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Deep breath, and then a plunge - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Deep breath, and then a plunge [Jun. 6th, 2009|08:45 am]
[Current Mood |tiredtired]

Thank you for the words of support - too many to thank you all personally, but each one has been read and appreciated.

Okay, now that the blind fury is over, I have some comments to make on the issue. For the sake of brevity, when I use the word "group," I am referring to underprivileged races, classes, genders, preferences, religions, ethnicities, etc. Also, I admit that I am privileged to be white and middle class. As a female bi poly pagan, I think I do fall into some underprivileged categories as well.

What I am, most of all, is interested in actual progress toward equality.

First of all, absolutely I agree that no group should be subject to derision or intentional injury. That's just plain wrong. But there is a danger that if every observation or comment made by persons of privilege is subject to being called derision or intentional injury, that group of people will be completely silenced on the issue.

Then who do you have left speaking? Members of the group, and the people who actively hate and do intentionally want to hurt the members of the group. The middle steps back out of fear that offers of support will be met with anger and accusation. And losing the middle doesn't help any cause.

Second, when a person who is in that middle and known to be sympathetic to underprivileged groups blunders and says something offensive, that should be a teachable moment. Sometimes it's hard to see where a line is crossed if one just plain hasn't considered that a line might exist. Certainly, the offense should be called out, and there may be some discussion and debate to help the person understand why something is offensive.

But again, if the reaction is unrelenting vitriol, the difference between "us" and "them" is emphasized and another potential ally may just step back and refuse to even address the issue.

Third, accepting a sincere apology gracefully is much more beneficial than continued browbeating. That's obvious in individual relationships: if I am offended by something, get an apology, and then keep badgering about how offended I am, the person who has apologized is going to feel under attack and probably also feel that there are now "sides" and s/he is on the opposite side of me. People do not respond well to being attacked, and a lot of them just throw up their hands and say, "screw it; there's no making these people happy." Taking the attitude of "that's too damned bad; they have privilege and should just take it" might make one feel better, but it's not helping change minds.

Once again, gulfs are being entrenched instead of bridges built. Now, one might well ask, "Why is it our job, as the nonprivileged, to build bridges to the privileged?" And all I can say is, if not us, then who?

The personal is political. A presidential candidate whose message was "you're all idiots and should do things my way" is not going to get very far. Coalition building requires reaching out in a way that one can be heard, and fostering relationships through knowledge and community. And accepting that people who are learning will make mistakes.

Or, to quote my dear old gramma, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

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[User Picture]From: zenithgryph
2009-06-06 01:06 pm (UTC)
I believe the saying is, "You catch MORE flies with honey than with vinegar."

But who am I to quote your grandmother? :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-06-06 01:15 pm (UTC)
Oops - thank you!
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[User Picture]From: vrax
2009-06-06 01:11 pm (UTC)
Hey, if you guys need anything transfiguration and I are around, and available. Please don't hesitate to call/email/txt/send alien encoded messages.

*Hugs* To you and Ferrett.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-06-06 01:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks. It's a busy weekend, hopefully enough distraction.
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[User Picture]From: canuckgirl
2009-06-06 01:13 pm (UTC)
*hugs* to you and Ferrett. LJ drama sucks.
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[User Picture]From: bart_calendar
2009-06-06 01:20 pm (UTC)
The thing is is that when it comes to the transsexual community it's very hard to figure out what will offend members of that community and what will not.

When I've done some posts about transsexuals (mostly because I'm in love with Kimber James) I've gotten some flack for using the wrong terms.

But, I used them because I had no fucking clue they were offensive. Most minority communities have done a great job of educating people about what terms should be avoided, but the transsexual community really hasn't.

Of course, that goes both ways, in the sense that non-transsexuals need to make some effort to know what might or might not offend, but if there is limited information out there, we should be forgiven the occasional fuck up.

I didn't read the initial post when it was up and I have no idea if the cached version I've been able to find is the original or an edited version, but from what I can tell there was nothing intentionally offensive in it.

And, if the offense is not intentional, you'd think an apology and a "hey, thanks for teaching me something today" would sort things out.
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[User Picture]From: zenithgryph
2009-06-06 01:25 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, some people get too offended and think that either everyone should read their minds and know it's offensive OR just get so caught up in the fog of fury that they lash out repeatedly despite people being reasonable.

