A place for new ideas to settle.

07 June 2013

A thought experiment

Consider the following scenario:
Someone who identifies as a member of Group A winds up in the "wrong part of town." Before they can get to friendlier territory, a band of members of Group B surround the person, calling them A-slurs and brandishing weapons. When the person tries to escape, the Bs chase them down and beat them to within an inch of their life. As the person lies bleeding in the street, the Bs walk off, laughing, only to yell back, "That's what happens when we catch a fucking A in our neighborhood!"
Now run over possible real-world identities to fit into A and B. Maybe A is white and the Bs are black. Maybe it's the other way around. Maybe A is a woman and the Bs are men. Maybe A is LGBT and the Bs are gay- or trans-bashing religious hardliners. Maybe A is Jewish and the Bs are skinheads. Maybe there are other, more implausible possibilities (women beating up a man, e.g.).

The point, though, is this: If you consider any choice of A and B to be less severe than others, you're part of the problem.

04 June 2013

Good intentions

or, A waltz down the primrose path of I-don't-even-know-what

I've been meaning to finish the companion piece to this blog post (forming the third in a trilogy of social justice musings) but then Facebook happened. Okay, I might have poked a hornet's nest with this one, but I really want to understand a certain mindset. There's a certain kind of person who holds social justice as a very high goal (not bad; in fact, commendable) but who takes up the arms and armor of highly charged political language. I don't know what to call these people other than "social justice crusaders." They're activists-plus. They confuse the hell out of me.

Just to get some things out of the way: I think I share their goals. I want social justice for everyone—a society where everyone is treated equitably, without undue irrational privilege or prejudice. Not judged by the color of their skin (or their religion, or their choice of whom to love or...) but by the content of their character, and so on. A society where all human voices (and hopefully other-than-human!) can be heard and welcomed into a boisterous, cantankerous, but ultimately progressive conversation.

But quibble with them even slightly on their methods or language, and I get labeled a white supremacist.


So here's a play-by-play of the Facebook thread. Somebody give some commentary, because I'm at a loss. (I won't bother with names.)