Thursday, April 11, 2024

Just Stop.

I keep getting tagged by various people on different sides of the raging dumpster fire that is the most recent J.K. Rowling controversy. I had hoped to avoid friendly fire by keeping my head down, but it looks like I'm going to get fragged regardless, so as Capt. Harris in Platoon said as he called an airstrike on his position, “It's a lovely fucking war.” So buckle up, buttercups, it's Danger Close time. 
Here's the TL;DR version: both sides are being asses and you should really stop hurting the people you say are your friends. The end. 
Much, much longer version: while a lot of you see this as “Free Speech vs. Censorship” and another lot of you see this as “Supporting Transwomen vs. Transphobia”, from my perspective this is all a case of everyone saying “My preferred method of harassing people with whom I disagree is the only morally correct method.”

This is about the point where I expect people to stop reading, because attention spans and reading comprehension in this era have cratered, which is part of the reason why we're in this omnishambles to begin with. So let's tackle this and find out who reads to the end, shall we?

I believe very strongly in free speech, as it's one of the cornerstones of my culture and one of the first Rights listed in the U.S. Constitution. I believe that speech should only be restricted in very narrow and well-defined circumstances which provably harm others (slander/libel, acts of treason, breaking legally-binding contracts, pornography without the consent of the depicted, etc.). This restriction is critical, because the more the government interferes with our rights, the more we lose. See also: the War on Drugs, the Patriot Act, and so forth. 

I also believe that deliberately misgendering and deadnaming transgender and nonbinary people is incredibly rude, right up there with calling them a racial, sexual, or religious epithet. It shouldn't be tolerated in polite society, and the offender should suffer the full effects of social pressure and censure. As the saying goes, “Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequence.”

However, please note that I didn't call for governmental pressure, be it penalties, censorship, or prosecution. The last time I checked, hate speech is still free speech protected by the First Amendment, and while I find hate speech abhorrent, I would rather it be out in the open so that I know who my enemies are rather than have it be hidden and spoken behind my back. I further believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and that instead of censoring and deplatforming the people who say and do things I don't like, I practice my freedom of association by choosing to stop associating with them. I unfriend them, block them, stop frequenting their sites, etc. and I try to get on with my life. I am not perfect at this, for I am human and therefore flawed, but this is the principle which guides me. 

Now just because I support Rowling’s right (inasmuch as she is a British subject and not an American citizen, and the UK doesn’t recognize the right to free expression the way we do) to speak her mind and don’t wish her to be jailed for that, please do not for one moment think that I endorse what she says. Regardless of how it started and however she arrived at her current position, it remains that she is using her fame to spread her belief that all transwomen are abusers who seek to invade, to violate, to assault and destroy other women, and when you amplify her words and support her position you are sending a very strong message to the transgender and nonbinary people in your life. Unfortunately, that message is “I see you as Rowling sees you.” I and many others feel betrayed by that. How can you look at me and tell me you agree that I am only doing this in order to abuse and harm women? That is just as hurtful, and just as honest, as saying “Anyone with a penis is either a rapist or someone waiting to rape” or “Anyone who owns a gun is either a murderer or someone who wants to murder.”

So if you are pro-free speech, please consider the effect your words and actions will have on me, and your friends and family like me, before you voice your support of Rowling, because you are likely hurting us when you do that. 

And if you are pro-censorship, please consider that hate is like mold: it thrives in dark places but cannot flourish in the light. Suppressing an idea only sends the message that you fear it, so let your enemies reveal themselves and mock them instead of silencing them. And please, for the love of all you hold dear, don't ask the government to tread even more on free speech. 

If you have read this far, thank you. I hope I have explained my position clearly, because I have no desire to revisit this topic. If you have any respect for me, please don’t turn this into a fight, and by the same token please don’t tag me in future arguments on other peoples’ walls or pages because after a year of this crap I’m just exhausted. I just want to live my life while advocating for everyone to have the same rights as everyone else. Thank you.

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