Rules For Beneficial Discourse
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These links are going up in the Required Reading (or, at the very least, a link to this) because I feel like both posts illuminate the core of how I feel about discourse around contentious issues such as racism and sexism and the pitfalls of said discourse.
First, from the Carl Brandon Society’s Open Letter to the SF Community:
…the Carl Brandon Society wishes to define some basic principles of discourse which were put into question as a result of this exchange. We hope community members will consider and respect these principles in future debates and disagreements.
These principles are as follows:
1) The use of racial slurs in public discourse is utterly unacceptable, whether as an insult, a provocation, or an attempt at humor. This includes both explicit use of slurs and referencing them via acronyms.
2) Any declaration of a marginalized identity in public is not a fit subject for mockery, contempt, or attack. Stating what, and who, you are is not “card playing.” It is a statement of pride. It is also a statement of fact that often must be made because it has bearing on discussions of race, gender, and social justice.
3) Expressing contempt for ongoing racial and gender discourse is unacceptable. Although particular discussions may become heated or unpleasant, discourse on racism and sexism is an essential part of antiracism and feminist activism and must be respected as such. There is no hard line between discourse and action in activism; contempt of the one too often leads to contempt of the whole.
The Carl Brandon Society assumes in this letter that everyone reading it shares the common goal of racial and gender equity, and general social justice, in all our communities. We hope for a quick end to arguments over whether or not unacceptable forms of debate should be allowable. These arguments obstruct the process of seeking justice for all.
(BTW, if you want to co-sign this, click the link.)
Second, from Jim Hines, who responds to those who say they’re being “censored” by the above, among other things:
- People disagreeing with you is not censorship.
- People stating that they don’t like your cover art and think its racist, sexist, or whatever, is not censorship.
- People banning you from their blogs is not censorship.
- For the writers out there, an editor rejecting your story for his/her publication is not censorship.
- People saying they don’t like something you said is not censorship.
- People telling you racial slurs are unacceptable is not censorship.
- People criticizing, mocking, or insulting you for choosing to use racial slurs is not censorship.