While spending a few minutes checking my lj friendslist yesterday, I came across Jim Hines’s post about some big race discussion that’s apparently been happening right under my nose and I wasn’t paying attention.
I’ve seen this mentioned in passing elsewhere but given that I was on two deadlines and am trying to make heavy progress on a new project, AND have agreed to participate in a Mentoring program at the Romance Divas forum (yes, I am a mentor now; scary, huh?), my internet time has been even more limited than it usually is. Well, hell, I don’t have to tell you guys that; I’ve been blogging regularly for, what, three years now?, and missed two scheduled posts last month because I simply didn’t have time.
So I don’t know what all this is about. I’ve spent some time following links but am still rather confused about the whole thing. And frankly I’m not sure I want to know; I avoid internet drama whenever possible, so generally when I see posts that seem to be referring to such things, at best I skim them.
There are subjects we don’t approach here on the blog. We don’t generally discuss politics, as you know; and if you’re new to the blog, you might want to check this short post about keeping the blog light and fun, or, especially, this post about why politics are not a part of my blog and never will be. (Interestingly enough, I discovered a link to that post a while ago from a gentleman who referred to me as “that person” and said I was wrong because those of us who are educated and know the facts have a responsibility to educate others. Which amused me highly, it really did; I especially liked his bland and arrogant assumption that people who disagree with him or anyone else do so because they’re stupid and uneducated, and not because they simply have different values or ideals or, you know, their own minds. And thus need to be lectured by someone who views himself as so much more clever and informed and valuable than they are; another one who must be a real hoot at parties. Which illustrated to me the point I made in that post perfectly. Anyway.)
In fact, that political post is pretty helpful as background reading here, I think. Because again, the purpose of this blog is to be fun. To have fun. To entertain. Yes, I do posts about writing and publishing, and those are meant to educate–but hopefully in an entertaining fashion. I don’t see it as my job to tackle big issues or be some sort of guru (even if I actually thought myself capable of being such). I don’t see this as a place to expound my political or religious or moral or whatever views–we do dip into morality on occasion, yes–because I want the blog to be an inclusive place where everyone feels welcome. Everyone. Because you are. I think and have long thought that my readers are awesome; smart, friendly, fun people, and that we’re always happy to see someone new pop in and comment. There are too many places where that doesn’t happen; where new commentors are ignored, where commenters who disagree with the blog’s admin are ripped into and made fun of, are called names, are followed back to their own blogs and picked on there. Where questions are answered with vitriol and respectful comments with insults. This is not one of those places and it never will be. I hate those places. No matter who runs them I have never liked them, and avoid them.
All this is my way of saying that I genuinely had no idea all this drama was happening everywhere.
And I say that because in following some of the links left in Jim’s posts I noticed several people bemoaning the lack of comments or support by fantasy writers.
I hardly think I’m important enough to count. I am essentially unknown; I’m not a “big voice” in any genre–I’m hardly a voice at all. So I really don’t think anyone is watching me or my blog and being disturbed by my silence, but I’m going to break it anyway simply so there will be no doubt.
And really, my link-following has only skimmed the surface. I don’t know how the discussion started or who did what to whom and why; I have an idea based on the bit of reading I did but how it all snowballed and blew up everywhere I don’t know. And I’m not posting this in order to take sides or join the fray.
And I will say this as well. I love this blog and I love my blog readers. They are wonderful, warm, intelligent people. I’m not going to tolerate people coming here and starting shit with them. I doubt that will happen. But I’m saying it anyway.
So here is my basic statement. It’s based on what I’ve read and it’s based on seeing readers wondering why more fantasy authors haven’t spoken up (and to be fair, I am certain that the vast majority of my pals have no idea this is going on either). I don’t want there to be doubts and questions about why I haven’t said anything. It’s because I didn’t know. And now that I do I am going to say something, but again, this isn’t a topic I wish to have endless discussions about. I’m not joining anything. I’m just saying my piece, because even the small ampount of reading I did showed me that some truly horrible things have been said and done and I don’t want there to be any doubt that I disapprove of such things.
Judging people or stereotyping them based on the color of their skin is wrong. Implying, even if you mean it kindly, that all people of a particular color or ethnicity think or feel the same about any given issue is wrong; there is as much diversity in minorities as there is anywhere else. Because we’re all people.
Treating people like shit is wrong. Treating them as though they are less than human, as if they exist for your personal gratification, as though their feelings don’t matter and you can just do whatever you want to them, is wrong. Ignoring the possible consequences of your actions on another person’s life and/or livelihood is just wrong.
Threatening people is wrong.
Taking petty revenge on people is wrong.
Refusing to listen to other people is wrong. Discounting them and/or their veiwpoints because you don’t agree or don’t like what they have to say is wrong.
Judging people or calling them names simply because they don’t agree with you is wrong.
We’re all human. And being human means we’re kind of scummy. We all have thoughts of which we are not proud. Whether it’s socialization or simply the fact that at heart we all still have a greedy little “Mine! MINE!” baby who is jealous and hateful, we ALL sometimes have thoughts of which we are not proud. The human mind is a bizarre and wonderful and terrifying thing.
When I was three years old I grabbed a metal spoon from a kitchen drawer and bashed my brother over the head with it. For no reason, at least not that I can recall (I actually don’t remember the incident at all). He was just sitting in a chair watching TV.
