Liberal bullying: Privilege-checking and semantics-scolding as internet sport #Community Management#cultural appropriation#reader complaint October 15 | Ariel Meadow Stallings offbeatariel Photo courtesy of fuckyeahsocialjusticesally.tumblr.com You might ask yourself, "Hmm, what's the biggest challenge the Offbeat Empire deals with on a daily basis?" You might ask yourself, "Is it complaints from advertisers who are offended by the content?" (Nope: that's happened exactly once in almost six years. Our advertisers work with us because they like our content.) "Is it angry comments from conservative readers who are offended by the content?" (Maybe once a month, we'll get a drive-by hate blast from someone who thinks gay marriage is awful, or breastfeeding is gross, or family cloth is disgusting. But really, it's pretty rare.) So, if it's not advertisers or conservatives, what's the biggest community management challenge we deal with every day? It's attacks from our fellow progressives. Over the past couple years, I've watched the rise of this new form of online performance art, where internet commenters make public sport of flagging potentially problematic language as insensitive, and gleefully calling out authors as needing to check their privilege. As a publisher who spends a lot of time thinking about community management issues and comment moderation, and who also serves hundreds of thousands of readers who identify as both progressive and marginalized (in many different, varying ways), this issue is hugely important to me. As a progressive myself, it's also complex and challenging because while I very much share the political values of the folks who engage in this kind of thing, I'm not on-board with the tactics — which essentially amount to liberal bullying, and are way worse than anything we see from the conservatives who swing by. The sad truth is that when it comes to the motivations behind this kind of commenting, it's basically the same as the GOD HATES FAGS guys — even though the values are the polar opposite. Common call-out culture trends: Focus on very public complaints. I can think of exactly one time when someone emailed their concern about problematic language. These complaints seem to be always intended for an audience. Lack of interest in a dialogue. These complaints aren't questions or invitations to discuss the issue. They're harshly-worded accusations and scoldings (which I've written about before). Lack of consideration for the context or intent. The focus is on this isolated incident (this one post, this one word, this one time), with de-emphasis on the author's background, experience, or the context of the website on which the post appears. And on a more stylistic note, these complaints are often prefaced with phrases like "Um," and other condescending affectations. It's challenging for me because the values motivating these complaints are completely in-line with both my personal politics as well as my professional passion for catering to niche markets and semi-marginalized cultures. I say "semi-marginalized" because let's get real here: Offbeat Empire readers are eminently more likely to be a 20-something white plus-size roller derby player or an introverted 30-something information sciences grad student — neither of whom who are "marginalized" in the same way as, say, a gay Cambodian amputee immigrant living in Mexico City. THAT SAID, do you see Style Me Pretty prioritizing transgender weddings or discussion about cultural appropriation? Offbeat Bride is definitely the largest-trafficked wedding blog committed to serving marginalized communities. [For visitors unfamiliar with the Offbeat Empire's marginalized community content, please see this comment.] Increasingly, I've started recognizing this kind of behavior for what it is: privilege-checking as a form of internet sport. It's a kind of trolling, with all the politics I agree with, but motivations and execution that turns my stomach. It's well-intended (SO well-intended), but when the motivations seem to be less about opening dialogue about the issues, and more about performance, righteousness, and intolerance for those who don't agree with you… well, I'm not on-board. Online etymology: is "DERP" ableist? Oh, DERP. You ridiculous meme. You have replaced words like DUH, DOY, D'OH, and DER in the vernacular of millions, a quick three-letter word to... [more] This is where it starts to feel like the "GOD HATES FAGS!" sign-wavers. While the political sentiments are exactly opposite, the motivations are remarkably similar: I WOULD LIKE TO DERAIL THIS CONVERSATION AND HAVE AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE WITNESS HOW RIGHT I AM. I don't care if your politics are progressive and your focus is on social justice: if you're shouting at people online and refusing to have a dialogue, you're bullying. I don't care if you're fighting the good fight: your methods are borked. It doesn't matter if you're fighting for the one true phrase that we should all use to describe the Romani people, or fighting for the one true God… if you're fighting in a way that's more about public performance, shaming, and righteousness, I'm not fighting with you. (…even if I agree with your goals!) My big challenge as a publisher is knowing how to respond to this kind of feedback, which comes in almost daily. Sometimes it feels like I have two options: Acquiesce to every complaint of anyone anywhere on the internet, until we're putting trigger warnings at the top of posts that mention balloons because some people are globophobic (TRUE STORY!). Align myself with insensitive assholes who defend their right to hate speech. Again, I'm extra conflicted because I love observing and following the ways that language shifts. It's exciting and fascinating to watch as the semantics of marginalized communities evolve. I recently had to talk to my aging lesbian mother and her partner about how the word "tranny" causes a lot of issues for folks in the transgender community. They're totally aligned with the cause, and totally active in LGBT communities… and yet hadn't gotten the latest memo. I'm totally on-board with the reasoning behind shifting the language from "illegal immigrants" to "undocumented immigrants." I get why the word "gypsy" is problematic (even if I still don't agree in silencing people who've chosen to describe themselves using the word). I've appreciated the discussions I've had with readers about words like "Derp" and "Tribe." (Because these were DISCUSSIONS. Dialogues.) I love learning new things about how cultures are defining themselves. I love that people take the time to try to improve my publications by sharing the latest language that communities are using. I love that readers feel safe enough to voice their concerns. I love this shared concern for sensitivity around language. I love the social justice motivations, and the encouragement that we all be self-aware of how the language we use has powerful, sometime unexpected impacts on the people around us. BUT. But. Seriously, I'm just not down with: The derailing of conversations to debate semantics The need to process it all publicly (look at me look at me look at meeee! I am the very MOST aware of my privilege and am therefore the very BEST progressive on the entire internet!) The righteousness The intolerance and inability to respect that those who share your values might not share your opinions on this particular subject This is where this kind of conversation begins to feel more like liberal bullying, where the only correct response is agreeing and acquiescing. Any other response is seen as ignorant at best, hateful at worst. My priorities with online discourse are dialogue and respect. In my little corner of the online world, I keep my focus on constructive critique and articulate, compassionate communication. Shouting down people who disagree with you (even if I agree with your argument!) simply doesn't feel productive or helpful. If I had a dollar for every time we have to delete a blog comment that I personally agreed with because it was stated as an attack… I could get rid of banner ads. Being an asshole: it's not just for the GOD HATES FAGS people anymore. Ultimately, when these complaints come up (which has slowly gone from "monthly" to "weekly" to "almost daily"), my editors respond with comments like, "I understand what you're saying, and share your concern — but I disagree that this usage is problematic." Alternately, sometimes we just say, "I agree that this usage is problematic, but I'm going to leave it." I want to make sure that folks know readers' concerns are heard, but that it doesn't always guarantee that we'll make changes. We're especially unlikely to make changes