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When You Can’t Walk Away

Dan Fincke and I were chatting on Facebook last night about the civility pledge that he posted on his blog and that a few others have signed onto. Specifically, I was talking about the shortcomings of a particular paragraph:

When I am having a personality conflict that is making progress in understanding seem impossible, I will drop communications with that person–with or without explanation as seems most potentially constructive. I will not escalate unproductive arguments that are becoming interpersonally acrimonious. I will not participate in ongoing interpersonal feuds between other people but only participate in discussions that stay focused on what is true, what the best principles are, and how such principles may be most fairly and efficiently implemented in the world. I will correct injustices, bad principles, and bad ideas in ways that are maximally productive for changing minds and real world policies while also minimally likely to create or escalate distracting counter-productive interpersonal feuds.

I noted that walking away is not always an option, particularly in cases where one is being persistently harassed, often in public spaces one doesn’t control. As you might guess, I used myself as an example.

Then another friend of Dan’s interjected what I thought was a very good question:

It may be very ill-advised to chime in now, but I really wanted to explore the limits of a commitment to civility. Stephanie, I love your blog, and the abuse and harassment that you and others have suffered over the last couple of years has been unconscionable. It’s clear that a commitment to civility will not magically solve your problems or make your harassers stop their abuse, but neither will incivility. It’s also clear to me that you did nothing to “deserve” such treatment.

Dealing with this type of behavior is inherently difficult, and the fact that civility does not solve it isn’t a criticism of civility anymore than the fact that hammers make terrible saws is a fair criticism of hammers. If you could show how incivility or insults or ridicule does solve the problem of persistent abuse, then that would be a significant point in favor of rethinking such commitments, but very little if anything consistently works against highly motivated people seeking to continually abuse and harass.

I like the question because, in answering it, I was forced to describe the limits of the pledge itself. Recreated below with minor infelicities removed.

If the only thing we’re allowed to do with regard to harassment is solve the problem, we’re going to be doing a whole lot of nothing. We don’t individually have that power.

The problem isn’t with encouraging civility in debate. The problem is in asking people to pledge to treat everything, even being inescapably harassed, as debate. This is setting up a situation in which those who don’t pledge are then blamed, as Dan did to me above, for being harassed because they didn’t take the pledge.

As harassed people go, I have rather a great deal of privilege. I can write quite effectively. I argue effectively. I have a strong background in the kind of scientific and sociological topics that are relevant to issues of harassment. I have people who will take on responsibilities for me when I have to deal with harassment. I have good emotional support. My livelihood is not under threat by the harassers. I have a lifetime of experience learning how to understand that criticism isn’t necessarily based in things I’ve done. I can sit back and (relatively) comfortably point to the harassment and explain why it’s reprehensible.

But that’s me. I’m not the only person being harassed. If the next person in line doesn’t have all the resources I do, they’re not saying anything different than I am by being less than coherent, calling names, and “hitting” their abuser where it hurts. They’re just not expressing their reaction to being abused as usefully as I am. They still have a right to that reaction and to express it.

However, in this situation and probably in most situations of this sort of abuse, the abuse is disguised and apologized for as “disagreement” or debate by the abusers. The pledge–as a pledge–creates a no-win situation for the abused. Either they adopt the pledge and have it used against them when they aren’t debating, or they don’t adopt the pledge and get characterized as being unwilling to be civil, whatever their actual behavior when debating.

While much of the pledge is an excellent prescription for having productive arguments (and if you haven’t, read all the links to Chana Messinger’s posts below the pledge), I think its weaknesses are in not understanding or accommodating all the various sorts of interactions we have with those who disagree with us or dislike us. It is frequently not about debate. Nor does that make it necessarily “personal”.

The good news to come out of the discussion last night is that Dan wants to address harassment separately and directly, though he warned it might take him a few days. Who knew he didn’t crank out those 3,000-word posts on demand?

Comments

  1. Susan says

    I read NoelPlum’s response in the comments, and essentially he wants the right to continue to use gendered insults like “twat” “cunt’” and “slut:”, or at least doesn’t seem to think they should be off limits. And of course there is a direct comparison made between such abusive language and “misogynist” and “racist” as if the latter labels are not often very clearly earned by commenters who used the same slurs .

    I don’t run a blog, but in a case like yours I would be extremely unlikely to sign it, and I know PZ won’t. But then I’m a fan of both of you. And just from reading the blogs, I have had it up to here with MRA apologists and people who use their privilege to attack others while expecting the other party to be “civil.” That’s exactly the argument those in power have always used against those without it.

    When all these other bloggers and their allies stop with the gendered slurs and attacks on those like you and other feminist bloggers, then maybe there can be an agreement. But I simply can’t see that coming anytime soon.

  2. says

    While this is an obviously well meaning attempt at inviting certain members of the community to curtail hyperbolic interaction, I can’t see any way this pledge will make a difference. The people who are guilty of many of the actions this pledge invites us to abandon have no idea they are doing it but worse still, what one person sees as civil discourse, another calls harassment. What one groups sees as harmless satire, another treats like passive aggressive hate mongering.

    This sort of pledge will ultimately serve to allow those who sign it to demonize those who disagree with its ability to bring any civility in an environment laden with stark generalizations and McCarthyesque character assassinations.

    Anyone willing to agree to this pledge already feels they are part of the group that is being civil and anyone who rejects it will be labeled an uncivil trouble maker so I say, sure, I’ll sign your pledge just to see how long it takes for someone to quote-mine my comedy show and report me for breaking a pledge that is only adding fuel to an already raging firestorm of unspeakable hypoerbole! (I may be overstating here)

  3. says

    Yeah, I remember the last time Noelplum was dearly missing his gendered slurs: When he wanted to talk about how horrible Natalie Reed is.

    I think I mentioned it to Dan, I think I mentioned it to James Croft:
    There can be no civil discourse about my status as a human being.
    It is the tone-troll argument at best: Somebody who nicely says that I don’t deserve bodily autonomy is seen as “civil and polite”. If I tell them that they’re wanna-be slave-holders and that they can stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine I’m so over the top engaging in ad hominems (no, actually not) and shouldn’t be allowed to have any say about my life anyway on accounts of me being mean.

    I’m sick and tired of it.

