So I see something has struck the fan in the past 48 hours
September 17, 2013 § 5 Comments
There were heated discussions on Twitter regarding “silencing” or “bullying.” Such loaded terms, those two, so much so that it is disconcerting to see them bandied about so cavalierly. I believe in a battle of ideas, a test of ideologies, but stating forcefully one’s opinion (especially when said opinion was couched in polite, respectful terms and tone) does not equal either of those. I disagreed with the assertion that authors should think several times about entering a forum where their works are being discussed (I view authorial intent to be as fallible, if not more so in a few cases, as reader interpretation of textual evidence), but that relates entirely to my previous experiences and mine alone. As was pointed out to me, in some cases the matter of authorial intrusion into a discussion can collapse what some consider to be “safe spaces” for discussing matters. That is something foreign to me, but it does not mean that it should be dismissed out of hand. Certainly this desire to have discussions free of authorial presence can have positive benefits (particularly if the participants are loathe to challenge directly author statements regarding textual interpretation). I just do not believe this is always the case.
But this is just a difference of opinion. The original opinion piece is not invalidated because I found it to cover concerns foreign to me or to use terms that are not applicable here. It certainly does not seek to “silence” writers but perhaps make it clear that butting in can often be quite undesired and unwelcome. It would have been nice to see others discuss the issues regarding zones for discussion and how textual interpretations can be shaped. Unfortunately, that is not what happened after this rebuttal was posted and others began to have their own reactions.
It’s pretty obvious that I’m a male (my ethnicities, however, are not) and there are a lot of things that I can get by with, both online and in face-to-face discussion (being around 6′ tall and having 16-17″ biceps do tend to curb physical threats). I don’t have to worry about drawing much worse than a mild curse and certainly not epithets about my body, my sexual experiences, and so forth. It’s too easy to forget that women endure these vile things simply for voicing an opinion that runs counter to others. Sometimes, just the fear of having a mild disparaging word can shut down people presenting their opinion on an issue. Forget the perception of writers being told not to intrude in certain cases. Readers are being made to feel uncomfortable, if not threatened, because others can’t just disagree with them but instead attack them with sexual threats or saying that they are “dumb,” “stupid,” “emotion-filled,” or “silly,” just to use a few of the commonly-bandied about terms. If that isn’t the real “silencing” or “bullying,” then perhaps I do not understand this fiasco at all.
The calls I read for there to be “authors welcomed” (or perhaps, not welcome) badges I found to be rather odd. What is the point of it beyond the immediate moment? What does it mean in regards to how authors/critics/readers are expected to interact? Why has this become such an issue that at a little past 3 AM on a worknight I’m writing a post that’ll pretty much say that why can’t people just be civil and at least consider what others are saying before blurting out something that feels momentarily good for them? Isn’t that pretty much what should have happened, people considering other viewpoints and treating those opinions with respect while advancing their own complementary or dissenting takes? If only…but instead, we just showed the parts of humanity that we try to keep covered up, as usual.