when readers refuse to have a direct dialog with us. I often respond to a semantics-debating comment with an invitation for the commenter to email me directly to discuss the issue… and guess what? NO ONE EVER DOES. Because having a one-on-one dialogue with a publisher who reaches 1,000,000 readers a month apparently isn't as edifying as performance art. For those of you who like to fight the good fight for social justice and language sensitivity online, before writing that Tumblr missive or firing off that privilege-checking comment, I'd love to encourage you to take a moment to ask yourself these questions: Am I living my values with this exchange? If my goal is tolerance and sensitivity, am I embodying both those values in this conversation? What are my motivations here? Do I want to make a difference, or just feel like I'm right? What would "making a difference" look like in this context? Is this person an ally? How can I best communicate with them to ensure they stay that way? What is my ultimate goal in my activism? Is this exchange the best use of my time to achieve that ultimate goal? In terms of my ultimate goal with this post: I want to support progressive activists in their very important work for social justice, but also beg them to carefully consider their methods and strategies with online communication. We're fighting for the same team, here. I wish we didn't have to spend so much time fighting with each other. Follow up In the years since this post was published in October 2012, it's spawned some truly constructive and powerful discussions, including many thoughtful critiques. (This Metafilter post does a great job of gathering many of responses to the post into one place.) I mentioned this in the comments below, but I want to reiterate here: I remain deeply conflicted about call-out culture, and I totally see the validity in many of the concerns that have been raised about this post. The fact that this post still incites discussion means that it absolutely accomplished what I was hoping for: it kick-started a conversation between publishers, community managers, and online activists about how we discuss difficult issues. I don't expect us to find a consensus, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to be part of the discussion. Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Ariel Meadow Stallings Author of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, Ariel acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives, loves, and dorks out hard in Seattle, WA. @offbeatariel @offbeatbride PREVIOUS First glimpse at the newest faces of Offbeat Bride NEXT Our mission-critical WordPress plugins Toggle comments [ 160 ] Comment navigation ← Older Comments Newer Comments → This is a fantastic post. Very clear and wide-ranging. It is definitely a problem that important issues are essentially swept aside because people are getting angry about words with two meanings. I recently wrote an article in relation to this about the definition of racism: http://dont-get-born.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/why-debate-on-definition-of-racism.html 2 agree Nail. Head. Hit. Just brilliant. If we could just introduce a month-long moratorium on the use of the word "problematic", the world would undoubtedly be a better place. Let's reclaim that word to deploy on occasions that really warrant it, to tackle racism, sexism, transphobia, not just to derail discussions and show the world how very liberal we are. 8 agree Who decides what 'really warrants' the use of the word? 9 agree In an ideal world where I had been appointed benevolent despot, it would be me. As the electorate has thus far shown a strange unwillingness to sign over their democratic rights, I'd say that, as a general rule, "problematic" should be used to challenge writing or behaviour that is bigoted or attempting to stir up hatred, rather than fellow travellers who happen to express themselves slightly clumsily. Problematizing absolutely everything and everyone is only going to stop the wider public from engaging with the very real issue of tackling prejudicial language, at least that would be my take on it. 10 agree I love this post, and the entire discussion that came of it. 5 agree I had a lot to say about this – http://boldlygo.co/?p=324 17 agree THIS! for the linked blog, especially this line: 'You need to let go of the notion that you are The Good Guy. Let go of the notion that you shouldn't/can't fuck up and stop wallowing in your guilt when you do.' 14 agree (Numbers referencing the linked posting.) 2. Nobody's saying that we're perfect and incapable of mistake. We're just saying that hostile nit-picking criticism is not always the most helpful response to something, judged from the perspective of long-term goals. 3. "But unfortunately, the other people have to be interested in a discussion." — My experience is that the people who are eager to throw out accusations of privilege or offensive speech also tend to be uninterested in dialogue. Attempts to engage often result in a snarky "bingo card" posting, or you'll be told "You're so blinded by your own privilege that it's not worth trying to explain it to you". Except not that politely. "I'm not saying that an aggressive approach is necessarily ALWAYS effective or that calm, attempted debate should NEVER be attempted." How about trying the calm approach first, before moving on to the aggressive one? It may waste a little time in many instances, but it will probably be more productive in the long run. 4. "I really love someone analysing how marginalised other people supposedly are or telling me what I can and can't be upset about or dislike based on assumptions about who I am and what my marginalisations are." — And yet, the liberal critics are constantly telling me how privileged I am based on assumptions about who I am, and telling me that I don't understand because I'm not as oppressed as someone else. So again, it goes both ways. 15 agree You could have commented on my blog, but that's just fine. "2. Nobody's saying that we're perfect and incapable of mistake. We're just saying that hostile nit-picking criticism is not always the most helpful response to something, judged from the perspective of long-term goals." And black women are often assumed and called "hostile" before they even open their mouths. Who the fuck get to decide who's "hostile" and who's "nit-picking"? (Spoilers: Privileged People). Women are seen as "hostile" frequently just for opening their mouths. And who are you to tell anyone what their own long term goals are? This is the problem with white feminists, with "allies" who have the audacity to tell other people what the hell their own goals are. "My experience is that the people who are eager to throw out accusations of privilege or offensive speech also tend to be uninterested in dialogue. " I'm not interested in hearing excuses for people's ignorance when I call someone out. I don't care about the reasons for it. I don't care about the explanation. Intent is not magic. And if you're arguing that people should "be nicer" then why not take your own advice and show some empathy to those snarky cards. If you're so right about how well niceness and dialogue works, then follow your own advice. Hrm. Kind of seems like you know your advice doesn't work. "How about trying the calm approach first, before moving on to the aggressive one? It may waste a little time in many instances, but it will probably be more productive in the long run." How about you not police people's emotions? How about the assumption that calm approaches are always much more effective is bollocks? How about the fact that when you deal with marginalisations and constant oppressions, it's not all that easy to be "calm"? How about it's not my responsibility to politely educate every ass that decides dropping the T bomb is a good idea around me? "And yet, the liberal critics are constantly telling me how privileged I am based on assumptions about who I am, and telling me that I don't understand because I'm not as oppressed as someone else. So again, it goes both ways." No it doesn't. There's a difference. Let's try an example. Say you don't think the word "bitch" is misogynist. Let's try that on for size. I decide to call you out. First thing I do? Look at your profile picture. Looks like you're a white dude. Now, I can make the assumption that you're cis. And I can say so. And you can correct me and say, "Actually I'm a trans guy". Okay you're a trans guy. Does that make your argument any better? No. It doesn't. It means that you're a trans guy who, despite feeling the marginalisation of NOT being cis, still doesn't understand some of the basic concepts of sexism. It doesn't