The whole article is pure Tumblr Aktuhvizm.txt, but these were my favorite sections
Over the past couple of years, I’ve watched the rise of a new form of online performance art, where liberal internet commenters make public sport of flagging potentially problematic language as insensitive, and gleefully calling out authors as needing to “check their privilege” (admit their privileged position within society and its associated benefits).
As a publisher serving readers who identify as both progressive and marginalised (in many different, varying ways), this issue is hugely important to me – I’m protective of the quality of debate on my sites. As a progressive myself, it’s also complex and challenging because while I very much share the political values of the folks who engage in this kind of thing, I’m not on board with the tactics – which essentially amount to liberal bullying, and are way worse than anything I see from the conservatives who swing by my publications. The sad truth is that when it comes to the motivations behind this kind of commenting, it’s basically the same as the Westboro Baptist guys – even though the values are the polar opposite.
Common trends in this online behaviour:
• 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.
Increasingly, I’ve started recognising this kind of behaviour for what it is: privilege-checking as a form of internet sport. It’s a kind of trolling, with all the politics I agree with, but motivations and execution that turns my stomach. It’s well-intended (sowell-intended), but when the motivations seem to be less about opening dialogue about the issues, and more about performance, righteousness, and intolerance toward those who don’t agree with you … well, I’m not on board.
This is where it starts to feel like the Westboro Baptist sign-wavers. While the political sentiments are exactly opposite, the motivations are remarkably similar: I WOULD LIKE TO DERAIL THIS CONVERSATION AND HAVE AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE WITNESS HOW RIGHT I AM. I don’t care if your politics are progressive and your focus is on social justice: if you’re shouting at people online and refusing to have a dialogue, you’re bullying. I don’t care if you’re fighting the good fight: if you’re fighting in a way that’s more about public performance, shaming and righteousness, I’m not fighting with you.
… Even if I agree with your goals.
My big challenge is knowing how to respond to this kind of feedback, which comes in almost daily.Sometimes it feels like I have two options:
• Acquiesce to every complaint of anyone anywhere on the internet, until we’re putting trigger warnings at the top of posts that mention balloons because some people are globophobic (TRUE STORY!).
• Align myself with insensitive assholes who defend their right to hate speech.
I love learning new things about how cultures are defining themselves. I love that people take the time to try to improve my publications by sharing the latest language that communities are using. I love that readers feel safe enough to voice their concerns. I love this shared concern for sensitivity around language. I love the social justice motivations, and the encouragement that we all be self-aware of how the language we use has powerful, sometime unexpected impacts on the people around us.
BUT. But. Seriously, I’m just not down with:
• The derailing of conversations to debate semantics.
• The need to process it all publicly (“Look at me look at me look at meeee! I am the very MOST aware of my privilege and am therefore the very BEST progressive on the entire internet!”).
• The righteousness.
• The intolerance and inability to respect that those who share your values might not share your opinions on this particular subject.
This is where this kind of conversation begins to feel more like liberal bullying, where the only correct response is agreeing and acquiescing. Any other response is seen as ignorant at best, hateful at worst.
[Italics are mine]