Holly at the Pervocracy blog posted an interesting piece today, about criticising potential allies in some movement for public acceptance, and the potential risks of alienating them from your cause. I’m reproducing below a comment I left on that article.
(The article of mine that I’m referring to, if you need reminding or you missed that whole clusterfuffle, is here.)
I think I was about to say pretty much what Aaron said. It’s generally best to operate on an assumption of good faith, unless it’s later disproven.
It’s not even really about rights or movements, so much as it’s about basic courtesy in interacting with other people. Asking if somebody has some kind of fucking problem is sorta flat-out rude, and beyond what’s merited from a one-off use of one inappropriate word. Particularly if you don’t know them well and don’t know much about their genuine attitudes to things – perhaps they care a great deal about mentally disabled people, but just aren’t so attentive to it as to moderate their vocabulary in all instances.
I posted a lengthy piece on my blog a while ago, defending a journalist who’d written a newspaper article about protecting young people from homophobic discrimination. It had been widely circulated around Twitter and the blogosphere. Another blogger utterly eviscerated him, heaping personal abuse on top of numerous criticisms of what he was saying and the allegedly despicable nature of some of his attitudes.
And the infuriating thing was, she had a lot of good points. As much as protecting young people from hate should be something we can all agree on, this journalist’s piece did at times seem in danger of pathologising homosexuality, or being too quick to label kids with an unhelpfully binary gender or sexuality identity. There were many valid criticisms to be made about his piece.
But, fundamentally, he was a good-hearted guy trying passionately to help people suffering discrimination. It’s not that his errors don’t deserve to be corrected simply because he’s basically on the right side of things. But they didn’t deserve the unmitigated vitriol which this blogger continued to hurl at him.
This blogger identifies as anti-feminist, in part because of how many of her interactions with the feminist community have gone this way. And it’s frustrating, because she’d be a good ally if she didn’t tend to be so hostile that many people don’t want to be on her side.
Sorry this is so long, it’s just reminded me of something I’ve wanted to vent about for a while.