Because for Me the Truth

August 21, 2020

Because for me there are certain truths
that have not been banished

to childhood
to antiquity
to cave men
to crazy people
to indigenous cultures
to cultural sensitivity
to impenetrable philosophies
to subjectivity
to literary genre
to suspended disbelief

Because for me the truth
has not been bounded

by scientific bodies
by quantifiable terms
by elegant equations
by peer reviewed papers
by foundational texts
by political correctness
by right-side-of-history
by Karl Marx
by Mary Daly
by the threat of a Twitter ban

Because for me the truth
has not been deconstructed

into hypotheticals
into reciprocals
into relativity
into subjectivity
into obfuscation
into obliteration
into bullying
into helplessness
into slogans
into silence

Because for me the truth
matters

even if you don’t understand
even if I don’t understand
even if it hurts your feelings
even if it’s ugly
even if it’s old
even if it can’t be monetized
even if you don’t like right-or-wrong
even if it changes things
even if it changes nothing
even if I’m the only one who cares

People Have a Right to Their Opinions

August 14, 2020

A recent fluff piece in our local paper reported on how difficult it is for “LGBT” people in rural areas to find dating partners. The response to the article was mixed. A lot of straight people responded with rapturous support. One man questioned whether dating was a topic that deserved space in a newspaper. He got some criticism for his “phobia,” but the comment that took outrage beyond Facebook onto other social media was from a woman quoting the Bible about “homosexuality” being a sin.

Some people responded that Christianity was wrong or she was wrong about how she interpreted the Bible, or even called her a “bigot.” Others were upset about how “unsafe” and “unwelcoming” and “non-inclusive” this comment made our rural community, and this is where the argument expanded. Mostly it was liberal straights seizing the opportunity to virtue signal. Whatever. Many took it further. People said they were “not going to sit idly by” for this kind of comment and that “something needs to be done” and that “there needs to be accountability” etc. etc. and in one case suggested the woman should be fired from her job. The woman stuck to her guns, quoted more scripture, and typed about what God does and doesn’t want for us. It inflamed another argument about who was and wasn’t going to Hell.

I personally began to feel a bit frightened by where this conversation went. As a bisexual woman who campaigned for gay rights at a time when you could lose your job for being out, and as a person with many controversial views, the escalation to what sounded like threats made me feel very unsafe. Not about the Bible quote–you think I haven’t heard that crap before? But the vague threats of action and the specific mention of jobs, so very familiar. People have a right to their opinions, even dumb ones, and having experienced fear for openly expressing my views, and even being persecuted for them, I don’t cotton to this idea that unpopular speech needs to be countered by people who “won’t sit idly by.”

Argue with a dumbass if you must, but don’t think you’re supporting me with chilling threats of “taking action.” You’re violating everything I have stood for. I don’t want the tables turned. I don’t want to see people who think same-sex relationships or Goddess worship or socialism or radical feminism is evil punished for their views. I don’t want to see heated rhetoric and name calling progress into arm-twisting and silencing techniques. I’ve lived in that kind of a world.

I don’t think most people understand what acceptance and “live and let live” means. It doesn’t mean enforcing the views that you think mean “tolerance.” It’s not about coercion and correct belief. That doesn’t bring a sense of safety–not in the 21st century when most oppression is structural, consisting of things like violence, economic struggle, workplace abuse, political disenfranchisement, and censorship. Having the “right” belief doesn’t mean you changed any of that, and forcing other people to have the right beliefs (or pretend that they do) isn’t going to change that either.

I’m not saying we should tolerate threats of violence or loss of livelihood. Libel, deliberately lying for malicious purposes, is rightly actionable by law. But people have a right to express their views. Even stupid ones. Even if they’re mean and rude about it. What would make ME feel safer, as a person who has experienced many kinds of abuse, is for people to develop a thicker skin.

The Strangeness of an Odd Month of August

August 7, 2020

We’ve had a LOT of rain where I live this week. Going out for my walk in the woods the other day, it seemed to me that the trees and plants were feeling happy about the rain. Or maybe they were only happy to see me again.

The Woman Without a Voice

July 24, 2020

I’ve stayed out of the Rowling row, pretty much, as it has unfolded over the past month or two, despite my long term commitment on this blog to championing free speech. For one thing, I’m not a Harry Potter fan. As a real Witch, I’ve been less than impressed with the series. If you like it, fine, I don’t ridicule fans, but it’s not for me. Another reason to stay out of the controversy is that I’ve posted so much on this issue of censorship that I’m tired of it. I’m really really tired of it.

But I decided to weigh in, to celebrate one media outlet’s decision to listen to JK Rowling’s lawyers (or maybe their own?) and print an apology for libel. That’s the place we’re at, where an unimaginably wealthy woman hitting back over false accusations designed to silence her is a milestone.

When I shared with a friend my interest in the backlash to Rowling’s essay clarifying her positions, my friend dismissed the backlash by saying, “Well, JR Rowling is rich. She can’t really be hurt much.” Rich people might beg to differ on that, but I understand my friend’s point: rich people don’t have to worry about basic economic survival, which is always a calculus in what ordinary people say or write.

The ”these people are rich and famous so they can’t really be cancelled” argument exploded after the Harper’s Letter (as it is now called) earlier this month. That letter argued, in a vague, general way, for more tolerance of honest discussion. Many were offended by this (rather mild) letter, saying instead of listening to these famous writers talking about something that isn’t happening (to them or anybody else) we should listen to MARGINALIZED people, who don’t have platforms, and highlight their struggles, which have nothing to do with the Harper’s Letter.

But here’s the thing. When a woman fights back against cancellation, she’s always too rich or too White or too educated or too straight or too socially/politically connected for her stand against injustice to be justified. The only legitimate woman to give pushback, say the detractors who watch bullying from sidelines, is the WOMAN WITHOUT A VOICE. The very poor, dark skinned, immigrant, non-English speaking woman with ten children, two them disabled – THAT woman is entitled to criticize an online culture limiting free discussion and debate. If only she could.

Because the point of pointing to the WOMAN WITHOUT A VOICE is that she has no voice and can’t speak. If she could speak, she would tell the woman with a voice speaking in a way disagreeable to somebody to SHUT UP. The woman without a voice is the ultimate straw woman. I follow Black women on social media who have been subjected to cancel culture – booted off the birdsite or threatened with violence or disciplined at their job for speaking up. Ditto for disabled women, working class women, lesbians, Latinas who don’t like the X. Where are these people saying cancel culture isn’t an issue for marginalized people, when women with multiple oppressions (sexism alone doesn’t seem to count) are subjected to its bullying tactics?

Little known fact: Rowling ran afoul of cancel culture originally for supporting a working class lesbian student struggling with a life threatening disability. A marginalized woman. This woman, Magdalen Berns, faced a brutal cancellation campaign. You always know when you’ve found your voice: there are people telling you to shut up. The cancelers will justify their attempts to censor women by bringing up the woman without a voice, a woman who might even be have been you, once upon a time. The woman without a voice is the beloved woman of the left-liberal patriarchy because she isn’t speaking. Listen to the voices of women who are speaking. Or at least, don’t join the mob to cancel them.

Busy Week

July 16, 2020

Finishing up another novel this week, so I won’t be posting. Hope to be back next week.