Imagine you had a friend…

Imagine, for a moment, that you had a friend.

If you’re like me, you will find this a wildly improbable scenario to entertain, but I implore you to at least give it a try. This doesn’t have to be a close friend, or someone you’ve known for an incredibly long time. Perhaps imagine someone who, if you were having a bunch of people over, you would feel compelled to invite but wouldn’t feel super put-out if they couldn’t make it. Someone whose last name you wouldn’t know if it wasn’t listed on their Facebook profile. Someone who you’ve never hung out with except in the context of a group. Someone who, if you ran into them at a party, you wouldn’t go out of your way to introduce your new boyfriend to.

That level of ‘friend’. Someone you have generally good feelings about, but whose friendship is not exactly indispensable to your life.

Imagine you had a friend…

…who you caught making homophobic remarks on social media. Maybe ze didn’t “mean it”, but you didn’t appreciate the way ze called Republican obstruction in the House ‘gay’. Maybe you mention in a comment something like “hey, that’s not cool.” Surely you’d appreciate an apology, or at least a statement of regret saying “I shouldn’t have done that” or whatever. It’s not, like, a huge deal or anything. Even if ze didn’t say anything in response, you wouldn’t be super bent out of shape about it.

But instead of ignoring the comment, deleting the original post, apologizing, or something like that, ze fires back with a statement like “I didn’t mean ‘gay’ in a homosexual way, I just meant that it was stupid and lame.”

You might pause for a moment, rub your hands across your eyes briefly, and then respectfully respond by explaining that the word ‘gay’ only takes on a negative connotation because it was used against gay people. That one can’t get to ‘gay is bad’ without first passing through ‘being gay is bad’, and that’s why it’s not okay to use the word that way. That you would appreciate it if ze’d be more thoughtful about hir language.

You might even include a single sentence that the word “lame”, in that context, is problematic for many of the same reasons.

Thinking that you’d made your case pretty succinctly, you consider the matter closed. At this point, you don’t really want to get into a whole thing about it. It’s just internet shit, and besides you’ve got that episode of Mad Men to watch.

Oh, but here’s the notification popping up on your screen telling you that your friend has responded. Driven by a curiosity that you know you’ll regret as soon as your finger clicks the mouse button, you see that ze has written a long, barely-coherent, and painfully self-unaware rant that alternates between blaming you for being “too sensitive” to pulling in a convoluted justification for it being okay for hir to use ‘gay’ in that context because ze doesn’t have any hangups about gay people and maybe you are the real homophobe because you think that ‘gay’ means something bad.

At this point, you’re ready to just abandon the entire exercise, because it’s not really that important to you and you’ve got better things to do with your time than try to persuade someone out of a ridiculous and fundamentally irrational position. You were just trying to clue them in to the harm their words might have inadvertently done.

You close your laptop and flick on your DVR.

Imagine you had a friend…

An hour later, after Don Draper has spent yet another hour of your time convincing you that he is a complete sociopath, you re-open your laptop. You are suddenly flooded with notifications. It seems that Leslie, a friend of yours who is gay, has ‘overheard’ your exchange with your ‘friend’ and has picked up where you left off. The conversation has been going back and forth pretty furiously.

Leslie has, at first patiently and eventually quite bitterly, been attempting to explain how the bullying and ostracization of gay kids isn’t a minor issue, and that language can have serious consequences.

Your ‘friend’ seems to find this hilarious, because while ze would never personally bully a gay kid, ze finds it interesting that Leslie only cares about gay kids getting bullied. Isn’t it a problem when straight kids get picked on? Is Leslie an anti-straight bigot?

You’re now torn. You really don’t want to get back into this fight, but you agree with Leslie. Besides, Leslie might interpret your lack of a response as an indication that you don’t care about the issue, rather than simply not caring about whether or not your ‘friend’ changes hir mind. So, choosing what you think is the most diplomatic option, you write a short comment expressing that you think Leslie is exactly right, and send a private message to Leslie as a follow-up basically saying “I didn’t realize this person was such an asshole. Sorry for whatever part I played in this.”

