I am no longer interested in hearing how lovely a particular person is in real life when they are a bully and a bigot and a troll online. I’ll go further than that it no longer matters to me if I have met said nasty online person in real life and have found them perfectly charming. Behaving well in only one or two spheres of your life does not make you a good person. Treating people with contempt speaks volumes. Always.
The internet is real life. What you say and how you behave in the land of livejournal or facebook or myspace or wordpress blogs or elsewhere is real behaviour. Those words are real and have real affects even if you turn around and delete them.
Why are there people who do not understand this?
I have a very strict policy on this blog. People who come looking for a fight are deleted. I don’t tolerate people who are rude to me or my friends in my home. This blog is my online home and I expect visitors to behave the way they would in my real life home. Or I will throw them out by banning them.1
In the last few weeks I have seen three people in particular behave extraordinarily badly online in an effort to distract from an extremely interesting and important debate about race and representation in science fiction and fantasy. I have met these people in real life. But frankly nothing I know of them in the “real” world excuses how they’ve been behaving in this land of bits and bytes. They’re all pre-emptively banned from this blog.
I agree a hundred per cent with the new Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, who said:
- Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. It is an issue we have never been at ease with and given our nation’s history this is in some ways understandable. And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.
His words are just as true about Australia as they are about the USA. Talking about race is hard and scary and painful. Many people, especially white people, would rather the topic never came up at all. Which is why when Holder’s speech was discussed there was outrage that he had dared to say such a thing and precious little discussion of what he actually said. And so it goes over and over again.
So much so that the latest attempt to talk about racial representation and stereotyping in genre fiction wound up being derailed by white people screaming about other things: Pseudonyms! Sockpuppets! Class! Anything that could turn the conversation away from race. It escalated into vicious attacks on those who were simply engaging in debate about race in the genre.
I will not engage with those people in future. Not online and not in real life.
- I also don’t tolerate people smoking in my home. But I spose there’s nothing I can do about you naughty people who smoke while commenting here. Alas. [↩]