Mi casa es su casa

Let me first say that I have been humbled to have learned anew how important the TypePad site was to many people as a safe space, a home — or an inn, at least, or oasis — where one could be and connect without being reminded at every turn that there are others, far too many others, who think there’s something wrong with you, or who blame you just for being you, blame you for your identity, your history, your very existence.

And I am saddened and sorry for having pulled the rug out from under that safe space by relocating here, to a busier intersection where the echoes of many voices — some friendly, some hostile or hurtful or just uncomprehending — make the re-creation of that kind of safe space seem unlikely.

It is good for me to be here, among all those many voices, where I can seek to encourage and amplify the friendly ones and challenge those that are hostile. But it is not at all good for those of you who, rightfully, want and need and deserve a place apart from the pain of that cacophony. And it is not fair for me to drag you here with me just because I am looking to engage in the very same heated arguments that you’re wanting and needing and deserving to avoid.

See, I’m lucky. I have received “favours,” John Woolman would have said, although a more precise word would be to say that I am privileged. I have the luxury of abstracting myself from those voices and those arguments at any time. I have the privilege of choosing to seek them out because I have the privilege of not being barraged by them 24/7/365. I have the privilege, in other words, of not constantly being told that there’s something wrong with me, that I must be ashamed of my identity or my history or my very existence.

Most of my life occurs within a safe space far safer and more sheltered than any online community could every provide. And so it’s very easy for me to forget how “favoured” that makes me — to forget that this is what “privileged” means, that most people do not enjoy that luxury. So thank you for reminding me. I am sure I will need to be reminded again.

That privilege allows and enables me to seek out and engage a larger argument — one that sometimes involves wading into and rubbing up against voices and ideas that others cannot ever escape and thus should not be asked to abide. In a sense, it also obliges me to do so. “As a Christian, I may be permitted to quote from St. Luke: ‘Much will be asked of him because he was entrusted with more.'” (I’m invoking E.F. Schumacher there, in part, to avoid invoking Stan Lee.)

Which brings us to the present crossroads. For those who found comfort at the TypePad site but find no comfort here, I want that site to remain a haven and a home. And so I have passed it along to others who are well-equipped to ensure that it will remain what it has been for you. Not to strangers, but to members of this community who understand it and understand you and who can and will serve you well.

I very much hope that this will be received in the spirit in which it is intended. Not as an abandonment, but as an effort to empower others to ensure that a vital task is not abandoned and, far more importantly, that people are not abandoned. (This is where Spidey was only partly right. With power comes responsibility — but not just a responsibility to employ the privilege of power on behalf of others, but a responsibility to step aside and yield that power to others.)

For the purposes of creating and ensuring a safe space for inclusive community, I think this will be an improvement. I have never been good at monitoring comments, and I think the community as a whole will do a better job of that, and of giving that important task the care and attention I have never given it. Above the fold, I have often published posts that I realize are likely to provoke drive-by trolling and unfriendly mortar-fire in comments. I have often posted with an impatience and a lack of charity that can reasonably be expected to be responded to in kind (or in unkind). I sometimes pick fights.  Those aren’t traits that are conducive to maintaining or preserving a safe space below the fold. Not here, but not there either. So this should be better.

I do not want to see a parting of the ways, but a passing of the baton.

This site — www.patheos.com/community/slacktivist/ — is where I will continue blogging. Fred Clark writes a blog called Slacktivist that is hosted at Patheos.

The community that came together at slacktivist.typepad.com can continue to seek and find and build a home there, and new voices will have a chance to emerge and to be heard in a context where they are empowered to speak. It is my sincere hope that there will be an ongoing interconnection — cross-pollination of ideas, opinions, concerns, humor, Doctor Who trivia, recipes, blue-footed boobies and mutual affection. How will all that work? I don’t know, exactly, I’ve never done this before. But of course — and here’s one lesson I have at least partly learned — it’s not only about me.

I deeply hope that those who were not pleased with my move to this new site will continue to read what I post here, but for those who cannot — for reasons of principle or protection — I hope that the TypePad site will become a place for you that this site cannot be, and I hope that you are as excited as I am by the possibility of what that site could grow to become. I wish you only the best.

All of this raises various technical and housekeeping details — some of which are still in process — and I realize that there are other questions and issues regarding this site that I also need to address or clarify, but let me save those for another post.

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  • Lori

    I, speaking personally, was quite hurt when someone told me that it was my fault that my father died because I hadn’t prayed hard enough.

    @cyllan: I am so sorry that someone said that to you. There are no words for how wrong and inappropriate that was. I just have no idea what goes through some people’s heads.

  • Amaryllis

    Okay, test-driving the new interface a little…if I did it right, this is in reply to Victoria’s comment.

    First, sympathies that you had to to go through those kind of experiences.

    Second, I am reminded of the Jack Chick tract called “Uninvited” that was discussed on Slacktivist@Typepad a few weeks ago.

    Trigger Warnings for rape, child abuse and homophobia if anyone thinks of looking it up. Or even for this comment.

    Basically, it claims that same-sex attraction is always caused by rape or childhood sex abuse, which leads to literal demonic possession, a corrupted life and a death by AIDS. Thus conflating physical illness, mental illness (it’s demons. not PTSD or depression, and you can get rid of them just letting Jesus in instead, you see), and victim-blaming into one package of nastiness, labelling it all SIN, and attaching it to people they disapprove of.

    A lot of the Chick stuff is more funny than anything else, in a stupid sort of way, but that one made me feel ill.

    A few rounds of that kind of thing, and one might lose the taste for a metaphorical comparison of sin and mental illness.

    To test out how links work around here, I’d also like to recommend a post from Kit Whitfield about the kind of thing that can happen when illness is confused with sin, and when such notions are popularized.

  • Amaryllis

    Well, one out of two, I guess.

    @cyllan: somebody said that?! I’ll never ceased to be surprised by what comes out of some people’s mouths.