HELP your argument. It makes it worse. Because assuming you're just a cis white dude, that's actually me giving you the benefit of the doubt. Because it means I think there's a pretty decent reason for your ignorance. That is not the same as, for example, you commenting to someone on here for using tr*nny and me going, "You're cis so you can't be that angry about it!". It's a totally different argument. Totally different circumstances. And totally different application. But nice try. 19 agree Hey, I could have commented on MY blog, but I was trying to keep the discussion from fragmenting too fast. Regarding people being perceived as hostile — I was talking about criticism that is hostile, when compared to other commentary by the same person, perceived by the same observer. Is there any other definition of 'hostile' that even makes sense? Obviously different people are perceived to have different baseline levels of approachability or hostility, and obviously different observers have different levels of sensitivity to hostility. "If you're so right about how well niceness and dialogue works, then follow your own advice. Hrm. Kind of seems like you know your advice doesn't work." I tend to follow the tit-for-tat strategy, which empirically does work. So if you start out with hostility with me, you'll likely get hostility in return. I also tend to assume that other people are smart, and are therefore also going to follow a tit-for-tat strategy. That's why I favor trying niceness before getting the flamethrower out. "How about you not police people's emotions?" This isn't about policing emotions. You can have whatever emotional responses you want. The question is whether it is gainful to you to express those emotions towards the person you believe caused them. "How about the assumption that calm approaches are always much more effective is bollocks?" Do you have any evidence for your apparent belief that starting with vitriol is a winning strategy? Has it led you to have more pleasant and productive interactions with people, overall? "How about the fact that when you deal with marginalisations and constant oppressions, it's not all that easy to be "calm"?" Nobody said effective communication and making the world a better place was going to be easy. Lashing out is definitely easier all round. It's easier for the angry person, obviously. But here's the thing: it also makes it a lot easier for the person you get angry at to dismiss what you're saying. In your specific case, it makes it all too easy for them to say "Oh god, another touch t****y, it's the hormones talking", and dismiss everything you say. And even worse, you're reinforcing that stereotype. "How about it's not my responsibility to politely educate every ass that decides dropping the T bomb is a good idea around me?" It's not your responsibility to fail to educate them while making yourself feel better, either. If you can't have a productive interaction on the topic — one that makes things better for everyone, including you, in the long run — there's a third option you can consider taking. But again, I'm not the emotion police. Go ahead and flame away if it makes you feel better. But I suggest that the short-term gain to you might cause a long-term loss. And there are other ways to dissipate the anger without actually souring your interactions with other people. "And you can correct me and say, "Actually I'm a trans guy". Okay you're a trans guy. Does that make your argument any better? No." And does any of this make your hypothetical argument any better? No, because your hypothetical argument of "Oh look, he's a white guy" started out as an ad hominem, so it was bullshit from the beginning. And incidentally, that's your hint that we're approaching the point where tit-for-tat makes me want to start treating you with the condescension and hostility you brought to the discussion. One final comment: When it seems like every interaction you have with other people is negative, yes, it can be the case that there's some terrible systemic bias against you that makes it that way. But sometimes other possibilities are worth considering. 27 agree A (not so) brief comment, that may or may not make a point. Most of the comments on here I have read in their entirety, even the ones disagreeing with the original post, because the poster has been articulate, polite, and has given the original author the benefit of the doubt in regards to their intent and motivations. By contrast, the vitriol in this exchange has made me skim over the whole thing and not really process most of the points made against the original article because I am too uncomfortable. While the other dissenters made me want to engage in a discussion with them (which I didn't only because other commenters covered it before I did), which may or may not end up swaying me regarding certain nuances, these posts just made me want to avoid them. If the goal of commenting and pointing out a privileged position is to actually get the poster or the readers to examine their perspectives and feelings towards a minority, then the non-vitriolic tactic is clearly more effective – at least on people like me. 21 agree Maybe you should be uncomfortable. The point is to make people uncomfortable so they examine their own actions/thoughts/feelings. So the misstep sticks with them and doesn't happen again. But beyond that, pointing out privilege is not for the person who's been offensive, really. It's for the person who's been hurt. It's for the oppressed party. It's not about making a teaching moment, in an "articulate and polite" way. 9 agree MJ, I've been reading your comments, trying to think of a way to respond to you for awhile now, because I wasn't sure I could do so nicely. But I'm giving it my best shot. So far, I've seen you say that you respond to people who use language you're uncomfortable with in an aggressive manner. You've said this is because you want them to stop using it, and because you WANT them to feel uncomfortable. You also want to do it to make yourself and anyone else who feels offended feel better. And that you don't care if this makes people uncomfortable or hurts someone's feelings. My argument to this is that if you feel that this is acceptable behaviour for you, what stops this from being acceptable behaviour for EVERYONE? If someone doesn't like women, is it acceptable for them to throw around sexist language, in hopes that women will feel uncomfortable and not want to be around them? Same thing for people uncomfortable around people on the LGBT spectrum, or around people of a different race. Many people also insult people who are different because they see them as an acceptable target and want to feel better about themselves. If you then insult them to feel better about yourself, are you behaving differently? Isn't "bullying" more or less defined by trying to intimidate or force someone to do what you want, using superior force or aggressive, hostile language? In order for a drama-free, peaceful, accepting community to exist, it is the responsibility of every person within that community (Regardless of what labels they have) to act in a drama-free, peaceful and accepting manner, and to resolve conflicts in a similar manner. In the end, I suspect that this is a fundamental difference of values here. I can only police my own actions, I can't stop someone who wants to hurt another person's feelings from doing so (able-bodied or not). All I can do about those people is not associate with them. I think I might have failed my goal of staying inoffensive here. But what I'm really trying to say is that if one person can be rude and aggressive, then everyone can be, and if your goal is that no one is ever rude and insulting, the only place you can start is with yourself. 27 agree I get the impression you didn't read the same article that I did. For example, you wrote: "But no, I must always be the one to educate someone politely and kindly. I must slap on my smile and become a tour guide through the Museum of Bigotry. And if I can't say anything nice, I should never say anything at all." Do you think that's a fair characterization of anything Ariel wrote? What I took home from Ariel's post not that anyone ought to self-censor, or always be polite, or stop calling people out – it was what we ought to treat people we agree with 90% differently from the people we agree with 10%. You didn't do that. You said that she "does not understand the definition of privilege." I would urge you to remember that there are people out there who *actually* don't understand that concept, and they don't spend hours crafting thoughtful posts about thorny aspects of social justice. 