Actual Free Speech

Calling Out

A few days ago a good friend of mine Jaedia posted an extremely heartfelt commentary about how the sexual objectification has effected her.  It was a brave post, that touched on a lot of uncomfortable discussion points that most people would rather not think about.  The awesome thing about it is that it sparked a really good conversation over twitter.  In the middle of a series of comments about how Girl Grey had been effected by this same process, some random guy made a comment that completely derailed the conversation, and essentially proved the need for this discussion.  I did what I thought was right at the time and called the guy on it, that escalated into a bigger ordeal because he clearly was not understanding what we meant about the context of the comment being important.  This all happened on Monday, and after some time thinking about it I decided to post about it the experience Wednesday morning.

Later that same day a post rebuking mine showed up on the Gaming Couples blog.  This by itself is no big deal because people disagree with me on a regular basis.  Everyone has an opinion and they are of course entitled to it.  I thought long and hard about whether or not to post about this today, because I have tried to keep my blog a place of positivity, but I feel like I have to say something because it has gotten too far under my skin at this point.  I don’t care that someone called me out for my post, that is the side effect of posting “real” discussion on my blog.  I took painstaking care not to directly call out the person involved in the twitter discussion.  I went through the painstaking process of pasting the screenshots into Photoshop and then blurring out the names of those involved.  What has frustrated me is that the blog post in response to mine is labeled “Freedom of Speech” and the author has not allowed any comments that differ from her opinion through the moderation queue.  As such this morning I am taking my blog post to make sure the two responses that I have been sent see the light of day.

The Angry Response

One of the frustrating things about the “Freedom of Speech” blog post is that you could tell very quickly that the individual had not actually read the original post by Jaedia, and at least to some extent read what they wanted to read out of my own blog post.  As such when Jae emailed me her response, she did so because she did not think it would make it through the moderation queue.  Her response follows…

Hi, “someone he follows” here. Just feel a few corrections need to be put out there. 🙂
He didn’t call me pretty, we were having a discussion on how bullshit sexual objectification is with another Twitter friend and how she felt that before she lost weight she was insulted for being ugly, and after, she was at the other end of the scale and she really appreciated that she wasn’t alone in feeling like she was nothing more than her looks sometimes. Then the dude chimed in with “you pretty” and Bel and myself spoke up for our friend because it was ill-timed and uncomfortable.

No, it wasn’t the worst thing ever. But the fact that the guy kept on his case that he “just wanted to call his friend beautiful” was kind of uncalled for.. sure, it was sweet, but it was inappropriately timed and misguided.

Your opinion is a valid one, but in response to this particular event, you’d perhaps have been better reading my post and the resulting conversation before judging us because it pretty much reads, “I can’t be fucked to find out what they were talking about but I’m angry about it anyway.” We were trying to be civil. This guy decided we were insulting him because, and I quote, “he had a penis”, which wasn’t true in the slightest.

PS. Freedom of speech is totally cool, but it doesn’t mean that everything people say is RIGHT. And why does it always seem to come up when somebody speaks up for something they believe in? Kinda contradicts the freedom of speech argument.

first_comment Sure the response was angry and ranty…  but for someone who supposedly values free speech so highly I would have assumed it would be moderated through.  There have been several comments that I did not find valuable but still I gritted my teeth and pressed the “approve” button.  I felt that in order to be true to myself I had to accept all criticism.  However later that night I saw the above comment on twitter.  Maybe the individual has a real problem with cursing…  so I thought that I could let that slide.  I didn’t agree with the decision to moderate the comment, but it of course is not my blog.

The Heartfelt Comment

While I could understand potentially moderating curse words, I can not see moderating this next comment.  When Girl Grey got wind of the post she apparently made her way over to the blog and left her own commentary.  Since she knew that Jae’s comment did not make it through the moderation queue, she also emailed me hers just in case the same fate happened.  I told myself that I would give the blogger until this morning to have allowed that comment through the moderation queue before making my own commentary.  This is not particularly the way I would have liked to have ended my blogging week, but I feel like I needed to make this post.  Below is Grey’s comment…

I am actually the person that was being replied to in the twitter convo, not Jae. To context the whole situation: All involved are my friends, & all still are my friends.