  4. Ulysses says

    Most of the time civility is a virtue. Discourse with strangers or casual acquaintances is easier when both sides are civil. Even among friends and coworkers civility promotes understanding and resolution of differences. But there are times when one can be uncivil.

    There’s an old joke about how to get a mule to do something. First you have to get the mule’s attention, hitting it on the head with a 2 by 4 often works. Recently I was having an argument with a friend. He was continually interrupting me in mid-sentence until I told him to STFU. That actually shut him up long enough for me to rebut his argument. Being uncivil was the only way I could get a word in edgewise.

    I’m perfectly willing to be civil to you as long as you’re civil to me. But incivility is not limited to using coarse words. Dishonesty and using fallacious arguments are much more impolite than foul language.

  5. says

    I think Dan really means well, and I have “signed” the pledge provisionally, which is little skin off my nose because no one reads my blog anyways.
    My provision is similar to Gilliel’s; ie. at what point do people forfeit the right to be treated civilly.

    Also I think Stephanie makes a great point above that highlights a similar weakness in Dan’s project, privilege in ability to debate. Dan is a fricking philosopher, a professor at multiple universities who has been training all his life to make extended arguments and back them with detailed evidence. Not all of us have the ability or temperament to do that and Dan is essentially telling us to be quiet and let the grown ups debate.

  6. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    Dan’s being played by the mildew mob; by having some of them feign civility when it suits them they can point to that and claim ‘But we’re trying to discuss the issues; the FTB/Skepchick/A+ crowd just don’t want to participate!’ while back at scum central they’re happily egging on their cunting bitching photoshopping stalking harassing sockpuppeting and impersonating-twitter-account-using pals.

    What he also doesn’t seem to realise is that their claiming to want ‘civil discussion’ is a stalling tactic with the secondary benefit of the appearance of open-mindedness. They lose nothing by ‘talking about’ (as opposed to ‘acting on’) the issues; those of us who want increased inclusivity, on the other hand, gain nothing if all that takes place is talk. Nothing changes, and the entitled continue to have their narrow interests pandered to while those outside that core group get nothing.

    And, as Gilliel wrote: “There can be no civil discourse about my status as a human being.” If the starting point for a discussion is something as offensively regressive as that, the best response is going to be to tell those involved to go away and perform unpleasant acts of sexual stimulation on themselves.

  7. latsot says

    I can walk away at any time. I get harassed in direct proportion to what I say rather than what I am and I can just stop doing it whenever I like. There are people calling me names and spending surprising time and effort lying about what I’ve said. It’s annoying. But I can walk away whenever I like and everyone would instantly forget about me.

    So many people can’t. And shouldn’t ever have to.

    I don’t like being called names but I’ve asked for it by criticising idiots. Talk about poking an elephant’s arse with a stick and pretending not to know what would happen. right? But these horror shows can’t really be bothered with me very often because they’re too busy attacking people for the crime of being a woman and not shutting up.

    Whether I walk away or not my life wouldn’t change very much I’ve nothing much to protest about because life isn’t all that difficult for me, really. Other people don’t have that luxury. They protest because they have to. Because if they don’t, things aren’t going to get any better for them or people like them.

    I can walk away whenever I like but I won’t. For one thing, the consequences for me aren’t severe. I don’t have much to lose. Which makes it especially galling when people from a similar background court and promote the status quo rather than trying to change things for the better.

  8. Martha says

    I’m perfectly willing to be civil to you as long as you’re civil to me. But incivility is not limited to using coarse words. Dishonesty and using fallacious arguments are much more impolite than foul language.

    QFT

    Civility is fundamentally about treating others as human beings worthy of respect. There are more ways to show a lack of respect for another than to swear at them. And when one’s behavior is not worthy of respect, no one has the obligation to point that out tactfully.

  9. Duke Eligor says

    “Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.”
    - Robert Howard

    Civility and the politeness of the harassed are what empower the misogynistic scum. We don’t need more of that, we need less. Not to the level of skull splitting, sure, but mockery, disdain, and vocal reprobation are all well deserved (and this “doxing” thing I hear about sounds lovely). When it comes to the kind of harassment good bloggers receive here at FTB, I’d rather pledge to be more barbaric in response.

  10. thomaspenn says

    I’m the one who wrote the question on Facebook, and I want to make sure that I understand your position, Stephanie. The basic idea is that when someone is being harassed or verbally abused, they should be given a certain amount of leeway in responding to their harassers with incivility. Are personal insults the only exception to common civility being made? Telling lies about one’s harassers or threatening them with violence are certainly still off the table, right?

    I agree with you that one can certainly be forgiven for hurling personal insults at a harasser out of frustration or desperation. A commitment to civility isn’t black and white, there are lesser and greater sins. I don’t know that personal insults are the optimal response, but they are certainly an understandable one.

    You further appear to argue that such pledges will make things worse for the abused by putting them into a no-win situation. I don’t really buy that because being abused is already a no-win situation. Could abusers point to the pledge and further criticize their victims for hypocrisy or lack of civility? Sure, but they are abusers; they don’t need a reason to abuse. At worst, such a pledge slightly changes the specific charges made by abusers.

    I don’t see the harm in such a pledge. It may not do any good because the people who care enough about civility to codify their commitment in a pledge are probably the most civil anyway. But I think of the pledge more as a list of aspirational guidelines for people of good faith to keep in mind when engaged in discussion with other people. Like any guidelines, the rules can be broken, but it’s good to stop and think about why you’re breaking them.

  11. Susan says

    Sorry. I can’t figure out how to blockquote. I am HTML tag illiterate.

    Thomas Penn said: “Are personal insults the only exception to common civility being made? Telling lies about one’s harassers or threatening them with violence are certainly still off the table, right?”

    Is this a suggestion that this has been done, or am I reading too much into this?

  12. thomaspenn says

    Susan, I didn’t mean to suggest any such thing. In Stephanie’s response she said:

    If the next person in line doesn’t have all the resources I do, they’re not saying anything different than I am by being less than coherent, calling names, and “hitting” their abuser where it hurts. They’re just not expressing their reaction to being abused as usefully as I am. They still have a right to that reaction and to express it.

    Which I took to mean that it is ok to insult one’s harassers. My statement was meant to explore the bounds of incivility that one can rightfully show a harasser.

