The Whole World Blind

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Yesterday on Twitter I saw an exchange between two people.  Basically, one person was a rather fearful-seeming and nasty man.  Harsh.  His comments about left-wingers were the usual fare - latte sippers, idealistic socialists, etc.  Ridiculous morons with their heads in the clouds.  The usual blanket statements.  His tweets were full of jibes against those he disagreed with.

I guess I struggle sometimes with other people's alternate views.  If the person feels threatening to me in some way, and if I am feeling insecure, it is hard to not find myself wanting to hate that person.  It's an ongoing issue that I am trying to deal with, to stay open to stuff instead of close down in hate.  This might sound wishy washy, but I don't know how else to word it that I really seriously feel like it is important to us as a group of people to try to love everybody, even if we don't like them.  An ongoing quest.

What drives me spare more than the content of other people's alternate views is their nastiness and uber-stridency in judging other people who don't see things the way they do.  My shutters come down.  Like everybody's do.  Because when you start fucking with people's boundaries, you incite their fears and insecurities, and when they start feeling like judged, well, then, fuck you, new enemy.  And here, take some of my misplaced projected anger along with it.

We are still not good at fighting fair and acceptance of difference because it makes our egos wobbly.  I am 42 and I am still learning how unaccepting I am when I feel threatened.  And I seem to feel threatened quite a bit.  I think the level of acceptance you have of other people is the level of acceptance you have towards yourself.  It's a complicated process.  I'm working on it.

The other person in the Twitter argument is a female Australian writer who I follow.  I like many of her views and would class myself, like her, as a feminist.  The argument began after this man posted a picture of an Islamic man bellowing and holding a sign that said, "Behead those who insult Islam".  I don't know where the picture was from, whether it was from the Islamic protests that occurred in Sydney last year, or what.  The man suggested that this sort of person is not welcome in this country, ever, and should be deported.  The writer responded that if the Islamic man is Australian-born, it's not something up for discussion.  That man is free to hold the views he holds.

Well, I can imagine how that sort of latte-sipping response would have inflamed this man's sense of appropriateness.  I guess in a way I can understand his viewpoint.  He is questioning at what point threatening and violent behaviour such as extreme religious fanaticism is acceptable.  The concept of deporting people aside, at what point does a people say that the effects of particular beliefs are acceptable or unacceptable?  At what point do you say, "Your love of and defence of Islam does not entitle you to threaten violence towards other people who do not share your views"?  Because how on earth is threatening those who do not love Islam as you do with violence going to achieve anything beyond making you feel better?  And if you do not wish to show that person why you love Islam so, and why it is to many and to you a religion of peace and beauty, then your short-term remedy that is more about you in the end than about your love of Islam will have exactly the opposite effect of what your heart holds about the situation.

Their comments went backwards and forwards to each other until the man came up with this response:  "Love to see them rape the shit out of you ... see what you say then."

Lovely. Classy response.  A dearth of social skills abound in our current culture, do they not?  I mean, what a stupid and nasty thing to say.  It makes me wonder about this man - such fear about being inundated by alien forces that will ruin the life he is accustomed to.  Sounds like his boundaries are as wobbly as mine.  Makes you wonder about his personal history.

But her response to my mind was over-reactionary.   Instead of using her writing ability to formulate some sort of a comeback response, hers was to try to take the punitive road instead.  'Cause that's the way we roll.  Get landed with a fuckwit on your Twitter doorstep who insults you with their sensibilities?  Try to make something bad happen to them that will hurt them, in the name of misogyny, of violence perpetrated on your gender.

That doesn't sit all right with me.

That man's response was violent response, right?  If I was her that would have felt threatening to me, especially if there had been a history of violence in my life.  Hell, even if there hadn't.  The collective history of the oppression of women has flooded down through time and courses through our veins.  Having an opening in your body that can be violated?  Living in a culture which still, despite its advances, has hidden pockets of gender-based violence?  I get it, and I applaud her for taking a stance.  I just don't like the way she is going about it.  Her response from my perspective was to read into his words what I cannot see are there.  She believed that he was saying that he would love to see her raped.  I can't see that.  I believe he was saying, "I'd love to see how you'd feel about allowing crazy Jihadists to live in our pristine country if they raped the shit out of you - as they most likely would, seeing they are crazy Jihadists with no morals whatsoever.  And then I'd like to see how your latte-sipping socialist inclusive ideologies get you, once they've done you wrong."

I may be wrong, but that's how I read it.  Sloppily written as well as being stupid. But she took the ball and ran with it, and went ahead and wrote a letter to his football club demanding that they cancel his membership for life, under the guise of violence towards women, because he had wished gang rape against her as "a corrective tool."

C'mon, really?

