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A rebuttal to my own rant.

16/11/2007

As promised, here is my rebuttal to my own post.

I would like to address certain points made by myself in the controversial blog post,
Why I dislike hippies (a rant)

First, I would like to address the use of the term “hippie”.
According to the dictionary that came with my computer, a hippie is defined as:

“A person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.”

By this definition, one could define both my husband and myself as hippies.
The author does not make a clear enough definition of what a hippie is. Instead she assumes that the reader shares her definition of a hippie as a bleeding heart, new-age, namby-pamby vegetarian, who thinks that social change can still be made through marches and protests, and that patchouli is an acceptable deodorant.

With this sweeping generalisation, the author fails to acknowledge adequately the broad spectrum of hippiedom, from the bohemian artist making her own clothes in a crummy, overpriced Haight Street apartment, to the burnt out executive in Silicon Valley who still wears an earring and smokes a joint when he gets home from the office. In fact, being a hippie does not preclude one from being a reasonable, scientifically minded, humble person.

The first point made by the clearly emotional author, is that “hippies…take themselves too seriously.” The author fails to provide an example or any evidence to support this claim. Again, she assumes the reader has shared her experience of being at a party and having a very bohemian vegan explain why the video for the song “Milkshake” is offensive. She goes on to explain why humor is important. This is irrelevant to her point about hippies.

Next, the author gives general examples of hippies she has encountered, but fails to provide more specific experiences. Instead, she speaks as if her vast experience gives her some special insight. There is no reason given for the revelation of this information and the paragraph just seems out of place.

The second clear point is that “Hippies think they are better than everyone else.” Why does the author think this? She does not give examples of this being the case. Perhaps if she described the actions of so-called “eco-terrorist” groups like PETA or even an anecdote about someone pushing alternative medicine on her it would be more clear. She goes on to state that certain -isms are “valid points of view” when it is clear that she does not believe that hippies’ points of view are valid. The only clear statement is the one about hippies getting all of their information from other hippies. Even then, this does little to support the point being made and in fact makes the author seem to think herself superior.

She follows this bit with an anecdote about her friend, Miss G. While this is fair example of going too far with hippie propaganda, it is not a problem unique to hippies. The same is often true of children raised by strict Christian fundamentalist parents, or children raised in any extreme situation. The point she makes is weak and is not stated until the end of the paragraph.

Finally, there is a truculent statement about “stupid people.” Since the author did very little to show evidence that hippies are “stupid” it is hard to support her in this last bit of vitriol.

In conclusion, I could write a much better rant than this. When I wrote this, it was early in my development as a skeptic. I had just watched several episodes of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit and was listening to Penn’s radio show a lot. I had just discovered skepticism and was feeling betrayed by a whole subculture of people who I felt were “stupid” for believing things that I newly thought to be foolish. I no longer hold this belief. I am now aware that smart people very often believe dumb things. While I am not nearly as angry as I was then, I admit I still generally dislike hippies. Even if, technically, I am one.

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3 Comments
  1. podblack permalink
    19/11/2007 9:57 pm

    Ah! You’ve moved! I have accordingly moved the link to your new url. Good colour scheme. 🙂 Have you tried changing for your own banner illustration on wordpress? http://www.podblack.wordpress.com.

  2. podblack permalink
    20/11/2007 12:10 am

    Rebuttal of your rebuttal… or maybe just a reflection?

    Taking of hallucinogenic drugs? I probably wouldn’t suggest anyone ever admit to such a practice online where it is recorded, although considering the effect of cold medicine on my system, one could hazard that legal over-the-counter-pharmaceutical products can have unwarrented effects on one’s biology. One could point out the ‘buzz’ a person might get from a menthol cigarette is mind altering and certainly I would ascertain that the definition of ‘drug’ is any substance that alters the chemical balance of your body. Therefore sugar could be seen as a drug. Do you get ‘high’ on sugar?

    The notion of ‘new age’ is certainly something I have qualms about, coming with associated pseudoscientific practices – but I’d probably be more concerned about my own real-life experience of the ‘hippy’ defined lifestyle as demonstrated in some rural areas of the country as being less about the conservation of habitat and decision to lead an alternative lifestyle (vegetarianism, homeschooling, spiritualism, what have you) and instead a bastardisation of nomadic practices involving littering, rallies, aggression and invasion of private areas. The mystery novel ‘Fox Evil’ (yes, although just a humble whodunnit by Minette Walters, it shows some great considerations of the issue) demonstrates the various conflicts quite well, especially the legal problems regarding squatting and attitudes/values coming into play amongst the various stakeholders. I’m certain your husband can say more about his experience with that particular sub-culture and the ramifications when using labels without full knowledge of the impact it might have on young people, for example. It’s always a learning experience, language!

    In addressing the rest of your post, I think what you have here is what Wittgenstein discussed about the problems when making definitions(http://www.inform.umd.edu/EdRes/Colleges/ARHU/Depts/Philosophy/Faculty/JLesher/handouts/10%20Witt.htm). At your conclusion, you redefine yourself as a ‘hippie’, but considering how you have already explored the limitations of such definitions, I would probably suggest that you be less hard on yourself and move on. Certainly I’d like to see you strike anew on topics that better show your status now and what you continue to learn!

    As Wittgenstein himself would say, the limits of our language may mean the limits of our world, but at least you’re questioning. 🙂

  3. 13/01/2008 9:30 am

    Marches have had positive political impacts, in addition to positive social impacts (fostering solidarity amongst participants).

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