You swear off social media for a while.

Imagine you had a friend…

The next day you get an irate e-mail from your ‘friend’, demanding to know why you’ve been slandering hir behind hir back. Baffled, you eventually piece together that Leslie, perhaps a bit indiscreetly, had let the content of your private message slip. Stripped of context, your ‘friend’ has decided that you had been conspiring about hir and trying to paint hir as a vicious homophobe when it is Leslie who is the real bigot.

You draft a painstakingly-worded reply, explaining that you were simply trying to shut down a conversation that was futile and would likely end up with serious hurt feelings. You explain that, while “asshole” might not have been the best choice of words, your ‘friend’ was, in fact, acting like an asshole, and that Leslie’s time would be better spent on other things.

Reading over it, you decide it’s not worth it to send, and leave it in your drafts folder.

You do not reply to the e-mail.

Imagine you had a friend…

Logging back into your social media account, your blood boils as you see that your ‘friend’ has interpreted your refusal to respond as two things: first, a capitulation of your side of the ‘argument’ you were trying to avoid having in the first place; and second, as a direct challenge for hir to post provocative and baiting comments as replies to everything you’ve posted in the past month or so.

On a picture of you with your older sister: “I’ll bet she’d be crushed to learn that there’s such a cowardly, back-stabbing, hypocritical bigot in her family”

On an article supporting nutrition programs for school-aged kids: “Stop pretending you care about kids. You only care about them if they’re gay!”

On a status update expressing excitement about being reunited with your chem lab partner from college: “Do you call her an asshole behind her back too?”

You block and ‘unfriend’ the spammer, figuring there’s no point in engaging hir. Ze’s revealed, through hir behaviour and hir language, that ze is not interested in ‘talking about it’, so much as ze just wants to keep hitting you with it until hir blood-lust is sated.

You then go through the arduous task of deleting all of the comments, hoping that not too many people saw the outbreak of obsessive harassment, and thinking of how you’re going to explain this to your former lab partner when she sees the fracas. You drop a quick status update apologizing for the drama, and saying that you’ve blocked your ‘friend’.

Imagine you had a friend…

In the coming days, a number of friends have asked you what’s going on with you and your ‘friend’. From what they hear, you’ve been publicly slandering hir in social media, spreading lies about hir, and have “silenced” hir, making her unable to defend hirself against your allegations.

Baffled, you explain to one friend after another exactly what it is that actually happened – that after a largely inconsequential disagreement, your ‘friend’ went on a harassment campaign, twisted your actions way out of proportion, and has not slowed hir pace in the slightest as ze tries to continue twisting the knife in order to achieve… you’re not sure what. Rather than engage with someone who is clearly incapable of conversation, you decided it was best not to ‘feed the troll’ and hit the ‘block’ button.

Your close friends accept your explanation; however, a fairly substantial contingent, knowing pretty much none of the relevant facts, have decided that you’re probably both equally at fault and suggest that you should apologize for lying about hir and calling hir a homophobe. When you try to explain that you did no such thing, you’re met with suspicion and accusations of self-serving bias.

Frustrated, you decide that ignoring the problem simply won’t make it go away. You log on to your social media account and post a blow-by-blow, detailed accounting of what happened. You even publish the e-mail that your ‘friend’ sent to you, and the reply you had saved as a draft but didn’t send. You explain that you just want to be left alone. That your ‘friend’ has been obsessive and creepy and that you’re not interested in getting fixated on one single conversation that happened weeks ago.

Imagine you had a friend…

Rather than making things better, your response to your ‘friend’ and hir baiting has caused hir to redouble hir efforts. Accusing you of “doxxing” by publishing hir e-mail (which anyone could have gotten by simply clicking on hir social media comments), ze has galvanized a substantial group of your acquaintances (and more than a few total strangers) against you. They have all begun flooding your social media with belligerent comments, making it impossible for you to use your account. Since new harassers pop up faster than you can block them all, you temporarily disable your account.

