FeatherPenClipArtThis round of research also turned up a blog by author Hillary Rettig who is a non-fiction self-help writer. According to Rettig, bullying can often masquerade as activism. She quotes Saul Alinsky on the dangers of dogma, which is a set of beliefs set down by a group, authority or culture and never questioned. Alinsky calls dogma the “enemy of freedom” and notes that people who believe they are in sole possession of the right only darken the world.

Rettig also notes that bullies often avoid true activism, which means engaging with a tough and possibly hostile opposition. Instead, bullies tend to attack other activists who aren’t living up to the correct standards, innocent people without opinions who are going about their own business, or people who ask questions that call the ruling dogma into question. Given these offenses, bullies will leap into the fray, blaming and shaming or hectoring their victims for their supposed crimes.

Last, Rettig notes that this kind of bullying based on dogma often leads to sectarian warfare that can “suck the very life out of a social movement.” In other words, it’s destructive of the very ideology that activists are trying to advance. Bullying tactics only alienate people and lead to failures in social movements.

Is the current conflict within the SFF community a sectarian battle? For people who just enjoy the fight, this won’t mean much, but for people who are really interested in advancing a cause, it’s reason to take note.