16 agree "What I took home from Ariel's post not that anyone ought to self-censor, or always be polite, or stop calling people out – it was what we ought to treat people we agree with 90% differently from the people we agree with 10%." And my point is that you can't always tell who those people are. And just because someone agrees with you about feminism does not mean that they won't be dicks when you call them out for being racist. She does not understand the definition of privilege if she has the audacity to compare anything like this to the WBC. That was an insulting and ridiculous comparison. I'm well aware that not everyone understands the concepts of privilege. I come from a working class family. And I work in a male dominated work environment. And I live in this world where 95% of people don't understand or accept the concept of privilege. I pointed out that the author didn't understand the concept because they ARE a social justice blogger and they SHOULD know that making this comparison is fucked up. 10 agree Also, kind of really annoyed that I can't respond to that bullshit that "mathew" posted. Did you see the shit he pulled in the last comment, basically saying that systemic oppression wasn't an issue I faced and it was just my bad attitude? You might want to think about who agrees with you here and what kind of attitudes they have. Because if you're trying to support "allies" like mathew… [Note from moderator: you can respond] 0 agree Well, you could easily respond to Matthew, his only comment was that at this point, you are moving away from having a reasonable discussion, and into open hostility. Which you have. You may have experienced systemic oppression in your life. And you are by all means allowed to be mean and nasty regardless of what minorities you belong to. But being a jerk has consequences, regardless of who you are. Also, just to note, the Offbeat Empire isn't a social justice blog. This is the umbrella site for wedding, parenthood and home decor blogs. They just happens to be very inclusive sites. 15 agree 'Also, kind of really annoyed that I can't respond to that bullshit that "mathew" posted.' Why can't you reply? Are you being moderated? '…basically saying that systemic oppression wasn't an issue I faced and it was just my bad attitude?' I said that IF you find all your interactions with others are negative, then it is POSSIBLE that your own attitudes might be part of the explanation, and that it's POSSIBLE that it's not JUST systemic oppression from everyone. I'm not in any position to make a definitive statement on the matter, and didn't intend to suggest otherwise. I'm just putting an idea out there for you to consider, if you aren't happy with your current social interactions. I don't know, maybe you're actually a very happy and friendly person who gets on with everyone in real life. It doesn't seem likely to me from what I've seen here, but I've been wrong before. Maybe I'm completely wrong. Maybe your policy of immediate anger and hostility to any perceived slight is making your life better, gradually reducing the oppression you apparently suffer. Again, it doesn't seem likely to me, but if it works for you and gets you the kinds of interactions you enjoy, keep going for it. Do what works for you! 16 agree this seems to be crossing the boundary of personal attack/rudeness. 8 agree I'm really glad you guys wrote this. This is something that's been rolling around in my head for a while, but I've had a really hard time articulating what was bothering me. The few times I did I just ended up sounding like an asshole. 7 agree One of the big problems of the left is that we're positively eager to criticize our fellow travelers. In fact, it often seems like we're more keen to tear into those who basically agree with us. It's a long-recognized problem, mocked quite beautifully by Monty Python with their "People's Front of Judea" bits in Life of Brian. As to why it is, I'm not sure. I've wondered if it might be because it's easier to "win" against someone who agrees with you than against someone who disagrees fundamentally. As the joke goes: "Why is academic infighting so vicious? Because the stakes are so low." 18 agree I think it is also that sometimes it feels safer to criticize "our fellow travelers," as you said. When we find ourselves in spaces like the Offbeat Empire, where there is generally open and positive communication, where our ideas feel validated or at least accepted. So – we feel safe to criticize, and ironically, forget that our ALLIES make it safe for us to criticize!!! (Side note: I liked the joke, but it occurs to me that maybe academic infighting is different – your success is so often predicated on tearing somebody down, that you either do so, or fail as an academic. How messed up is that?) 6 agree Because when you enter into a place that's supposed to be welcoming or safe and find "allies" who refuse to listen about the very offensive things they're doing, it's more depressing than any Evangelical picketer could ever be. These are supposed to be my allies, friends, supporters and they won't even listen to me on issues they have no hope of understanding (in my case, it's usually disability). It cuts deep. 12 agree MJ, I'd love to hear your thoughts on our disability content: http://offbeatbride.com/tag/disability http://offbeatfamilies.com/tag/disability http://offbeathome.com/tag/disability A self-serving side-note here: you may notice that we don't have much disability content on Offbeat Home, which is the newest Offbeat Empire publication with the smallest post archive. We're HUNGRY for submissions there… Perhaps you'd like to contribute? 1 agrees A pleasure to read. Absolutely spot on. I had a nasty experience recently after a handful of people took offence at a very inoffensive blog post I'd written. The overreaction was astonishing. You've captured/explained my experience perfectly – I feel normal again!! 3 agree I'm with you, with one limited caveat: for myself as a reader, the "email me directly" gets me 90% of the way to believing someone's trying to avoid public responsibility. It is without a doubt the appropriate response in many cases and particularly valid if it prevents a derail of more worthwhile conversations. But I try to remember with regards to my own readers that I keep a comment section very deliberately so I can engage with them. I need to be very clear and very careful when I try to shut down their use of that engagement section when they try to use it to engage. Even if their engagement is inappropriate. Or more briefly – "I think that's a valid use and I stand behind it" or "We've had this discussion in the past and come to a conclusion, we're not going to rehash it again" BEFORE "email me directly if you'd like to discuss it" is important to not seem like you're trying to avoid public accountability. 5 agree Great points! It really is a challenge to balance the public accountability with the desire to keep discussions focused and constructive. Your suggestions are excellent. 3 agree Hey there… I posted a link to your excellent article on Atheism+, a forum that has come under a lot of flak for exactly this kind of behavior. I thought you gave a great insight from a moderator point of view. But it seems you have it all wrong… http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=235&p=34027&hilit=offbeat#p34027 3 agree If I didn't read so much from the Offbeat Empire, I could see how someone could view this post from the atheismplus commentor's perspective. But I have read a ton of things Ariel has written, and I deeply admire the online community of tolerance and understanding she has built and continues to foster. And this person's reaction is not at all what she was trying to promote in this post. 11 agree This is a wonderful article, but I have to disagree in a way that some of these bullies are well-intentioned. They have their ideals, and some of them are quite noble, but what they are doing in addressing these issues on the internet is not trying to spread information, or educate, or help, or offer insight. They are trying to be *right*, and that is never well-intentioned. I guess there's a cultural expectation that no one is expected to be a teacher, so maybe I'm the one committing the faux pas on this, but I don't believe in getting into a discussion if I'm not willing to educate the other person. It seems silly to expect them to understand my position all on their own, without my help. If I don't feel like teaching them, I simply don't have the discussion. I do understand that sometimes a discussion takes an uncomfortable turn for people, and certain topics are touchy to explain for others, but contextually, this is almost never the case when I hear people toting that they're