Or, it's something else entirely.

I've been blessed by having my friends in the minority communities gently tell me my errors. I apologize, they understand I was ignorant and everyone goes on their merry ways.

Maybe some people are just so sick of being victimized and tortured about things they react violently when someone they liked (Ferrett) says something that could be construed incorrectly? Like being attacked by someone you thought was an ally?

I'm all hypothesizing as I wasn't there -- work called and I saw none of this.

Regardless, Ferrett needs to return.

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[User Picture]From: ldygwynedd
2009-06-06 01:24 pm (UTC)
I am very sorry to see this blow up to the point that the Ferret felt he had to delete his wonderful LJ. He has always been on my reading list because I enjoy reading his point of view and he has the gift of stating it so eloquently 99 1/2% of the time. I did not read the post in question --or if I did I didn't see anything to raise hackles-- but that was just one post out of hundreds he's written.

I hope he reconsiders. It is ashame that his voice, frequently the voice of reason, will be silenced because of the overreactions of a few.

And your dear old gramma and mine must have been friends. She taught me the same lesson.
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[User Picture]From: losgunna
2009-06-06 01:28 pm (UTC)
Do people not understand that the browbeating is more likely to make a person hate their group more? Being gracious, teaching the correct way, accepting apology and then moving on will give a much better impression.
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[User Picture]From: wdomburg
2009-06-06 01:38 pm (UTC)
"You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

Of course a steaming pile of dung works even better than
honey. Not sure how that reflects on the aphorism. :)

On a more serious note, sorry to hear Teh Dramaz escalated as far as they did. I hope things blow over and Ferrett feels comfortable returning (or at lease publishing somewhere).
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[User Picture]From: usmu
2009-06-06 01:39 pm (UTC)
Very true. Always check for intent and react accordingly. Anything else turns into pot kettle black and nobody's ever helped themselves by doing that.

All the best to you and theferrett. I actually occasionally checked whether I was still on his friendslist and therefor had his stamp of approval. Silly but there you are. Hopefully he can find his way back.
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[User Picture]From: custardfairy
2009-06-06 01:44 pm (UTC)
*ginormous hugs*

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[User Picture]From: dreagoddess
2009-06-06 01:48 pm (UTC)
I have no idea what started all of this drama, but I'm sorry y'all are having to go through it. I hope things calm down and Ferrett returns soon!
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[User Picture]From: kathrynrose
2009-06-06 01:54 pm (UTC)
::hugs you both::

I only caught a glimpse yesterday, but I could tell there was the potential for ugliness. I hope the deleting is just a temporary (and very effective) way to stop the noise.

I have a lot of thoughts rattling around in my brain about this. Maybe I will herd them into a post. Meanwhile, you guys share a hug for me, please. I'll be fueling it with the warm fuzzies from here.
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[User Picture]From: mazlynn
2009-06-06 02:03 pm (UTC)
Two things....

First, I completely agree, and had in fact mentally been composing a similar essay this morning. My thoughts were for round one, assume ignorance. If their response to your atempt to educate indicates it's really jerkitude, there's plenty of time to give them both barrels at that point. But if you start by opening fire, you may turn someone who just never thought of the question that way into an enemy.

Second, and no less important, *hugs* to you and ferrett. Given all the recent SAD posts I was really afraid of why the journal was deleted. Tell him I'm sorry he got fired upon, and that I'll miss him if he decides to stay away. I hope he decides to come back, or to repost some of the essays that people have found so useful, but if he decides to stay away I understand and respect that. I will still miss his writings though.
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[User Picture]From: roadnotes
2009-06-06 02:11 pm (UTC)
I will observe, though, that it is not my responsibility to teach members of privileged groups everything. I am not on this planet to do Racism/Sexism/____ism 101 at the drop of a hat for anyone/everyone. It's your/their responsibility to do research and learn on your own, not to be spoonfed.

Sometimes, when someone snaps about "Do your own goddamned research," it's because they've been doing the 101, and even the 201, over and over, and wants a fucking break, in order to, you know, do things that interest them.

