autumnus: 2 stick figures running around saying "OMG" "ONOZ" (OMG)
I was reading continuation comments to the post I linked earlier and couple of other posts here and there. My original intention was to write about the tone argument, since the comments are now disabled. However what I saw in one of the threads just chilled me to bone.

I apologize in advance for not finding the particular thread again and I promise I will link it as soon as I find it but below is the paraphrase. Thread in question

Person A (non-USA citizen) uses the word lynching instead of mobbing or witch-hunt I guess (although witch-hunt has a nuance which in my opinion makes it a inaccurate word).

Person B mentions that word lynching has a meaning of mob that is non-color.

Person A says that she used the word in her own culture's context and in her own country's context, that it is perfectly valid translation.

Person B "if you cannot use the terms correctly you are being racist and stfu" We came up with the word, use it in right context.

Lets say I finally understood what people mean as feeling oppressed and silenced and wanting to lash out. Well that is not true, I have been in that position before, just... not in fandom.

Speaking the language of a dialogue as a native gives you power in the argument. Often, because situations in one country or simple words do not translate from one side to another exactly, we are left with approximations. It is not that we do not have mastery of English. It is that our thinking is shaped around our language and sometimes thoughts with all of the nuances, do not translate to another language period. It is one thing to, after an initial recoil, say "okay I see what you are trying to say" or if it is really inappropriate to offer an alternative word if there is one (if there not one you are out of luck). However if you use that to attack the person A, or to claim that their argument is invalid because of it even after they clarified what they meant, or to mock them saying "look she is arguing she doesn't even know what the n means". That is derailing and attacking. It is derailing because you are trying to invalidate an argument with something that has nothing to do with the essence of the argument.

It is one thing to expect the oppressing party to give extra leeway in self expression to the oppressed party (tone argument). That is actually what we are arguing about. That if the tone argument is still valid in case of a personal attack, past a passionately angry answer, or in the cause of someone who is not the privileged party (none of which is the point of the current post btw). However, I find it ironic that some of the same people (few not all) who protest against silencing and derailing are doing exactly that against others.

We are not all westerners, all Americans, all US citizens in this discussion. My ancestors have a lot of sins, hell my current government does a lot of idiotic things, has done a lot of idiotic things in past. Some of the bad things, guess what, I believed in them. It took reading, encountering people on the other side of the fence or people who have been in comparable (yet different) situations offering their opinions about those situations to change my mind. Some things I made a complete U-Turn about it. Some things these days I simply don't know what to think. There has been few cases I have been on the hot seat, in one case something I truly did not want to confront: not only to hear the accusations but to be put on the spot to defend my country was extremely uncomfortable but then again I go in tangents.

The westerner understanding of nationality and race does not translate to my reality. This does not mean I exclude it, it means it is added to an existing category of situations in my mind that translates to discrimination. There is this that I know, and I know of the outcome, of pitfalls. Then there that that I know limited amount but that I observe as an outsider and have ideas about. I am also very very aware that there might be more then one right answer.

Since internet does not belong to the citizens of USA, I have a right to dive into the dialogue and try to understand, engage and bring my culture, my point of view as a Turkish citizen, an atheist, a woman. I can bring what worked for me and my country, and why I think something is a pitfall in an international arena, based on my experiences.  I have right to express an idea, criticize what I see and offer alternative solutions to a global issue in a global arena without necessarily knowing every nuance of every word you use and every detail of cultural context you come from. One reason for this is none of us know every single situation first hand (7 years living in this country I just begin to understand the history and context. I doubt you understand any better what is happening in my homeland in Turkey). I am hoping to learn some of it along the way, don't get me wrong. However I do not have to know everything about you to have a valid point or to be treated with respect, to be listened.

Racism and other forms of discrimination do not only happen to you. The word racism and the word discrimination encompasses what has happened to me, to people in my country, to you, to people in your country, to others in different places in different ways. Every context is different. Every individual way of fighting is different, shaped by realities of each situation and our concept of what is acceptable and what is right. Internet is a melting pot for all that. We try to find our way of doing things that is acceptable to most of us. We argue about what is the best way to handle it, find solution, draw lines. It is not surprising, coming from different cultures that we have different ideas and do not exactly understand where each other are coming from.

Plus, some western nations have a history (and current attempts) to understand what is happening in other countries from their points of view and label them without understanding really what is happening so it is not just that I have a right to talk. It is imperative for me to be part of this conversation, to make myself understood and heard to you who are from these countries, for my own well being. For that reason alone, I am a party to this discussion as much as uncomfortable as you can be with me and my opinion.

So disagree if you must, do so passionately. (I would prefer some level of civility but that is something we can argue about, something we are arguing about). However, if you start trying to silence me in your quest to fight against other people silencing you, don't get surprised that I have a major problem with that.

edit: I just realized this post got linked in metafandom. Welcome to anyone who stumbles here. I will be turning the screening off for non-anonymous posts. However please refrain from following: racial/sexual/homophobic/etc slurs, R rated insults, threats.

edit2 (July 06, 2010 2:23pm EST):
Okay several people pointed out to me that the example I chose is not the best illustration of my point in that use of the word lynching in the presence of a PoC is very hurtful and has racist context to that person, in reflecting the blame back. I think I should have made it clear while it is important to not assume everyone will know the context or that the context is set, the author also have a responsibility upon realizing the situation that there is a party who is hurt by it, to apologize and try to steer to a neutral terminology if at all possible. It is important that we are capable of showing reasonable amount of consideration to each other. (This does not invalidate the great discussion we are having here by the way,about which meaning(s) of a word is valid to use under what context and how to support a global discussion because I personally still am not convinced with the "my topic, my language".)

And... on the heels of this last bit a new question to add to the mix: When you need to say that the person you are defending is making a mistake and hurting others, how do you do that without implying "you are to blame for what happened to you" or "what happened to you is right"?

edit3 (July 8, 2010 6:10pm): I realized my former edit might sound like I completely disagree with my initial assessment of the situation. I don't, not really.It is acknowledging that I missed one crucial part of the problem in this particular thread  and emphasizing that listening to each other is a 2 way street. Arrghh it is hard to word this, so I am going to try one last time.

I think that there are multiple fails on this conversation. Icarus not taking the US commenters reaction at face value and not apologizing for the unintentional hurt caused is a problem and it should have been addressed. Even through it is not immediately obvious from the commenters reaction why there is a problem and why the term is hurtful, there should be at least an "I see that you are offended my use of this term" and move toward a more neutral terminology rather than the defensiveness.

On the other hand, this does not also change the fact that the comments are dismissive, hurtful and very US-centric. The fact that they stem from hurt and that the authors are not aware they are not doing it does not justify the lack of apology and acknowledgment. Experience of the internal ethnic conflict of a country by an Irish person is not somehow less valid than history of slavery and lynching because it happened to a person that is white. Neither is the dismissal of a cultural context of the word because it originated from USA acceptable.

I believe in calling out of discriminatory behavior of all sort, and particular hurtful terms so that we can all learn. I do not believe for a second that the request for respect should come at the expense of dismissal of others, or that hurt (intentional or unintentional) for one side justifies another (and this last bit is applicable criticism to both sides on the thread).

Sorry for the long winded edit.


autumnus: A purple monochrome portrait of Zoe from Dreamfall, with drawn stars in background and "the Dreamer" written on bottom. (Default)

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