not obligated to be a teacher. There are many more (and much more polite) ways to disengage from a inappropriate conversation topic besides linking to the "Let Me Google That For You" site. 10 agree I think you're misreading the motivation behind some of the detracting comments. For me at least, it is not about being self-righteous or showing off. And it's certainly not about embodying my values or respectful sensitivity. It's about protecting myself or someone I love. It's about fighting back. I couldn't care less if this makes someone uncomfortable, hurts their feelings, or exposes them to criticism. My reaction to internet offense is the same as the one I use in my everyday life with strangers and loved-ones alike. Just to use an example, if someone says the word 'cripple' around me, I vehemently tell them to stop using that word, no matter the context or intent. My tone is sharp and angry because I don't want it in my presence, and that tends to be very effective. Far, far more so than any long discussion has ever been for me. Simple requests are usually met with silence or derision, so I will unleash that tone privately or in public, doesn't matter. It either stops the offense in it's tracks or gives me a platform on which I can fight with equal footing without having to painfully police my emotions down. I've learned a lot from other people calling me out in that manner as well. It's not personal, it's just a tool. You know, it's funny to me that the very people who often accuse 'social justice' supporters of being too sensitive can't handle anger directed their way about very delicate issues. Who's being over-sensitive now? Yeah, a lot of us are cropping up on the internet. Some of us are ridiculous, some bully and erroneously accuse and butt in where they shouldn't. Human error and all. But the vast majority of us, in my opinion, are finally coming together to carve out a safe space in an environment that has long been hostile. Of course we're starting with progressive websites, it's where we hang out and where we're most likely to be heard. Or not, as the case may be. Because look at all this lovely backlash. That's alright. Ruffling feathers is part of the point when you're trying to make changes. 19 agree Well said! I wanna note that while I disagree with some people's comments here, this response is much friendlier and more open than the one I received when I (politely, I thought) brought up privilege on another alternative wedding/marriage site where I felt absolutely silenced on the matter: http://apracticalwedding.com/2012/06/careers-curveballs-and-hitting-hard 0 agree Wondering if a mod could remove the url in my last comment. Looking at it again, I don't wanna cause any more drama. 0 agree Wow I feel really bad for the blogger you just linked too. But it makes me have a whole new appreciation for Ariel and everyone else on the offbeat staff for making this web space pretty peaceful for the most part. I thought that blog had an awesome message about aging and fully enjoying life, and then bam out of nowhere this poor blogger gets attacked about white privilege. I am a seriously introspective person, and those comments terrified me, and made me completely afraid of ever having my own blog. A little bit about my own background, Chicana, grew up in poverty, been to more funerals than I can count, high school continuation teacher by day adult basic skills teacher by night.If that even puts any perspective on where I supposedly stand on some imaginary privilege scale. I have rarely ever been offended by anything posted in any of articles on Offbeat, and I definitely was not offended by the blogger you linked to, nor did it ever occur to me to diminish her experience because she is a white female. It doesn't matter where you come from, or the color of your skin, if you have a positive message to spread, then that should be the only thing that matters. I wish I could be more eloquent, but writing has never really been my forte. 5 agree And this is the drama I didn't want to start. We can have the conversation on that blog if you'd like, because I have responses, or you can email me, but I don't think this is the place for it to be brought up AGAIN 1 agrees I'm sorry I misunderstood; I thought you were giving the blog as an example of what Ariel was writing about. I still stand by what I wrote. It's just sometimes life can suck balls and all you want to do is read something positive and uplifting on the internet, with out having it marred by negative comments. 1 agrees yeah, I was frustrated because I felt I brought these issues up in a way that was very intentionally meant to be a dialogue and didn't feel like it went that way. i appreciate that here, even when people aren't as polite, we can still have dialogue about things. but yeah, i get the appreciation of positivity. in that particular case, i felt the positivity had the potential to make other people feel bad, though. i really am interested in discussing more, if you'd like..just don't want to derail this too much! 1 agrees I went back and read the blog again, and looking at the end. I can see where you are coming from. The "suck it up" part can come off pretty harsh to people who haven't had the same success. I owe you an apology I should have read it more carefully. So I am sincerely sorry Becca,for commenting before carefully reading everything. 5 agree Wow, so awesome you would take the time to go back and read it again and rethink (regardless of whether or not you changed your mind). Thanks for giving me another chance. I went back and read it again too, trying to see it from an outside perspective, and I can definitely see why it seemed like I was bringing privilege up out of nowhere. I think I am so used to being in spaces where that is continuously part of the conversation that I forget that it isn't like that everywhere and maybe I should be a little more mindful in how I approach the topic in those spaces. And Ms. O, yay for us for talking nicely and being open minded, which kind of seems like the point of ALL of this conversation! 3 agree Becca, here's my take on that exchange… the author who posted the piece you responded to has written online about her dyslexia and fibromyalgia, and it feels awkward to publicly privilege-check someone dealing with a learning disability and a chronic illness. I don't know if you knew these things about the author — if not, it suggests that you made some significant assumptions about her privilege based on what you could SEE, which feels risky. If, however, you DID know about her disabilities, then perhaps her privilege of being white and straight negates them for you… but then you start to get into "who's the MOST marginalized" and "oh sure, you might be disabled, but you're white!" debates. These arguments may be completely valid within a social justice conversation… but I can see why they might not go over all that well in the context of responding to that post, where you basically have an author with a disability and a chronic illness sharing an accomplishment… only to be told she should check herself because while she may be marginalized, she's not marginalized enough. 11 agree Thanks for posting that Madeline! I didn't know about the disabilities issues. So when I read the comments over there, I was quite taken aback by her shutting down the privilege conversation. It makes MUCH more sense now you provide that information. I'm keen to give Becca the benefit of the doubt and assume she didn't know about that either. 1 agrees I guess the larger issue is how much can any of us REALLY know about the person we're about to privilege-check? Do you know the details of their economic background? Do you know their medical history? How much do you really even know about their cultural or ethnic heritage? As Madeline said, it can be "risky" to make assumptions about privilege based on physical appearance. 9 agree Hi MJ, You have raised some interesting points. I am curious about the use of the word you mentioned – is it ok used in the correct context, or is it a blanket ban on being used at all? If it's a blanket ban, then are there words which are more accurate? Feel free to ignore this if you would rather not answer my questions, I'm just interested in your perspective on the word. 1 agrees I hope MJ will answer this too, but I like "differently abled." 