Thereís been a great deal of debate (?) about the use of racist/sexist/homophobic epithets on the boards of late.
I thought we could take a second to look at this out of the limelight of a thread.
These are some thoughts, some ideas and hopefully some stuff we can debate.
Name-calling is something that weíve all grown up with. Weíre supposed to shrug it off, ignore it, and be the better man. Or woman. Jesus, this is a minefield.
Generally weíre expected to be above the puerile verbal jousts of our enemies.
This is what polite society wants from us in our real lives.
If itís just name-calling, then weíre big enough to get past it, right? Even if it evokes painful memories of our own or our ancestorís struggles against tyranny, hatred, slavery, genocide or whatever else we can think of to harm ourselves.
In the real world, it behooves us as humans to point out that **** like that doesnít have any place in our society. Weíve evolved.
Racism, homophobia, misogyny and the other innumerable isms should be challenged Ė intellectually at first, if possible- wherever their many heads peek from between their arse-cheeks.
If we donít, they get brave. They get organized. We donít want that.
So, thatís all good, right?
I hope that we can all agree that the world would be a better place if some bonehead couldnít feel like a big man by calling someone a name.
Even putting aside the racistís ironic demand for their right of free speech, this should be pretty obvious.
We can all agree? Good. I hoped that we (the human race) could count on your participation.
So, thatís the real world.
Do those exact rules follow on the internet? Can they? Should they?
The internet is like a magnifying glass. Everything gets bigger and more flammable the closer you look.
I know one of you science guys is going to pick that apart. Probably War Wheel. There will most likely be a graph/equation.
Anyway, the fact is, this is a discussion board. We can discuss the usage of racial epithets all day long. We can talk about the right to use them as it falls under the free speech rules. We can even talk about which ones are the most effective/hurtful.
I mean we can talk about until Phrost closes the thread and commands us to go to Sociocide, at least. I suppose it is more of a topic for our companion site. Although, as itís Jane Austen month over there, I think weíve lost some ground on edgy social commentary, but I digress.
So, how do we react when someone uses one of these words? How should we react? Should we use them ourselves, even to make a point?
If we take every racial/gender/disabled/gay slur used and challenge it whenever it occurs, all weíll do is derail every thread with righteous indignation. Then it will become the norm for people who are being investigated/challenged to just drop an Ďní bomb and watch as well-intentioned posters thrash themselves to a foam debating the Bs-artistís right to say it and wonder whether anyone has thought of the children.
So, do we ignore it? Like when a five year old swears? Donít give them any attention and they wonít do it again?
I donít know. Part of me thinks that the majority of people who use it do it for the attention, or to derail, so ignoring it would be a reasonable course of action.
Another part of me thinks that letting stuff like that remain on a board where Iím a member is abhorrent, and anyone looking in from the outside might think that the rest of the community allowing it to remain seemingly unchallenged is some kind of tacit agreement or acceptance. Screw that. Seriously.
Yet another part of me realizes that Iím a straight white guy and it isnít really my call as to whatís offensive or not.
So where do we go from here? Whatís the best course of action? Should there be a course of action? Should there be a rule? I mean, a more explicit rule than Rule #1 in case that people using the kind of slurs weíre talking about isnít covered by ďDonít be an AssholeĒ.
I suppose we could ask the moderation team to ban users, edit posts, put some kind of filter in that changes offensive words etc, we could melt the report post button with frequent clickingÖ
All that seems like a lot of work when we can all just try not to be assholes and not use words for effect when we can communicate much more effectively with, you know, other words.
Get inventive with your invective, people. Be stylish with your censure. Dope with your denunciation? No?
Smart with you scorn? Creative with your contradic...?
It's okay, I'm stopping now.