  • cyllan

    @Amaryllis: People say astonishing things when confronted with a child who has lost a parent. I blame it mostly on a desperate attempt to make things fit into a just world philosophy, or perhaps it’s simply a “don’t let this happen to me.” But yes, they did say such things, and it is one of the (numerous) events that I can point to and say “That? That right there is why I’m not Christian anymore.”

  • http://jasonblogsaboutcrap.wordpress.com Jason


    For some reason I thought you weren’t slacktivising anymore. I’m glad to see you aren’t gone. I’d miss the rainbow bison.

    also shameless self promotion which for some reason seems more shameless over here… not sure why: http://jasonblogsaboutcrap.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/how-talk-radio-works/

  • Tangmelt

    I’ve commented a few times on the Typepad site in a non-bigoted fashion.

    I was not accepted.

    It, like most long-running Internet communities, is incredibly insular. There’s a few site “celebrities” that do most of the talking and essentially run the place. There’s a lot of cutesy in-jokes. Viewpoints that even slightly deviate from the community’s idea of “right” are quickly condemned, and the while place reeks of self-righteousness and inflated self-worth.

    So obviously, I don’t comment there and I don’t even read the comments. I’m hoping all the snots stay over there, and leave Fred’s new blog to people who aren’t such snotty twits.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581585394 Nicholas Kapur

    I’ve commented a few times on the Typepad site in a non-bigoted fashion.

    I was not accepted.

    Hm. Based on experience, I’d say the odds favor you having actually said something offensive, but “polite.” Not that you’re necessarily “bigoted” yourself, but it sounds like you said something wall-of-privilegey — like, say, comparing “sin” and mental illness — and were surprised by the aggressiveness of the reactions.

    But hey, maybe I’m wrong. Not having seen the specific conversations to which you allude, it could well be that you were unfairly attacked…

    It, like most long-running Internet communities, is incredibly insular. There’s a few site “celebrities” that do most of the talking and essentially run the place. There’s a lot of cutesy in-jokes. Viewpoints that even slightly deviate from the community’s idea of “right” are quickly condemned, and the while place reeks of self-righteousness and inflated self-worth.

    So obviously, I don’t comment there and I don’t even read the comments. I’m hoping all the snots stay over there, and leave Fred’s new blog to people who aren’t such snotty twits.

    …except oh, wait, no, it couldn’t. Because you clearly think the big names here aren’t big for a damn good reason, and you are basically saying that you’re glad the people who were uncomfortable here — the people who actually need places like Slacktivist where they can be comfortable — have been forced out of the main blog by circumstance.

    I cannot even begin to imagine what you like about Fred’s blog, but I can tell you that it is people like you that make this community a necessity in the first place.

    I can also tell you to go fuck yourself.

  • Tangmelt

    Mmm-hmm. That was a delicious Internet smackdown. I truly applaud you; no sarcasm intended. I know what I can do with my approval, of course, and you will be happy to know it is firmly lodged up my ass.

    I’m sorry that I don’t like the snotty, know-it-all, cutesy-twee attitudes of the “big names” over there. I’m sorry I don’t like the constant hugs and utterances of love and support from people who are all too happy to electronically eviscerate anyone who happens to disagree with them.

    By all means, presume that I am simply too unenlightened to enjoy Fred’s postings. You cannot be a misanthrope and like his blog. I get that. I don’t mind resuming my lurking. Carry on the good fight, man!

    I’ll stick out this conversation in order to appreciate and enjoy yours and others’ inevitably smug, cliquish retorts. But beyond that? Don’t worry. I will not continue mucking up your precious Slacktivist blog with my non-reverential views on the chosen few who have “put Slacktivist on the map.”

    In short, I will take your advice and go fuck myself.

  • Nenya

    I’m sorry I don’t like the constant hugs and utterances of love and support from people who are all too happy to electronically eviscerate anyone who happens to disagree with them.

    Some of us yell.
    Some of us hug.
    Some of us yell loudly at people attacking us, while hugging those who are hurting or whom we are trying to protect.

    Is it different in your universe?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581585394 Nicholas Kapur

    Yeah. It’s completely different in the land of not hypocrisy.

    I mean, where do we get off? Sure, one minute we’re being all “nice” and “supportive” of someone for some reason, and then the next minute — completely out of the blue! — we’re yelling at someone else for doing something completely different!

    Everyone knows that in a healthy community, people are either Nice or Mean. The Nice people are always kind and supportive of everyone on every side of an issue, as well as every claim that is made in a discussion. The Mean people are always angry, and they yell at every single person they see.

    Slacktivist tries to have its cake and eat it too, by only supporting some people and ideas, while simultaneously rejecting others!

  • Anonymous

    Wow. It’s smug and cliquish to want to avoid putting people in hurtful places. got it.

    Are you done flouncing or will you reply to this post?

  • Anonymous

    Dang it, I hit “like” instead of “reply.”

    In short, I don’t like your comment because “like” implies approval, and I really don’t approve of sarcastic sour-grapes ad homs, no matter how much they protest that they aren’t sarcastic.

    I’m sorry that the in-jokes and community cohesion aren’t to your taste, but I’m confused about why they aren’t to your taste. If the issue is accessibility, why not ask for an explanation? Folks here may get tired of explaining Privilege from first principles all the time, but I haven’t seen anyone who nukes because someone asked for an explanation of the sheep thing, or the iguana cookies.

    Over on the Snopes boards, they have a set of in-jokes and contractions that are unique to them; over on TVTropes they have yet another set. I’d wager that most places with an actual conversation going on have memes that developed in those conversations and won’t mean much to anyone else until and unless that third party hangs out and catches up, or asks for an explanation.

    And those “big names” on Typepad, hapax, Kit, mmy, etc., are “big names” because they are scary-smart and know whereof they speak. They have demonstrated that they have well-developed moral compasses, and we would do well to listen to them. But I don’t think they would have come together had Fred not started Slacktivist at all; I found Slacktivist because someone pointed me to a Left Behind post so long ago I don’t remember when.

    I believe that it’s demonstrable that in this community you don’t get nuked unless you’re saying something privileged, thoughtless, or intentionally malign and/or hurtful.

