The FEAR of allegations of sexism, racism, etc. as group control

I have a great little book here, on the subject of "Come Hell or High Water, a handbook on collective process gone awry". It covers a multitude of situations where multiple people come together with a common interest, and their dream of working together smoothly breaks down somewhere along the way.

Essentially, the reasons are because we are all individuals. While we want to belong to a group, our drives are, at core, our individual drives, and there will always be differences between us. Just as in a marriage, or a sports team, or village citizen, etc. The same concept can clearly be applied to online website membership. And site moderation too. There are huge numbers of incompatible variables, competing for success, within every decision making process. Facebook, for instance, makes some things easy by simply saying "no nudity". They don't mind you posting decapitation of women videos, but breastfeeding is not permitted. Stupid, but simple, and even a corporate lawyer can understand it.

The problem comes when we choose to implement a rule set which has blurred boundaries. Take <a href="">the Naktiv site</a>, for instance, where the <a href="">Mission Statement</a> clearly states this is NOT a naturist site, although there are many naturist members with a great deal of overlap. Now someone posts an image which is CLEARLY not a naturist-compliant one, and people enter into debate as to whether it is appropriate, <b>on the Naktiv site</b>, or not. Whether the the image was naturist or not, whether the poster was gay or not, what the intentions were for posting the image, all of these things are very interesting, but are really irrelevant to the point in question.

During the debate someone makes a remark which could be interpreted as, for instance, homophobic. Now, should we discuss the photo, and attempt to reach a conclusion as to whether the photo is appropriate for the site, or should we now discuss the remark, and attempt to determine whether the remark itself was homophobic, or not? Or both? Or neither? In the event, what actually happened was that several people became very irate, about both the photo and the remark, prompting one moderator to leave the site declaring it to be a "shadowed place". The next thing to happen was for people to then declare that they do not want to point up photos as being inappropriate, or not, for <b>FEAR</b> of starting <i>another "hubbub"</i>. WTF!?

You want to call me sexist? Fine, let's talk about it. Racist? Still fine, let's talk about it. Homophobic? Bring it on. Etc. ad infinitum. If you're looking for homophobia, instead of waving the gay-card against an open-minded site which defends the right to be different, I suggest you take a quick look at the 2 world's greatest (?) religions: <a href="">Islam</a> and <a href="">Christianity</a>, and go from there. Interestingly, the 2 moderators who left recently were both self-declared and strongly "spiritual" and "religious" people, it's very tempting to wonder if there's a connection.

I don't think it's acceptable to call me homophobic and to take me out back and shoot me, or exorcise me, or stone me, or try to "name and shame" me. I do think it's entirely acceptable to challenge my statement/s and to discuss with me whether my remark is/was appropriate, or not. Perhaps I'd modify my future behaviour with a little explanation, who knows? Back to the book, I was talking about at the start of this ramble. There is a passage which, I think, neatly describes this situation, and I'd like to quote it here:

<b><pre>An allegation of sexism or racism can also sometimes be used as a ploy to silence dialogue and force group censure or ostracism against an individual. If, instead, an offender is confronted with complaints about specific behaviours, the possibility exists that he will understand his mistakes and work to rectify them.</pre></b>

"Come Hell or High Water" by Delfina Vannuci & Richard Singer ISBN 978-184935018-1

You will notice that fear has become a weapon of group control. This is not fear of being put up against a wall and shot, this is fear of someone else thinking that you might be... What, a label? I think it's essential that we leave avenues open for people to express themselves, even if they are wrong. This is what <b>free speech</b> is all about. If we find people being sexist, racist, homophobic, or whatever you like, these charges can be leveled and we can deal with them appropriately, perhaps debating, perhaps changing behaviour. The point is that these events open opportunity for us to educate one another, but only if they are used as such.

Leaving Facebook, for instance, because you saw somebody make a single sexist comment, would be silly, I think. Leaving Facebook, because they continue, repeatedly and without any sign of change, to censor simple nudity and continue to permit sex and violence to be posted, seems to me to be making a choice about the unchanging nature of the corporate giant. Do you want to mold Facebook to your own vision; do you want to insist that only comments, of which you approve, appear on Facebook? Good luck with that.

Set this against the more personal approach, flawed at times perhaps, of the small but growing site, which is <a href="">the Naktiv site</a>, and which aims to share our information without excessive and puritan censorship and yet remain a safe place for the <i>exchange</i> of ideas, and naked content. We might not have the perfect process, (who does), but we do aim to correct it as best we can, via continual shunts of the moderation process, and by largely open <i>discussion</i>.

the Naktiv site is small, and the nature of it's content, and it's largely sensible moderation, is highly influenced by it's largely sensible membership.

Comments, as ALWAYS, are welcome.


2 thoughts on “The FEAR of allegations of sexism, racism, etc. as group control”

  1. Richard, your blog looks very sensible to me. In the run up to the publication of proposals on control of the media in the UK, much the same arguments are exercised, freedom of speech against entrenched positions, accusations and counter accusations, ad hominem statements not arguments in support of a contrary position, etc.

    It seems to be the way of the world to attack the person not the argument, some use it as a matter of policy. Anyone who dares to criticise Israeli politics is "officially" branded an anti-Semite. Mind you, Galileo Galilei dared to question the status quo and was eventually exonerated.

    One must have the courage of one’s convictions. As Max Ehrmann wrote "Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story."


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