  13. says

    Fincke is being a giant privileged asshole on this issue, because for him all of these issues are abstract and academic. No one is claiming that HIS personhood should be the topic of “debate” are they? What’s worse is that he wants to remove the people most directly affected by harassment from the conversation, if they can’t be as coldly detached as he is. Of course he does, because for him harassment and sexism and racism and other bigotries don’t personally offend his delicate sensibilities as much as “uncivil discussion.”

    I’m not sure what benefit he brings to the table. Any table.

  14. Susan says

    Thomaspenn,

    Got it. Though from reading these blogs since the attacks on Rebecca Watson began, I’ve never seen any instance where any of the abused would consider this approach. It’s all come from the other direction.

  15. Stacy says

    Ulysses wrote:

    There’s an old joke about how to get a mule to do something. First you have to get the mule’s attention, hitting it on the head with a 2 by 4 often works.

    I’ve had dealings with people who wouldn’t listen, who wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise, who were condescending, or otherwise unwilling to listen to me. In my experience, a clue-by-four–in the form of an emphatic “Shut up and listen, asshole, or fuck off!” sometimes gets their attention–and their respect.

  16. thomaspenn says

    I wasn’t trying to make any sort of false equivalency between the different “sides” of the Deep Rifts. I was just trying to more fully understand what amount and type of incivility can be excused towards someone who has shown a history of abuse or harassment.

    I really don’t see what the major disagreement is with Dan’s pledge. It seems like all of the criticisms here (if I understand them correctly) can be handled with a simple caveat along the lines of “I withhold the right to insult, mock, and ridicule those who have shown an unapologetic history of abuse or harassment .”

    If the pledge included that caveat would those who’ve read it still take issue with it?

  17. thomaspenn says

    Stacy, do you really think saying “Shut up and listen, asshole, or fuck off!” works better than saying “Stop interrupting, and let me speak!?” I feel like a person who doesn’t respond to the latter won’t respond to the former either, and I’d bet a lot of people would respond much better to the latter.

  18. says

    Stacy, do you really think saying “Shut up and listen, asshole, or fuck off!” works better than saying “Stop interrupting, and let me speak!?”

    Yes, it does. It moves me out of the class of people who can be walked over with impunity.

  19. thomaspenn says

    It moves me out of the class of people who can be walked over with impunity.

    I really don’t follow this.

    From the example it sounded like a one-off conversation with a rude person (not a continued exchange with an abuser). Stacy’s stated goal is to get their attention and respect presumably to continue the conversation and hopefully have a productive exchange. I really don’t see how calling them an asshole and telling them to fuck off furthers that goal more than telling them to stop their rude behavior and listen.

    I’ve had people say “let me finish” during arguments, and it’s made me realize my rudeness and change my behavior (and hopefully apologize), which allowed the discussion to continue. I don’t see how being called an asshole or told to fuck off would lead to a better outcome.

  20. Stacy says

    I posted #14 too soon. I meant to add this–

    I was raised to fear conflict. Once upon a time I was powerless against the sort of people I describe in my comment #14. Having learned to stand up for myself, I’ll be damned if I’m going to give up the option to use incivility when I judge it’s warranted.

    ~~~

    @Susan #11

    To blockquote do this:

    [blockquote] hello there! [/blockquote]

    But use < instead of [. You should get this:

    hello there!

  21. says

    I really don’t follow this.

    That’s an argument from incredulity. Whether you understand why it happens or not, it happens. Nor is there any reason to think it wouldn’t. Swearing is a signal like any other language.

  22. Stacy says

    @thomaspenn

    Stacy, do you really think saying “Shut up and listen, asshole, or fuck off!” works better than saying “Stop interrupting, and let me speak!?”

    I am saying that I have known people who did not respond to “Stop interrupting, and let me speak!” who did respond to “Shut up and listen, asshole, or fuck off.”

    That has been my experience.

    I feel like a person who doesn’t respond to the latter won’t respond to the former either,

    Some don’t. Some do.

    and I’d bet a lot of people would respond much better to the latter

    But everybody is not the same. Some people respect you more when you give them a rhetorical punch in the nose.

    I am not claiming incivility is something to resort to all the time. I am saying that while civility is a good rule of thumb, incivility is a rhetorical tactic that can be useful sometimes.

  23. thomaspenn says

    Stacy, I understand and respect the fact that that’s been your experience, and I’m sure it’s been the experience of others then as well. It still seems foreign to me because I can’t even really imagine wanting to talk to a person that I have to swear at to get them to listen to me. I also can’t imagine myself responding well to that, but that’s also because I would have listened the first time I was called out.

  24. ischemgeek says

    thomaspenn, sometimes conversing with such a person is a often matter of necessity rather than inclination.

  25. smhll says

    I will correct injustices, bad principles, and bad ideas in ways that are maximally productive for changing minds and real world policies while also minimally likely to create or escalate distracting counter-productive interpersonal feuds.

    While I find the belief that feuding is counter-productive to be plausible, I want to note the lack of evidence presented as to what forms of correction are “maximally productive”. Empathy is certainly a starting point. But just relying on empathy and person preference is highly subjective.

    Corrections that are ignored by many readers certainly don’t accomplish much with those readers. In many -on-many conversations on the internet a whole lot of what appears to be ignoring (but may not be) goes on as the most heated part of the discussion tends to draw the greatest amount of responses. Many quiet posts seem to sink like rocks.

    I paid a lot of attention to D. Fincke’s original call for civility last year. One thing that I observed is that deprived of the opportunity to use slurs and the word ‘stupid’, some posters at Camels with Hammers (while it was still here at FtB) quickly found ways to express distain for the character and intelligence of others using seemingly polite framing like — it’s not hard — and — why can’t you just.

    Willful obtuseness can and will don the mask of civility. And I’m betting it will drive even the most patient people straight up a wall.

  26. thomaspenn says

    ischemgeek, I can respect that. I think this whole need for hostility is just foreign to my experience, and I’m lucky for that. When I’ve resorted to insults or ridicule in my adult life it’s always been because it made me feel better to hurt those who “deserved” my wraith. It was from a place of self-righteousness and/or catharsis. My ex was often verbally abusive, and I never saw any benefit from returning hostilities, nor did I see a benefit from trying to remain stoically above the nastiness either. To this day the thought of heated interactions can make me physically ill, so I really prefer to avoid them, but I can understand that other people’s lives require different tactics.