    When you say “you cannot be a misanthrope and like Fred’s blog,” it sounds like you are describing yourself as a misanthrope. You’ve got a right to describe yourself that way, but it isn’t an excuse for hurtful statements that protects you from all criticism.

  • http://houndhorsedove.wordpress.com/ gallantrose


    I’ve commented a few times on the Typepad site in a non-bigoted fashion.

    Well, there’s your problem right there–on the internet, no one can tell you’re not wearing Galliano.

  • L. David Wheeler

    Tangmelt –

    How do you *know* that you commented in a non-bigoted fashion?

    I’m certain that I unconsciously make bigoted or at least privilege-laden comments frequently. If someone calls me on it, I *hope* my response is to examine myself and consider what they’ve said rather than get defensive and deny it. Maybe, just maybe, each of us isn’t the most impartial judge of our own deeds, words and motives.

    -L. David Wheeler

  • Emcee, cubed

    @Laiima and Mike: Um…wow. Thank you. Being that both of you are on my list as well, that means a lot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=8404745 Keira Wiechecki

    “Objectivity” has also been frequently invoked to invalidate the experience or opinions of those who have the most stake in an issue (see: “Sonia Sotomayor couldn’t rule impartially on issues of race!”). But because hegemonic groups aren’t [i]really[/i] “groups”, but just “normal,” they’re exempt from accusations of bias about issues pertaining to them.

    [Another longtime fan here that never got up the courage to post. The comments were always fascinating, but I hate to jump into a thread without reading through it first, and the number of posts could just get too unwieldy and I’d end up wasting hours reading through them.]

  • Nenya

    Here’s a thought I’ve been having, and I’m not sure if this will come out right, so I hope you’ll bear with me. I’ve been thinking that from the point of view of people who already hang out at Patheos (but never visited Slacktivist at Typepad), we are the new kids on the block, and we’re sort of coming in here as a big mass of people who already know each other but whom they don’t know and whose community standards they don’t know.

    I don’t mean that we shouldn’t object when someone comes in and says something bigoted or insulting. But there’s going to be a higher proportion of newbies-to-Slacktivist here than there were over there. To take an example that’s not directly related to justice issues: most of the commenters seemed to know each other’s history: we made jokes about how awesome hapax’s daughter was, we’d known Kit when she’d only published one book and before she got married, we knew Jon Maki draws and that MadGastronomer was not only constitutionally a nuker, but also a busy chef and a knowledgeable pagan. (Whereas I’d actually say hapax didn’t nuke much–she was all logic and “this is how I perceive the Divine, through my Platonic lense, and I don’t expect anyone else to see it the same way”.)

    So when hapax called someone out on Patheos earlier this week, and someone else said to the person she was arguing with, “You may not know this, but hapax is really calm and polite, and if SHE tells you ‘for shame’ you hang your head because you’ve obviously crossed a line if *hapax* gets upset enough to yell,” that seemed both useful and, well, it came across as a little condescending, even though on Typepad I wouldn’t have had a problem with it.

    So I can see it being fair for someone to say that it felt a little insular to hear all the in-jokes without any explanation. I think that a lot of what we took for granted at Typepad–both the in-jokes and the more serious things, like most of us having lurked for a while and knowing what was considered bigoted and what was more likely to be a subject up for debate–is different here, just because there are a lot of newbies. That very change in the atmosphere is part of what’s making the move difficult for some of the Slacktivists (the rug being pulled out from under us, as Fred put it). But it is different here.

    How should we handle that? In what ways are we, the Slacktivists, going to be the same or different, because of this new context? I am not sure, but I don’t think that trying to make all the new people fit in to How We’ve Always Done Things is going to work. And yet I am all for objecting when someone says something Wrong or insulting or bigoted (whether that objection takes the form of a logical rebuttal or a more heated flame or–as is usual at Slacktivist–a combination of both).

    So hmm. Am I making any sense or just nattering aloud? :)

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I think you’re making sense. If I want to understand where someone’s coming from and how they’re seeing the conversation, it helps for me to understand how they view me and my presence here.

    If I’m seeing them as coming into my space and violating its conventions, and they’re seeing me as coming into their space and violating its conventions, there’s going to be a lot of conflict over that. (In addition to whatever other sources of conflict may abound.)

    (Just to say this explicitly: I am *not* suggesting that anyone is under any obligation to understand where everyone is coming from, or care about that, or really to do anything at all. I’m saying that *if* I care about that, certain stances are helpful.)

    Leaving aside for a moment how we _should_ handle it, I think how we _are_ handling it is that different people react differently. Some people endorse certain conventions and are highly motivated to preserve and enforce them, and their reaction to the conflict is to try and win it as efficiently as possible. Some people are conflict-averse and their reaction to the conflict is to try and make it go away. Some people handle conflict by trying to protect themselves, or by trying to protect others, or by intellectualizing it, or etc. Some react to conflict without any particular intention — just lashing out, for example. Many people do several of those things at one time or another. There are many other possibilities.

    That’s the community that we’re in; that’s the species we are.

    As for how I think we should handle it: I endorse acknowledging that diversity, and finding a way to achieve our individual goals in the context of that community. Again, that will mean different things for different people: for some people, it will mean enforcing certain standards; for others it will mean trying to understand and explain what’s going on; and on and on and on.

    Personally, I think that’s pretty cool.

  • Chocolate Covered Cotton

    Hi all, longtime regular lurker, infrequent commenter. This is a test.

  • Chocolate Covered Cotton

    (Ok, replying to my own test… I “liked” my own comment to see if I could edit, but it won’t let me do that as a guest.)

    (Formerly commented as RobW at the old place.)

    Pretty much everything has been said about the mental illness/sin comparison issue that I’d want to say. I’ll just add that a great deal of the harm done to the victim is caused by the victim believing it themselves. I suffered for years needlessly, stigmatizing myself and judging myself a terrible person, before seeking help. Years. For what is no more my fault then would be diabetes or lactose-intolerance.

