Any of the FTB veterans have seen it: Someone poses as a newbie, feigns ignorance and sincerity, and asks leading questions to derail a conversation about discrimination. The tactic is so common it has its own snappy moniker–JAQing off, or “Just Asking Questions.” They’re quite aggravating, almost always bad faith commentators with enough brain cells to rub together that they know how to deliberately mislead and waste everyone’s time. They’re not asking a question because they don’t know the answer, they’re asking because they already have their answer and want to pull your chain.
Perhaps one of the more annoying side effects of JAQing off tactics is that people who are genuinely good faith participants ask questions out of ignorance, and are falsely flagged as trolls by wearied activists.
Most of the pages I follow for activist or activist-adjacent news follow an intersectional model, so one of my pages on Latinx feminist issues posted about the violence inherent in casting cis men actors as trans women characters. A commentator asked a question, opened by saying they were ignorant and didn’t understand, and that they weren’t sure how it constituted violence.
I simply explained the “deceptive trans” trope and how it was reinforced by casting cis men as trans women and she… apologized for receiving my answer.
No really. Her response was to the effect of “Oh, that makes sense. Sorry.”
Sorry? For what? You asked. You didn’t do what JAQ trolls do, which is use good faith assumptions to jerk people around. You asked and were given an answer and you said “That makes sense.” That’s the literal function of asking a question. So why was the apology necessary?
The answer is to distance herself from JAQ trolls. It was a bit disappointing. In this particular space, I am taking on the role of educator, and don’t mind people asking questions having acknowledged they don’t know the answer. It would be a different kettle of fish if you bumped into me at a cocktail party and started bombarding me with questions on gender variance–in which case I’d just give you a snippy retort to the effect of “go read my blag.” But here, as long as the question isn’t a rhetorical opening for you to soapbox your already settled-upon opinion, you are welcome to ask questions.