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Derailment Redux: Lois McMaster Bujold Hypocrisy Special Edition May. 10th, 2009 @ 08:06 am
The qualitative differences in my thought processes between ADHD-medicated and unmedicated is:

a) whoa, profound

b) hard for me to remember/believe/recognise when unmedicated.

Today I can tell because I've been reading/thinking about the same stuff since before I took my meds, and I can remember what I was thinking about, trying to put into words earlier, as opposed to now, and... yeah. I'm not sure words can describe the difference in experience between my unmedicated, off-the-charts-how-did-you-get-to-28-before-diagnosis self and my medicated self.

Anyway, on to the topic, in which I pick up Someone Is Wrong On The Internet, in the category of RaceFail '09 Version 2.0, The New Failbatch. ([personal profile] naraht is taking the turn as Archivist of the Revolution this time.)

The thread of derailment I wish to cut today: Man, these people are totally over-reacting on the basis of one sentence in a review!
Cut for length. )

Current Music: This Is Ivy League - A Summer Chill

On differences in oppression, derailment, and the hierarchies of hurt Apr. 5th, 2009 @ 03:38 pm
Things I've Been Thinking A Lot About Lately, Part One: Derailment and Topical Relevancy. (Part two is Cultural Appreciation, Appropriation, and Inclusion: Every Damn One Of You Is Doing It Wrong.) Related partly to RaceFail and partly to various other things recently.

tl;dr: Just because you have a different problem doesn't mean other people's problems don't exist or don't matter, your problem is not necessarily relevant, and changing the rules so you win no matter what is childish and stupid and wrong.

There's this strong tendency I've noticed for people to want to derail discussions with which they are uncomfortable, or, especially, feel vaguely culpable by association. Contains use of the R word. I find it triggering when I'm feeling vulnerable, others might too. )

Similarly, you have people like Will Shetterly, who can't take on any concept that racism is bad, or should be fought, because he's fixated on class prejudice, refusing to accept intersectionality or, it seems sometimes, that racism exists. Other people failing their way through in the RaceFail (which seems to have petered out, if only because people are too wounded, exhausted, and frustrated to keep trying to persuade the wilfully stupid, and anyone who's not wilfully stupid is largely in consensus by now; what's left is a bloody battlefield and the general sense that even if some good things came out of it, no-one really won and the gains weren't worth the pain) were bringing up their experiences with being poor, with being white in an area where white is a minority group, with being the child of an alcoholic, with whatever kind of pain makes them feel like a victim, with the fairly blatant intent of trying to silence people who feel damaged by racism, more-or-less stating outright that talking about racism is wrong and cruel because it's like the eeeevil non-white people and their liberal-guilt-overwhelmed friends don't think that their oh-so-special pain matters.

As you might tell from my increasing editorialising as that paragraph went on, I find this attitude a touch problematic.

I've had this conversation more than once over the last two and a half years, but to analogise: I am in constant pain. Less than I used to be, now, but still constant, and for a couple of years solid, it was constant and severe. I was in more pain than anyone with whom I was in regular contact. I'm probably still in more pain than most, all the time, because I'm still in constant pain and it's still fairly strong. (Remarkably so today, but then I slipped on the stairs and ow.)

This does not mean that people around me cease to feel pain, and it does not mean their pain doesn't matter. If someone I care about gets hurt, even a little, this is a matter of concern to me. I am sympathetic, and if people want me to hug them and kiss it better, I will. In the context of their pain, mine is relevant only so far as it helps me to empathise - and I'm not going to bring that up overtly, because then it sounds like I'm trying to make it All About My Pain. It's relevant to me, only.

However, if I'm having a bad pain day, and it's spiking like it does some time, and I'm biting my thumb to keep from whimpering or screaming and people nearby are trying to help me deal with that, be it fetching ice packs, getting me painkillers, or just holding my hand and being supportive... interrupting this activity is a total dick move. It's a dick move if you're interrupting and blocking the people trying to help because you want to complain about your papercut, and it's a dick move if you have a broken leg that's aching; it's only not a dick move if you've just fallen down the stairs and broken your ankle and you need someone to call for medical help.

Because your pain is just as important as mine, but it's not the issue right now.

And that's what these people don't seem to be able to see - that class prejudice is very real, for example, but it's not necessarily relevant. It intersects with race issues, yes, but outside of the ways in which that is relevant to the discussion at hand, which it often won't be, it's not relevant to a discussion on race. Nobody's saying your issues don't matter, they're just not what people are talking about.

And it's different when you're taking part of a wider discussion than if, say, you're talking to one person, or even a couple of friends. Conversation can drift. I've spent a lot of time discussing RaceFail with my brother-out-law; in the course of those conversations, we talked a lot about personal experience, and the conversation wandered over other topics, tangentially related to but not really what RaceFail was about. That's fine, because it was the two of us talking to each other, and we weren't trying to control anyone else's discourse, and we weren't making a general discussion All About Us; we were talking about what we thought, as friends do. And because we're friends, because we're close on the order of family-like bonds, understanding each other's personal experiences is something that does matter to us, where it wouldn't matter to strangers or acquaintances or even, necessarily, less-close friends.

News flash: Context is relevant to communication. Film at eleven. What's acceptable in some circumstances is inappropriate in others.

Except a lot of the people doing it know that. They'd call it in other people - and have done so. (Although people who'll accuse others of misogyny at the same time as accusing someone of "whoring" don't count as people, for purposes of this discussion, because: lolwhat.) They also know that saying that this discussion is taking place on academic lines when the topic of discussion is, actually, subjective experience and responses and the people who disagree with them just aren't up to communicating on that level is manure of the highest grade; they're just using academia as a tool to silence dissent. Again, they'd call it out if used against them.

Hence, it's deliberate derailment of the conversation (I'm going to be charitable and say it's unconscious, because I like to think the best of people, but I am not giving a pass on deliberate intent). It means - and even though this was recognised, even though people were fighting it, it was frustratingly effective - that a lot of the argument becomes very meta. The argument becomes an argument about the terms under which the argument is being held. When you know you're in the wrong, subvert the paradigm.

That's also what the stuff under the cut tag is about.

I'm all for subverting the dominant paradigm as a tool to fight oppression, but that's the point - it's the dominant paradigm, it deserves it. Done in the way and context that was happening in RaceFail 09, it's not just moving the goal posts for people trying to score a modicum of justice, it's also repainting the field boundaries and switching the rules from soccer to lacrosse. And not giving the other team any sticks.

Jack that noise. The people on the "wrong" side of this know who they are, even if they still think they're right; I'm not saying any of them are racist because of any of the above (although some of them turned out to be horrifyingly racist in other things they said and did). I am, however, saying that they're not good people, because good people don't do this, especially when they know it's hurting people.

And one final note:

"They're not like this in real life!" is sophistry at best; the Internet is real life. The people you're talking to are real people. If you're hurtful, malicious and cruel on the internet, you're hurtful, malicious, and cruel in real life. It's not right to judge people by their behaviour towards people they have a vested interest in pleasing; that's an indication of their desire to be pleasing to that person, for whatever reason. (It's not necessarily a bad reason. Enlightened self-interest is still self-interest despite the enlightenment; if I go out of my way to make my friend happy because it brings me joy to see her smile, this is not automatically me being a selfish bitch.) You can judge people by their behaviour towards strangers, because that shows their character.
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