Y’all seem to think that ‘Respect’ing other human beings means simply being nice to them, accepting their views, and excusing their actions. But…?
Respecting a person as a PERSON means that you’re acknowledging that they exist. That’s it. Speaking about them, as if they are real. That’s what it means to respect a person as a person. You can disagree and downright condemn a person’s beliefs while still acknowledging that they are a person. Because we, as people, are perfectly capable of doing terrible things and still being people. We’re capable of bad, just like we’re capable of good. The point of respecting a person as a PERSON is not accepting their views. It is not sympathizing with them. It is not giving them the benefit of the doubt. And it is not allowing them to continue to hurt you or your people without consequence. It is not excusing them. It is not surrender.
Respecting a person is realizing that they are still a person saying these terrible things. Not excusing, forgiving, approving, or supporting these terrible things and ideas, but knowing that it was a human itself behind these actions. A person is not suddenly subhuman just because they have terrible ideologies. They’re still a person. Because people do and can have terrible, unforgivable beliefs. And do do unthinkable things. But respecting them as a person is not forgetting that they’re a human. You’re not fighting a monster (Though, a monster in this context would of course be the harmful ideals spread, and the stigma that it both caused and was generated from. Etc.) But you’re fighting another human being.
Now, this by no means should ever weaken your resolve to fight and rise against ideas, campaigns, people that seek to degrade you and oppress you and make “jokes” (can you tell that I literally do not support Felix worth a damn.) at the expense of your suffering. If anything, I feel as if viewing them as a person (read: not forgiving or excusing them. But acknowledging that they are a person.) can only strengthen your fight. The second you fight as if you’re fighting a human being, is the moment that people around you begin to understand why you’re fighting and gain the will to fight themselves. Because they’re humans too.
People on this site are so quick to completely forget the humanity of the other people on this site over something as remedial as shipping Peridot with Lapis over Amethyst. Do not weaken your own arguments, your own voices, and your own points by dropping your voice as if it were to regard and speak to subhumans.
Do not let the forces you fight drop your battle from your own hands. You hold it firmly, back straight, and presented at the human being that pushed you, and didn’t expect you to push back. Make them realize that they are not subhuman. Let them know that you, as a human being, are speaking to them, as a human being, on a battle field that they do not want to to be leveled and fair. Let them know that they are not subhuman, even if their beliefs are garbage. Let them know, they’re not lesser as people.
But as a human being, their actions are unacceptable. And inhuman. Allow them the privilege to feel ashamed. Do not give them the idea that, as a ‘subhuman’, these actions are expected and allowed of them. Let them know that it’s wrong. Let them know.
And that you, as a human being, will not stand for it.
Don’t excuse them. But see them for what they are.
Keep your vision clear, and your voice true. Know that you do not owe them kindness. But know the force that opposes you.
Know them in a way that, in some cases, they will refuse to know you.
I’m no expert—I’m hearing and my understanding of American Sign Language is extremely limited—so please feel free to correct/add on to this! But I was just really struck by (and loved!) Elisa’s “F U” to Strickland in the above scene, which was featured at the end of the newly-released Red Band trailer for The Shape of Water.
Here, Elisa is literally signing “F” and “U” from the ASL alphabet, but what makes this so striking is that, by doing so, she’s not exactly speaking ASL—she’s fingerspelling English.
ASL is a completely separate language from spoken/written English, and fingerspelling is pretty much only used if there are no ASL equivalents for what needs to be conveyed, such as in the case of names. (In fact, when I was learning ASL, my teacher waited a while before teaching us the alphabet because she didn’t want us fingerspelling English instead of actually trying to sign!)
So the fact that Elisa uses fingerspelling here, when there are other ways in ASL to convey the idea of “fuck you,” says a lot. It says even more when you consider how she’s fingerspelling, since her fingerspelling here is not how a deaf person/someone who speaks ASL would typically fingerspell.
‘Cause fingerspelling? It’s fast. Extremely fast. Each letter flows smoothly into the next. When you fingerspell, it should be an incredibly fluid motion.
But here? That’s 110% not the case. Elisa is slow and measured. She holds out each letter nice and long. It’s the kinda way you’d fingerspell to someone learning ASL—and actually, my teacher would say to not even do that. If you slow down so much for them all the time, they’ll never be able to keep up with real ASL!
So, this scene? This scene with Elisa fingerspelling something that doesn’t need to be fingerspelled, in an incredible, deliberate, slower-than-college-WiFi pace? Well, Elisa is doing more than just dissing Strickland—she’s absolutely taunting him. She’s saying, “I’m speaking your language. I dare you to understand me.”
And she knows that he won’t. She’s speaking crystal clearly, no stuttering, no hesitance, no nothing, and Strickland can’t even be damned to attempt the basicASL alphabet because he would never, ever try to understand anything different from him.
And Elisa knows this and completely, totally rubs it in his bigoted face.