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[icon] Elizabeth Moon, WisCon, racism: metacommentary - ambartil
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Subject:Elizabeth Moon, WisCon, racism: metacommentary
Time:04:34 am
Current Mood:gloomygloomy


Thursday night magentamn posted some unpopular thoughts on the Moon/WisCon/etc. brouhouha. Yesterday she made another post, with additional thoughts and attempted clarifications. Gods only know what sort of masochism drives to post something on the subject myself (breaking a years-long streak of perfectly good, inoffensive, silence), but here I go.

Disclosure: for anyone reading this who doesn't already know, I am Magenta's partner. I am not claiming to be non-partisan on any facet of this matter that pertains to her personally; indeed, I'm not claiming anything, except the right to offer my own thoughts (and quite possibly get trashed for them).

Before I go on, I want to thank salexa for daring to defend Magenta's right to state her opinions, in a very hostile venue. For this, she got called a sockpuppet, a charge I would call laughably inaccurate if I still had any ability to laugh about this mess. salexa, I'm afraid the "paragon of virtue" charge continues to stick.

Next, my thanks to haddayr, rm, and bluestalking for exemplifying the sort of "I disagree with most of what you said, but I don't think you're evil; can we keep talking?" mode that one would *HOPE* to find in debates like this, but too rarely does. If I missed anyone else, who feels they deserve to be mentioned in this category, bring it to my attention and I can edit.

"Silencing" is a complex issue. Obviously anyone who posted something on the Internet, was not prevented from posting something on the internet. (This applies to all sides in the current debate.) If someone posted a comment somewhere, and it was deleted without notice (by someone OTHER THAN the poster) before anyone saw it, was the commenter silenced? Yes. If the deletion happened AFTER many people had seen the comment and put in their own two cents, is it still silencing? Probably. Does it make any difference whether it was hours later, or days later? Maybe.... If someone is told that their opinion is so obviously wrong that they shouldn't have said it, have they been silenced? Well, the opinion was heard (or read, as may be), and other people might feel differently, whether they say so or not, but it certainly isn't civil discourse or reasoned argument from the person saying "you're just wrong". It may be bullying, or ATTEMPTED silencing. If someone is afraid to post something on the subject, because they don't want a flaming shitstorm of dozens or hundreds of mostly hostile comments on their own blog, have they been silenced? Seems so to me.... If B wants to comment on A's post, and finds that they've been blocked from posting anything in that particular venue, have they been silenced? Does it make a difference who decided to block them, and why? If someone's been silenced in one venue, does that increase their right to silence someone else, in a different venue? I'm seeing some very unnerving double or multiple standards, both from people making accusations of "silencing", and from people scornfully dismissing such accusations. And I can't resist trotting out my strongly held opinion that there is NO number of wrongs that adds up to a right.

I'm also troubled by the use of "racism" as an umbrella term for any "racial", ethnic, or religious prejudice (but NOT sexism, homophobia or other affectional preference prejudices, ableism, or ageism). Is this a useful category? Other than hard-line atheists (who can dislike all religions equally, and feel superior about it) and a few mystical or new-age-y types who sincerely believe that all religions are equally valid, EVERYBODY'S got religious biases, if not prejudices. Some of them are based at least partly on experience. Would it be better if everyone's biases were based solely on their own, first-hand, experience, reserving judgment on anything their own experience doesn't cover? Probably. Is this the current situation, or an immediately attainable goal? Nope. Will some people be treated unfairly as a result of the above? Sadly, yes. Is all unfairness equally important, or does it sometimes make sense to say "this offense is not as serious as that offense"? I don't know... if the latter, who decides?

It would probably be pointed out that I'm using a lot of generalities here, even if I weren't pointing it out myself. My opinions on SOME specifics of this mess are available to anyone who wishes to ask a specific question. I reserve the right to form those opinions without having read EVERY potentially relevant post on the internet -- the assertions (sometimes in a very nasty tone) that anyone who doesn't know ALL the priors has no right to be heard are another thing that's worrying me.