During the whole conversation, I had posted about how, when I was 350+ pounds, I would get looks and stares coming into a room. My ultimate goal was just the be unnoticed. I felt shamed, I felt outcast, and I felt worthless. Fast forward 200 pound loss, and I was also explaining, I still feel that way. I walk down the mall and I hear cat calls. I get accused of showing too much chest area – when I’m still a large chested woman – and beyond turtlenecks, I’m going to show something. My boisterous and naturally flirty personality gets me called a tease. And in all this, I I found people who understood me.

And then the pretty comment happened. And yes, I do believe in the right to say what you want – but there is a time and place for everything. I get compliments every day. I take them with grace and appreciation, as I took this one no different. I actually had a nice DM with the person afterwards, and all was well.

However, that being said, I feel like this situation was akin to coming into an AA meeting and calling the lot a bunch of drunkards; it was inappropriate timing. If we all agree that mental health issues need to be addressed, but then turn around and say “Oh, but if someone says something hurtful, grow a thick skin because there is free speech,” I think we have an issue. I appreciated Bel & Jae stepping in, I don’t feel like Bel was in the wrong.

second_comment This morning when trying to decide if I was going to make this post or not, I noticed the above commentary on a second twitter account that the blogger uses.  I knew then that no matter what someone posted, it would not end up making it through the moderation queue.  It seems that the person is not actually interested in free speech like they claimed in their own post.  In fact this is a direct quote from that same blog post…

Free speech isn’t just speech that makes you comfortable.  Free speech means everyone is free to engage is speech regardless of the feelings of others.

The hypocrisy of that statement, given the turn of events actually makes me a little queasy to my stomach.  I’ve never claimed to be more than I am, nor have I heralded higher ideals than just trying to be a decent human being.  However if an individual is going to wrap themselves in the blanket of free speech, then by god they better mean it and live up to those ideals.  I’ve tried to make this post as positively as I can, and I have still tried to protect the identity of the twitter accounts that I am referencing.  I am just disgusted by this entire chain of events, and should have potentially let it go.  However I felt like the comments that never made it through moderation needed to be heard.  Thanks for your time and tomorrow we will return to regularly scheduled gaming discussion.

33 thoughts on “Actual Free Speech

  1. I don’t think you can do anything about the people who are already lost, like the blogger you are talking about here. Their minds are closed, as you said, and the only thing that will change them is for their inner circle to pressure them enough, or for them to undergo some bad experience personally that opens their eyes.

    All we can do is continue to make our case for decency, and hope to reach those who are on the fence or ignorant of the problem or are otherwise open to persuasion. The trick is to identify the lost ones as quickly as possible in discussions so you don’t waste time and mental energy talking to a brick wall.

  2. While I understand the reason behind this post, I wonder if (but mostly doubt) it will make anyone that doesn’t already agree with you change their minds. I applaud you for it, but having been drawn into some of these situations in the past, I find that more often than not you waste a lot of energy trying to explain to others why they’re wrong/inappropriate/dumb/whatever your goal is, and it never gets anywhere other than exhausting you.

    Does that mean I don’t think these discussions should happen? Of course not. But I’m always left to wonder if there is something else that can be done to help people better understand each other.

    I have no solutions! Only observations.

    • I wish I knew how to actually make a difference. The person in question has indicated today that they very much have a closed mind on the issue. So really it is not worth our times, because it will get us nowhere. MY goal was that I wanted the voices to be heard that were being moderated out. I devoted today’s blog post to that, but the rest of it… kinda escalated. I never meant to send some “gang” real or imagined after them. I just was frustrated that when my friends were trying to defend themselves… their voices were deafened. One of the inconvenient truths of being a blogger is that eventually someone is going to take offense to something you say. You can either silence them by not letting the post out of the moderation queue, of you can let it through and become part of the discussion, hoping that the dissenting voice will just fall into the background. I choose to let the bad through with some caveats. If your post quite literally is nothing but hate speech, then I am going to delete it. But none of the posts here are anything of the sort. In fact even though I termed Jae’s post as angry for the sake of the narrative… it was rather calm and reasoned.

