote about in the Intelligence Report last spring.
Under the headline “Three Cheers for Three Male Corpses. Heroes,” “John the Other,” identified as the site's managing editor, explained that those so-called heroes were merely victims of their biology (males are hard-wired to protect females) and social conditioning (which tells men, as John the Other explained, that “in order to be worthwhile, a real man, you’d better be prepared to die without complaint for the child, or the little old lady, or the drug addled s--- in the next seat. They matter more than you. Your best and most honorable path ends in you on a slab in the basement of your city’s morgue”). Their sacrifice, he concluded, was merely a victory for misandry, the principled hatred of males. Had they not died, he added, “the preening, strutting, amoral w----- of the mainstream media” would have described “them as cowards and shirkers; failed men for not doing their manly duty by dying for the convenience of others.” (Interestingly enough, one man who did flee the theater, leaving his wounded girlfriend and their two children behind—and then proposed to her hours later in the hospital—cut a wide swath through the talk show circuit.)
Over at the Spearhead, another site highlighted in the Intelligence Report, W.F. Price unleashed his ire on William Bennett, who, in an essay at CNN.com, had not only deigned to attribute the men’s actions to a code of honor, but cited a Slate essay by Hanna Rosin, the author of The End of Men. “Bennett gets it totally wrong on a number of points, which is about what you’d expect from a guy who relies on feminists to divine the motivations of young men,” Price complained. “They were solid men; the kind that families and communities have always relied on when the going gets tough. It wasn’t because they held some belief or political position, it was because they were men that they acted as they did. It is simply what men do, and that’s why they deserve honor, which Bennett is incapable of bestowing on anyone. No, instead of honoring these men, Bennett continues to measure them according to their utility to women.”
The Pigman, a self-described left-wing men’s rights activist, saw the lionization of the three men as so much propagandizing for “male disposability.”
“Cheering these men’s actions is as reprehensible as it is stupid and discriminatory,” The Pigman wrote. “Imagine if this was a cinema where roughly 50% of the patrons were black and the other 50% white, then imagine that everyone who decided to act as someone else’s bullet-proof vest just happened to be black and everyone who benefited from their sacrifice just happened to be white. Anyone with any sense would be thinking, ‘Well, this is clearly a society that teaches both blacks and whites that white people are worth more than black people.’ But because the disparity runs against not a politically protected group but against a group that enjoys neither the protection of the Right nor the victim status granted by the Left, not only does no one complain – they actually encourage the continuation of such disparity by praising the men who were foolish enough and unfortunate enough to fall for a lifetime of anti-male propaganda telling them to die for the nearest woman whenever the shit hits the fan.”