1 agrees 'Cripple' has been used as an insult enough times that its picked up quite a negative connotation, and I find it offensive when used to describe a person. Not all disabled people feel that way, but enough do that I think its best not to use it. It's often dehumanizing. I use disabled. Differently-abled isn't a term I'm fond of, but it's not offensive. Some people prefer it. I didn't used react so strongly when people said 'cripple,' because I figured polite correction would be met with, at the very least, some listening. But 9 out of 10 times, when approached that way, people lash out. They say someone else told them it was fine, they tell me to not be so sensitive, they act defensive. The 'eff off' approach has been far more effective for me. But polite questions don't bug me in the least. 2 agree Thanks heaps for your response. I don't recall ever hearing (or using) the word as an insult, although I've heard similar terms used, so I wasn't sure if it was in the same vein. It may just be that it's not commonly used in my area. I can understand how having a better hit rate for the aggressive approach than the "nice" approach would encourage you to use the former. 0 agree I think you make many good points, and that this comment is not bullying or "trollish". But in response to this blog post in particular … you say it yourself perfectly here: "Some of us are ridiculous, some bully and erroneously accuse and butt in where they shouldn't. Human error and all." I've read every comment in this thread, and the linked blog posts (so far). I'll likely continue to read as they pop up — I'm interested in this discourse. But I think some people, maybe you included, are not seeing this post for its central point: it's error to bully and accuse and be ridiculous. That's all. Does pointing out that error take away from the power of the 'good' corrections? Can't people be right most of the time, but wrong some of the time? I think it's OK in a place like the "Offbeat Empire" to correct each other as needed to allow dialog. I've read a few posts now about the "power of rudeness" — my paraphrasing — and while I think that might help in some Real Life situations (as in your example), I just don't think it's effective in a 90% written environment like the internet. You're right that it's just a tool, but why use an ineffective tool? 5 agree I see your point, but the author and I disagree fundamentally on what constitutes bullying in this context. I don't think it's bullying to react with anger when someone is offensive. I don't think it's bullying or incorrect to not be interested in starting a reasoned dialogue with someone who has deeply offended, or to go into a discussion with the no intent to make peace. I don't think it's bullying not to care about whether someone remains an 'ally.' There are true bullies in the social justice crowd, I agree on that. Just as there are bullies outside it. But we don't see eye-to-eye on who's being ridiculous and who's not. It's an error to /erroneously/ accuse, but it's not an error to accuse in general. Being clear and sharp has been far more effective for me in all environments than attempting polite discourse. Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule. But the energy and added hurt that happens when I attempt to engage someone who said something ignorant? It isn't worth the risk to me anymore to try. Nine out of ten times I'm met with silence, defensiveness, and even insults. Defending myself is a healing experience for me. Knowing others support me in this is also healing. And in my opinion, getting a genuine emotional response from someone can be a powerful learning experience for all involved. 8 agree I absolutely agree that anger has a place – an important one- in social justice thought and work. I also see that angry comments are ineffective in online communication. So part of my struggle in thinking about this is: how do we deal with the intersection of those two ? An effective online social justice community… it's helpful to have some guidelines to promote communication. (and some guidelines on how to respond and self-check when you DO get called out, though that is not the focus here ) Obviously Offbeat Bride (the Offbeat Empire's flagship publication) is a wedding blog, so it has a set of limitations. And yet, it's kind of remarkable how effective it seems to be in expanding definitions of relationships, sexualities, genders for many of its readers. 3 agree I don't find them ineffective at all though, if the goal is protection of myself and others. I find them very effective. And I do not agree with the guidelines posted above. Just a fundamental disagreement really. *shrug* 0 agree I think MJ has a very different goal from the ones being discussed previously. If your goal is to make people understand a different perspective, relate to an oppressed minority, etc. then opening up a dialogue along the lines of "Hey did you realize that people see that as offense because of _____" is a great way to start. If you goal is simply to make people stop saying *that* in any place where you have to see or hear it, and you don't care why they stop, or if they understand the issue, just as long as you don't have to hear it, then a harsh and vitriolic condemnation is a perfectly good tactic – because them stopping out of fear for your response is just as effective as them stopping out of understanding of your position. However, these kind of comments also aren't the kind Ariel is talking about. The ones she's condemning are far more passive aggressive than aggressive. As an avid reader of all three sites, I can conjure up exceptionally specific examples (but I don't want to call anyone out by name because that's mean). They aren't the MJs of the world, though. 6 agree It's good to see someone recognizing this. Personally I would take it a step further and say semantics trolling of any kind is abhorrent; I refuse to abide neo-political correctness where people seem to be actively thinking of ways to be offended by common language in order to put regular people on the defensive. I view it as a form of Newspeak and people use it as permission to be smug and take a supposed moral high ground. All of it simply polarizes people further rather than fostering civilized discourse, I know for example I immediately revile & tune out anyone employing those tactics. 9 agree Ariel – I just went to the Guardian website looking for an article on breastfeeding, and saw your face on the homepage! I was like 'wait is this just MY computer, or is that actually Ariel?!' Was so excited to see one of my favorite authors on a mainstream website. And of course really appreciated your article. Glad it has made it to a wider audience as well. Well done offbeat empire 3 agree What a lovely treat to see such a familiar face on the Guardian's homepage! Well done Ariel. 1 agrees I do find the comparison to Westboro inappropriate. WBC cause real harm to people, an angry social justice activist is going to upset a person at worst. Also, it all feels worryingly close to the tone argument – what's wrong with a minority being angry? Putting the onus on the offended party to be nice about it is surely derailing in itself. If you're a privileged person who feels like your whole group is being picked on (eg white people, cis people) remember – IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. That's the whole point of pointing out privilege, stop co-opting the pain of minorities. 12 agree "WBC cause real harm to people, an angry social justice activist is going to upset a person at worst." I've seen more than a few cases where Social Justice Warriors engage in some straight-up harmful behavior. Campaigns against perceived witches and bad guys that end up crossing the line into real-life stalking and harassment. Some might remember when Laci Greene went offline for a month after being threatened – what's less remembered as that this threat came from a hugely misguided "social justice" type upset about LG's ostensible transphobia and "Islamophobia". I'd also add that even when overzealous social justice types don't cross the line into creepy behavior, the quite often have the effect of turning a lot of people off to the very kind of politics they're trying to promote. And while it might feel very good from a purist point of view to drive away people who are Not True Allies(tm), it's damn poor politics. "Also, it all feels worryingly close to the tone argument – what's wrong with a minority being angry?" I'd turn that around and ask what's wrong with the tone argument? Like it or not, tone communicates a message just as much as any other part of your speech does, and it's nonsense to say that just because the rest of your argument is sound that tone doesn't matter. Also, being part of a marginalized group (or "a minority", as you put it) is not some kind of moral blank check. While social disadvantage can be a relevant point in an argument, it really is not license to behave in a nastier way than anybody else reacting to a real or perceived slight, especially while expecting deferential behavior from the other party. "Putting the onus on the offended party to be nice about it is surely derailing in itself." Surely you know that in any argument, no one party has a monopoly on "offense". 