There Are Four Lights
There are a number of things that I’ve learned over the last few years. Here is a partial list. I’ve tried to be as fair as possible and include things that were explained to me and which I can specifically place, both where I heard them and who was speaking.
For example, just recently someone shared a post talking about a YA book that had been declared racist by a self-appointed judge who encouraged all of her significant number of followers to harass the author and make sure her book failed. (It didn’t.) But the person who originally sat in judgement of the book also made a curious statement, that no one should read for themselves to confirm if the book was bad or not. I’m sure that many of you can think of specific cases where someone has insisted that people not listen to the other side, don’t read, don’t engage, don’t judge for yourself.
Some are paraphrases and contractions, such as “Their speech is violence and our violence is speech.” That’s not often paired, because pairing it highlights the problem. But “speech as violence” is something often said in complete seriousness by educated people who should know better. I can picture two or more specific individuals who have made the argument in my hearing (or at least reading.) And hearing violent marches, riots, or other performative sorts of things described as protected speech is also not at all uncommon. After all, what is breaking that Starbucks window if it’s not political speech?
I’ve skipped the sorts of things I learned that had very narrow political or social focus. Lots of people are wrong about lots of things and it’s not useful to list the little stuff. There are a few science fiction specific ones on the list that some of you will recognize, though.
Things I have learned:
- The only reason I can vote or have anything good in life is because someone in history was an asshole, therefore assholery toward random fellow citizens is proved to effect positive social change.
- Processing your Privilege in Public via confessions and discussion among other privileged white women helps. Like hashtags.
- Tolerance is about the moral necessity to be intolerant.
- Inclusion will be achieved when enough of the right people are excluded.
- Compassion is about figuring out who doesn’t deserve any, such as that fellow who got tortured to death by North Korea for stealing a propaganda poster. That guy didn’t deserve any.
- Free Speech only applies to things that have broad public approval.
- Their speech is violence and our violence is speech.
- Comparing identical behavior and motivations is a false equivalency if different people are involved.
- A conversation involves listening until you understand.
- There are no bad tactics, only bad targets.
- Bigotry based on race isn’t racism.
- Anyone is entitled to a little violent acting out when judged negatively due to their race, except for white men, who are better people.
- If someone has made it possible for people to lie about them, the liars are entitled to run with it.
- Authoritarian threats can be solved with more government.
- “Anarchists” want more government.
- Denying slander proves that it’s true.
- Making little old church ladies uncomfortable is funnier than hell, and probably means you’re a good person.
- Disproving an ideology through words and logic actually makes that ideology stronger.
- No one should read a book that’s been condemned nor listen to a speaker they expect to say bad things.
- Getting people fired is right and just and true, and you should be very proud of yourself.
- Shutting down speech, reporting thought crime, and destroying people’s lives doesn’t make you a fascist.
- Wearing the face of a man who was a murderer, racist, sexist, and homophobe on your shirt means you’re down with the struggle.
- Constitutional protections are subject to how strong your feelings are.
- Morality can and should be legislated, just not that old morality that you didn’t like.
What have you learned in the last few years? Keep it clean and have fun.