I will not respond at present to comments about Islam & Islamophobia. Another post on those subjects will follow (if I survive the comment thread on this one), but it requires further thought.
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kynn
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 03:07 pm (UTC)
This is a bad post and you should be ashamed of it.
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(Deleted comment)

kynn
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 06:18 pm (UTC)
Not a "dude," Will, you know that.
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(Deleted comment)

cakmpls
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 11:20 pm (UTC)
My 27-year-old son has on occasion called ME "dude," starting when he was about 12.
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(Deleted comment)

kynn
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 07:05 pm (UTC)
Please do not call me "dude," Will.
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(Deleted comment)

kynn
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 07:19 pm (UTC)
It's hard to believe you are over twelve, William.
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(Deleted comment)

kynn
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 07:27 pm (UTC)
You mad, Shetterly?
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(Deleted comment)

kynn
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 07:36 pm (UTC)
No. Listen to Emma, Will.

Goodnight.
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(Deleted comment)

ambartil
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 08:04 pm (UTC)
Will ("your awesomeness"),

I sympathize with your desire to play with Kynn. But I'm not sure you're helping....
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salexa
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-24 12:27 am (UTC)
You should really get a new line, you know. Run off now like a good little bully.
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pingback_bot
Subject:magentamn doesn't respond...
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 03:09 pm (UTC)
User kynn referenced to your post from magentamn doesn't respond... saying: [...] ...but apparently her partner will do that for her [...]
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ambartil
Subject:Re: magentamn doesn't respond...
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 08:02 pm (UTC)
Nope, Magenta will respond for *HERSELF* whenever she feels like it/has time. I'm responding for *MYSELF*. Sufficient explanation?
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cakmpls
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 03:15 pm (UTC)
You're right that "silencing" is a complicated subject. I maintain that depriving a published author of the opportunity to speak in a sponsored forum in no way constitutes it, but from there on, it get murky even in my opinion.

On the one hand, I have a bias in favor of people who are willing to stand up, speak up, for what they believe, no matter the consequences. They are the ones I admire, and try--as with most life goals, fail too often, but always try--to emulate. Personally, I'm pretty much of the "if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen" school.

On the other hand, not everyone is like that, and should people be deprived of the right to state their opinion because they, by nature, can't stand the heat? Certainly they shouldn't in some areas, and that's why we have the secret ballot. (It's also one of many things I dislike about governance by consensus.) But in all areas? I don't know.

In regard to LJ (and possibly other blogs), it's fairly easy to state one's opinion and be fairly sure of not being "attacked" (by whatever definition one chooses): select the audience. Lock the post to people one trusts not to attack (by whatever definition). But when one makes a public written statement, it seems to me that one offers oneself up on a platter, available for picking (on).

There are people who hold up their protest signs only when surrounded by like minds, and those who hold them up in the face of the opposition (think "Obama=Socialism" at a Tea Party rally, and then at an Obama rally). The latter are the ones I admire more, but the ones I admire most are the ones who are willing to have their sign torn, willing to be cursed and spat on, willing maybe even to be physically assaulted (or arrested, which is sometimes the same thing), because of the strength of their convictions.
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ambartil
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 10:56 pm (UTC)
Congratulations! You are the first commenter of substance on this thread! (The exchange between kynn and willshetterly, while arguably FUNNY, is hardly substantial.) I'm going to respond to some of your points, in a different order than you posted them; please let me know if you feel I've misrepresented your position, or failed to answer something important.

Personally, I'm pretty much of the "if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen" school.

Yeah, that's said A LOT. It's most justifiable when everybody knows (and agrees) where the kitchen *IS*, and the doors into and out of it. It also matters whether everyone who's in the kitchen is trying to cook, or if some people are throwing buckets of hot grease on the stove to watch the pretty flames.

I have a bias in favor of people who are willing to stand up, speak up, for what they believe, no matter the consequences. They are the ones I admire, and try--as with most life goals, fail too often, but always try--to emulate. [Also] There are people who hold up their protest signs only when surrounded by like minds, and those who hold them up in the face of the opposition (think "Obama=Socialism" at a Tea Party rally, and then at an Obama rally). The latter are the ones I admire more, but the ones I admire most are the ones who are willing to have their sign torn, willing to be cursed and spat on, willing maybe even to be physically assaulted (or arrested, which is sometimes the same thing), because of the strength of their convictions.

I agree with you at least as far as "admire"; as for "emulate", see below. HOWEVER, as some people have pointed out in the larger conversation, not all strong conviction are created equal. For an extreme example, look at Fred Phelps: he MAYBE gets a point of admiration from me,for standing up for his convictions -- and then loses 40 or 50, because his convictions are so horribly WRONG. I would not spit at him or assault him, but if he showed up at an event I was at, I'd call the police without hesitation, and cheer when he was dragged away.