What was going on in my mind? I don’t know. What I do know is, I had a thought–to bash Ray over the head with the spoon–and I acted on it. Today, I might still have the same thought; one of those crazy things that just pops into your head, like wondering what would happen if you walked up to a stranger in public and said, “You know what? I fucking hate you,” and walked away, or if you pushed someone for no reason, or any number of crazy things that pop into my mind and I am pretty sure pop into everyone’s minds at one time or another. But today I would not act on it. I might be secretly amused or horrified, but I wouldn’t act on it. Because I’m not three anymore.
I believe racism, sexism, discrimation or whatever in any form, among reasonable people, are the same thing. We ALL have unpleasant, embarrassing, or downright hideous thoughts from time to time. Hopefully not many; hopefully not too bad. But you can’t control the crazy, unlike-you thoughts that pop into your head, any more than I can control the fact that once every few years I dream I kill someone and am trying to hide the body, and the sick, horrible sense of shame and despair that dream engenders, and the intense relief on waking and realizing I have not in fact killed anyone (this generally leaves me feeling great for days: I didn’t kill anyone!)
What you CAN and SHOULD control is the expression of those thoughts. And what you can and should control is how you react to having something you said commented on. You offended someone? Just apologize. Why do we all need to be right all the time? What difference does it make, really? Even if that’s not what you meant. Even if you think the people interpreting your words are batshit crazy for thinking that. Just apologize. Try to figure out how or why you offended them. And let it go. Period.
It’s easy. It doesn’t matter. You can still think you’re right, even, if you insist. But just apologize. It’s not being a doormat. It’s not admitting you’re a racist or sexist or you discriminate against unattractive people or mice or Weeble-Wobbles. It’s just apologizing, and everyone gets to move on. And I think if we all consider it we’ll realize that most of the big problems in our lives could be avoided if we’d just quit having to be fucking right all the time and allow other people to think and feel their own thoughts, in their own wacky brains, where they are at any given moment probably contemplating running naked through the office or fucking the elderly receptionist or peeing in the hallway, because those are the kind of loony uncontrollable musings their brains create. (What? I can’t believe I’m the only person in the world who’s ever wondered what people would do if I peed in the hallway. You know, acting as though nothing was wrong and everyone does it; just lean against the wall, lift my skirt and push my panties to my knees, and have a go right there on the floor. I’d never actually do it, of course. But I can’t be responsible for the bizarre fantasies in my head–as long as they remain in my head–and neither can anyone else.)
It’s not pleasant to be called on those thoughts. It’s not pleasant to be called a sexist or a racist or a sizeist or anti-gay or whatever else, when you firmly do not believe you are and do not want to be. But it’s also not pleasant to be the one on the receiving end of a comment or action that hurts or offends you, or makes you feel less than human. So in that situation you have two hurt and confused people, and the best thing to do is for the one who did the hurting, no matter how inadvertent it was–and we’ve all hurt people inadvertently, every one of us–to apologize. “I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to hurt you.” It’s very easy. Note that there’s no “I’m not a purple-jean hater!!” outrage attached to that. It’s simply “I’m sorry.”
And it goes both ways. The one receiving the apology could also apologize thusly: “I’m sure you didn’t mean it that way, and I didn’t mean to hurt or insult you, just to point out that your comment could be construed in a way you didn’t intend.” See? Again, it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, or what anyone meant. What matters is both people have been accorded the dignity every human being should be accorded, and both parties have a chance to move on with dignity, and reach a new and deeper understanding.
This is what being an adult is, to be frank.
And that’s basically it. Like I said I’m not aware of the whole discussion. And to bring myself up-to-date would take hours and hours of time which I frankly do not have. In fact, not only is it time I don’t have, but I get the distinct feeling that those hours would be spent growing more and more upset and disillusioned and frustrated and sad, and would leave me unable to focus on work or anything else, and I still have two books to finish and a website to build and an apprentice to mentor. (“Apprentice” is the term the program in which we’re participating uses.)
And really, does it matter if I know the whole story or not? I’ve said my bit. I’m tired of anger and entitlement and the idea that other people don’t matter. I’m sick of seeing it everywhere. I don’t want to see it anymore.
Every person sitting in front of a keyboard and typing out all those words with which you disagree? They are people. Human beings. Maybe we could all remember that? Just try to keep it in mind, is all. There’s no excuse for treating them like they’re something less than that. Less than you. Less than anything. I avoid blogs and forums where people are treated that way. I avoid blogs and forums where being vicious to other people is encouraged. Those are not places I want to spend my time.
I write about pain. I write about isolation and disillusionment and the utter and complete lack of belief that life is worth living. I write about blood and magic and filth and evil and death. I write about abuse and hatred. I write about loneliness and misery and secrets and the uncertainty of life and people who have nothing but honor, people who can’t connect with other people, people who bleed rivers of pain if you cut their skin.
Quite frankly, my worldview is already twisted enough; there’s plenty of misery floating around in my head already. I don’t need to go find more. That’s why I try to keep the blog a positive place and that’s why I avoid getting into arguments etc. online, and avoid visiting websites and blogs where people are regularly turned into cannon fodder.
And I guess that’s it.