Seperis (seperis) wrote,

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use and abuse of the atomic bomb, and other words weighted in history

So I read about some--disagreements--with insanejournal user bridgetmkennitt's Author List that lists some of the authors that have contributed to RaceFail's failure parts and links to the reason why.

Links to these posts via rydra_wong in this post and this post regarding the above.

A blacklist (or black list) is a list or register of persons who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, mobility, access or recognition.

I'm not getting this. I mean, I will be honest--example, freaking Twilight gets panned thirty ways from Sunday. Everywhere. As a group, journalers and bloggers do this. This is not a magical new thing brought out just to destroy lives and tattoo a virtual swastika on people or something, and I just Godwin'ed myself. It is not a POC retaliatory plot with some kind of dark master group directing from above. This is, to put it plainly, a journaler saying "These people make me uncomfortable in their fiction and in their views, so I am not reading their work in the future, and I will link you to why I feel this way" which is, in fact, a shitload more than I ever do when I hate things publicly in LJ. In general, it's more than most of us do when panning movies, books, or TV shows, or what have you. I spent two LJ entries hating Joan Aiken, in detail. It's not like anyone in the blogosphere is what I'd call shy about saying what they hate and devoting a few thousand entries to it.

As a verb, to blacklist can mean to deny someone work in a particular field, or to ostracize them from a certain social circle.

It's the same attitude that was expressed with the "omgtheywillboycottevil!" which again, blew my mind, and not because there was no actual boycott planned, but because the issue was being removed very neatly from "these are problems with writers for Tor/editors for Tor and their views" and "you are plotting against us to force us into the evils of PCness and no longer judging me silently".

And I think the issue comes down to that, actually, when I read backward and ask myself "Why for the love of God would you (plural persons) give a shit about what anyone blogs about?"

The term blacklisting is generally used in a pejorative context, as it implies that someone has been prevented from having legitimate access to something due to the whims or judgments of another.

There are powerful words being thrown like grenades or dynamite. Striking words, words weighted with history, that taste of McCarthyism and Proposition 8 and every way that people in power have attempted to silence people who had none. Blacklist. Boycott. Thought Police. These have been, are, will be weapons of silencing, actions that were taken against, among other things, people demanding social change.

For example, a person being served with a restraining order for having threatened another person would not be considered a case of blacklisting. However, somebody who is fired for exposing poor working conditions in a particular company, and is subsequently blocked from finding work in that industry, may be considered to have been blacklisted.

To use them now--to use them in the blogosphere, among journalers, to toss them out like confetti at a particularly irritating party--is to demean the words and the power they had when they were used, to remove them from the context of their existence--to remove them from the histories of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions who were silenced.

Blacklisting can and has been accomplished informally and by consensus of authority figures, and does not necessarily require a physical list or overt written record.

It strips it of meaning, of what the blacklist was meant to do to people. To call this a blacklist is about as accurate as calling racism just prejudice. To be effective, a blacklist must be backed by the power to enforce it, and the person posting it does not have that kind of power. She has no publishing power--she cannot stop a book from being read. She has no editorial power--she cannot stop their books from being published. She does not own a major bookstore chain--she cannot stop their books from appearing on the shelves. And she does not control the credit card industry, so she cannot stop the books that are bought. What she has is a blog and a strong opinion and the will and desire to share what she thinks and believes.

We've seen so many tools of forcing silence--the outing of coffeeandink because she was too loud, the attack on psuedonyms because too many were willing to speak, the accusations of trolling to discredit those that might think on the words that were spoken, the tone argument that never fucking ends, the murmurs of a POC brigade that forces everyone to agree or else, the oversensitivity arguments, the bad apples argument, now the blacklist/boycott argument, of all things to drag out like the next weapon in the arsenal of sit down and shut up. Each is a redirect away from the question that should have been asked from the start. And it's such a simple question. It's five words.

"What if they were right?"

In a genre based on what-if, this question is ignored.

Redirect. The criticisms were justified. Redirect. We want to talk about the problems inherent in how race is portrayed in sci-fi, media, and literature. Redirect. Stop telling everyone to shut up. Redirect. Stop telling us what we should be talking about. Redirect. Stop threatening us with outing.. Redirect. Stop calling us trolls. Redirect. Stop attacks on the concept of pseudonyms. Redirect. Stop calling this a blacklist/a boycott. Redirect. Stop saying we're a POC mob requiring blood oaths. Redirect. Redirect. Redirect. Redirect. Redirect. Redirect. Fucking redirect because maybe two months of this, everyone will forget what this is about.

This is how it started. And this is how we tell it.

We're still talking. We want to talk about this. We aren't done yet.

One might venture to say discussion is what we do.

Note: I read today during link jumping that blacklist is possibly a racist term. If anyone would link me up to that, I'd be grateful. Wikipedia says it does not have an etymology in ethnicity, but that doesn't mean there isn't one there or hasn't developed one in current use. So my apologies to anyone who is offended by the use of the word; I tried to keep its use in specific context to what was being discussed.
Tags: meta: racism
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