Ariel Meadow Stallings has written a good piece on “liberal bullying.” I thought this would be yet another “everyone needs to stop being so PC” type of post, but it isn’t:
I’m extra conflicted because I love observing and following the ways that language shifts. It’s exciting and fascinating to watch as the semantics of marginalized communities evolve. I recently had to talk to my aging lesbian mother and her partner about how the word “tranny” causes a lot of issues for folks in the transgender community. They’re totally aligned with the cause, and totally active in LGBT communities… and yet hadn’t gotten the latest memo.
Instead, Stallings is writing about uncivil blog comments meant to publicly shame. Here’s how Stallings identifies this behavior:
- Focus on very public complaints. I can think of exactly one time when someone emailed their concern about problematic language. These complaints seem to be always intended for an audience.
- Lack of interest in a dialogue. These complaints aren’t questions or invitations to discuss the issue. They’re harshly-worded accusations and scoldings (which I’ve written about before).
- Lack of consideration for the context or intent. The focus is on this isolated incident (this one post, this one word, this one time), with de-emphasis on the author’s background, experience, or the context of the website on which the post appears.
- And on a more stylistic note, these complaints are often prefaced with phrases like “Um,” and other condescending affectations.
(via Al Billings)
I suspect this bullying is counter-productive — attacking someone puts them on the defensive, making them try to find ways to justify what they’ve written, even if it’s insensitive, and find ways to disagree with the attacker.