    Thanks, Catabrian, for this clarification:

    Perhaps a correct understanding of sin would view it as spiritual sickness, using an analogy to mental and physical sickness: that might lead to an understanding of sin based not on blame and transgression but on brokenness and suffering.

    This is useful, I think. Not a direct comparison with all the hurtfulness and pain that can cause, but a newer way of treating sin without judgement, analogous to the modern understanding of mental illness. Still, as you can see by the reactions, it’s a risky approach to even raise it as analogy.

    On Nuking: I’m pretty firmly pro-nuke, myself. As has been said repeatedly, the nukers are usually those who have had it with constantly going over the same ground. It is as someone* described earlier; nuking is rarely actually the first or even early response. It almost always comes after, or at least coinciding with, the more civil and polite explanations of why the Not Cool remark was Not Cool. It is necessary to explain why but it is also necessary to demonstrate the fact of it being Not Cool by showing what happens when you Go There.

    It was well-demonstrated in Ross’s reaction to patheosadmin in the previous thread the other important reason: to demonstrate to those hurt most by the Not Cool remark that allies exist and are passionate in our defense of them. Defenders are what make a space safe. Defense requires a willingness to fight.

  • Chocolate Covered Cotton

    (replying to self again… i forgot to explain my asterisk on “someone” in the “On Nuking” paragraph… and have one more thing to add)

    * See, this is the problem with pagination. If the entire thread were on one page, I could simply scroll up to see who exactly I’m referring to. Instead, I’d have to highlight and copy what I’ve written so far so as not to lose it all, a step sometimes frustratingly forgotten, then go back and review pages and pages until I find it.

    It would also be very helpful to have the comments labeled with numbers and/or time and date.

    The other reason I wholeheartedly approve of Nuking is that its worked quite well with me. Years ago, as a fledgling feminist/feminist ally, I made the newbie mistake of commenting at I Blame the Patriarchy (under my previous nym RobW). I’d been reading it for a few months and had learned a lot, but clearly not enough. I don’t recall what the thread was about, but I basically chimed in with a combined Patriarchy Hurts Men Too/ Mansplaing/ Concern Troll comment (a trifecta!) and was soundly put in my place.

    Twisty herself was one of the first responders. She knocked me right out with the first swing, and it wasn’t even a Nuke. From her, that’d be like swatting a fly with a shotgun. Just a simple single sentence suggesting with her withering understatement that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did and should perhaps read more before commenting. Elegant in its simplicity, gentle in its tone, and yet devastating in its effect. I felt ashamed. Other Blamers were not so economical with their words. Many were indeed patient with me, gently explaining exactly what was wrong with my comment and why some would react poorly to it. Others did in fact react quite poorly, that is angrily, and I was as thoroughly Nuked as any commenter here has ever been. I wasn’t just called out for what I’d said, I was called some pretty terrible names as well.

    The Nuking got my attention in a way the explanations didn’t. I reacted with very strong emotion: the initial shame and embarrassment quickly turned to self-righteous anger. How dare these people make such assumptions about me!? Ok, I was wrong, but I didn’t deserve all this rage! You people need to understand me better and relate to me!! I spent the next hour composing a comment that replied to all the angry Nukers one by one but I never posted it. See, along the way I wrote, “why are you all so angry?” And a light came on: I realized that I didn’t understand their anger. Why indeed? So I went back and re-read all the comments, including the calmer ones* and realized fully that I really had pissed them off, and their anger was justified regardless of whether their assumptions about me were correct or not.

    * The calmer comments I was not really taking seriously: I was still treating the whole subject as an academic debate without realizing the harmful effect even having such a debate can have on certain people.

    I understood, because of the emotional responses including, hell especially, my own, what Twisty herself had said at the very beginning but I was still not taking seriously. I didn’t know what I was talking about and should learn more before commenting. So I spent the next few years lurking and haven’t commented there since because I’m still learning. (I’ve also pretty much stopped reading as well. Used to be a daily read, now it’s more like monthly.)

    Nuking works where reason sometimes doesn’t by grabbing the attention of the offender at a gut level. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, the reaction will be negative. At first. But eventually they’ll get it.

    Sometimes a calm and reasoned approach will be sufficient, but other times, well… if you want a mule’s attention, you have to hit it over the head with a shovel.

  • Anonymous

    @ Cantabrian*

    Perhaps a correct understanding of sin would view it as spiritual sickness, using an analogy to mental and physical sickness: that might lead to an understanding of sin based not on blame and transgression but on brokenness and suffering.

    I agree with Chocolate Covered Cotton about this – it’s an interesting idea that is hard to express without accidentally invoking the victim-blaming that surrounds sickness (of all types, but particularly mental illness). The danger is that instead of bringing a new, less blameful attitude to sin the analogy runs the other way and reinforces the blame that already gets thrown, unfairly, at vulnerable ill people. As far as I can see the only remedy is to put the point extremely clearly, with plenty of disclaimers, and if there’s any doubt about how it might come across to avoid it altogether.

    Hapax, if I remember correctly, said that she takes the Ignorance/Enlightenment view (possibly fitting in to her Platonism? Not sure – but if you’re reading this, Hapax, thanks for an interesting post back then!)

    Personally I find it most useful to think of sin as ‘that which is wrong with the world’ in general, which affects everybody (and is contributed to by everybody) but which comes from the fact we’re living in sick systems rather than being nailed to closely to individual human properties. If my thoughts go in this direction I tend to think of people as being fallible (and in a religious context I would add ‘fallen’), rather than being sinners. Illness (mental and physical) has always been something that happened to me and I had to endure it. Sin – and general wrongness – is stuff that I’ve done or not done that confirms and builds up the wrongness in the universe. I own it, much as I wish I didn’t, and I’ll never be able to grow if I don’t take responsibility for it.

    Which I suppose boils down to ‘the analogy doesn’t work for me’.