    I still think the civility pledge is good list of aspirational guidelines, and when you choose to violate those guidelines it’s good to think about why you’re doing so, and what you’re really trying to gain because I do think that a lot of hostility and incivility in this world is not the necessary justifiable kind.

  27. yiela says

    Thomaspenn, you have not met my dad. Not being the daughter of a misogynistic bigot would be an example of having the privilege of being able to just walk away from a conversation with a jerk, or of having a choice about arguing with a person who simply will not listen, will not respect anything that a person says unless they are willing to swear, loudly and repeatedly, and demand that they are heard. Keep in mind that this person has the power to impose their will or their harassment on you and there is nothing you can do to stop it. The thing is, it’s people like him that need to hear and need to understand the perspective of the people who’s rights he votes against in every election, who are the butts of jokes he tells everyday and who he constantly works to put down. Simply avoiding the unpleasantness just prolongs and allows and encourages his beliefs and worse, his actions. This whole issue (it seems to me) is about the lives and experiences of real people who are experiencing the affects of actual misogyny right now, and yesterday and will keep on experiencing it tomorrow and the next day. It’s not about proper etiquette, it’s not a hobby, it’s about change. Being nice has been tried, repeatedly, and it didn’t work. “Be nice” sounds a lot like “shut up”.
    I guess that was some stuff I needed to unload. Hope it made sense.

  28. Ulysses says

    Being a straight, white man, I get very little harassment from other people. In the few instances where I have been harassed, I’ve had the ability to walk away from the harasser without suffering ill effects. Women, racial minorities, GLBTs, and other unprivileged groups do not have that ability. Daniel Fincke has the same ability to disregard harassment as I. Ophelia Benson and Stephanie have to put up with harassment on a daily basis. I’ve seen Ophelia ask both politely and impolitely to be left alone by the professional misogynists. They don’t leave her alone. Is she supposed to be kind, polite and civil to someone who says they’ll “kick her in the cunt” or throw acid in her face?

    Daniel’s civility pledge shows two things: his naivety and his privilege as a straight, white male. I cannot in good conscience sign his pledge. Sometimes one has to be uncivil to protect oneself or others from harassers. It’s my call as to if and when I stop being civil and become as uncivil as I think the situation requires.

  29. Stacy says

    I still think the civility pledge is good list of aspirational guidelines

    I think so; I agree there are some good guidelines there. Where I disagree with Dan is his making an axiom out of it. I won’t pledge to always be civil because I don’t think incivility is always a bad thing. Circumstances and context are everything.

    and when you choose to violate those guidelines it’s good to think about why you’re doing so, and what you’re really trying to gain because I do think that a lot of hostility and incivility in this world is not the necessary justifiable kind.

    I agree with you.

    I appreciate your honesty. I’ve been uncivil for all the wrong reasons at times, and I regret those times. It’s good to think twice and be as self-aware as possible. Especially I think it’s important not to direct hostility at people who are vulnerable and might be seriously hurt by it, due to personal or social circumstances. “If you must punch, punch up, not down.”

  30. says

    I have a comment caught in moderation…

    Do I have to start screaming slurs at everyone now? Because I feel like I’m supposed to call everyone a name and then declare “freeze peach” and then create 37 fake identities and post under all of them to complain about my rights being taken away. I’d mostly rather not, truth be told, or at least I’d like to be trapped in moderation for something more obviously creative.

    … can’t say what that is, because it would get trapped as well.

  31. Stacy says

    On second thought I’d like to disavow the first sentence in my comment #28. I find too many problems with Dan’s pledge to praise it even as a list of aspirational guidelines.

  32. Bjarte Foshaug says

    @Giliell #3

    There can be no civil discourse about my status as a human being.

    Exactly. Bottom line, certain views are just inherently hostile to other people’s rights, and no amount of “civility” is ever going to make an ounce of difference. If the content of your argument is that I don’t deserve equality or respect as a human being, exactly how it’s worded is the least of my problems with your position.

  33. says

    Civility is a tool championed by the privileged to maintain their privilege. It’s not helpful to anyone who hopes to promote change.

    Bcmystery is on the money: This civility pledge business is just preemptive tone-trolling. Fuck that noise.

  34. says

    Ulysses

    He was continually interrupting me in mid-sentence until I told him to STFU. That actually shut him up long enough for me to rebut his argument. Being uncivil was the only way I could get a word in edgewise.

    When I moved into my first flat together with a female friend, the guy who lived below us was an utter asshole. He always complained about us being too loud, which included us using the toilet at night and flushing it. So, in one of those conflicts he came up to our door and, polietly and civilly we let him make his points and listened and then we tried to nicely explain our point of view. After the third or fourth sentence he interrupted I became decidedly uncivil, telling him to STFU, we had let him finish uninterrupted* and now he was going to listen to us or the conversation was over.
    From that day on, he made very sure that I wasn’t at home when he had a complaint. Since I wasn’t able to finish one fucking sentence while being civil I would probably still be standing in that door listening to him.
    *Another factor Dan Fincke might look into is sociolinguistics and the discrepancies between male and female discourse. Generally speaking, women are way more civil and respectful and it leads to them being shut up.

    Wowbagger

    What he also doesn’t seem to realise is that their claiming to want ‘civil discussion’ is a stalling tactic with the secondary benefit of the appearance of open-mindedness. They lose nothing by ‘talking about’ (as opposed to ‘acting on’) the issues; those of us who want increased inclusivity, on the other hand, gain nothing if all that takes place is talk. Nothing changes, and the entitled continue to have their narrow interests pandered to while those outside that core group get nothing.

    Status Quo.
    They who already have the privilege think they can set the frame by allowing us gracefully to discuss those issues but only if we’re nice.
    My grandpa was a miner and unionist, and he always refused to bow to the employers demand of “civil discourse”. He rightly realized that this was a means to put him down because how was he who had left school after 8th grade to work in a mine ever going to be able to comply with those requests for “civil language”. It was an ever-moving goalpost and he decided that they would have to damn well listen to his coarse dialect and words like “bullshit”.

    Thomaspenn

    The basic idea is that when someone is being harassed or verbally abused, they should be given a certain amount of leeway in responding to their harassers with incivility. Are personal insults the only exception to common civility being made? Telling lies about one’s harassers or threatening them with violence are certainly still off the table, right?