On the other hand, not everyone is like that, and should people be deprived of the right to state their opinion because they, by nature, can't stand the heat? Certainly they shouldn't in some areas, and that's why we have the secret ballot. (It's also one of many things I dislike about governance by consensus.) But in all areas? I don't know.

And there's the problem with "emulate". I am sometimes one of those who has trouble standing the heat. Did you notice how bloody enthusiastic I was about making this post?

In regard to LJ (and possibly other blogs), it's fairly easy to state one's opinion and be fairly sure of not being "attacked" (by whatever definition one chooses): select the audience. Lock the post to people one trusts not to attack (by whatever definition).

True. I just HOPE no one has been accused of "cowardice" or suchlike, for making statements that only people they already trusted could see.

But when one makes a public written statement, it seems to me that one offers oneself up on a platter, available for picking (on).

Again, true. And here I am. :-/

You're right that "silencing" is a complicated subject. I maintain that depriving a published author of the opportunity to speak in a sponsored forum in no way constitutes it,

I agree with you. When Magenta made her original post, I believe that she thought (& I *KNOW* I thought) that uninviting Moon as GoH meant barring her from (next year's) WisCon altogether, not just stripping her of the "Guest of Honor" TITLE and the non-contractual perks that go with it. Having been mistaken on that point, I'll freely concede that WisCon didn't do anything that can clearly be called silencing. That doesn't mean their actions were completely fair or appropriate.

but from there on, it get murky even in my opinion.

Amen to that.
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cakmpls
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 11:28 pm (UTC)
I am sometimes one of those who has trouble standing the heat. Did you notice how bloody enthusiastic I was about making this post?

Knowing you a bit in person, as I do, I was kind of surprised to see you post this at all.

but from there on, it get murky even in my opinion.

Amen to that.


Many issues do, it seems, get murkier the deeper one goes. J has been known to say, regarding certain controversial issues, that anyone who thinks they have all the answers hasn't thought carefully enough. This is one of the reasons that I say I don't "believe" anything: I want to be always open to the possibility that there is an aspect I haven't learned about yet.
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naomikritzer
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-24 11:52 pm (UTC)
It's most justifiable when everybody knows (and agrees) where the kitchen *IS*

This is an excellent point (although Magenta posted in the WisCon LJ community....which is definitely a well-marked kitchen-like space).
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ktempest
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 05:21 pm (UTC)
It is good that you have white people like haddayr, rm, and bluestalking to be reasonable with while the rest of the orc horde can do nothing but be angry at hurtful words!
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(Deleted comment)

ambartil
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 08:21 pm (UTC)
Will,

I am *POLITELY REQUESTING* that you quit responding to comments on THIS POST. I am NOT saying "never darken my LJ again", and I give you some credit for good intentions. But... you're not helping.
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ktempest
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 10:37 pm (UTC)
The reason Will is posting here is that he cannot post at my blog. at least as far as this thread is concerned. I have a strict policy of not engaging because, as you can see, the slightest hint of engagement results in comment vomit.
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ambartil
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 08:15 pm (UTC)
I honestly did not know the race or ethnicity of haddayr or bluestalking. In the latter case, I don't know gender either (in case that's relevant).

I appreciated all of them for what they said, and how they said it. I reserve the right to do the same for anybody, regardless of color, class, creed, or planet of origin. I will respond to your linked post once I've read it.
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ktempest
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 10:22 pm (UTC)
It doesn't really matter if you knew their race or not. (Their race only matters tangentially at any rate.) What matters is the issue I raised over on the post I linked to, which I do hope you read, because you're putting forth a version of the tone argument that is clueless and silly.
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moofable
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 10:25 pm (UTC)
While I disagree, I applaud your methods.
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ambartil
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-23 11:08 pm (UTC)
Um, thanks. WHICH methods are you applauding? When I do anything RIGHT, it's nice to know what.
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salexa
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-10-24 12:47 am (UTC)
The biggest problem I had with the way the discussion unfolded was not necessarily the anger. It was those people who summarily dismissed Magenta and resorted to middle school bully tactics. How can WisCon ever hope to hold itself to a high standard with regard to diversity if people say ( and I suspect really believe) the con would be better off not having that Magenta or any other dissenter from the "one true way" attend?

I am still working out my own ideas on this subject. Thank you for taking the time to document yours, as I know how rare of an event this is for you in this forum.
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[icon] Elizabeth Moon, WisCon, racism: metacommentary - ambartil
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