    * Incidentally, Cantabrian, are you a current or past inhabitant of Cantabridgia? Which college? I was at Robinson until about three years ago and I still miss the place! :)

  • Chocolate Covered Cotton

    (Ok, just one more… See, I’ve just stayed up most of the night reading that whole 600+ comment thread and then this one, so I’ve got a lot on my mind. Since nobody else seems to up at this hour, guess I’ll just spit it all out at once…)

    When Nuking, it’s important to point out that the problem is with what someone SAID and to try not to get into what that person IS. That is, “what you said is bigoted” as opposed to “what you are is a bigot.”

    Here’s why:


    In a nutshell: You can have the “what you said…” talk or you can have the “what you are…” talk. But you can’t win the second argument. The Nukee can simply, and justifiably, get defensive, secure in the knowledge that you don’t know what they are, what’s really in their heart. And that’s true. So don’t even go there. Keep the discussion strictly to what they said and why it was wrong. That’s an argument you can win and it leaves them the opportunity to change their minds and even apologize without losing too much face. But if you start out be describing what they ARE, then there’s no way they can back down without admitting themselves to being bad people rather than admitting to believing in wrong ideas.

    Attack the ideas and not the person, iow.

    Yeah, I know. I’m contradicting myself a bit. But I’m not saying don’t be passionate or even angry. I’m saying direct the passion and anger in a more useful direction.

    (The video I linked above explains it all with much more elegance and poetry than I can. I can’t recommend enough this guy’s other clips as well. Smart stuff and way cool. I don’t know who he is, just that his YouTube id is “illdoc”.)

    And one other thing: I’m not comfortable with registering with this site at all, so I’ll only comment here as a guest. I’m also not comfortable with the Two Blogs solution. It seems unnecessarily divisive for one thing. Like the Slacktivists are now in two camps or something, pretty much the opposite of our intent here, yes? It feels like ghettoizing to me. I don’t know what the solution is. I’d like the commentariat here to continue as before, hopefully in whatever space hosts Fred.

    And if that means more trolls and newbies in need of schooling, well, that’s frustrating as hell, but I’m willing to give it a shot, at least for now. Prepare to deploy massive Nuke firepower though. And those who don’t like that, tough. There are other safe spaces for you, this one’s ours. That’s simply what has to happen when we inevitably get a lot more Nuke-worthy comments.

  • Chocolate Covered Cotton

    Dammit, forgot to close the bold tag. I suck.

  • Twig

    Fred. You’re awesome, you write brilliantly as you have for many, many years and you owe nothing to no one.

  • Lori

    For some reason I thought you weren’t slacktivising anymore. I’m glad to see you aren’t gone. I’d miss the rainbow bison.

    @Jason: I won’t be over at typepad. I’m still deciding how much I’ll participate here. A lot will depend on what we find out about the moderation policy.

  • Anonymous

    Now that the formatting’s changed, I have a problem with the lefthand side of all the comments being cut off. Is anyone else having this problem? (If someone’s mentioned it, I’m sorry; if I didn’t have the problem I’d search more thoroughly for such a reference, but since I am, reading here is painful.) Does anyone know how to fix it?

  • Froborr

    I’m getting a little tired of repeating this over and over again.

    Some of you want to persuade bigots to not be bigots. That’s fine, it’s a good goal and I wish you luck.

    But I want to create spaces that are free of bigots.

    I do not care if my calling a bigot a bigot is persuasive, as long as it makes them go away.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isabel-Kunkle/536930634 Isabel Kunkle

    Damn straight.

    I need a “damn straight” button.

  • Lori

    The Nuking got my attention in a way the explanations didn’t. I reacted with very strong emotion: the initial shame and embarrassment quickly turned to self-righteous anger. How dare these people make such assumptions about me!? Ok, I was wrong, but I didn’t deserve all this rage! You people need to understand me better and relate to me!!

    Ah, I love the smell of irony in the morning. (This comment isn’t directed at you, Chocolate Covered Cotton, I’m just using your excellent remark as an example/jumping off point.)

    For everyone who has ever felt that some mean ol’ nukers were unfair to you because they didn’t take the time to know you and really understand what you meant and deal with you in a fair way—-marginalized people feel that way Every. Freaking. Day.

    If you don’t like being lumped in with Bigots because that’s mean and bigots are a big group and you’re an individual and you didn’t mean it that way any how, take a minute and imagine what it’s like to always be one of Them instead of an individual.

    Take an example with which I am sadly all too familiar, gender essentialism. Women are like this. Men are like that. Never the twain shall meet, variation either doesn’t exist or is pathological and must be corrected/prevented/stamped out. It’s a rare day when I don’t encounter some situation in which I am judged not as Lori, but as A Woman. That’s not my special cross to carry either, I see it happen to other women every day too. The degree of annoyance that you feel when people don’t assume the best about you? Multiply that by about 100 and you have the idea of what it’s like to be one of Them.

    If you don’t like being nuked one of the major ways that you can prevent it here is to adhere to the “radical notion that women are people”. Substitute any other group for “women” and the principle is the same. QUILTBAGs are people. The mentally ill are people. Atheists are people. It’s a simple concept that can take a lot of effort to truly learn. There are certainly areas where my attitudes are still a work in progress and I expect that to be true all my life. Fortunately, perfection isn’t required. Simply keeping the personhood issue firmly in mind, and commenting accordingly, will go a long way toward keeping the local nukers from your door.

  • Froborr

    Warning: Discussion of gender issues follow. I hope not, but it may be offensive to the transgendered and their allies.

    I often wonder if the end-game for feminism isn’t to eliminate the concept of gender entirely. Not in an Orwellian sort of way, but in a “this word refers to something that ancient societies had, but we’ve moved past” sort of way.

    I mean, once you get rid of gender roles, and gender essentialism… is there anything else left of gender?

    A related issue I struggle with: There’s a difference between transgender and transsexual, yes? I mean, there are people who are (for example) biologically male, identify as women, but don’t want sex changes? (Or am I just demonstrating my ignorance of transgender issues?)

    Anyway, assuming there is a difference, if there is no such thing as gender-essence, does that mean in a post-gender society there would be people who are transsexual but no one who’s transgender?