    Wait, what? “Given leeway”? By whom?
    Also, I would hope you agree, telling lies and threatening violence aren’t “uncivil”. They’re immoral ad mostly criminal activities. Saying that somebody is an asshole is certainly not the same as making a rape threat which is actually something that happens time after time again to those who are being harassed.

    I agree with you that one can certainly be forgiven for hurling personal insults at a harasser out of frustration or desperation.

    It’s not about being graciously forgiven as if we were children who throw away a toy out of frustration. Your framing of this issue is extremely impolite, yet you don’t use any nasty words.

    You further appear to argue that such pledges will make things worse for the abused by putting them into a no-win situation. I don’t really buy that because being abused is already a no-win situation.

    Wrong. Being able to make your feelings heard and known is certainly a win for the abused person. Secondly, it’s not only about harassers, it’s also about people who are not directly involved and who will go out of their way to tell the harassed person how badly they behaved. It’s a typical school-teacher approach to bullying: Most of it is ignored until the victim does something.

    I don’t see the harm in such a pledge.

    I do and you find many people here giving you reasons why. And here’ another idea: If those who are regularly targeted by harassment, threats and abuse, those underprivileged in society tell you about the harm something like this is causing them, you come off as an ass saying “but I don’t see no harm”. Your phrase is very polite, your message isn’t because it denies those targeted by abuse their reality and overwrites it with your privileged view.

    Stacy, do you really think saying “Shut up and listen, asshole, or fuck off!” works better than saying “Stop interrupting, and let me speak!?” I feel like a person who doesn’t respond to the latter won’t respond to the former either, and I’d bet a lot of people would respond much better to the latter.

    I think you’re wrong. I’m also a member of the Pharyngula Horde. Comment threads over there fill up quick, having a few hundred of them with dozens of people engaging is the norm. And yes, being female and polite is what gets you ignored. And those you’re trying to argue with will ignore all your civil comments and focus on one (or 6) person who called them an asshole.
    But yes, there’s a difference. There are some male-identified reasonably polite commenters who often get the attention (Gregory Greenwood comes to mind). And they try to play the “you’re one reasonable guy I can talk to, not like all those shrill harpies who don’t have anything to say anyway” with him. So, yes, being female and polite gets me ignored. Being female and uncivil gets me noticed so that sometimes I even get to engage people. And it leads to less stomach ulcers.

    I really don’t see how calling them an asshole and telling them to fuck off furthers that goal more than telling them to stop their rude behavior and listen.

    Sometimes you actually don’t want to engage them, sometimes you just want them to leave.

    I’ve had people say “let me finish” during arguments, and it’s made me realize my rudeness and change my behavior (and hopefully apologize), which allowed the discussion to continue. I don’t see how being called an asshole or told to fuck off would lead to a better outcome.

    Good! But you do realize that you’re not everybody, right? And chances are that your behaviour prior to being told that you interrupt them might have been rude, but probably not weapon-grade asshole. It’s not like people are trigger happy and shout insults the first time they see somebody (unless it’s really that bad. Somebody entering the discussion by saying “I think RW needs a good fuck that would shut her up” has already skipped all stages of conversation).
    So, let’s stay with your example. I say “let me finish”. You say “OK”, I finish, your turn, yu finish, I say something, you interrupt me and so on. At what point am I “allowed” to say “STFU”? And remember that at that point of the discussion, you’ve had the chance to make your arguments clearly while I have been fighting an uphill battle, becoming more and more agitated and annoyed and yes, desperate to be heard. And then I snap and then I get told that i should stop being so damn incivil. The “civility pledge” only serves the interrupting person in that context while it hurts the one interrupted.

    It still seems foreign to me because I can’t even really imagine wanting to talk to a person that I have to swear at to get them to listen to me.

    I guess you were born with a penis.
    And probably white skin as well…

  35. ischemgeek says

    Yeah, what Gillel said. Civility is often not a viable option if you’re not privileged.

    If I want to, say, get treated appropriately for an asthma attack in the ER, I can sit and wait for the docs to disabuse themselves of the notion that young + female = anxiety attack until proven otherwise (while running no spirometry or redefining my results such that they’re normal despite being very abnormal for me) and thus put my life and well-being at risk while subjecting myself to needless and prolonged suffering, OR I can be a pain in their asses and insist that they phone my doctors to hear what to treat how, irritate a few arrogant assholes, and leave life and lungs intact without subjecting myself to hours of slowly suffocating.

    I know which one I’ll take.

  36. thomaspenn says

    Giliell, thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    Wait, what? “Given leeway”? By whom?
    Also, I would hope you agree, telling lies and threatening violence aren’t “uncivil”. They’re immoral ad mostly criminal activities. Saying that somebody is an asshole is certainly not the same as making a rape threat which is actually something that happens time after time again to those who are being harassed.

    Given leeway in the moral sense. It’s not about permission. It’s about the morality of such behavior. Being insulting in certain circumstances is more morally acceptable than in others. Lies (or exaggerations or strawmanning) or threats are uncivil behavior, but I in no way meant to imply that insults were the same as threats or lies. The statement was meant to indicate that they are very different things.

    It’s not about being graciously forgiven as if we were children who throw away a toy out of frustration. Your framing of this issue is extremely impolite, yet you don’t use any nasty words.

    Once again this isn’t about literal permission or forgiveness. It’s about making abstract moral judgments of behavior. I’m not saying that I’m allowing such and such to do X, or forgiving them for doing X. I’m saying it’s morally understandable for a person in that situation to do X. This is a standard rhetorical framing when discussing ethical issues, and I certainly didn’t mean for it to be patronizing.

    I do and you find many people here giving you reasons why. And here’ another idea: If those who are regularly targeted by harassment, threats and abuse, those underprivileged in society tell you about the harm something like this is causing them, you come off as an ass saying “but I don’t see no harm”. Your phrase is very polite, your message isn’t because it denies those targeted by abuse their reality and overwrites it with your privileged view.

    I have tried very hard not to deny the experience of others in this thread and I am trying very hard to understand where people are coming from and how those experiences inform their opinion of the pledge. I have not had those experiences, and I’ve admitted as much. But I can respect other’s experiences while not fully understanding or even still disagreeing about the utility of the pledge.

    Sometimes you actually don’t want to engage them, sometimes you just want them to leave.

