It seems like I learn a new lesson every week about Social Justice. These lessons are never new to anyone else, often they are things I’ve been hearing from other people without ever seeing how they apply to me. This is why personal wisdom is not a science. In science, a discovery only needs to be made once, by one person, in order for the entire world to build upon it. They may replicate it out of intellectual curiosity or to learn the foundations of a long-standing theory, but that one moment only needs to happen once. Otherwise, every Biologist would need to sail around the Galapagos to understand Evolution.
But, wisdom is different. You must root it in personal experience, you must earn it with a series of mistakes, must toil for it with blood, sweat, and fuckups. Here is what I learned this week about the comments section:
Just because I, personally, have the intellectual muscle and linguistic deftness to immolate every single asshole on the Internet, one at a time, with surgical precision, doesn’t mean I would ever have the time to. There is an economy of effort that is inherent in trolling. I write what I think is a calm, thought out, well-reasoned explication of the ways in which [Marginalized Group] is marginalized, and some person responds with some variation of “nuh-uh,” and now I’ve got to be all “Look at me, I’m GMFG, and I troll for blahdity-blee” and while that is emotionally fulfilling and lends itself to endless squealing (“OMG I love Garland he’s so awesome!”) it is still me expending far too much energy crafting a personalized reply to something that could have been written by an automated troll bot.
When I weigh this time against the time I could be spending to actually drawing people’s attention to shit that is revolting or nasty, it is instantly apparent to me why I am essentially the Magnavox Odyssey of every writing circle I inhabit. A few people have heard of me. Some have fond memories. But I spend far too much time fighting these low-level monsters and almost no time tackling larger topics. I’m in that state in the RPG where you’re walking around with all the badass armor and the giant sword you crafted from the blood of malevolent wizards, and you return to your home castle to open a door that you just found the ability to open, and as you’re leaving, you hear the noise that lets you know you are entering a battle sequence, and it’s a motherfucking Level 1 Blob. The kind you cut your teeth on, the kind you killed for hours leveling up before leaving your home castle. And, pffft, no problem, easily dispatched (with magic missile, for old times’ sake.) It gives you NO experience to speak of, but you kill it, and move on.
For some reason, I am still killing Level 1 Blobs. That’s stupid. I’m not doing that anymore.
If the past two years of political discourse have taught me anything, it is that quixotically holding yourself to a level of intellectual rigor and fairness and expecting your opponents to do the same is a waste of time. With that in mind, I am setting a standard for comment moderation particular to my posts. I am going to write that standard out, and then I am going to follow it. If a comment doesn’t meet this standard, I’m not going to approve it, and if it slips through, I will delete it if it sits unchallenged in the comment thread for long enough.
Disagreement is fine. Disagreement is healthy. But just as I wouldn’t expect the professor of an Chemistry class to spend an hour defending the legitimacy of the periodic table, I’m not going to debate the following points:
Gender Essentialism: If your comment can be boiled down to “Women and people outside the gender binary don’t enjoy the same rights as Men because that is simply the natural order of things” you aren’t getting through, bub. Feminism is the passcode to Tiger Beatdown. If you don’t agree that it is a valid system of belief, you aren’t going to comment on any thread that I am the author of.
The Existence of Rape Culture, Privilege, The Patriarchy, or The Kyriarchy: This will save you, and us, a lot of time. Because you will never win these arguments. Most of the day to day work of Feminism is illuminating the ways in which these concepts play themselves out in the real world. One of the frequent problems marginalized people have is constantly being asked to prove that these things exist, on the spot, like none of you can do this research on your own.
Whether or not we, as a community, deserve to have spaces free from your fuckery: Again, this is a problem that marginalized people are forced to deal with on a daily basis. And while we respect the immense amount of time you have spent crafting little thought experiments about how insular groups tend to turn into philosophical daisy chains, that argument ignores the actual lived experience of ever single Social Justice writer in the history of ever. Just because you swoop on in from the recesses of the Internet, without seeing the intense level of internal debate and contention we are wracked with, to tell us all we’ve done is set up a little area where we can be right all the time doesn’t mean your opinion is valid. We spend a lot of time debunking this theory, and we do so because we are sensitive to that sort of argument. We want to be intellectually rigorous people, especially since SO MUCH of our time is spent arguing with people who don’t pay us the same courtesy.
People’s Bodies: Are not open for debate. Not what they are, not what they do with them. Attacking someone’s idealogical integrity must be done with respect and tact; attacking someone’s body is beyond the pale.
Moderation Instructions: Don’t ignore them.
This is meant to save time. Approving and debunking these comments on a regular basis takes quite a lot of time. The only reason to do it is that we might possibly enlighten someone or change their mind, but it is a particular characteristic of marginalized people that we even think we have to. No one on the Beatdown should have to educate these people on the fundamentals of Social Inequality, and we certainly shouldn’t be feeding the trolls. Because it is far too easy for the Trolls to get us worked into a lather and then disappear cackling into the night. This shit is unproductive. And this is where it ends.