Of course, your ‘friend’ views this as more evidence of your cowardice and refusal to simply engage in a “dialogue” with hir.

Your close friends, finding themselves in the awkward position of having to defend you against accusation from mutual friends, have begun hinting that maybe it would just be easier for you to apologize. “For what? For getting harassed?” you say. They shrug, as unsure as you are about how to proceed.

Imagine you had a friend...

Your best friend’s birthday is approaching, and you want to throw a party. Whereas before you would have simply put the call out over social media and invited whoever you wanted, you really don’t want your ‘friend’ to show up. In addition to the fact that you’re, quite frankly, sick of their bullshit, you have no way of knowing if their online obnoxiousness is going to spill over into real-life belligerence, ruining your fun.

You send a few texts to your buddies, telling them when and where to meet. You ask them to please not mention it to your ‘friend’ or anyone likely to tip hir off. You just don’t need the aggravation.

Imagine you had a friend…

Not even a day goes past before you are caught in the eye of a storm of howling outrage. Not realizing where the ‘allegiances’ lay, one of your buddies passed the information on to the wrong person, who told your ‘friend’ about your party and your instructions not to invite hir. Incensed that you would “blacklist” hir, and similarly scandalized that you would exclude others for ‘guilt by association’, ze vows to show up at the birthday party, invitation or no.

Ze also makes some comments that, interpreted in a not-too-suspicious way, are a thinly-veiled threat. “X better not leave their drink unattended”, ze says “after all, who knows what might happen?”

You’re torn. You don’t know who you can trust, because the details of any party you throw will be disseminated among mutual friends, and those will surely get to your ‘friend’. You don’t think ze’s likely to actually hurt you, but then again you didn’t think ze was likely to wage a long campaign of obsessive harassment against you either. Who knows what ze might do?

Heartbroken, you decide not to attend your best friend’s party. He says he understands, but you get the impression he doesn’t really.

Imagine you had a friend…

Friends who were at the party tell you that your ‘friend’ did, in fact, show up. They tell you ze was looking for you, hoping to “talk it over”. Confronted with the suggestion that ze was going to drug your drink, your ‘friend’ scoffed at the very idea. Ze accused you of “overreacting” to what was very obviously “just a joke”.

Your friends have now begun to discuss the idea of “peace talks”, where both of you can sit down and hash out your differences. The thought makes your head swim. You haven’t declared war or any kind of hostility; you just wanted to be left alone. At no point did you do anything wrong, you were just trying to get away from a shitty situation caused by a shitty person’s obsessive dicketry.

Close friends agree that the “peace talks” are a stupid idea. What needs to happen is that your ‘friend’ needs to just leave you the fuck alone. Stop posting about you, stop telling false stories about you, stop sending people to bombard your social media, stop threatening you as “a joke”. The problem will, at that point, be 100% solved.

Others are not convinced. They think that you need to apologize for the backstabbing, the accusations of homophobia, the doxxing, the blacklisting, and (most of all) for being a “divisive” influence in a group that used to be quite cohesive. They think that your refusal to hear and respond to “dissent” is seriously problematic. Your ‘friend’ is ready to forgive you for your various ‘wrongdoings’ they say, provided you’re willing to be a big enough person to apologize.

You frantically try to point out that you’re being asked to apologize for a number of things that you didn’t do. You’re absolutely not going to apologize to someone who harassed and threatened you and turned your acquaintances against you with accusations based on nothing more than paranoid rage and pure, unadulterated bullshit. Your ‘friend’ should be the one to apologize. But you don’t care whether or not ze does at this point – you just want to be left alone.

People who are peripheral to the situation say that you’re being unreasonable. That your ‘friend’ was just reacting to the lies you spread about hir, and that while ze might have got a bit carried away at times, ze seems to be willing to bury the hatchet now. All ze wants is for you to apologize, and the whole thing will be over.