    Reread Stacy’s example. Her stated purpose for calling them an asshole and telling them to fuck off was to get their attention and respect. She was trying to continue the engagement, and apparently it’s a tactic that has worked for her towards that end when other more polite tactics have failed. My statements about that tactic were with those objectives in mind.

    Good! But you do realize that you’re not everybody, right?

    Yes, I’ve indicated that explicitly multiple times in this thread.

    So, let’s stay with your example. I say “let me finish”. You say “OK”, I finish, your turn, yu finish, I say something, you interrupt me and so on. At what point am I “allowed” to say “STFU”? And remember that at that point of the discussion, you’ve had the chance to make your arguments clearly while I have been fighting an uphill battle, becoming more and more agitated and annoyed and yes, desperate to be heard. And then I snap and then I get told that i should stop being so damn incivil. The “civility pledge” only serves the interrupting person in that context while it hurts the one interrupted.

    I feel that in these examples context is everything, and I am missing the proper context for these exchanges because it is foreign to my experience. When I’ve wanted to tell people to STFU, I was desperate to be heard or frustrated or angry, but it’s only ever served to make me feel better. It never got the other person to listen, or even to shut up. I may have been “justified” in my response, but that doesn’t mean it was the right or best one. I understand that other people have had different experiences, though.

    I guess you were born with a penis.
    And probably white skin as well…

    I’ll readily admit my privilege (I’m also cis, straight, and an independent able-bodied adult), but it’s also that I hate such exchanges, and I avoid them if at all possible. That’s why I am not a member of the Pharyngula Horde. Thought-provoking conversations on interesting topics happen there, but it’s not an environment that I enjoy or can really even stand. I’ve been verbally abused, and heated exchanges can still make me physically ill.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful response. I’m going to reread the pledge today with these thoughts in mind. I think an aspirational list of guidelines for constructive discourse is useful. I am less sure that a pledge in general is necessary or useful, or that this pledge in particular is optimally constructed. I think some discussion of appropriate responses when a discourse “partner” has made it clear that constructive dialog is not their intent would be beneficial.

  37. Hoary puccoon says

    thomaspenn@38–

    I read your above reply and all your other comments. To say this as politely as possible, since that is the sort of discussion you prefer, you come across to me as obnoxious and self-centered. You don’t like impolite exchanges. I understand that. But you are– possibly unconsciously– imposing that value on everyone else.

    Personally, I try to avoid impolite exchanges. I usually drop out of flame wars on the Internet as soon as they develop. I can even remember dropping out of an argument with Stephanie, although, as you might imagine, Stephanie was her usual civil self. I just didn’t feel like spending the time clearing up the misunderstanding. (It wasn’t even a disagreement.)

    HOWEVER, that is my preference. If it is not the preference of other women who are facing harassment, discrimination, and even threats to their personal safety, it is not my place to put further demands on them. And it is not YOUR place either, thomaspenn. Please try to bear this in mind.

  38. Stacy says

    thomaspenn, I’ve enjoyed talking with you.

    I’ve been verbally abused, and heated exchanges can still make me physically ill.

    I’m glad that you’re looking after your mental and emotional health, and avoiding triggers. Take care, and good luck to you.

  39. says

    Once again this isn’t about literal permission or forgiveness. It’s about making abstract moral judgments of behavior.

    I appreciate the give and take you’ve done here. I do need to pull this out and highlight it, though.

    These “abstract moral judgments” don’t exist, except as an aspiration. Our moral judgments are always made in a personal and cultural framework. We have tools that we can employ to attempt to use a more common framework, but those tools weren’t developed in a vaccuum either. They reflect the values and priorities of the academic class that created them.

    So when you validate positions or behavior using these tools, it may feel abstracted to you (particularly if you’re part of this academic class), but it is also a call to recognize the authority of that academic class. Particularly when we’re discussing issues of survival and erasure, that’s going to be galling to many people. It isn’t that they don’t recognize the kind of argument you’re making; it’s that they’re tired of being considered abstractions instead of people.

    And in fact, that’s a large part of what this particular argument is about.

  40. Onamission5 says

    Thomaspenn, have you considered the possibility that you have not yet been put in a position where you needed to tell someone to STFU in order for them to hear you, because you have the privilege of usually being taken seriously when you speak?

    I have the opposite of that privilege. When I am polite, people tend to totally fucking ignore me, no matter how strong my argument or how much I am personally affected by the topic at hand. If I want to be heard I often have to get uncivil right damn quick. Even with people who know me. It’s insideous, the tendency to gloss right over the voices of people one is not used to listeing to, and we have to shout to be heard in conversations where people will strain to hear someone else’s whisper.

  41. hypatiasdaughter says

    I am looking forward to FIncke’s post on harassment
    Giliell, professional cynic, I think you summed it up well in #36 and especially

    Saying that somebody is an asshole is certainly not the same as making a rape threat…

    I think Fincke and thomaspenn are conflating the difference between “incivility” and “hostility”. Incivility can be a debating tactic; hostility means the debate is over or there was no debate in the first place.
    Another point is that a lot of the abuse is from the “loose cannons” on the internet – not blog owners or their regular posters but by drive-by nuts jobs. They are the mob that only shows up when they smell blood. Signing a civility pact might hold the former in check nut not the later. If you come down hard on the drive-by’s, are you violating the pact? What about the regulars who show support for the drive-by, as some did for the guy who posted the “acid in your face” Tweet? Will the blog owners hold them accountable?

  42. says

    I note that Thomaspenn has completely ignored Giliell’s description of women having their comments ignored in comment threads.

    This has happened in many comment threads on FTB, not just in Pharyngula, and it’s disgusting to watch it happen.

  43. penn says

    Hoary puccoon,

    I’m sorry if I’ve been obnoxious, but I don’t think I’m trying to impose anything on anyone. I’ve said I think these are generally good guidelines to follow, and that one should think about what their objectives are when violating them, and in my latest comment I scaled that back to “I think an aspirational list of guidelines for constructive discourse is useful.”, which isn’t an imposition at all.

    Onamission5,

    Thomaspenn, have you considered the possibility that you have not yet been put in a position where you needed to tell someone to STFU in order for them to hear you, because you have the privilege of usually being taken seriously when you speak?

    I have honestly considered that, and I’ve tried to be open to other people’s experiences throughout this discussion. The types of exchanges that people are describing are generally foreign to me, and I’ve admitted that I’m lucky for that fact.