  • Froborr

    To clarify a little further: People raised in different societies do have different norms and such, so even if we eliminated racism and ethnic-based hatred, there’d still be a place for a concept of ethnicity. But the differences between men and women fall into two categories: Physical biological differences between the sexes, already covered by the concept of “sex,” and behavioral differences entirely made up by society and indoctrinated into the young. If we eliminated the indoctrination and raised male and female children the same way and treated male and female adults the same way, wouldn’t the concepts of “masculine” and “feminine” collapse entirely into “has a penis” and “has a vagina”?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I suspect that in a culture that treated children and adults in ways that don’t significantly depend on their biological sex (and sidestepping the whole question of whether even biological sex is primarily about genitals, which is important but beside my point right now), we would be significantly more aware of the millions of ways in which we treat them differently based on other things: their interests, their proclivities, their preferences, etc.

    This is in much the same sense that I suspect that in a culture that lacked a sun, a moon, and artificial lights, we would be significantly more aware of the stars.

    I suspect that if we were to gradually transition from this culture to that culture, we would find that our notion of what “gender” refers to would gradually alter, until ultimately we ended up, not with a culture that viewed itself as genderless, but with a society that viewed itself as having many non-exclusive genders.

    I suspect that a native of our culture looking at that culture would conclude that the word “gender” had changed its meaning in the transition, but would have a very hard time identifying just when that change happened.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581585394 Nicholas Kapur

    I often wonder if the end-game for feminism isn’t to eliminate the concept of gender entirely. Not in an Orwellian sort of way, but in a “this word refers to something that ancient societies had, but we’ve moved past” sort of way.

    I don’t have links on me, but there are definitely feminists who explicitly hold that goal. However, I disagree, primarily because of objections I have seen from transgendered persons.

    Note: I am a straight, cisgendered, almost-21-year-old male, and I am about to try and explain an argument between cisgendered women and transgendered people. I will try my best not to fuck this up royally.


    On one side, you have the basic notion that gender does exist, but that it is entirely a construct of society. Ultimately, we can and should anticipate an enlightened future where society no longer places the frame of gender around individuals, and people simply are what they are.

    This solves many problems, because gender roles and gender essentialism have no purchase in such a society. Homophobia dissipates as a result, and the thorny issues of being recognized as bisexual (especially when dating one person of the same or opposite gender) or any other sexuality are no longer a problem — you date who you like, if you like, and no one bats an eye.

    Plus, transgendered persons no longer have a problem, because gender itself is simply not a factor. Without societal pressure forcing people to visually and physically conform to their supposed gender, there is no transphobia, and no one would need to use hormones or get an operation.


    (And remember that there are obviously many objections to the accuracy and practicality of this notion, but we’re specifically talking about transgender issues here.)

    The other side objects that this completely disregards the actual experiences of transgendered people. For many (most? all?) of them, they want an operation because their body is wrong. Full stop.

    You can get rid of gender roles all you like, but gender still exists. It can and should be non-binary, but it still means something to people. Not just to other people, but to all of us, about ourselves, in our own heads. And to transgendered people who want to physically match their view of themselves, that is extremely important.

    Because ultimately, it is a very privileged view to say that getting rid of gender will fix transgender issues, and especially to claim that it will obviate hormones and surgery. It takes agency away from people by telling them that they don’t understand themselves: their bodies aren’t wrong; it’s just that their brains and society are wrongabout their bodies.

    This is easy to say as a cisgendered woman, because even if you have been punished for being a woman, and even if your “womanliness” has been questioned, or you don’t conform to your gender, or you have legitimate body issues because you’re a woman, it’s not the same as your own brain insisting you are a man/woman, even while your body disagrees. Maybe some people would have more success convincing their brain to feel differently, but people are sitting here, telling you that they have a gender, and they want their bodies to match it. And society be damned, the discrepancy is tearing them apart.

    In short, it’s easy to say when all of your problems are caused by society’s view of gender.


    So that’s basically the view I agree with. For one thing, I think it’s an area where the academic (privileged!) stance is far, far too abstract — it’s all well and good to wonder whether gender is strictly external, and whether we can do away with it entirely, but it turns out that we can easily find out on a practical level. Because people who don’t fit into the gender binary already spend all their time being forced to confront what “gender” really means, so they would fucking know.

  • Scyllacat

    Ok, Lori, you used that as a jumping-off point, so now I’m bouncing off you.

    I get tired of seeing the dichotomy (is it “essentialism”? I’ve never used that word before) of oppressed/marginalized versus privileged/bigoted.

    I was a bullied introvert. I was a conservative Christian, taught things as history that weren’t true, taught a black-and-white world that didn’t mesh with reality. I was a traumatized child. I was/am a person with a mental illness.

    And I’ve said things I’m ashamed I have said. I’ve been called out on a number of occasions, and usually they were right and I was wrong. I pride myself on being tough enough to take it. But I know and know well that what I’ve been taught was normal, some see as abhorrent. What I think is metaphor, some see as triggering. Things that I thought were a sane and balanced response to a situation were terrible to my more liberal or less privileged friends.

    Everyone who has been abused already knows how this works. An abused child (frequently) becomes an abuser. The only way they know to defend themselves is to become aggressive. Even if they don’t, some of their reactions are just unfathomable, just not NORMAL, just socially maladjusted, because their whole worldview is skewed. (What if you’d always heard black people called “the n-word”? How would you ever even frame the questions you needed to ask to change yourself?)

    Pretending that just because someone says something that you are sure is marginalizing, bigoted or x-ist, that means they’re privileged and have the upper hand and anything someone does to them isn’t mean or bullying, or if it is, they deserve it, … well, it just leaves me cold.

    Because I have definitely seen certain reactions in this community where someone is aggressive or “nukes” because this is how they defend themselves after years of marginalization and abuse. And then gets mad when someone tells them they’re being MEAN, because, after all, it’s just a taste of what a marginalized person has to deal with all the time. And what if you’re nuking another marginalized person who has been dealing with it all the time, and thought this was a safe space where they could unpack their baggage and get some friendly help?

