In with all the other April Fool’s posts that went up a couple of days ago, one of the web site staffers over at the Locus website decided to write an incredibly unfunny joke stirring a stack of feces that’d long since gone cold and crusted over — the incident from 2010 when WisCon, an SF convention founded specifically on principles of social justice, dis-invited one of its guests of honor for publicly posting an anti-Moslem screed on her LiveJournal. The basic message of the post was diametrically opposed to the foundations principles of WisCon, and continuing to honor this person would’ve been a travesty, so she was dis-invited. There was some kerfuffling, but then it died down. The person who wrote the non-funny April Fool’s post for the Locus site decided it needed to be stirred up again, and saw nothing wrong with saying nasty things about Moslems, women, feminists and fat people in order to get his “point” across. Or maybe he saw that as a bonus?
The Locus magazine staff, being decent people, pulled the post as soon as they saw it that morning, and posted an apology. We know they’re decent people because it’s a real apology, not the usual “We’re sorry you’re so overly sensitive, and we had no idea you’d be so unreasonable as to be offended” kind of non-apology these incidents usually produce, so kudos to the Locus folks.
The guy who wrote the offensive post decided a little more stirring was necessary, so he posted to his personal blog, making it clear that yes, he had intended to be offensive, and yes he had meant to be taking a shot at WisCon over this 2.5-year-old incident, and that he was outraged — outraged, I say! — at the craven censorship to which his superiors were forced by the politically correct harpies of WisCon. Because clearly it’s impossible that anyone not associated with WisCon could have been at all upset by what he’d said.
[If anyone cares, I don’t work on WisCon, and have never even attended.]
I’m not linking to Mr. Shit Stirrer because I don’t want to reward him for his behavior by giving him any traffic, or his blog any incoming links. I’m not naming him for similar reasons. If you click through to the page with Locus’s apology, though, there’s a link in the comments to his post, if you really want to read it. It’s the usual self-righteous garbage bigots spew when they’re called on their shit.
Jim Hines posted a commentary on his own blog, and as usual made some excellent points and worded them beautifully. One of my favorite parts:
I was a skinny, overly bright, socially inept, fashion challenged kid with glasses and a speech defect. My teenage years were utter hell. Looking back at any of those incidents of name-calling, having my books knocked out of my hands, being shoved in the hallway, tripped on the steps outside the school, having my belongings destroyed, and so on, very few of them in isolation were such a big deal. Real physical injury was relatively rare. But when those small jabs continue day after day, they add up. They whittle away at your strength and your hope, and it never, ever lets up, never stops, until you’re sitting alone in the bathroom with a syringe full of your father’s insulin, searching for a single good reason not to jab the plunger down and hopefully put an end to it all.
The backlash against the Locus article isn’t about someone taking cheap shots at Muslims and women. It’s about yet another person taking those shots, lining up to bully those who are already a popular target for abuse. And it’s about everyone else who stands around, encouraging and enabling that bullying.
And he’s absolutely right — it’s not just about this incident, or some older incident, or another one that’ll happen next week. It’s about all the incidents taken together. If every day, someone pokes you — never the same person twice, but someone new every day — it might seem ridiculous to charge any of them with assault. But let it go on for weeks and months, let alone years or decades, and your body would be one huge bruise, and each new poke would be agonizing on top of the damage left by all the others. And if you complained, people would say, “Why are you making such a fuss? He just poked you! Sure, it’s kind of rude, but you don’t have to make a federal case out of it! Mellow out!” Those same people would glare with indignation while the person who “overreacted” dragged their purple, crippled body away.
A constant stream of offenses which are individually minor is just as harmful as one huge offense. This slam against Moslems, women, feminists and fat people was just one more in a long, long stream of offenses that members of every one of those groups has to put up with regularly, often daily. It’s not minor, it’s not funny, and the Locus staff acted appropriately, as any decent people would.