The Tyee has published my article on Calling Out the ‘Callout Culture’. Excerpt:
As a battle-scarred veteran of flame wars since the alt-politics newsgroups of the 1990s, I have always been both grateful and surprised to find an almost total absence of conflict in the world I call Flublogia, the online community of people who worry about infectious diseases and the politics of public health.
But Flublogia is learning about the callout. While a troll attacks ideological enemies through online insults, a callout artist attacks those who ought to be friends but aren’t ideologically pure enough.
The callout is far older than the Internet. Religions are full of callouts, with one sect or another denounced as heretics or apostate. Martin Luther’s 95 theses were a callout of the Catholic Church, of which he was still a priest. The French revolutionaries called one another out; Tom Paine, born a British subject, called out the British government. The Nazis and Communists often fell upon one another, with callouts leading directly to purges, executions, and Great Proletarian Cultural Revolutions.
The other day, Donald Trump showed genius as a callout artist, tweeting an attack on his own party’s “Freedom Caucus” of congressional Republicans who opposed his American Health Care Act.
If you support public health, you’re generally on the same page with your fellow-supporters. So, I was startled the other night when some of my followers announced on Twitter they would not be taking part in, or supporting, the April 22 March for Science in Washington, D.C.
If they’d criticized the march, intended to support “robustly funded and publicly communicated science,” as politically pointless, I’d have appreciated their argument. Those who marched against U.S. involvement in Vietnam may have driven Lyndon Johnson out of office but they didn’t stop the war. Those who marched against the Iraq war had even less effect.
But these people were calling out the organizers of the march, their fellow scientists, as lacking in diversity: they were too white, too male, too sexist, and too privileged to be supported.