This is not meant to be a political post, but I will use some analogies from the world of US politics to illustrate my point. Disclaimer: I am a liberal democrat.
Mr. Trump made a mistake yesterday. To be completely fair, I don’t think that Mr. Trump meant to incite violence with his second amendment comment. What he was doing was speaking plainly, in a reality TV show manner that is popular and off the cuff. But as Hillary pointed out - “Words Matter”. How you express yourself and what you say matters because it can be misinterpreted and you can either offend others or worse. That is why not everyone is meant to be a diplomat, or a statesman/woman or a president.
Which brings me to my point about what has been happening in the OL fandom. Mr. Shatner, in fact reminds me very much of Mr. Trump. He is someone who just speaks bluntly, doesn’t care who he offends, twists things to match his side of the story (well, so does Hillary), gets into personal attacks and is rude and off-putting.
Mr. Shatner’s words matter, very much. He refers to women in a derogatory fashion, inciting his followers to do the same. He attacks, or the way he puts it “reprimands”, members of the OL fandom by screen capping and attacking their opinions. And he refers to a whole segment of the fandom as “cray crays”. Apparently, I am a cray cray. Who knew…thank you.
I will admit that the provocation on both sides has reached extremes and some members of the fandom have not responded with decorum, but considering the imbalance in power and visibility between Mr. Shatner and members of the shipper subgroup, I think the burden of setting a good example rests with Mr. Shatner.
Mr. Shatner has not set a good example. Quite the contrary. He, Mr. Camuso and indeed Ms. Giacomazzo have even allowed members of the non-shipper OL fandom, such as Outlander Kat, to use gun imagery with the accompanying caption of “having Mr. Camuso’s back”. Did they mean that they would shoot someone? Of course not. But it is shockingly uncalled for, with everything that has been going on in the news…shocking!! This is no different than Mr. Trump saying he will punch someone or suggesting Russia should hack emails or indeed making an ill-advised statement about the backers of the second amendment. You know it is bad when the Secret Service decides to tweet about it.
Yes, words matter. Maybe Stephen Walters didn’t really mean to say “sod off” in any other way than to just be dismissive, but nobody likes to be told to fuck off. While this person’s tweet to Stephen W. was snarky, it was not actually rude. I could see about 50 better ways of expressing your annoyance with this person’s tweet, including the advice of “just ignore”.
Words matter. Members of the shipper fandom, many of which are highly educated professionals, do not appreciate being dismissed as just seeing things or mixing reality and fiction. If we have misunderstood, it is because there have been actions and words that have made us reach certain conclusions, because Words Matter. Saying people can’t tell reality from fiction is implying they are stupid (Yep…). I can think of a number of better ways to let us know we were mistaken, if indeed we were.
That being said, I am not entirely biased and I will admit that we, the shipper group, have not always had the most charitable of thoughts or ways to express ourselves and our opinion, but it has been pointed out to us and I feel huge strides have been made to be more careful with our language.
I wish the parties mentioned above would take this advice to heart as well.
“We are available to party,” Howard says walking up to Bernadette and she grimaces at him. Leonard walks up too and looks at Penny hopefully.
“I wouldn’t mind going to another party,” Leonard says shyly.
“What are you dressed as?” Penny asks laughing taking in Leonard’s bleached hair and black dress. “Eminem?”
“If we were M&M’s we would be red, yellow, and green,” Howard tells her looking between the three of them. Confused how their outfits are not obvious to her.
“Excuse me the green M&M is a chick. If I am the third M&M I would be the brown one!” Raj pipes up.
“Not the candy M&M’s! Eminem, the rapper?” Penny says exhausted looking at them like they are crazy. “You know Slim Shady?”
“No clue, sorry.. I am Draco Malfoy, from Harry Potter?” Leonard tells her pulling out his wand.
“Harry what?” She asks in confusion.
“Potter, the boy who lived? There are books about him?” He asks and she shakes her head.
“I don’t think that I have read a book willingly since the eighth grade. When I finished the last Babysitters Club,” She admits to him.
“I love those books! I am such a Claudia,” Raj tells her and Bernadette chimes in.
“I was always a Kristie. I even organized my own club in my home town,” She tells him and Penny laughs.
“I was the Stacy of my group. Let me guess Amy you were the Mallory?” Penny asks and Amy shakes her head.
“My mother never let me read those books. She said that they would rot my brain and the girls were not wholesome,” Amy says sadly.
“Has anyone ever told you that your mom is crazy?” Penny asks her joking not knowing anything about the abuse Amy has suffered.
“I have to go to the restroom,” Amy says suddenly running away and Sheldon looks at Penny sternly.
“Plenty of people have told her that very thing. Now we are going to drop this subject!” He says protectively. Penny takes the hint and changes the subject away from Amy’s mother. Even if now she is more curious than ever.