In all the mess of these weeks there is one thing that above all others has helped me make it to the other side, and that is people’s support. I am extremely grateful for that.
Not everyone, however, has the support that I have. Not everyone has the strength I do. Not everyone is as popular, as good with words, as used to fighting back without breaking. Not everyone would have been able to take days off work to calm down. Not everyone would have been able to afford a therapist to talk this through. Not everyone would have been able to survive this kind of spread of false information and half-truths and the consequent backslash.
And this is why we can’t allow this to happen again.
Callouts are a powerful tool. If someone uses its position of power to hurt others, if someone’s public face hides an uncomfortable truth that this person has the power to bury, callouts can be the one resource that will warn others and make them question their interactions with this person. This is what callouts are for.
Callouts are not meant to take someone’s public face, a face everyone who interacts with them knows, and present it in a way that will frame this person as someone to bring down.
No matter how good you are with words, no matter the “proofs” you can muster, a person will never be represented by any posts you can make. And no matter how good you are, you are never going to be unbiased and your writing will reflect this.
When someone makes a callout like the ones we see on tumblr, it’s not meant to protect people, it’s meant to drive the person away. It’s meant to invite harassment and shame on them, hoping that the backslash will make them either flee or change.
And while we thought that this will drive the world toward a better place, we are finding out more and more that this is hindering its progress.
There are many ideas in the world, some popular, some less. Many progressive ideas we have–maybe every–has been unpopular at some point: if all your opinions are popular, then you are not progressing; if all your opinions have been popular at some far point in history, then you are even more backwards.
Not every idea makes it to popularity, and not every idea deserves to. But without the ability to exchange those ideas, new ideas, without harassment we are making extremely hard for people to discuss.
Progress is the clash of ideas and the fight to make the best one surface. But this is discussion, and harassment is not the same as discussion. Casting out someone, suppressing their ideas is not the same as discussion.
If an idea has no worth, it won’t win. If an idea has worth but people can’t express it, it won’t win. If a new idea is being discussed and your response is to suppress the idea with harassment, then you are hindering progress.
A new idea can be ruled good or bad only after it has proven itself through discussion. When you harass those who think differently, you only reveal your fear that the idea might win, and your powerlessness in carrying on a this fight in any other way than intimidation.
You have the right to a different idea. You have the right to discussion. You have the right to take every step you want to not even listen to ideas you don’t like or are not interested in.
But you have no right to suppress ideas through harassment or fear of it.
The ones who less fear harassment are the privileged, the popular, the rich, the neurotypicals, the ones that cope like the majority wants them to cope… The ones that less fear harassment are the ones that are already talking. When you harass, no matter the reason, you are shutting up the minorities you are trying to protect.
And this can’t be allowed to happen, not with social justice’s own tools.