Free Speech or ?

There are some things happening at HTMLGIANT right now but first I want you to read this as written by my friend Dena.

All back?

Now go read this at HTMLGIANT.

What interests me is in what isn’t said specifically. This started as another comment on that article but got too wordy.

If you read what Blake said from Facebook what’s most interesting to me is that the myspace gangster gun photo of the author in question is what was beyond the pale in the name of free speech.

I have so many questions.

Why is it more important to preserve the right (we’ll get to that) of some dude to frankly behave badly and rub a big fat misogynist hard on all over a publication, than it is to say okay we don’t want this here.

I respect the desire to have an open forum. But when that openness turns into open season on marginalized people it becomes just like the rest of the world and it is no longer anything special.

If you read the comments, there was some to do about the men who did speak up not getting pats on the back.

Given my long interactions with social justice things, again I just shake my head.

This is the equivalent of white feminists always centering every conversation on themselves. It is the blind spot of the privileged (or allies) to say BUT LOOK LOOK LOOK LOOK AT ME I DID SOMETHING GOOD I AM NOT ONE OF THE BAD ONES.

Why should the conversation center on the few “good” ones rather than focus on the problem and the continuing support of that problem whether it is implicit or explicit?

In my other blog often people will cherry pick something. A misspelling, a metaphor they don’t like in order to ignore the content of what I’ve said and I saw that there. If after reading an entire conversation about something and the only thing you have to talk about is that you didn’t get the credit for something you believe you should get, you didn’t get a cookie for being decent or the fact that someone wrote something using words you wouldn’t use, you are not doing it right and are part of the problem.

In my experience (for the people grumbling I’m talking more than 20 years on and off the internet) frequently just trying to get people in the privileged seat to shut the fuck up for five minutes is taxing. It is beyond taxing to get them to get past the resistance to believing they have any privilege, to get them past the point of wanting a pat on the back for not being a douchebag, to get them to just listen and start to really understand what’s happening.

Dena came out swingin.

Now here is my contribution to doing something.

If you are part of the group being put under the microscope, nobody really needs to hear about your feelings for a while. Listen to what the people who are in the marginalized chair have to say. Stop demanding your cookies and pats on the back for simply not being a douchebag in a vocal way because that is not enough. Calm down. Read. Learn. Chill out.

Back to the free speech thing.

Using free speech in this context as somebody over there said, makes me squirmy.

Being that I exist at the intersections of lots of marginalized groups here’s the thing.

Generally speaking, White people have been given the floor for the last forever.

If what you are after as a publication or space is an open forum, understand that prioritizing the voices of the privileged is going to wind up being a problem. Understand that if it is so important for “everyone” to have their say and everyone tends to be White men in this case, what are you doing?

You are supporting the status quo.

This is not rebellious, it is not freedom of speech it is just how everything is.

The government does censorship.

Individuals are entirely free to say I don’t want X in my space so I’m not publishing that or this person is not welcome to comment or I’m tired of reading this shit let’s give someone else a chance.

This is a super important thing to consider before invoking the importance of free speech in this context. In this context free speech reads as code for the regular White Dude literary universe.

If that’s what you’re doing it’s okay. I’m not mad about that but using the idea of free speech to passively defend the dominant voices in the literary world, yes even in the Alt Litish/indie lit scene, what are you really doing?

To my eyes, assigning primacy to defending the right of people to be destructive and hurtful in your space is not free speech. It’s just plain old holding up the same old structure of supremacy. And it’s worse to me that it is in the guise of giving “everybody” their moment because if you allow a space to become hostile to marginalized people, everybody shrinks to a small pool of people.

I’ll be keeping my eye on this. I’ll still read the stuff at HTMLGIANT that I like. I don’t hold a grudge but I do remember. I understand when the subtext of what is published says to me.

That’s all for right now.



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