Your head spins. Even ff you did manage to choke your way through a fake apology, you have no guarantee that your ‘friend’ will actually let up. Ze’s revealed hirself to be unreasonable and irrational and vengeful at every step of the way. Ze’s taken a tiny disagreement over (what was it? oh yeah, hir use of the word ‘gay’) and inflated it into a ‘war’ after which there apparently needed to be ‘peace talks’.

Beyond that though, the goon squad of fellow harassers that your ‘friend’ recruited to spam your social media have made no such promises. Indeed, in many cases, they’ve said that they have no intention of stopping – you (falsely) admitting that their paranoid fantasies about you ‘deserving it’ are justified certainly won’t improve your situation.

And to top it all off, you were right to call your ‘friend’ out for hir choice of a homophobic term. Ze shouldn’t have done that. That’s the insane part of this whole thing. The ‘fight’ isn’t even about who was in the wrong here. Most of your friends would readily agree that it’s generally not okay to use ‘gay’ that way. But instead of focussing on what started the fight, they think they’re helping to end it by putting the blame on you.

Imagine you had a friend like that. Imagine that was a real relationship you had with someone in your life. Then ask yourself – how would you react?

If it were me in that situation, I’d think long and hard about whether or not that person was a friend to begin with. I’d wonder about the people who defended that person – about their motivations and their commitment to fairness. I’d puzzle over how anyone could be so stone idiotic as to suggest that the victim of a campaign of harassment should be made to “sit down” with their harasser and pretend as though the two sides were simply “disagreeing” on something. I would be deeply suspicious of anyone who couldn’t distinguish honest dissent from belligerent heckling, and who would cotton on to a rumour about me without doing the bare minimum to educate themselves on the relevant facts.

But maybe you think the ‘friend’ was right all along. Maybe the crime of obsessive harassment pales in comparison to the ‘crime’ of trying to ignore someone and move on with your life. Maybe every time someone throws an extended tantrum, you believe that the target of that tantrum has an obligation to sit there and take it, or to apologize for the tantrum-thrower’s delusional transmogrification of events. Maybe you think this is the price someone pays for existing on the internet and having the temerity to tell someone they shouldn’t (not that they aren’t allowed to, merely that they shouldn’t) say or do something.

If that’s the case, imagine that we’re not friends.

Like this article? Follow me on Twitter!


  1. CaitieCat says

    Bravo. I take it as read that I’ll have less friends because of my uncompromising stance on social justice. I’m okay with that. This one time, my mother actually was right – I’m better off without that kind of ‘friend’.

    Beautifully laid out, and a scenario experienced by WAY too many of us. I can think of two; one flipped when I said, “Hey, y’know, calling Hilary Clinton a bitch all the time? It’s kind of a misogynous thing, don’t ya think?” The answer was no.

    And the second when I called someone on something related to polyamoury, and by the time it was done I was Dictator-in-a-Drum again.

    With friends like that, I’d rather have enemies.

  2. Pen says

    I would call that ‘acquaintance’ not ‘friend’. At the start of the plot, I mean, by the end it’s called ‘enemy’. Maybe things could possibly have gone better if more attention were paid to whether the ‘friend’ could save face in the situation right from the first interaction. Humour can be good for that. Or starting a general discussion, in person, at some other time and place, using examples involving third parties. I really sympathise with the idea that anyone who behaves as described has proved themselves not all we hope people to be, and some people just can’t be bothered to pander to their ‘friends” delicate senses of honour. I also suppose this person never was a ‘friend’ in the sense I would use the word or the stakes of protecting the relationship would be higher for them than they apparently are.

  3. Ganner says

    I feel lucky knowing I have a lot of friends who would back me up on this. Even if they wouldn’t speak out themselves, they’d take my side on this sort of issue. And I have enough of them that my response, very early on in this, would be to tell the initial friend and anyone else siding him hir telling me to apologize that if they find criticizing bigoted speech to be worse than speaking bigotry, that they can kneel down, pucker up, and kiss my ass. And I wouldn’t miss the “friends” I lost.