13 agree I should also add, I think it's in some ways *worse* when social justice people resort to these shitty tactics. Because, major disagreements I have with the specifics of "social justice" ideology aside, much of social justice politics does represent worthwhile political goals, and behaving like assholes in support of them means those worthwhile goals gets messed up by extension. The fact that Westboro Baptist Church embarrasses both themselves and the rest of the religious right with their horrible rhetoric and actions is ultimately for the good, in my estimation. 5 agree I'd turn that around and ask what's wrong with the tone argument? In many places, a tone argument can be used when the substance of the argument is one which the co-party chooses to ignore. It can be a more subtle form of racism, in many cases. While it's not the 100% blanket rule, and I agree that in a place like this the tone argument can be specious, in other places where people of disparate privilege are brought together, the tone argument can be seen as "silencing" the other person's point. I've seen it used most primarily against People of Color in disagreement which hinge around race relations and cultural identities. A PoC will respond with an objection, which may not even be phrased angrily, and be met with an answer along the lines of "I don't have to answer that because you're tone is offensive to me". tl;dr — a tone argument can be used as a shield to deflect blame from the person who initially spoke to the one who is reacting to that which had been said. 4 agree *point of clarity, silencing was put in quotation marks to signify it as a feeling of being silenced, and not to denote that silencing does not exist. 0 agree I understand that criticism of the "tone argument". Certainly, I've seen more than a few cases of people being *extremely* condescending while claiming to be civil, and burying some pretty unreasonable arguments under cover of being moderate and reasonable. That kind of attitude deserves some degree of calling out. But dismissing the importance of tone entirely is not called for either. To do so is to give free reign to rudeness and hostility, and quite often serves as simply an excuse to be an asshole. Unfortunately, the latter is where too many "social justice warriors" are coming from. After all, what is the goal of argumentation? Is it simply to polarize the situation and promote ingroup cohesion by stigmatizing a hated outgroup? Or is it to persuade those who are undecided, and maybe even change the mind of those on the other side? Either may be a goal of argumentation, but I'd say the latter is much more worthwhile, and the latter is decidedly undermined by being a jerk. And the thing is, it is perfectly possible to present a strong, unapologetic argument for a position without being a jerk about it, nor does one need to compromise principals just to seem reasonable. The idea that one has to take a nasty tone to present a strong argument is utterly misguided. 3 agree I don't disagree with you at all in what you said. Truth be told, I'm hesitant on anything tone argument related because, on the internet, tone is implied and not definite. Especially when there are people who don't think out their response wordings, fail to edit and then post. It's very easy to misinterpret what's been said. Being an asshole is totally not cool and calling out being an asshole, however, isn't exactly the same as using the tone argument. An ad hominem is very different than tone, and I think that the tone argument, on either side, devolves everything too quickly. I see it as a distraction, but that's because I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt because LORD knows I am fucking terrible at putting my thoughts into the right words sometimes. 0 agree Speaking of minorities, women make up about 51% of the US population. They're actually a majority now. The dialogue has shifted to "oppressor/oppressed" rather than "majority/minority". Of course, I think putting people into either category because they're part of one group or another is inherently limiting. Heck, I've had my own opinions on race dismissed because the other black guy disagreed with me, even though he had literally just said "any minority will agree with me on X" and I proved him objectively wrong about X. TL;DR: confusing generalities (people in group X are generally privileged) with absolutes (people in group X are inherently privileged (and therefore their opinion is worth less)) is a great way to alienate the very people you want to convince. 1 agrees So, I read this the other day and realled loved it. And then I go on the Guardian today and THERE IS ARIEL'S FACE. ZOMG. Amazeballs, so glad this great piece has made it into the paper. I've only read the first few comments over there, but it seems like the reaction is pretty positive all round! Ariel wins the internet. Again. 4 agree While I totally appreciate the enthusiasm (thank you!), I'm not sure I'd say I'm winning anything. In fact, I'm losing readers over this post as we speak. While I'm totally comfortable with that (as I've said before, my sites can't be everything to everyone) I do hope the post captures how deeply conflicted I am about this issue. Ultimately, I understand (and even agree with) much of the criticism of the piece. I feel strongly that this perspective needed to be put out there, but I'm not sure I feel like I'm winning anything at all. 7 agree Oh wow, I'm sorry to hear that! I hope my enthusiasm was only a positive thing to hear, it was really meant as such. Because I think you're such a star for doing things the way you do. I know I'm not alone in this. I really only had positive reactions to your post. I definitely understand your conflictedness on this, and having followed your posts for a while on this kind of thing, I feel I know where you're coming from. You're trying to cultivate a community that is run in a way that you and your editors can enjoy and that feels good. Perhaps some readers of this post have less context on what you do and how you do it than your long-time readers? 3 agree I think a major part of Ariel's point is that when a reader is so quick to accuse a commenter or blog writer from the Offbeat Empire of being intolerant, they are forgetting about how open and caring this community is as a whole. If any online community member deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt, it's all of us, right here. Angry responses might be the most effective, protective method to deal with jerks in the real world, but in this corner of the internet, we are different. None of us means to be a bigot, or flaunt our privilege. All of us are more than willing to fess up to our mistakes. And if we all take the time to calmly teach each other, our community will only grow stronger and better informed. 11 agree Intent doesn't matter. Even if you didn't mean to be offensive, that doesn't lessen the harm you caused another person. Example – I'm from the UK where the term 'oriental' is not offensive. I used that in a mostly-US forum and quickly got called out on it. Even though I didn't mean to be offensive, that didn't matter and I was still in the wrong. 8 agree I never said we don't cause each other harm with our mistakes. I pointed out that this specific community (readers of the Offbeat Empire) is fully capable of apologizing and learning from our mistakes. So let's all try to open dialogues instead of shutting people down. 5 agree It'd be nice to assume everyone in social justice communities is capable of apologising and learning from their mistakes. They aren't always. Being aware of one issue does not make you magically aware to all. 8 agree I would agree with you on the whole. But specifically in the daily posts in Offbeat Home, in two years I have never seen a member not be able to take a step back and consider what someone else is upset about. This particular thread is full of comments that are from non-regular readers and honestly, I am disappointed in how some of the comments are framed. 7 agree But that's just the point isn't it? In a community like the Offbeat Empire, the first assumption is that someone misstepped due to not being aware that there was an issue, not bigotry or chosen apathy. As such, simply informing people that an issue exists is usually enough to get an apology, a correction, or at least a well thought out difference of opinion. To jump to the conclusion that the poster must support racism/sexism/____ism instead just tends to make nice people defensive. It is completely possible to point out a mistake with out making it an accusation. 