    I really want to thank everyone for the thoughtful responses. I feel like it’s been educational. You’ve all been great and offered constructive arguments, but I think what convinced me the most that I need to rethink this is the number of slymepitters commenting on Dan’s post in agreement with the pledge. I know that’s a poisoing the well fallacy, but one should always be aware of the company they keep. That really drove the point home as to how this can be a tool for bad faith actors. I really hope that Dan’s response regarding harassment addresses some of the points made here.

  44. rnilsson says

    BANG bang !! !

    It isn’t that they don’t recognize the kind of argument you’re making; it’s that they’re tired of being considered abstractions instead of people.

    And in fact, that’s a large part of what this particular argument is about.

    the nail disappears into the woodwork.

    [Studiously ignoring #42 & #43 as well as all of Giliell, and most EMPHATICALLY supporting #44] ;-)

  45. penn says

    I note that Thomaspenn has completely ignored Giliell’s description of women having their comments ignored in comment threads.

    This has happened in many comment threads on FTB, not just in Pharyngula, and it’s disgusting to watch it happen.

    Are you insinuating that I’ve been ignoring women in these comments? That’s patently absurd. In the comment you mention, I spent hundreds of words addressing Gilelli’s points. What was I to say about her specific example in the Pharyngula Hoarde? There was nothing to add to or question in her example, so I didn’t mention it specifically in my response. I have not denied or questioned anyone’s stated experiences in this thread.

  46. fastlane says

    It would matter very much where one draws the line on ‘civility’. Lies, threats, etc, are, and should nearly always be, off limits. But ridicule, name calling, etc. often have a disproportionately positive (in the sense of getting one’s message across) effect compared to ‘polite discourse’.

    Ref: Is it you or me? Contrasting Effects of Ridicule Targeting Other People vs the Self. Janes & Colson, ejop.org

  47. says

    When did being insulting or rude turn into something so egregious?

    I mean, sure, generally being polite and friendly in most venues is laudable, but all this civility-worship? Oh, no, this dude’s being uncivil, someone call the constabulary!

    Fuck that.

  48. hoary puccoon says

    penn @45–

    I’m a little sorry it took the slimepitters agreeing with Dan, rather than what people said here, to open your eyes. But, whatever, it sounds like you did get it. Good for you!

    One of the things I’ve noticed in the debates is that the slimepit side are often superficially polite, but are actually far, far over in the other person’s face. Very frequently they try to dictate what other people are and are not allowed to feel. And that’s bullying, pure and simple. No matter how politely “it shouldn’t bother you to be accosted by a stranger in an enclosed space at 4:00 in the morning,” is worded, it’s bullying. So politeness in response, in my opinion, is wasted. The social contract has already been broken.

    (That last paragraph was in no way implying any criticism of you. It’s just something I think you should think about.)

  49. says

    I was just trying to more fully understand what amount and type of incivility can be excused towards someone who has shown a history of abuse or harassment.

    What, you want us to have pre-set limits on our response to people who attack us with no limits or restraint?

    What’s wrong with using judgement on the spot and adjusting our actions in response to observed changes and past experience?

  50. says

    Are you insinuating that I’ve been ignoring women in these comments?

    I’m not insinuating anything. I’m saying quite clearly that you ignored a direct example of how maintaining politeness results in the disadvantaged party being ignored by the more privileged party.

    I note that you also completely ignore the second part of Onamission’s response to you which is substantively the same.

    That’s patently absurd. In the comment you mention, I spent hundreds of words addressing Gilelli’s points. What was I to say about her specific example in the Pharyngula Hoarde? There was nothing to add to or question in her example, so I didn’t mention it specifically in my response. I have not denied or questioned anyone’s stated experiences in this thread.

    Except that her example (or rather, examples, because I’ve witnessed it happen multiple times, on multiple blogs on FTB) speaks directly to the discussion on the appropriateness of civility in these “debates”.

    Is this an uncomfortable thought for you? That being polite simply renders someone ignorable? Is that why you have yet to address it?

  51. says

    There are two reasons why this whole idea of a “pledge of civility” is utter crap:

    1) Rules don’t mean squat if there’s no reliable or consistent enforcement, and there’s a significant number of people who clearly don’t give a shit about any stinking rules; and

    2) We’re dealing with liars, bigots, haters, harassers, one-track axe-grinders, people who often deny our basic humanity, people who have chosen not to act like grownups at all, and people who have no problem with indiscriminate insults and threats of actual violence — but WE’RE the ones who are supposed to sign a pledge to be nice?! Seriously?! I can’t think of any response more civil than “You’re kidding, right?”

  52. penn says

    hoary puccoon,

    Oh, don’t get me wrong, you guys did a lot of the heavy lifting, but when I went back to the original pledge post today and saw that some of the loudest supporters were slympitters it really made me think.

    Nathaniel,

    Then I’m saying quite clearly that that is false and patently ridiculous. I didn’t ignore either of those examples, I just didn’t blockquote them in a response. Ignoring them would require me to make argument AFTER those examples were provided that those examples clearly contradicted. I never did that. The evidence from those examples was incorporated into my evolving views as demonstrated in my responses. I didn’t blockquote and directly comment on those examples because I had nothing to add. I accepted them and never once contradicted them.

    It’s also pretty ironic for you to argue that I’ve ignored those examples and then ask

    Is this an uncomfortable thought for you? That being polite simply renders someone ignorable? Is that why you have yet to address it?

    Which ignores most of what I’ve been saying going back to comments before you first posted. I’ve been clearly adapting my views based on the arguments and examples given throughout this exchange. In your case making baseless allegations and clearly not keeping up with the discussion makes you ignorable.

  53. penn says

    Nathaniel,

    To drive the point home that I have thoughtfully considered the arguments and examples provided in this exchange. Here are my current views on the civility pledge (all from previous comments):

    I think an aspirational list of guidelines for constructive discourse is useful. I am less sure that a pledge in general is necessary or useful, or that this pledge in particular is optimally constructed.

    I can understand that other people’s lives require different tactics [i.e., invcivility].

    …this [the civility pledge] can be a tool for bad faith actors.

    I really hope that Dan’s response regarding harassment addresses some of the points made here.

    I clearly indicated that I accept the potential for harm from such a pledge and that others find incivility to be a useful tools at times. Please tell me specifically how my views should be further adapted based on the arguments and examples provided in this thread.