  4. Grardnr says

    People give entirely too much respect to politeness and social convention. I would have deleted said friend after the first incoherent reply. Something along the lines of “well you’re an oblivious douchebag, let me know when you get some perspective.” Hell, I’ve told people that if they deny the existence of systematic patriarchial oppression of both women and men, they should just unfriend me now because I don’t really want to know them.

    I realise people find this rude, or abrupt or whatever, but honest question; do you even care? Do you even want that person in your life? I’d rather have zero friends and be completely alone than to have people in my life who are that dense and intolerant. Then again, I love it when the number next to the word “friends” goes down on Facebook. Hooray, we lost a moron.

  5. Subtract Hominem says

    This story seems familiar somehow. Where oh where could I possibly have encountered something like this before?

    It’s a mystery.

  6. smhll says

    tw: grisly metaphor

    Your ‘friend’ seems to find this hilarious, because while ze would never personally bully a gay kid, ze finds it interesting that Leslie only cares about gay kids getting bullied. Isn’t it a problem when straight kids get picked on? Is Leslie an anti-straight bigot?

    When I got to this part of your excellent story, my blood pressure spiked and I briefly considered stabbing out both of my eyes with a fork. Logic like this is so painful that I’d like to never see it again. (Sigh)

  7. Robert B. says

    @ Grardnr:

    I would have deleted said friend after the first incoherent reply.

    I notice that when that tactic was eventually tried in the story, (and in the real-world events which the story allegorically parallels) it didn’t work. I have no ethical objection to being rude to assholes, but apparently this is a problem that cannot be solved by rudeness.

    Unless, I suppose, we just haven’t used enough rudeness… but I suspect the good guys are always going to be losing that arms race.

  8. says

    This is the story of what happened when someone blew me off, I told them it was rude, and they responded by telling me that they’re just glad I’m getting the mental help I so clearly need. Which, of course, is ableism.

    Only in my case, this person had worked her way to such a prominent place in my life that most of my days revolved around things involving her. And she was mutual friends with nearly everyone I spent the majority of my time with. And she ran the business where most of my social life took place.

    A year later, she was at it again, spamming her own social media with ableist bullshit to libel me, when I started writing about a sexist pig who treated me like a piece of meat — because there were criminal investigations going on, and everyone who knew it was actively encouraging anyone who had something to say to refuse to cooperate, even though rcmp were investigating the possibility of a fucking murder.

    People like this are narcissists. They can’t handle being told no or having a boundary put up between their ego and whatever the actual fuck they want. And they won’t ever stop. They have such a following of equally obsessed assholes precisely because they are narcissists. They’ll never be alone, but you can take solace in the fact that given enough time, the only people keeping them company are all fucking miserable.

  9. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    You know, if it were me experiencing the level of harassment that many of my skeptical sisters have, I would peace out on the whole thing. I’d leave the community, find a new place to do my activism, and never look back (except with distaste). The fact that these women (and men!) haven’t is a testament to their courage and tenacity.

  10. double-m says

    Something I’ve always wondered about: is this kind of behavior strictly a matter of personality, or is this somehow a consequence of how the human brain works in a group context? What I mean is, if you, say, assembled a large enough group of Neil deGrasse Tyson clones, would one of them still start acting irrationally and become the bully, while another one would be the target? Or in other words, does a group of a certain size have processes from which defined roles emerge, and the members will automatically distribute themselves to fill the available roles? The reason I’m wondering is that what you mention seems eerily familiar – people who don’t appear to be prone to anti-social behavior sometimes exhibit it spontaneously and for seemingly trivial reasons.

  11. Subtract Hominem says

    Cyrano @11

    You know, if it were me experiencing the level of harassment that many of my skeptical sisters have, I would peace out on the whole thing. I’d leave the community, find a new place to do my activism, and never look back (except with distaste). The fact that these women (and men!) haven’t is a testament to their courage and tenacity.

