There are some nerdy twists you don’t see coming, like Darth Vader turning out to be Luke Skywalker’s dad. Others are pretty thoroughly foreshadowed, like most key moments in Game of Thrones, each of which is preceded with several minutes of characters intensifying their suspicious eye-shifting.
This one was so obvious that it’d get a person thrown out of a writer’s room.
It turns out that James Damore, the ex-Google employee behind the mannishly long-winded screed about how women are bad at programming because of biological differences, also has some opinions on the nerds and the KKK. And those opinions are also trash.
In the middle of a perfectly innocent Wednesday, Damore tweeted, “The KKK is horrible and I don’t support them in any way, but can we admit that their internal names are cool e.g. ‘Grand Wizard.’”
First of all, “The KKK is horrible and I don’t support them in any way, but” is a bad way to begin a sentence. It’s especially bad if you’re a person who very recently lost a job because your overlords determined that your bad opinions were creating a hostile work environment for your coworkers.
Secondly, as a point of fact: Grand wizard is not a cool name for something. I suppose if you’re a Faulknerian manchild and you’re trying to come up with names for a rat carcass you found in the barn, I might understand why you might believe that “grand wizard” would make a cool name. I don’t agree with you, but I understand the journey you took to get there. If you’re reading a J.R.R. Tolkien book, fine. It’s part of the fake world. This is just a dumb statement. “Grand wizard” is an inherently uncool thing to call a person who is not a LARP’er. It’s overcompensating. It’s the loud sound system in an old Mitsubishi Eclipse of names for things.
Unfortunately, Damore continued. “You know you’ve moralized an issue when you can’t criticize its heroes or acknowledge any positive aspects of its villains.”
“It’s like teaching your children to be responsible with drugs or sex without acknowledging that they can be fun.”
I’m not an expert at analogies, but I believe in this one, Damore is comparing the word “grand wizard” with smoking pot and sexually climaxing. I’m not sure what sort of conversations his parents had with him about sex and drugs, but I’m pretty sure most people’s didn’t start with their mothers sitting me down on the front porch and saying “Sweetheart, you know I love to come. Orgasming is really fun. So is snorting rails of cocaine. But you’re going to need to wear condoms and avoid cocaine for awhile, for safety. Also, the KKK, while chock full of awesome names like ‘dragon’ and ‘wizard,’ is also bad.”
And now we arrive at Damore’s grand finale. “If they make the actual KKK the only place where you can acknowledge the coolness of D&D terms, then you’ll just push people into the KKK.”
To summarize, in Damore’s view, the reason people are joining the KKK is because they want to be able to acknowledge that it’s cool to call things wizards. Society, somehow, has barred calling wizards cool, thus forcing those who play, um, Dungeons & Dragons to join the KKK, as an outlet, and then also subscribing to all the group’s commensurate notions of white supremacy. All across America, there are dejected nerds alone in their sobbing closets, beside themselves over the fact that they cannot acknowledge the coolness of the names the KKK gives to its members. And, ergo, they are becoming violent racists. The burned crosses are just collateral damage in their ultimate quest to be called an IRL wizard.
The founding fathers probably didn’t have fired computer programmers who lack both intellect and self-awareness in mind when they enshrined in the constitution the right to free speech, and, by extension, the right to be an idiot. But James Damore is a great example of how in America, you have the right to speak up—but that doesn’t mean you should.