  54. Erista (aka Eris) says

    In relation to civility: I have spent a long, long, long time in the whole “theism vs atheism” debate. Because I am a very civil, polite person by nature, I have a tendency to be one of the most polite and civil people in discussions. In fact, the opposing side has the tendency to turn to the other atheists in the conversation and cry out, “Why can’t you just be polite like Erista!”

    And it makes me want to drop into a hole a die. Why? Because I am profoundly aware that my politeness and civility is being used as a weapon against the people on my side. It isn’t that my/our opposition really values my politeness and civility; they do no such thing. More than once I have been involved in a conversation where I was oh so wonderful and nice . . . until the more “rude” people left the room. When that happened, all bets were off. Suddenly everything I said wasn’t quite so wonderful; suddenly I was no longer deserving of respect or praise.

    To make things even worse (!), there is the rather alarming fact that my polite, civil words tend to be overlooked in favor of the words of the “rude” unless I am being used as a bludgeon against someone else. For years I could not understand why people would run around freaking out about “everyone being rude” to them while ignoring the polite people in the same discussion! There was absolutely nothing stopping those people from ignoring the “rude” individuals and instead choosing to converse with the “polite” people, but that never happened. Now I understand why, of course; the whole “civility” discussion wasn’t about actual civility, but about being able to shift the conversation from the actual topic at hand to an entirely different topic.

    So I’ll say now what I decided some years ago: when oppressed, harassed, and denigrated people lash out in ways that I wouldn’t, I keep my mouth shut. I am deeply aware that my way isn’t some kind of panacea for all the world’s ills. In fact, my approach fails at a ridiculous rate, so much so that I have a hard time saying that it’s effective at all. Given this, there is no cause, justification, or rational for me sitting on my high horse and attempting to dispense advice to all those who aren’t doing things my way. To do so would be, dare I say it, impolite and uncivil.

  55. triamacleod says

    It almost seems as if civility is being given the same ‘fetish’ treatment that some people reserve for the human fetus. And it seems to be the same sort of people doing the fetishizing.

    Put me down with the ‘not signing’ crowd. I prefer to keep my options open and I will adjust my language and style to fit in with the crowd I am debating. The way I respond here is different to how I would respond on Facebook is different to how I would respond on 4chan. This isn’t the debate team in high school. We aren’t arguing or debating for points or bragging rights. We are doing our best to invoke social and cultural changes and that doesn’t happen without offending the people who control the system, especially when the very act of existing is enough to offend a good portion of them.

  56. says

    I clearly indicated that I accept the potential for harm from such a pledge and that others find incivility to be a useful tools at times. Please tell me specifically how my views should be further adapted based on the arguments and examples provided in this thread.

    You can start by acknowledging the full extent of the stories people have told you here.

  57. estraven says

    I just really don’t buy Dan’s whole thing. I have seen him stand by and allow Pitters to call me names etc. and then say “How could I have known they’d act like that? And I told them to stop!” How in the fucking hell could he not know they would do what they did? I was called an “internet douchebag” and worse and had done nothing to stir up that level of ugly. But Dan was all “Oh, I just want this to be an open forum” etc. etc. And then the trespassers would be all polite and change the subject or whatever. Well, Dan, take your white male privilege and shove it, is how I feel.

  58. says

    I like that Dan’s pledge goes beyond the usual pearl-clutching “oh dear a four-letter word” sort of civility that we usually hear about. The kind where it’s uncivil to use a swear or call someone an idiot, but it’s perfectly acceptable to be dishonest, disingenous, and passive-aggressive.

    That said, these calls for civility are and always have been red-herrings, designed to exclude certain voices and certain people from the realm of polite discourse/society, to dismiss people’s arguments because of their tone, and to divert attention and energy from actual issues by wasting time on meta-issues. They exist in service of privilege and fallacy, and should not be some dictate for the entirety of a movement.

    Let a thousand flowers bloom. There is more than enough room in this world and these movements for the exceedingly patient and polite people like Dan Fincke, and for people with hot tempers and righteous anger and sharpened tongues like PZ. Different voices reach different people; different tactics are required for different problems. This attempt to restrict discourse to arbitrary rules of decorum is (and has been, at least since the Framing Wars) a pointless distraction that helps no one but those who benefit from excluding certain voices and arguments from the conversation.

    Tl;dr: There’s no reason I should have to worry about which fork is my salad fork at McDonald’s.

    I’d be more interested in an anti-harassment pledge, though it would be equally useless. Because even at McDonald’s, I don’t want someone taking a giant steaming dump in my fries.

  59. says

    I think Fincke and thomaspenn are conflating the difference between “incivility” and “hostility”. Incivility can be a debating tactic; hostility means the debate is over or there was no debate in the first place.

    I agree with this. And of course the line between these incivility and hostility is blurry, or the width of a cigarette paper.

    Personally, I cannot sign the pledge.

    First, I do not wish to sheathe all my weapons before any donnybrook. I may have need of that shiv if things get tight.

    Second, I do not wish to create a space within which rules lawyers and other legal sharks can swim. I do not wish to be trumped by those who would exploit the grey areas and fine print to turn the pledge back upon me.

  60. says

    Instead of asking people who speak in public to be “civil,” why not ask the owners and custodians of public forums to take greater care to keep dishonesty, stupidity, harassment, threats and mindless hatred out of their respective forums?

  61. says

    I just went back and read Dan’s response to some of the commenters; and all I can say is: Damn, what a sanctimonious pacifistic finger-wagging twit. He wants us all to play nice, and thinks there’s only one “rational” way to debate the issues…but he’s sooooo reluctant to compromise his committment to “free speech” that he just can’t bring himself to keep the pond-scum out of his forum until it’s too late, and now he’s had to put comments in “moderation” to keep the fights from getting out of hand.

    What a joke.

  62. doubtthat says

    Here’s why I’m against the pledge (I tried to leave something more rambling and wordier at the pledge site):

    Lee Atwater–

    You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

    We already have a model for how this works, and it’s called “The Republican Party.” If the jackasses can’t say bitch-slut-whore-cunt, they start using dogwhistles.

    The goal is to have people stop using gendered insults because they realize the wrongness, not because a certain set of slurs are off limits. The KKK unable to say the N-Word on the internet would change very little about the KKK.

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