    I’m sick of the self-righteousness I see in that argument. Sure, I’ve seen some trolls who delighted in getting things stirred up, but I’ve also seen newbies step wrong and never be seen again. Since this is an evangelical blog and I’ve been reading it for a long time, I believe its purpose is to reach out to those who are suffering.

    If no one else wants this discussion, ignore it. Everyone who is sure they’ve never done anything to anyone they didn’t deserve, don’t worry. My way is not your way. I get that.

  • Lori

    I didn’t use the term privileged in my post and I left it out for a reason. I wasn’t talking about having a privilege-off or saying that only privileged people can behave badly. What I said was that treating other people as Them leads to bad things. I said it in the context of a conversation about people for whom most of the world is a fairly safe and welcoming space complaining about people who don’t want to put up with their prejudices here, so I focused on that.

    Essentialism is basically saying that because you are X you think Y and do Z and like Q and don’t like S. The idea is that one thing drives everything else about you. It’s usually used in the context of gender. For example: Women are emotional not rational. They love to shop, especially for shoes. They get their greatest fulfillment in life by being wives and mothers. They don’t like sports and they aren’t physically violent because they’re really too week, but they’ll rip you to shreds with gossip.

    Not “some women are like that” or “I’ve known quite a few women like that”, but women are this way. All of them. Because that’s what it means to be a women. In short, it’s total crap but it’s the driving force behind a lot of misogynist crap.

  • Chocolate Covered Cotton

    Odd, disqus added to my comment a thumbnail link to the youtube page. Nice feature I guess, but a freaking preview option would have been a lot more useful so as to avoid dumb unclosed tags…

    The clip is of Jay Smooth, a video blogger who’s work I’ve been admiring on youtube for some time now but until last night never got around to seeing what his site’s all about. (Hiphop and politics, mostly.) I’ve never bookmarked a video blogger before now, just never was interested in the form. And I still don’t tweet. And would you kids please get off my lawn so I can yell at the clouds?

  • Anonymous

    Fred, just to say: I’m glad you’ve found a way to make your blogging skills a source of income. Of course there will be disruption – it’s a move, it’s bound to be disruptive. I’m sure things will shake down and I look forward to reading your posts as ever.

  • Anonymous

    it’s good to hear you still read Fred. Some of us miss you.

  • Nenya

    Jesu, it’s good to see you again. I think of you often and hope you’re doing well.

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

    Good to see you, Jesurgislac!

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    spinetingler: well, sometimes I speak for the trees.

    You Lorax, you.

    I talk to the trees. But they don’t listen to me.

  • L. David Wheeler

    Tangmelt wrote: “Viewpoints that even slightly deviate from the community’s idea of “right” are quickly condemned, and the while place reeks of self-righteousness and inflated self-worth.”

    This is yet another accusation of Monolithic Hive Mind That Brooks No Dissent. Whereas I’ve been hanging out at Slacktivist for three or four years — long enough to remember Jesu, Scott, Duane and so on — and I don’t see it, myself. I see a lot of spirited disagreement, debate, dissent and discussion, including among and between the regulars.

    If there is, however, one guiding or commonly held principle, though, it’s this: *To marginalize other people as somehow less than people, less than entitled to the full rights of a person and a citizen, is vile and not to be tolerated.*

    So, uh, yeah, that seems to be to be “the community’s idea of ‘right.'” And if one does “deviate” from it — if one does think it’s OK to marginalize QUILTBAG people, or people with mental illness, or atheists, or Muslims, or Christians; if one thinks it’s OK to deny their personhood and bar them from the rights of citizenship — then yeah, I would say that *should* be “quickly condemned.”

    Or were you talking about something else when you alluded to “the community’s idea of ‘right?'” If so, I’d like to hear it, because I’m coming up short, myself.

  • http://transpolyasexual.wordpress.com/ Cerberus137

    Yeah, that accusation towards “liberal” groups or groups that stress diversity is usually pretty funny for most that have personal experience with such groups.

    They/We argue among ourselves constantly. Areas where one person has greater privilege, presenting various life experiences, arguments about tactics, arguments about the nature of group formation, arguments about setup. You name it, there was probably a rhetorical scuffle over it.

    So when there is someone accusing such a group of “being dominated by the PC police” or “filled with self-righteousness that allows no alternative viewpoints” or “being an authoritarian online dictatorship” it often makes me laugh.

    Yeah, there is such little tolerance for diversity of viewpoint that every thread includes people from a large swath of lived experiences, affiliations, minority groups, etc… actively disagreeing with each other.

    Hell, let’s just look at how “the forces of evil” “that brook no dissent” argue among each other on what’s the best way to handle trolls. On the same threads they are accused of being hive minds.

    Yep, clearly a newbie has no means of penetrating this social sphere. (Ah crap, my eyes are rolling away).

  • L. David Wheeler

    Hmmm, that last post was supposed to be a “Reply” but didn’t come out as such. I surely hope I didn’t hit “Like” by mistake.

  • Ursula L

    I’m curious as to what you take sin to be; I find it difficult to see how comparing the two (I think conflation is too strong a word) can be so untrue, hurtful, and grossly inappropriate, though I take you at your word when you say that you find it so.

    Well, mental illness is an illness. A condition you have, something you can’t control completely, something that you may be able to improve with medication, therapy, and hard work.

    Sin, on the other hand, is something you do, and generally something that harms others. Sin is wrong.

    I, like many people, have a mental illness. In my case, it is severe depression, and I’m lucky enough to be helped by medication and good therapy. I work hard to control how my mental illness affects my life and to avoid having it cause harm or distress to others.

    Being told that I might be a sinner, doing something wrong, because I have this mental illness, is, frankly, an insult. I’m not doing anything wrong to cause my mental illness, and like any decent person, with or without a mental illness, I make considerable effort to avoid harming others.

    There was a time when many people considered it reasonable to compare race and sinfulness, but over time that has (happily) become socially unacceptable, as decent people pointed out that the comparison was hurtful and wrong, and they shamed the people who would make such comparisons.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    For what it’s worth: while my understanding of sin is very different from yours, I acknowledge that you are entirely justified in your understanding, and I wholeheartedly endorse and support your desire not to have your mental illness equated with doing something wrong that harms others.