      The problem is I am not sure how to take this discussion that we have started to a place that matters. Because right now all that is happening really is “preaching to the choir”. The folks who are commenting and re-tweeting it… already “get it”. I don’t know how someone takes that next step that, because I really don’t have the intestinal fortitude to be some sort of a crusader. I just want people to be awesome to one another in a regular basis, and to stop doing creepy things in the name of “boys will be boys”. If I could figure out that… the world would be a happier place.

  3. Oh boy, it’s so hard for me not to jump in on that blog post. Yes, the particularly galling thing is the chorus of ‘freedom of speech’ by someone who clearly doesn’t understand what it is or why it’s important. If the (incredibly polite!) rebuke that Belghast gave the guy in the original thread is beyond the pale, then what IS the appropriate tone? Just never say anything? Well, apparently, yes. Which rather misses the point of why free speech is important in the first place. Ugh.

  4. I want to say as a disclaimer that I am not in any way annoyed, nor judgy, upfront and that I love both you and Jae, and I think I might also be following some of the other people involved.

    Personally, I didn’t agree with the post you chose to make the other day with the screencaps of the Twitter conversation, though I do think it was great that you blurred out the name and photo of the person involved. This is just my opinion; I would personally rather always deal with these things one-on-one where possible and if the person isn’t hearing me out and I choose it’s time to block, do that and move on (though…moving on is often very difficult!)

    However, I do respect your decision (and indeed your right!) to do so, and I think that the whole chain of events that happened afterwards was pretty ridiculous. I’m not sure if I’ve got the right of it, but it feels like you guys are being kind of demonised for a conversation that honestly should’ve been quite innocuous. The comment was poorly timed and in poor taste in my opinion, and should’ve been dropped pretty early on, but the fact that it has all spawned such a massive mess is really unfortunate.

    I’m sorry you guys are experiencing this. And I totally agree, selective free speech is not okay. While I firmly believe that free speech means the freedom to speak without punishment but not without repercussions, this seems very messy. I can imagine Jae’s comment potentially seeming a little aggressive if you don’t know her or understand the context, but in that case I would assume that someone would simply ask for clarification (ie…Are you trying to say this? That’s what I am getting from your comment and wanted to clarify) rather than outright denying it. I also disagree that someone who swears due to how passionate they feel about something is being somehow uncivil. That just makes me pretty uncomfortable, even though I don’t swear all that much.

    Anyway, sorry for this novel of a comment! I guess the gist of it is I personally disagreed with the post you made, but respect your right to make it and am sad to see so much hate being generated from something that really is a big issue (ie sexual objectification), and that the main issue is now being overshadowed by apparently hurt feelings.

  5. To quote John Scalzi, “Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence.” If you act like an ass online, people are going to call you out on it and they have every right to do so. Trying to claim you ‘could care less about’ the subject you wrote a blog post about when people do so just makes you look like an utter hypocrite to boot.

  6. PS. I disagree that my comment was angry and ranty. A couple of swears slipped in because I felt passionately about the subject, but I understand many don’t appreciate that. That’s fine. But I restrained myself and politely added my two cents to the argument.. which apparently wasn’t so much an argument as a rant on how wrong we are. That is the trouble with the human mind and freedom of speech though.. what one person considers reasonable, another finds ranty. And that’s okay! But if you’re going to moderate it so strictly, you can’t claim to be a proponent of free speech. Some people have an oddly skewed view of how the world works..

    Love you to bits *squishy hugs*

    • You were extremely restrained because I saw the post that you wrote but did not post 🙂 I am guilty of terming it angry in comparisons to Grey’s to fit the narrative 🙁

  7. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, there is no Concept on the internet as Misunderstood and misused as freedom of speech. Well, Irony i guess, but no one truly understands what irony is.

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