12 agree By the way, thank you for not using trigger warnings. I have a lot of issues with those. The Empire articles just have very specific titles so I know to avoid articles that I'm not interested in or I'll be bothered by. 6 agree How can I get in touch with you by email? I found your comment about people needing unusual trigger/content warnings to be incredibly dismissive and inappropriate for this article, and I would prefer to explain why privately. If you would like, you are welcome to send an email to me (if you can see my email address) if that would be your preference. Thank you. 3 agree http://offbeatempire.com/contact 0 agree Great post, Ariel. Unfortunately, I think those who most need to hear this message are going to be the quickest to dismiss it. (In fact, at least one of the more, shall we say, combative Freethoughtblogs already has.) 7 agree …which is absolutely what I expected. My goal with this post was only to communicate my own policies on my own websites to my own readers. Unexpectedly, the post hit a nerve and has been shared widely… but I certainly do NOT expect that my commenting policies would apply to other publications, or that everyone should agree with my perspective. It's the joy of the web: each web publisher is free to communicate on their site in whatever ways work best for them. For me, on my sites, semantics-scolding doesn't fly. I've always been pretty clear that I absolutely understand the Empire's commenting policies won't work for everyone. I totally respect that for other people, on other sites, semantics-scolding is completely acceptable with the publishers of those sites. 13 agree I think the problem with online bullying (of all types – liberal, misogynist, or whatever) is way bigger than any one blog's moderation policies. I've seen too many aggressive bloggers start hate campaigns against others, on- and offline, and I've seen the effect that this can have even in cases where one doesn't pay attention to the aggressive blog in question. The problems with online bullying and, more generally, a super-uncivil online culture are becoming endemic. Ironically, it's some of the feminist/social justice bloggers that have started to raise the issue with their bringing attention to online misogyny. Unfortunately, they also often exacerbate the situation by painting it as a problem with only one side, conflating any and all disagreement with feminism or social justice politics as the same as bullying, and completely letting themselves off the hook in terms of being responsible for their own behavior. (It seems as if some social justice types believe that making an effort to behave responsibly and ethically is only necessary to the degree that one has privilege.) I think the norms of the internet can be changed for the better, even if there will always be pockets of incivility. (And given that I'm fundamentally against censorship, I don't expect a fully hate-free internet.) But the norms of what is considered reasonable discourse overall can be changed, and I thank you for being a voice for changing things in that direction. 3 agree I've seen too many aggressive bloggers start hate campaigns against others, on- and offline, and I've seen the effect that this can have even in cases where one doesn't pay attention to the aggressive blog in question. In one case I saw, it was an innocent misreading of a certain webcomic. Unfortunately, because of it, the blogs became the target of trolls, even after the webcomic's creators corrected the misinterpretation. Thing is, the creators never told anyone to troll the blogs, never even linked to it, yet they were accused of doing so. The whole thing turned into a big mess, where more and more incorrect accusations were levelled at the creators, attracting more and more trolls, and more readers countering the trolls, and so on. The funny thing is that the creators specifically avoided talking about the incident after their denial, besides on their personal Twitters, presumably to avoid attracting more trolls, yet their critics were doing things like assuming a single song in a multi-hour playlist set to random was chosen specifically to needle them because the singer had a connection to the issue in question. They only addressed it publicly when a critic threatened their families, and told everyone involved to cut it out. The odd thing is that the critics didn't actually condemn the guy who made the death threat. They condemned the creators for not saying something sooner, despite the fact that they had already openly contradicted the primary assertion. 1 agrees Thank you, thank you, thank you. 2 agree Hi Ariel and the rest of the OffBeat team! I just wanted to say that I always appreciated the inclusive nature of each of the OffBeat websites, and I always felt that you have dealt with several sensitive topics with a lot of dignity and tact. I've learned a lot from your posts and the OffBeat community, and I just wanted to say thanks. (After reading some of the more critical comments, I felt the overwhelming need to post something supportive. Keep up the good work everyone, I really appreciate it!) 10 agree I have to say I recognise everything in this post, and it was very well said. Even more than the XKCD "someone is wrong" cartoon, I find these kind of fights bring this video to mind – enjoy… 1 agrees The thing is, even in heated arguments like this, it seems to me arguments ultimately get effectively debated, at least if such programs have any worthwhile moderation. This is generally not how online shouting matches go – it generally degenerates to the point where the rational argument to name-calling ratio gets very low, whether it's a protracted flame war between two equally-matched sides, or a pile-on against a minority position. 0 agree Also want to add, I'd *love* to see the Hitch vs Pierre Salinger argument in full! 0 agree As a frequent reader (and a Tribesman!), I wanted to weigh in a little bit. I've been following this thread for the almost-week it's been up, and I think that it's turned a bit meta — especially in some of the interactions going on between commenters. I'm a little disheartened that a post which says "GUYS OPEN MIND" in a lot of ways, is being responded to with a lot of snap-judgey kinds of comments. I don't want to be the sunshine-bearer of all things unicorn and rainbow here, but I think that the way in which this community is run is really quite amazing. The posts on all three sites are really well done and the Tribe lives up very well to the expectations of the site. Ariel, I think you nailed this post and the comments, I think, reflect the need for someone to say it. I'm especially glad you did it, and on here, because it adds a level of clarity to the perspective as you and the team are *so* consistent. I've long appreciated the site. 22 agree Why I like privilege-checking: it reminds me I actually have allies. I like that it's public, because it means a wider audience is forced to check themselves on wider privilege issues, instead of just that one blogger getting to issue a private "sorry about the language." I like that it's not phrased as "questions or invitations to discuss the issue", because my status as a human being with rights is not up for debate, no matter what some non-marginalized people who claim to speak for me think. I like that it's focused on isolated incidents, because there is enough self-hatred in marginalized communities like mine that people will advocate for their own group's oppression under certain circumstances–I've seen it happen. A concrete example of what I mean: a liberal blogger writes after a school shooting about how we all need more public funding for mental health services. They mean well. But they are also perpetuating the false prejudice that mentally ill = violent. Because of this myth, me and my friends have been locked up for committing no crime but talking to the wrong person about our feelings, for periods ranging from weeks to almost a year. Because of this myth, me and my friends have had drugs forced on us–violently, as in pushed onto a table, pants pulled down and forcibly injected. I'm getting pissed off, but luckily somebody who's into privilege-checking writes in the comments "um, that's really able-ist" and a bunch of other do-gooder types chime in agreement. That means that everybody reading that blog who might've otherwise unthinkingly agreed is forced to confront their prejudiced assumptions head on. You can't get that with a private discussion. 9 agree Comment navigation ← Older Comments Newer Comments → Comments are closed.