My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Social Justice Fortune Cookies

"Holy fuck, these are some huge ass fortune cookies
to hold entire paragraphs inside!"
You got your social justice in my fortune cookies! You got your fortune cookies in my social justice! Two great tastes that go great together? 

It's depressing that so many fail at it, because really SO much of social justice comes down simply to this: Listen and pay attention when people are describing their own lives to you. Apologize sincerely when you fail to do this. 

I've long avoided this direct comparison because I really want to explore it in the book I'm writing, but fascism is the social analogue to abuse. Insults that genuinely hurt blown off as just jokes. The victims will be blamed for their mistreatment. The abuser will cast themselves as persecuted––even by outrageously lying. The SLIGHTEST response is framed as unreasonable and the actual abuse. Praise and superficial charm will be heaped upon "proper" behavior. Convincing people they are completely wrong about reality is an integral part of keeping them feeling crazy and ungrounded. Naming what is happening will incense the abuser/fascist rather than give them pause about their actions. Even mentioning that something was painful is likely to cause a worse reaction, "what about," and an attack posture instead of a consideration of impact. Guilt trips. Intimidation. Explosive anger and backlash. Constantly citing how other people totally agree with them and think they're right. Keeping so many things happening that the victim can't find their center about any ONE issue. There's gaslighting. It gets worse and worse even as a cycle of ups and downs leave the victims numb.

And a whole lot of people will stand on the sidelines (people who claim they care very much) saying "Why don't you make up. They're not THAT bad. Maybe you kind of deserved it."

Insisting that either both sides are just as bad isn't just intellectually indolent, it's actually a fallacy. (It's called the "Middle-of-the-road fallacy" because the fallacy naming folks were getting tired of latin at that point.) So if you think you're being all astute and superior to abdicate any sort of stance against bigotry, supremacy, exploitation, you're not. Your intellectual rigor is right there with your moral turpitude.

It is functionally meaningless to the people being harmed whether or not every. single. one. of the people who voted for Trump personally holds some open animus of racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, or xenophobia. They handed someone who was ALL those things the executive power over perhaps the most powerful nation on the earth even when he told them the first things he was going to do with that power would be to hurt people and they did it BASICALLY because he promised them a raise. Nor was there a "great referendum" come midterms after people saw what his presidency was actually going to be like compared to his campaign: all of the "it's just for show" bigotry and none of the "he will care about this" promises. Pretty much this is exactly what half the electorate either secretly agrees with or doesn't care enough about to stop.

Interesting that the rise of "all this PC stuff" coincided almost exactly with a revolutionary new medium where everyone had equal access and could create content without the censoring and editing power of almost exclusively cis, het, white, male gatekeepers. Every person had much greater ability to reach beyond maybe a roomful of folks who already shared most of their views within a medium where people could find their own voices from a position of relative safety. 
Then...."all of a sudden"....everyone was offended all the time.

Fellow privileged folks (cis het white dudes in particular): Not every space was made with "converting us" in mind. Not every conversation is intended to convince us to join the cause. Not every person is an ambassador trying to "do themselves a favor." But the ubiquitous, nearly universal, expectation of these things in every time and in every place and of every person is absolutely part of the problem.

How come if a book has diverse characters, it's just "pandering" to those groups, but if it has almost literally nothing but cis het white characters, it's NOT pandering to cis het white people? 
Does that seem right to you?

Snarking about identity politics IS identity politics. It's just like most shitty things done by folks with privilege: surrounded by a cultural invisibility cloak, fueled by hypocrisy, and fully charged with a double-standard field. Consider this: what do you get as you strip away "identity politics"? Strip away racial politics. Sexuality politics. Gender politics. Ability/access politics. Neurodivergent politics. Whose concerns are you left with?

The answer isn't "no one's." It also isn't "normal" people's. Or "regular" people. And it isn't "default humans." Or "everyday Americans." The answer is ABLE-BODIED NEUROTYPICAL CIS HET WHITE DUDES. Snarking about identity politics is just making everything about THEM with a little sociolinguistic magic trick that makes it sound like they're doing the opposite.

Dear dude,
I hope you spent like an hour on that three-page screed you dropped on WAW's FB Messenger because I deleted it and banned you without reading another syllable as soon as I saw the words "misogyny isn't real," and it warms my heart to think that you wasted all that time.

White dude: *writes seven paragraph screed about why social justice concept is destroying America*

Also white dude: "Sorry, I don't have time to Google that."

It doesn't matter how erudite, elevated, and chin-strokingly reasonable your case might be, if you ONLY apply it in one direction along a power differential. It doesn't matter if we're talking about deeply examining the nuance of cops while lumping all protesters together, testing the fake geekness of only gamer girls, or pointing out the way gender expression challenges gender essentialism only when dealing with trans folk. It's all the same. 
You might as well be giving out literacy tests at voting booths.....but not to whites. One bigot just thinks they're being logical.

"You have made an enemy this day, Chris Brecheen. Your insistence on posting something that makes me think about status quo portrayals within my own writing pretty much EVERY week or two is unconscionable–I mean, that's almost one percent of your posts! I shall take my like and go home, leaving you with a mere 885 THOUSAND followers left. I could have been your biggest fan if you'd just never posted anything that I dislike. What do you think about that, Chris? What. Do. You. Think. About. THAT!"

Ad hominem is only a fallacy if it's being offered up AS or IN PLACE OF an actual argument. It's entirely possible for someone to be wrong AND an asshole.

Please don't tell people of color, LGBTQIA+, disabled folks, poor people, folks with chronic illness, immigrants, or even women that everything is going to be okay. Shit just got is real for anyone who's not a cis het white guy making decent money. Shit just got has gotten really, really real. Of course shit's real for everyone, but shit just got has gotten life-threateningly dangerous to folks on the margins of our society. Hate crimes are going to skyrocket have skyrocketed now that emboldened white nationalism has won a legitimate election, there are kids in cages, right-wing terrorism is on the rise, trans folks have been erased (literally from the WH policy pages), free press is called the enemy of the people, and the list just goes on and on. Don't be a splainy gaslighting asshole because you want to turn some frowns upside down.

Your ability to stay calm when academically debating someone's experiences and possibly their very humanity is an indicator of your disinterest and your privilege––not your objectivity.

I can't speak for anybody else, but on my ballot initiatives, there was a measure for low income housing, homelessness prevention, a measure proposed by the mobile rich that would hurt school property values, a measure for children's hospitals, a measure trying to expand rent control, homelessness services, an attempt to kill a gas tax that pays for road maintenance, mental illness housing, a measure that would let (or not) dialysis companies gouge their patients, a labor dispute that was written by a shitty EMT company to avoid paying its workers, and half a dozen judges up for reelection––including a FIERCELY anti-LGBT one––on top of, of course, all the people who would be governing me and representing me whether or not I consent to it and the possibility of putting some stop energy in front of our march toward fascism. So while I empathize with and often respect people who march to different drums, I trip up on the idea that it "doesn't matter."

"My rights are just rights. YOUR rights are identity politics, boutique issues, and going to lose us another election." 
-Guess who

Link to some fortune cookies ABOUT WRITING.

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