I'm not so sure that aiming your retribution towards something this man cares about and asking an organisation to take punitive action because of a perceived threat is really going to achieve anything, except give you retributionary pleasure.  Which is what I couldn't help tweeting in response to her.  You will be unsurprised that I got no reply.  My concern is (if she even saw it - she has lots of followers) that she would have automatically presumed that I was on his side.  Which I'm not.  I'm on hers.  I just think her ways of going about things will achieve nothing. 

I guess it depends on what level you wish your actions to work on.  If it's simply wanting to make yourself feel better after someone has spoken nasty words to you that you perceive as threatening, then punitive measures are awesome.  But trying to force someone to change their views by attempting to punish them, by banning them from something they love is ... well, it's childish and reactionary.  And it's also an issue that's got pretty much fuck all to do with whether someone should be allowed to support their football club, seeing last time I checked football club membership doesn't preclude knobs who have opposing views, or views that are unacceptable to the general consensus.

She said that as the AFL chief Andrew Demetriou has been campaigning against violence, and as the Cats stand against gender-based violence, that this is the reason why they should cancel his membership.  I think if Geelong did cancel this man's membership, I would be feeling almost as uncomfortable about that decision as I would be about that other man's tweets.  Because if you can't be a twat and hold twatty views, without other people silencing you, whether it's in the name of Islam, or in the name of keeping your country safe, or in the name of keeping your gender safe, or in the name of the AFL being seen to do something about gender-based violence, then nobody is safe.

Acceptance of differences and openness of hearts changes people, and from there a culture, faster and better than punitive measures which send unacceptable viewpoints underground, changing nothing.  I'm standing with the sisterhood and the disgusting things that women endure from people who think it's funny to hate chicks.  I don't wish for any women to be silenced, ever.  I know what that feels like.  The anger that women feel at injustice is real and to be honoured.  But the stridency that it fuels scares me just a little sometimes, that's all :( 

Your thoughts?

PS:  I'm wondering why I am taking umbrage so much at this woman's response.  Is it one more case of women turning against each other (we're good at that)?  I don't feel like I'm turning against her though.  Is it a case of being uncomfortable seeing women express their anger?  Ahh, maybe.  I have struggled for a long time with that.  Anger is the scariest of energy, and the hardest to manage.  But seeing people wielding it in ways that are not helpful scares me, even while I do it myself.


  1. OMG, this is SO well written!
    Intelligent, insightful, thoughtful, un-biased and carefully speculative.

    Why do the Andrew Bolts of this world have the ears of the masses, when people such as you should instead??
    Perhaps people would be more considerate, I think :)

    Although, people are who/what they are, and will always (sadly) be, reactionary.

    The twitters you mention seem so like school-yard banter. Not much changes for some, regardless of age, gender and/or perceived intelligence.
    Taking away someone's "favourite toy" as punishment just causes more hatred - and directs it at the person who generated it.
    Instead of a group of faceless extremists, this guy has a "real" target to direct his bigotry towards.
    Even though we shouldn't live in fear of repercussions, I wouldn't think that was very smart on her behalf.
    Nor would it "teach him a lesson", or make him a better person by seeing the error of his judgement and "flawed character".
    Does the women attempt to show how much power she has by trying to influence the man's beloved club against him?
    How to get noticed - in a bad way.

    Seems like a vicious circle of pointless punishment reacting to hate and violence which cause more of the same. Doesn't seem to be very pro-active.

    I love your opening paragraphs. So honest and I can SO relate.

    Why is it so difficult, for so many?
    Even if it is hard for some to stretch to "love", surely acceptance of others and their opinions, lifestyles, religion, (insert personal choice here), would mean a calmer, more positive world.
    There would be less medical afflictions for a start, surely.
    Bottled up angst and negativity is very unhealthy.

    Live and let live?

    It's an ideal I'm afraid.
    And, I'm NOT perfect either. Far from it.
    But I do get so frustrated when I see/hear people get their undies in a twist over things they have no business in doing.
    Personal beliefs are just that. Personal.

    But when some factions band together and feel they have strength in similar beliefs, things can get a little, scary.

    Aside from the advantages, social media can often create massive shit stirring.

    Oh well, I feel I'm drifting off topic.

    Great post Sue. You are brilliant!

    1. I just want to reiterate here how rather far from "live and let live" I am at times. Often, really. I look at my partner, and a friend of mine, who roll so much better with stuff, with stress and with things going wrong that they hadn't banked on. I want to be more like them. I feel sometimes like the wheels attached to my wagon are square ones. Trying to file down the sharp corners :)

      So thank you for your comments, but I needed to say that so I don't appear hypocritical, hehe :)

      Our fears are made so much stronger living in such a competitive society, aren't they?. Our system pits us against each other, fuelling our limbic systems, when cooperation would achieve so much more. It's just all so bloody tiresome.

      Kindness is the new black, I reckon :)

      I agree, social media has got some really shitty things about it :)


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