    Except that those who have done just that, like Jen McCreight or Natalie Reed, still get some of the same ol’ harassment from time to time. Ain’t life wonderful?

  12. says

    Not only does this remind me of the Deep Rifts (TM), it also reminds me of a problem I’ve been having in meatspace with a raving narcissist. Unfortunately, narcissists are extremely good at manipulating and deceiving people, in meatspace or cyberspace.

  13. says

    There’s a solution to this problem. It’s to stop engaging, stop doing anything the “friend” can see or be told about, change your life completely in order to end all this, and, at the same time, to engage: talk to the “friend,” answer hir questions, let the friend interview you for hir radio show. Simple, easy, quick.

  14. Kilian Hekhuis says

    Stopped reading after the first “hir” or was it “ze”? Why can’t you just use “their” and “they” like everyone else?

  15. says

    I had a friend for a decade, or so – we met over a technical field (photography) and often shared techniques and critiques. But when Obama was running for office, I started getting racist e-mails forwarded from him. I asked him to stop, explaining that I didn’t hold with racial theories because they’re incorrect – at which point he began bombarding me with arguments that he apparently thought supported his racism. I spent hours and hours carefully refuting them, and finally began to get quite direct with him, i.e.: “I see that I am not getting through to you; you keep sending me this stuff. Is it impossible to change your opinion?” That triggered more retrenchment and finally silence. Then – after a month of silence – I started getting what I would classify as bizzare nationalistic conspiracy theories – about how the evil North Koreans or Chinese might collapse the US into dark ages with an EMP bomb. Again, I argued the points. Finally, late one night, he sent me some more racist stuff and I replied, “I don’t think I want to bother with this anymore. You’re obviously not going to learn and I’m tired of trying.” After that I never heard from him again, but our little circle of mutual acquaintances peeled apart – half of them getting more conspiracy/right wing/racist oriented. There wasn’t much blow-back because I think that by the time I had argued with him so much he probably had decided I wasn’t good to tangle with.

    I’m 50 years old, now, and one of the things I’ve learned is that people come and go from your life. Sometimes they move and you stay in touch, sometimes they die of cancer or alcohol, and other times they turn into fuckwits that aren’t worth wasting any more time on. There’s no requirement that we keep in touch or remain friends other than whatever tenuous connection comes from both being human.

  16. says

    Literally nobody cares.

    Good thing you now what everybody cares about! If you think I’m a whine, tell me so, but don’t throw “nobody”s around like you’re omniscient. Using made-up pronouns is silly, especially since the English language provides you with perfectly good alternatives.

  17. Dunc says

    Good thing you now what everybody cares about!

    OK, let’s find out, shall we?

    Does anybody care about Kilian Hekhuis’ whining about the use of “made up pronouns” which have been part of the house style here since day one? Anybody?

  18. says

    Does anybody care about Kilian Hekhuis’ whining about the use of “made up pronouns” which have been part of the house style here since day one? Anybody?

    Now you’re slightly strawmanning. Of course nobody cares about my whining. The question should be “Does anyone care about Crom’s use of made-up pronouns?”.

  19. double-m says

    Stopped reading

    Then why do you comment on something you haven’t even read?

    [Don’t expect a response. I’ve moved Kilian into moderation until ze can find a way to keep hir comments on topic. This stupid pronoun derail has happened before, so I am nipping it in the bud. – C]

  20. John Horstman says

    Beautiful analogy; perhaps some of the ‘peripheral’ people who are unaware of the substance of the issues will be able to understand better when the situation is presented in a context to which they can personally relate. I’ve actually largely managed to avoid this sort of thing in my personal life, not for lack of calling people out, but for lack of them going apeshit and starting ongoing harassment campaigns to punish me for daring to suggest that they alter their behaviors in any way.