  • http://transpolyasexual.wordpress.com/ Cerberus137

    A bit late to the argument and I skipped ahead quite a bit so sorry if this was more than brought up already or if everyone has moved on and grown tired of the initial barrage.

    Anyways, a response to all those in every discussion see exasperation as weakness of character or a surrender on arguments.

    Let’s use an analogy.

    Imagine you are a primary school teacher. Your job day in and day out, year after year is educating our youngest in basic concepts, say reading or arithmetic. You learn better ways to do this job of education, learn defenses against repeated questions, common problem areas, and you struggle against those who for whatever reason will not get the subject. So every school day, you are doing this same task, year after year, problem child replaced with new problem child.

    You may find it necessary to do this task. You may love this task. You may find great reward in the handful of students who are illuminated by your lessons, the way a struggling student finally gets it on the last day.

    But it drains you. Every day the same basic conversations, the same basic lessons. You go home and you want to have “grown-up” conversations. Talk with people on an advanced level. Argue and think about much more complex subjects than the basics.

    Now imagine you are a member of an oppressed group (doesn’t really matter much which). Not only is life this task, but many laws that directly affect you are based in how successful you complete this education and the struggling students are not powerless children who can at most wreck a room, but people who are given great social weight and who mean you genuine harm either through ill intent or simple ignorance of the consequences of their actions.

    Now imagine there is no real “going home”. You are constantly, angrily demanded to repeat the same lessons as if you were a primary education teacher. Going over 2+2 constantly, endlessly, as your students are not only constantly asking the same questions, but are angry about it and demand to be educated even as they fail to listen to the lessons.

    Imagine living in that classroom, no breaks, no going home, no summer break to recharge batteries, be with adults, have adult conversations. Just basic arithmetic with people who demand and cry about why can’t 2+2=5 if they really, really want it to.

    Sounds like hell?

    Yeah, yeah it is.

    I love educating, both on blogs and in “real life”. Both about myself and about topics I’m well-versed in. But the basics are just that. Basic.

    It can get dull making the same arguments, especially as you usually are just making the same basic arguments and counters (to arguments that the opponents always see as fresh and exciting). It doesn’t do me any favors. I learn nothing from such interactions. I’m not having deep debates about the nature of new topics. To return to the analogy, when I or others engage in these basic arguments, we’re not discussing Shakespeare and biology. We’re not looking into the nature of the universe or debating the relative merits of social constructions. We’re teaching arithmetic.

    Here’s how to understand a gay man is no less a person than a straight person. Here’s why policies X, Y, and Z are inherently discriminatory. This is what privilege is. This is why your argument is unsupported by the wealth of evidence we have on the topic.

    Important, indeed, just as the ability to read or add are critical for all the topics that follow and for education in general.

    But tiring, and always an act of selfless giving to an audience that is 9 times out of 10 openly hostile and uninterested in being educated in any way.

    Sometimes teachers want to go home. Sometimes people tire of having to treat every blog or community (and yes, those of us born on the oppressed side of things end up having to argue for basic humanity and do basic education in every blog, community group, real world setting, you can think of, nearly always) as a place to teach the basics, again, endlessly.

    Sometimes we like to move on, get educated, think deeply.

    Have grown-up conversations again.

    As such groups with a low-level of the same-old end up being highly appreciated.

    It’s a “safe space” not to pretend that bigotry and idiocy don’t exist, but a place one can come home and talk like adults at. Get educated themselves rather than educating. See something new rather than the same-old.

    If a “new place” from an old safe space is just the same-old and a same-old that at least has the appearances of having the same-old receiving official support (from patheos, not Fred), then yeah.

    There’ll be some disappointment, some farewells. Because if you were dragged out of your house and forced to educate the first-graders on the lawn, you’d probably decide to move too.

  • http://transpolyasexual.wordpress.com/ Cerberus137

    Additionally to the oft-repeated “But I have a totally new interesting philosophical idea I just want to explore” and its various incarnations:

    Sorry, it so rarely is.

    Various “new” approaches to why gays don’t deserve equal rights, why racial or sexual differences are inherent or biological rather than socially created, why certain people are sinful, and so on.

    They really are so rarely a “new” argument that requires unique and complex thought on the person arguing back.

    I have run into no end of people raising “new” arguments that they were intensely personally proud of which I had seen a thousand times, that were part of “common arguments against Y” lists or has ignoble places as common annoying arguments we’ve seen a million times.

    Many of these arguments (or their arguers) also seem to carry an additional edge when they are adopted as “what, this is just an intellectual argument” when it’s about a matter of rights or how we societally treat people.

    What I mean by this tangent is that what might be “intellectual” for one, is actual about lived experiences for another and it can be rather frustrating when arguing with someone trying to “win” a debate by retreating to further and further abstraction about something you live daily with.

    It could be interesting to have “new discussions” about topics. But sadly, one side of far too many debates is incapable of that owing to the inaccuracy of their main assumptions, leading us to instead have them among themselves.

    Shorter me:

    It’s new to you. It’s hardly new to us. And explaining why can be a long and involved process of covering the basics with a hostile audience. One which it can be suspected (accurately or not) that the opponent isn’t so much interested in honest debate or illumination, but rather testing rhetorical strategies for dehumanizing arguments and buttressing their own cognitive dissonance.

  • http://transpolyasexual.wordpress.com/ Cerberus137

    And regards to Fred. I will continue to support you at the new site. I’ll probably get more involved at the old site.

    Overall, congratulations and keep writing your posts. They’ve been enormously illuminating in understanding the ways Rapturist thought has been behind “baffling” social morays in America and helping me to understand the world I live in better.

    I still point to your posts in comments as the de facto place to understand modern America and the pervasiveness of RTC viewpoints and viewpoints derived from RTC viewpoints.

    Thank you for everything.

  • Anonymous

    Well cats are really cool. Thanks for posting in here. Keep the site posting lots of interesting.