Unfortunately, part of what I'm hearing is very resonant of the tone argument that keeps coming up: "if you hadn't been so loud/strident/used profanity/used a word that I didn't like/accused me of hurting you when I'm a Good Person, I would have listened to you and supported you more." And you know, from my personal experience, when that comes up, there is no tone that's polite enough/respectful enough/diplomatic enough to suit the person who's being called out on their hurtful actions.

I do not believe that you are aiming to dismiss people in that way with this post; I just want to say this, so that you will know how some people -- including me, on some days -- may hear what you're saying.
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[User Picture]From: roadnotes
2009-06-06 02:17 pm (UTC)
I have missed part of this, I gather, and I suspect that part is a journal deletion because of attacks?

Fucking hell. I stand by my original comment, and I have additional thoughts about when it's appropriate to say, "but what about my pain?" However, if people have attacked The Ferrett in gratuitously nasty ways (which, knowing the internet, probably include jumping him for past actions for which he's apologized), they have my cordial invitation to fuck themselves with sharp objects. Without lube or warmup.

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[User Picture]From: roniliquidity
2009-06-06 02:32 pm (UTC)
You are absolutely right on a practical level, but morally it's infuriating. When someone essentially says that if you don't frame this issue that's vitally important to your very existence in a way they are comfortable with, then they won't listen it's frustratingly superior. It stings they have the option of not dealing with it, and you don't, so you have to somewhat suck up to them to them to get them to listen It stings even more when the fact you have to do that is very much the problem.

It's like if someone was stumbling around in the street bloody and screaming for help. People would be more comfortable stopping if the person in the street weren't bloody and screaming, but it's not really an option. To hear someone sniff they're a good person so they WOULD have stopped, if it wasn't for all the blood and screaming, is outrageous and morally untenable.

The real kicker is, everybody does it at some point. It's impossible not to, you can't be mindful of all tissues at all times, but morally I think people need to really keep in mind the majority/minority dynamic. While individuals in the majority may be silenced in individual instances, the majority as a whole is never going to be silenced, by nature of being in the majority. So to the majority person they're one person that said one thing, but to the minority person they might be the fifth person that day that said it and it was just too much to bear.

Everyone has a experienced a day where an innocuous comment has just set them off because it pertained to something they were too raw about to deal with rationally. Ideally, the raw person would be able to keep their cool and talk things within the context of a teaching moment, but sometimes you just can't. People understand this on an individual level. If Ferrett had said, even jokingly, he could tell a woman who would get divorced just by looking at her* I'd probably lose my shit at him. It wouldn't be fair, and ideally I'd be able to explain why that was a horrible thing to say, but realistically I wouldn't be able to help it. As an individual, knowing what the last month has been like for me, he'd probably give me a pass. My rawness wouldn't excuse my behavior, but at the same time I literally could not help myself.

I think it would help a great deal if the persona in the majority kept in mind the conversation was going to be a lot more raw and vital to the person in the minority and tried to filter interactions through that lens. Anyone can have a bad day but if it's a minority issue, on some level it's a perpetual bad day. On a practical level it's unfair, but morally, I think it's an important consideration.
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From: fall_of_sophia
2009-06-06 02:44 pm (UTC)
It's like if someone was stumbling around in the street bloody and screaming for help. People would be more comfortable stopping if the person in the street weren't bloody and screaming, but it's not really an option. To hear someone sniff they're a good person so they WOULD have stopped, if it wasn't for all the blood and screaming, is outrageous and morally untenable.

thank you.
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[User Picture]From: merle_
2009-06-06 02:33 pm (UTC)
You probably catch more flies with a bug zapper than with either honey or vinegar -- but that saying runs contrary to what you're pointing out and may sound offensive. I mean it with all due humour.

I was busy so missed the drama aside from skimming the two posts (but not the comments). All I thought was that it was indeed freaky, but the sort of skill a rare few neural nets could acquire given the right inputs and heuristics. So? That's kind of neat.

*shrug* But I've never understood flames. If you have no rational argument, you lose the debate. Period.
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[User Picture]From: shezan
2009-06-06 04:30 pm (UTC)
You probably catch more flies with a bug zapper than with either honey or vinegar

Depends entirely what your plans for the flies are...
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