    @Kilian Hekhuis: ALL words are ‘made up’. The fact that you’re objecting to neologisms crafted for a particular social justice purpose (because some people find the use of language that categorically separates them from everyone else – in this case by repurposing a plural pronoun, as opposed to definitively-binary-gendered persons who get a specific singular pronoun with no other uses – to be marginalizing) instead of formed through unintentional linguistic evolution, especially when you demonstrate that you know precisely what they mean and they therefore pose no barrier to your understanding, is troubling. Sure, we could all use “they” and ignore the Othering effect this has on the gender-binary-non-conforming, or we could make a effort so small it’s barely an effort (especially after some practice) to end a form of marginalization that may seem unimportant to you but is sometimes very important to various people it marginalizes. Which one of those options sounds to you like what we ought to be doing?

  21. smhll says

    Now you’re slightly strawmanning. Of course nobody cares about my whining. The question should be “Does anyone care about Crom’s use of made-up pronouns?”.

    You aren’t the grammar arbiter of me, him, us. (Feel free to edit yourself or themselves as much as you want, though.) ::::: friendly wave :::::

  22. mythbri says

    Great post, Crom. It seems like such a typical pattern – not only describing what’s going on within communities but also on a more personal level more times than I’d like it to.

  23. invivoMark says

    “Hir” and “ze” bug me for entirely irrational reasons, and I don’t think I could ever bring myself to use them. But I’d never do something so stupid and asinine as to comment about them in the comments section of an unrelated article. (Wait… whoops!) 😀

    On actual topic: I got frustrated reading this by the protagonist’s passivity. I think I’m a lot more hot-blooded in verbal disputes like these, and I’d give the ‘friend’ what for in what would likely be one of the most one-sided verbal thrashings in the history of social media. If I lost any friends that way, so be it – there are better people out there whom I would rather have as friends anyway, and the good ones would stay.

    But I also have a couple advantages. For one, I’ve got the right group of friends. At least a handful of them would join in the fray, and our combined verbal deluge would make it clear to this ‘friend’ that he’s about to make a lot of enemies if he continues with his ways. (See? I can’t do “ze”. It’s a personal shortcoming.)

    Anyway, I totally understand that this sort of thing happens, and it’s unfortunate. You’ve captured it well, Cromm.

  24. crtrburke says

    The first thing that comes to mind when reading this is how much damage is done by passive-aggressive compromises — e.g., calling your friend out, but not being willing to follow-up publicly; supporting your other friend, but only privately; ignoring your friend, then publicly defending yourself; calculating who to invite to parties and what to keep secret, while basically wanting to deescalate and stay uninvolved.

    If it were me, I’d probably ignore it from the beginning and take moral responsibility for doing that, which will vary depending on your values and isn’t always easy. Some people feel a moral obligation to be a spokesperson for their own values at every single opportunity, and view every lost chance as a failing. Other people don’t. But I personally suspect that a lot of people think they should be in the first category and feel bad when they act like they’re in the second. They try to make up for it by being peacemakers, or being half-critical of people who honestly deserve to be flamed, or by being half-supportive of friends who could really use a staunch public ally. But I think it’s easier to either stand up, and stand up all the way, or don’t, and to take responsibility (i.e., “I was not a good ally/friend today”) for not and leaving it at that.

  25. Valde says

    I have had various gay friends over the years, and they use the term ‘gay’ when mocking people.

    Is it acceptable for gay or bi people to use the term mockingly? Or are they also being homophobic?

  26. great1american1satan says

    Valde- It’s homophobic of them. They aren’t necessarily homophobes, but they are engaging in a homophobic behavior. It’s typically used to deride “femme” behavior, which is the worst use of it. Slightly less bad is when they are calling attention to the way someone lives up to the stereotype of gayness (“it’s so gay he’s into musicals”). That’s still shit though, because it’s kinda like saying a black guy is being n(etc.) for eating fried chicken. People should be able to do what they want without getting shit on about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *