Non-Responding to Drama

In response to the controversy that’s been continuing to flare, 2 released a video response last weekend. You can see the video here if you wish. If you don’t, here’s a summary from what I get from it.

2 doesn’t believe that anyone has approached him with legitimate criticism; most people are haters who are simply looking to be offended. He insinuates that the screenshot of his YouTube response that kicked off this firestorm is manipulated, and that his stance on suicide has been misrepresented by people who don’t know him because they’ve never been to his shows. All he’s saying is that people shouldn’t be encouraged to seek attention by committing suicide, and that when there is an outpouring of grief and loss in response to suicide depressed people are encouraged by all of the posthumous attention the suicide has received. He wants suicidal people to know that it’s stupid to kill yourself, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and that anyone who disagrees with him is looking to be offended. Finally, he tells people who agree with him that his critics are lonely people who are frightened of life and that they’re really only trying to get attention through hate. He encourages his fans not to spread hate, but love, and that his haters should be pitied and not hated in turn.

I have a lot of criticisms with this. I’ll try to take them point by point.

“There has not been a single person who has come after me with a criticism.”

2 lays his groundwork by characterizing the argument as a misrepresentation of his beliefs by people who don’t know him, what he’s really about and have never interacted with him in any meaningful way. He starts with the flawed assumption that the people who have criticized him have no legitimate basis with which to do so.

That’s simply not the case. A number of people have laid out their criticisms to him time and time again in a variety of ways. The people who have done so have ranged from close associates of his (Dragoneer, Aubrin and myself to name a few), to folks who have long since had problems with his statements and attitude, to people who have just seen that single screenshot (which was edited to eliminate a number of unrelated comments between the original reply and 2’s response) and thought it was wildly inappropriate.

Characterizing legitimate criticism as “nothing” glosses over the substance of what many, many people have been saying about this issue up until now. He has blocked several people on Twitter for bringing up their disagreements and ignored people honestly stating their issues with his statements.

“People haven’t been to my shows; they don’t know me and they don’t know my views.”

I can’t speak for everyone criticizing 2, but I’ve been to his shows before — I’ve been a part of them before. We haven’t spoken in many years, but his views are fairly plain to see in the many interactions he has with the public. Saying that someone must go to his shows to truly know him when he also has videos, DVDs, Twitter and Facebook interactions that provide a fairly clear and consistent picture of his viewpoint is not a fair point to make. People who don’t personally know a public figure can reasonably infer things about who they are by what they say. And he’s said plenty on the subject for people to come to the conclusions they have.

Even if 2 is saying that there is a difference between his act and his personal beliefs, that’s a problem as well. If he really does believe that the “tough love” approach to suicidal people is a worthwhile one, then there would be a stronger indication that he understood how to use tough love in a context that was helpful. There have been several comments from him that repeat this idea: if you’re going to commit suicide because someone was mean to you, go ahead and do it so the rest of us can live better. How many times does this sentiment need to pop up before people can believe that he really thinks this way?

“You are subjecting yourself to my opinion. You don’t have to listen to me. I would prefer that people who are offended by me don’t listen to me.”

2 is a public figure with a following large enough to exert significant influence within the furry fandom. His opinions are taken up and repeated by many of those fans, and they use his viewpoints to shape their own ideas about the world and the way it works. I know he would prefer his fans to “question everything,” but there it goes. That’s the reality. In order to understand why a large segment of the population in our community believes and behaves a certain way, we have to understand the source of it — and for a lot of cases, it’s 2.

He also criticizes the people who have never seen his show or his material, saying that they don’t know him. So under that framework, there are only two options: listen to what I say and agree with me, or don’t listen to what I say and lose the right to criticize me.

2’s critics subject themselves to his opinion because it is a harmful one that has a strong platform. They want to understand what he says and why, why it’s incorrect and exactly what their criticisms are. It’s what you need to do in order to be informed, and to criticize from a place of knowledge.

The dichotomy he’s set up makes it easier for him to deflect criticism; if people don’t like him, then it’s clearly because they haven’t actually listened to him.

“Transphobic means that I hate every single transgendered person in the world.” “I hung out with transgendered people and didn’t have a problem.”

It’s 2015 and we’re still hearing this old chestnut — “I hung out with (minority group) and we had a great time! That means I can’t be against them.” Yes, yes it absolutely can.

His attempt to define transphobia as “hating every single transgendered person in the world” is a straw man fallacy. That is an impossible definition to justify, and often the reason that so many people against minority groups break out the “I have a black/gay/trans friend, so I can’t be racist/homophobic/transphobic”.

Here is what transphobia is, according to Wikipedia: “a range of antagonistic attitudes and feelings against transsexuality and transsexual or transgender people, based on the expression of their internal gender identity.” It’s entirely possible to have black friends and still be racist. Or gay friends and still be homophobic. Or trans friends and be transphobic. If you have made statements in the past that indicate a transphobic attitude, those statements don’t magically go away because you went drinking with transgendered people one time. That’s not the way prejudice works.

Here’s an excellent article on how it’s possible not to hate a single member of a group and still be bigoted against that group. That’s what makes prejudice such an insidious and difficult-to-remove part of our society. People often think that prejudice is active hate, when it really can be something as simple as believing “I think the concept of transgenderism is ridiculous.” It takes very careful consideration and honest introspection to uncover and remove prejudicial thinking. It’s a life-long process. But it’s worth it because it increases your understanding and empathy for other people, spreads that understanding, and makes our community more connected and open.

“I do not believe that people should kill themselves. I’ve never believed that.”

2 has been quoted several times stating that people who want to commit suicide should stop using our air. Those screenshots are out there. If he’s never believed that, then he has been very careless with his previous statements and has done nothing to clarify or rescind them. Once or twice may be exaggeration for comedic effect, but the way the statements were phrased indicate a genuine belief in what he’s saying. This video is the first time I’ve seen him say anything definitive to the contrary.

“My video rant encouraging people to keep fighting, and continue to live…”

Encouraging people to keep fighting and brow-beating them for considering a stop to the fight are two different things with two very different effects. One gives people a little more ability to find ways to end their depression, while the other can be alienating and discouraging. If your intent was encouragement, then it’s important to take that into consideration.

“My view is that people should not feel they are going to be rewarded for killing themselves.”

This is… a mind-blowing statement. It indicates a complete lack of understanding about the thought process of people who are suicidal. It’s just so, SO wrong and actions resulting from this flawed foundational assumption are going to be harmful.

People who are seriously contemplating suicide are in a warped perspective, for sure; I was when I was in the worst of my depression and I know how difficult it was to see the world as it really was. But the assertion that people who react with shock and grief over a suicide are posthumously rewarding them? That he would characterize an emotional display and an outpouring of empathy as “giving someone a posthumous cookie”? And that he would say other people thinking about suicide are actually encouraged by those displays to do the same thing?

It’s been my experience that people who are seriously contemplating suicide are not thinking about all of the attention they’ll get when they’re dead and how that will totally make the permanent end of their life worthwhile. And saying that being sad when someone takes their own life is actually harmful because it encourages other people in bad places is such a twisted view of the situation I’m not sure where to begin. So I’ll just say this.

If 2 really thinks that people commit suicide to get attention, and that the legitimate emotion of people in the community who have been affected by that suicide is somehow exacerbating the problem worse than saying “you’re stupid for thinking about it,” then he needs to have a seat, stop talking about things he knows nothing about and educate himself on the subject.

“If you don’t agree with my message about suicide and you think people should kill themselves…”

This is a false dichotomy, isn’t it? Again, it’s pushing people into a camp that is impossible to defend, and the only way out of it is by agreeing with him. This is not the frame of the argument, and pushing people into that box is one of the ways he does a disservice to the entire conversation.

No one should kill themselves. AND no one should encourage others to kill themselves. AND he is speaking out about a sensitive subject from a position of ignorance (at best) or gross misrepresentation (probably) or malicious mischaracterization (at worst). It’s possible to disagree with him and not be pro-suicide. I shouldn’t even have to say this.

“People who want to be offended and hate other people are generally lonely…they’re probably scared, frightened of life…”

“They just want attention, give them a little bit of attention…”

2 opens and ends his response by characterizing his critics as people who don’t understand him, just want to be offended or hate him, and as lonely people who are frightened of life. More straw men for him to knock down easily, and for his fan-base to pity. The appeal to emotion at the very end, to encourage love and not spread “more hate”, makes him seem that his concerns are wholly positive and gives his fan-base a way they can dismiss disagreement without consideration while feeling good about themselves.

The video response does nothing to address the criticism directed his way. Instead, it pretends that the criticism isn’t there, that this discussion isn’t about anything other than “hating the popular, straight-shooting guy” and frames oppositional arguments as much weaker and less legitimate than they are. There is no sense of responsibility for the effect his words have on people, for the anger and hurt they cause, no understanding of the world that he says he wants to leave better than the way he found it.

2 released another, longer video in response to the many emails he’s received about this whole situation. You can see that video here. This blog post is long enough, so I won’t refute every point he’s making — I’ll take a high-level view here.

In the second, 40-minute video, 2 basically states that his comments were taken out of context (another very common defense when someone says something that gets them into trouble) and that those comments were meant for this one specific situation in which a girl killed herself because of cyber-bullying specifically for the purpose of making the people she leaves behind feel sorry for her. He also says that “social justice warriors” (another shibboleth used to characterize people offended by statements as not worth paying attention to) are basically entertained by their own offense, jump in to demand apologies for things that don’t concern them and are an implacable mob who will only be satisfied if he weeps from the heavens and atones. He won’t do it, of course, because that would be a lie, and he’s merely treating people the way he would want to be treated — he doesn’t get offended by words or opinions, so why should they? Finally, he asserts that this whole situation was caused by someone who hates AnthroCon and wants people to boycott it — and that anyone who involves themselves in this situation is playing right into it. He does not provide any evidence for this.

Basically, he doesn’t care if you’re offended. He doesn’t think he should take responsibility for your emotions or what his words cause in them. And the best that you’ll ever get from him for an offensive statement is an acknowledgement that he’s offended you. 2 will never apologize for the things he says and the hurt or anger his words cause.

Here’s the thing: words are the way we transmit ideas to one another. They’re the best tool we have to communicate abstract thoughts and opinions. Words are not just “words”. They are tools used for a specific purpose; to influence one another’s thinking, to communicate how we see the world, to change someone’s mind. Those words lead to perspectives, and those perspectives lead to action. It’s all connected. To say that words are unimportant, or shouldn’t cause people to be upset is to seriously misjudge their power.

2 has the right to say whatever he wants, of course. But we also have the right to call him out on the things he says if we feel they’re damaging the community. And I feel they are. At best, he has been careless with his statements — extrapolating one case of suicide and misrepresenting an entire issue that way. He has built a tremendous platform over the years to spread these ideas, and there are a great many people who will agree with him because they, too, have no idea what suicide and depression are really like. He is contributing to a culture of carelessness and ignorance within my fandom, which changes the nature of my fandom, which *does* affect me. And I have to stand up and fight against that.

This is the way 2 operates, and it’s how he’s operated for a very long time. I don’t see any reason to believe he will change. I think we’re wasting our time with direct engagement.

The best thing we can do is to discount his ideas about suicide and depression, engage with the people who have absorbed and repeat those ideas, and encourage more responsible conversation about mental health issues. It’s time we move forward with our understanding of those of us who struggle with depression and stop sinking our energy into things that will not bear fruit.

It’s time to let 2 go. His views have no place in my community, and I would rather spend my time doing things that ease the suffering of the people who need it. So how do we do that? How do we combat harmful ideas within our community, and what do we do with the people who hold them and refuse to change? I’ll run through a list of suggestions tomorrow.

22 thoughts on “Non-Responding to Drama

  1. 2 has built his career on being offensive. His entire persona is crafted so his audience is like “Can you believe this guy?!” I think it was in Howard Stern’s movie where the line was “People who love him listen to him to see what he’ll say next. People who hate him listen to him to see what he’ll say next.”

    So he can’t apologize. If he apologizes, it undermines his entire act. He can’t say “I speak harsh truth, no matter who it offendds! … except this one time.” And the longer he refuses to apologize, the more important it is to stick to his guns. Because he’s spent so much time and energy defending himself, that would be in vain.

    But honestly, it doesn’t matter whether he believes it or not, whether he is speaking from his heart or from a place of being a shock jock. It’s not just being said on a stage, it’s being said online, it’s being said in response to people. That’s not a the place for a joke. That’s like Lewis Black exploding and ranting in line at the bank and then, when called on being a disturbance, saying “Well I’m a comedian, being mad is my schtick”.

    But I have a question. You say it’s time to stop addressing 2 and move on. Does that mean also moving on from addressing the venues for his platform? AnthroCon is getting a lot of heat for welcoming 2. Should that heat go away?

    1. That’s actually a really good question. I don’t think I have an answer that should be viewed as definitive; each person should decide how to approach that and act accordingly.

      But just…think it through. 2 has said many things that have not gone down smoothly with people, and refuses to apologize for it. What do we do about that? Is it important for AnthroCon to make sure he doesn’t perform there? Why? Are there other things that we can do that might counteract 2’s influence more effectively?

      Personally, I think it would be better to take a positive counter-campaign approach: approach the staff about creating panels that discuss mental health issues and encourage openness, understanding and empathy; organize meet-ups or room parties where people can learn about different segments of the furry community, and speak openly about your beliefs and why you hold them.

      I think if AC is going to continue to allow 2 to perform on its main stage, then it should also allow Transgender Issues panels and other sex-positive events to occur at roughly the same time of the evening, with the same words of warning they give about 2’s show. That would encourage a range of ideas to be communicated and give people healthier, friendlier alternatives to focus their time on.

      1. “I think if AC is going to continue to allow 2 to perform on its main stage, then it should also allow Transgender Issues panels and other sex-positive events to occur at roughly the same time of the evening, with the same words of warning they give about 2’s show. That would encourage a range of ideas to be communicated and give people healthier, friendlier alternatives to focus their time on.”

        I respond with:

        AnthroCon needs to get its act together and be consistent.

  2. I used to listen to 2’s rants all the time when I was a stupid 18 year old mid-western kid who still had strong conservative delusions and even voted for George W. Bush because I thought he was a “guy just like the rest of us” and believed in the lies the GOP spun about immigrants and liberals.

    You bet your ass I believed and agreed in everything 2 said, too.

    I look at people who follow 2, who think that he’s just acting out a character, or – even worse – actually believe the crap he says, and you’re right, it’s highly damaging. It’s damaging to people at an individual level, to the fandom as a community and to society at large. But most importantly, the things that 2 says are things he has ALWAYS believed, and anything he says to the contrary is a complete and utter lie. You know this as well as anyone.

    What I find truly disingenuous about his statements is the “you need to listen to me to know me” argument, as though listening to him would clue us in to how much of a wonderful, loving, accepting and open individual he is. The only catch is that listening to him informs you of exactly the opposite. My entire perception of 2 is based on his “act” and his rants, which are horribly xenophobic, misogynistic, bigoted, hateful and reductionist when it comes to actual issues. He can’t say he’s being misunderstood while citing that the very things that inform people’s view of him are the things that will vindicate him.

    2 is a class A ass-clown. He’ll never not be one, and it is well past the time that the fandom stops giving him a venue to spout his vitriol, which goes especially so for AnthroCon. The fact that Kage allows him a platform for his “act” is disgusting, and should offend the values of any and all people who view the fandom as a welcoming and inclusive community.

    1. I wouldn’t go so far as to call 2 an ass-clown. 🙂 But I do think that a lot of the things he says in the name of “performance” are genuinely what he thinks, and we need to call out hurtful, destructive ideas whenever we see them.

      I read through Kage’s email about allowing 2 to perform at AC, and I get it. It’s disappointing and I would rather see them address people’s concerns a bit more seriously, but I get it. The staff should listen to people’s concerns about why they think 2 is counter to a welcoming/inclusive convention and work with those people on at least a compromise. 2 is never going to be everyone’s cup of tea; I understood that way back when I worked with him, and I understand that now. But a lot of folks like his comedy. There are other ways to promote more responsible dialogue on the things we’re concerned about.

  3. I’m not sure which is worse in this whole debacle… When folks dismiss the context under which 2 presented his opinions, then feel offended/worried by those words because they had to infer their own, sometimes horrific context or 2 dismissing the feelings generated in people who got upset about his words when those words were taken out of context. Personally, I think I lean slightly toward the former than the latter for the simple reason that people seem to be all up in arms about a false representation, then remain up in arms even after context clarification.

    I’m also having trouble rectifying how a statement like “I think the concept of transgenderism is ridiculous” is equal to “transphobic”, but maybe the connotation that I (and likely 2) associate with the word “transphobia” differs from the Wikipedia definition. For example, I could think that it’s ridiculous when someone mentally denies or rejects their own genetics, yet I could still peacefully coexist with every single person who does. The thought would go no further than “welp, I think what you’re doing is strange and makes little sense to me, but meh… whatev. Feel free to be you. I’m not going to tell you how to be you because you being you doesn’t affect me.” If that stance is still considered “transphobic”, under the Wikipedia (and your) definition, I think trans people will be forever fighting for something that is nearly impossible to attain.

    1. Your second complaint reminds me of something my grandmother once said, which is that she believed black people are a different species from white people, i.e. not 100% actual people. She meant no direct hostility towards black people, but like saying transgenderism is ridiculous, comes from a place of ignorance and likely some fear, and shouldn’t be socially acceptable to announce frequently, no matter what you want to call it.

      1. “Ignorance” comes in a variety of forms. In my example, the only way to truly become “not ignorant” is to be able to relate to and understand the thoughts and feelings that exist within a trans person’s mind that bring them to feel the way that they do. For someone who can’t possibly form the mental path to arrive at those feelings, simply because their mind doesn’t work in the same way, to be called “ignorant” seems like a misnomer or a disservice. For them, it doesn’t matter how it’s explained or how much they come to understand about the subject, the base thought process just plain doesn’t make sense to them. I doubt that it’s generated by any “fear” of trans people and their thought processes. It’s generated by the inability to fully comprehend them. They could be a brilliant, well-educated, well-informed, well-intentioned, sweet, caring person and still think, “it’s a bit weird”.

        Maybe “ridiculous” is a bit more of a weighted term than the phrase “a bit weird”, because it implies that “ridicule” is an acceptable action to take. Maybe “absurd” or “defies my particular brand of logic” is more acceptable? I dunno, but it seems that if someone expresses any of these terms and the SJW trans folks catch wind of it, the response is often, “WAARRRrrrrgarrrblllee! You need to respect ME! You need to accept MEEeee!” It’s like, “Ack! I do accept you! I just don’t understand you! Put your pitchfork down! I don’t accept the pitchfork!”

        Whether or not something is, should, or shouldn’t be “socially acceptable” is a whole other, greatly subjective can of worms. There has to be some kind of balance between feeling like you have to walk on eggshells around everyone because you might offend someone and being able to express a thought or feeling, openly, as frequently, and in whatever setting/fora as you’d like, without fear of someone preventing you from doing so.

        This article says it better than I can, though:

    2. The argument about context has been coming up a lot, and it’s making me go back to the original video to see what I get out of it. For one thing, I’m trying to find the inciting incident that he refers to at the start of his rant and all I can find that fits his description (girl is cyber-bullied, parents and community react, laws are passed) is the case of Phoebe Prince, who was actually bullied for months before she took her own life. I haven’t been able to find anything about a note that “she did it to make people feel sorry for her”, that the suicide happened after one exchange, or anything like that. His description of the inciting incident is questionable at best, and since he doesn’t give any distinguishing details (names, places, dates) there’s no way to get more information about it. We have to take his word for it.

      Even if his description was accurate, for the sake of argument, someone who does that STILL has very significant mental health issues that shouldn’t be mocked, and her death should not be celebrated as “Darwin’s Law working”. I would still object to his statements even if it were just about this one girl this one time who committed suicide to make the people who tormented her feel sorry for her.

      Without more information, we have no idea what this girl was going through. But I can almost guarantee you that something was happening to put her at the end of her rope. People who are in a healthy place mentally, emotionally and socially tend not to commit suicide when one bad comment is made about them, right? I’m sure we can agree on that.

      And…here’s the thing about transphobia. I don’t think transgendered people are asking for anything but respect and the ability to live their lives; when we start from the premise “that’s ridiculous, I don’t understand it, but whatevs” we’re far less likely to put measures in place that allow them to do that. Transgendered people have to face significant hurdles to express their gender identity, and if we don’t care or think it’s silly then we’re less likely to help remove those hurdles for them or stick up for them in the face of more malicious or violent responses.

      Dismissing something (especially as important to a person as their gender expression) as silly is not as malicious as violent disapproval, but it can lead to actions (or inaction) that have the same damaging and alienating effect.

      1. There’s no doubt that his statements could still be “objected to”. His entire shtick is based on using hyperbole to get a point across. Sure, she was probably at the end of her rope, but that’s not the context that was given.

        Let’s say, also for the sake of argument, that the scenario was exactly as he presented it, because in that context, it’s already in a hyperbolic state: Girl receives a few, mean text messages, her response is to write a note explaining that her suicide was to make them feel sorry for her, and then she holds true to her word, without doing anything else, first. The end. No other context. You’re not allowed to infer anything else about the situation because those are the only facts given. No mental health issues. No depression. No previous suicidal thoughts.

        In that, very specific set of context rules, “Nature/Darwin is working”, while hyperbolic and probably still inflammatory to some, is a slightly more acceptable comment to make if only because of the extreme demonstration of her lack of a survival instinct. When combined with it all being part of a rant, which, by its very nature, is meant to be exaggerated, it makes even more sense to be able to push the sensitivity envelope to that point. You’re still allowed to feel off-put by it, but I think that was part of the point – mostly because those are the kinds of feelings that get us to actually think about things and discuss them further.

        Given all of that, do we need to boycott Anthrocon because he happens to be invited to put on an unrelated, fairly popular comedy show there? I don’t really think so. The material that he uses within his comedy shows is typically far less rant-y and more focused on things that are more universally humorous. I get that some still don’t find his stage show material to be funny, but there are a lot who do. It seems very selfish, to me, that a handful of loudly vocal individuals are trying to influence Anthrocon to remove something that a lot of other people thoroughly enjoy.

        With regards to your points about allowing transgendered people to live their lives, I think you’re invoking the social fallacy of “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”. Assuming that everyone in the community suddenly has an obligation to fight for removing those hurdles for the simple reason that they exist is asking a lot from people who don’t feel the need to fight a social battle that isn’t theirs to fight. Sure, there will be some who do want to step into battle for their friends or family that are transgender, but the general populous who have nearly zero tie-in are going to be very hard to convince that they need to fight a battle simply because the battle is there. There are faaaarrr too many of these kinds of battles going on in the world to be pressured into feeling obligated to be part of any or all of them.

        That said, the “I find it a bit weird, but whatever” crowd is still likely to step in and stick up for *any person* who they witness to be under some kind of violent attack, for the simple reason that they’re a person and shouldn’t be getting violently attacked.

    3. “That said, the ‘I find it a bit weird, but whatever’ crowd is still likely to step in and stick up for *any person* who they witness to be under some kind of violent attack, for the simple reason that they’re a person and shouldn’t be getting violently attacked.”

      Except transgendered people ARE violently attacked, often, or are driven in desperation to commit suicide. And blacks, more than a century after the civil war, are regularly violently attacked by the people who are ostensibly in power to protect them. Gays have been violently attacked or driven to suicide for decades, and that’s only getting better now because of a concerted and, sometimes, in-your-face effort to change things that’s been going on since the AIDS crisis of the 80s.

      Friendly-but-passive get-along supporters can feel warm and fuzzy because they’re not punching someone in the face personally, but they’re not going to be there in every instance that something tragic happens. It’s the fabric of community, and what behaviors are vehemently proclaimed acceptable or unacceptable, that can change things there. And if “fighting a battle” includes something like suggesting to your friend that, you know, maybe he could be a little more sensitive to why some people are upset when he says shit like that, that’s honestly a pretty low bar.

      1. In response to your first paragraph, yes. There are shitty people in the world who physically do shitty things to other people that don’t deserve that sort of treatment. I’m fairly certain that the “friendly-but-passive, get-along supporters” are not typically among those shitty people because, as you said, they’re not throwing the punches. Taking that a step further, if they were witnessing someone throwing the punches, at the time those punches are being thrown, they’re more likely to step in to help stop those punches (my point from the previous post that you quoted). One could argue that even the strongest of supporters of those receiving the punches can’t be everywhere that those recipients are at every moment in their life to protect them any more than the passive, quasi-supporters can be. That is, of course, unless the active supporter is literally acting as a 24/7 body guard as part of his/her active support.

        I suppose my point is that whether a supporter is passive or active, neither is going to be able to be there “at every instance that something tragic happens” to prevent or stop it.

        With regards to “suggesting to your friend that, you know, maybe he could be a little more sensitive”, I have to say that, personally, I hold the ideal of freedom of speech and expression (in general, not just with regards to government control) higher than most other causes. I recognize that when someone is speaking at/to me, taking offense, being triggered, or having a sensitivity to their words and opinions only goes as far as the amount of weight I allow them to have. If they are coming from a source that I don’t trust, respect, or value, I might give the words less value. If they consist of mostly ad hominem attacks and no substance, they get assigned almost no value. Choosing to be hurt or offended by words happens on my end. Because of that, I can’t expect someone else to know what will offend me, especially if they don’t know me. I wouldn’t expect someone to not be themselves and speak candidly when they open their mouth for the sake of trying not to offend me. Therefore, it would be unlikely that I would expect or suggest to a friend that they “be more sensitive” if “being more sensitive” isn’t in their nature, when speaking to someone else. I don’t feel that it’s my place to try to change someone else’s behavior when their behavior is not directly, physically damaging to someone else’s person or property.

        I was the recipient of bullying speech for being a geek in high school. It was a daily barrage, but I learned to shrug it off. I think that’s where my skin thickened with respect to the weight that I assign to incoming words. I never reported it to the faculty, though, because even then, I didn’t think they should get into any trouble for vibrating their vocal cords at me. I’d either ignore them or learn how to do comebacks that would actually make them and their friends laugh. It was much easier to laugh at myself and with them, than to try to convince them to stop.

        When I mentioned “fighting battles”, I was referring to “removing hurdles” that were somehow keeping transgendered people from living their lives (as Jakebe put it). To me, someone else’s choice on how to flap their vocal cords is not one of those hurdles.

  4. I met 2 in person once. It was brief, and it wasn’t at a con. I was a social person, from the word go. Laughing, talking excitedly, and basically being the center of attention, all the while saying some of the most offensive things I’ve ever heard. How is that not who he is?
    I think part of what made 2 so popular so many years ago was that he was an ‘edgy comedian’ in what people felt was a fringe fandom. Now that we are becoming more accepted mainstream, the edginess is proving to be counter to what the fandom as a whole is honestly about, and people are really starting to notice. Maybe, if we just stop paying attention to him, and just do our part to further then fandom in a positive way, he will just fade away. Maybe more positive role models can take center stage.

  5. I kinda feel like the whole affair boils down to the statement, “if you don’t like my opinion, don’t listen to it”, which is disingenuous in the same sort of way as “if you don’t like pee, don’t come in my part of the pool.” :/

  6. [Please not that I do not hate jake be and love 2 I see problems with both sides] In your argument you state that people don’t commit suicide for attention. I am going to have to call you out on this. Do you remember a few months back when the German aeroplane pilot crashed a plane to commit suicide? Well I seriously doubt that he wasn’t doing that for attention. Also the girl that 2 mentions says in her suicide note that she wants them to “feel sorry”. Now those words in that note say that she was doing it for a form of attention. But you might say that you have had depression well so have I and by reading your views I notice that we had extremely different types of depression. What I can infer from the text is that you where angry at yourself and that face that you where weak. Me however was looking outward and seeing the world and going “I hate this place, I don’t want to live here”. And I am confident that there are a few other types as well. However in the context of the pilot and the girl 2 mentions a can assure you that they had the latter of the ones I mentioned and by looking at the text I may be wrong but it seems to be that you have had depression therefore you think you are an expert I am sorry but that is not true because there are many different types and causes to depression and you have only experienced one
    – Henry

    1. The problem here is that “suicide is the act of a pathetic weakling crying for attention” is an extremely popular belief among people who don’t understand mental health and have no compassion for other people. The idea is very much promoted as the one-stop explanation for self-harm, because it allows people to take out their frustration with victims of self harm on the victim themselves.

      But self harm and suicide are extremely serious subjects, and that makes it all the worse that these subjects and acts get treated so dismissively and cruelly by so many onlookers and commentators. That very treatment and popular image of self harm only serves to hurt people who are depressed and in poor mental health more. This is not hard to figure out. There is plenty of easily available documentation and research on depression and self harm available from decades of research. This is why suicide hotlines exist in the first place – so that people in trouble can talk to those who actually understand what’s happening, rather than being forced to listen to flippant individuals who don’t comprehend what they’re going through.

      Because of all this, it is much better to err on the side of caution when making assumptions about why people commit self harm or attempt suicide. Falling back on the default thinking of “well that one person that one time sure seemed like they were just wanting attention!” and using that to justify a general attitude that people who commit suicide deserve scorn for their sad needy weakness is just plain ignorant. It’s even dangerous. It’s also kind of sociopathic, if we are going to be honest about things.

      Besides, that popular line of arrogant thinking relating to self harm makes no real sense when one steps back to deconstruct it – while an airline pilot harming many others in the process of suicide is obviously terrible, if someone leaves a vengeful, angry message in a more general sense after committing suicide, what’s the mystery? That someone in a horrible state of mind may lash out at others? Because that is what people in pain do? Are other people so self-centered they’re going to be offended by that and just sneer at a person who has harmed themselves in a way that requires an incredibly broken and painful state of mind? Evidently a lot of people actually are that self-centered.

      1. You mentioned, a few times, that you think those with the “extremely popular belief” “have no compassion for other people”, and are “self-centered”. I find that to be a bit of an odd stance to take, given the examples used: A pilot commits suicide and takes an entire plane full of passengers and crew with him, A (probably fictitious) girl receives mean text messages, leaves a note that her intent is to “make them feel sorry”, and commits suicide.

        When someone condemns and criticizes the person who committed suicide in those situations, they’re showing their version of compassion for the friends and family members of the people on the plane. They’re projecting empathetic frustration for the friends and family members of the girl who committed suicide. To call that “self-centered” is, in my opinion, a rather ignorant stance to take, given that they’re feeling compassion for those who are left behind to grieve.

        Let’s face a simple fact: In cases of suicide, the “victims” are the people who love(d) the person who is deceased – just as much or arguably more so than the deceased is the “victim”. I say “more so” because the loved ones go on hurting for years, wondering if they could have done something different, and grieving and missing the deceased. The deceased no longer exists and doesn’t have to live with the pain that they’ve inflicted upon their loved ones, so, in a way, they’re less of a “victim” (of the suicide). Yes, I acknowledge that they may (or may not) have been a victim of mental illness, but that’s a distinctly different thing.

        Focusing anger and frustration at the person who made the decision to and followed through with ending their own life is not an act of being self-centered. It’s an act of compassion for those who are left behind to go on hurting. I dare even take that idea a step further and say that following through with suicide seems far more self-centered than vilifying it.

        I think the break down in the different “sides” in this argument has to do with “depressed and suicidal” getting conflated with “deceased as a result of suicide”. You might argue that there’s little difference, but I think the distinction is fairly major. It would absolutely be self-centered to think that someone who suffers from depression is “sad, needy, and weak” for the same reason that it would be self-centered to tell someone who fractured their tibia and fibula to “walk it off and get over it”. Conversely, I don’t believe that it’s self-centered to emote frustration and anger toward someone who makes the decision to end their life and inflict a blast radius of pain, confusion, and guilt upon those around them for the same reason that it’s not self-centered to direct anger and frustration at someone who murders their ex because of their break up.

        While I acknowledge that there may be some people who believe that those suffering from depression are “sad, needy, and weak”, this whole debacle didn’t start because of them. It started because of 2_Gryphon’s comments that were directed toward someone who followed through with suicide (and may not even be a real person) for the sole purpose of “making her detractors feel sorry”. 2 then goes on to attempt to encourage people, who might consider suicide, to *not do it* and to go on living. His overall sentiment is basically “suicide is not an acceptable solution to the majority of the problems that drive people to it”. Whether his method of attempting to encourage suicidal people to go on living utilized an effective psychology or not, vilifying him for making his possibly misguided attempt seems a bit … misguided. There’s a whole lot of misguidance going on, it seems.

  7. Damn man, funny how friends turn on you so easily. Like fuck are furfags becoming so afraid of being made fun of they need safe spaces to protect them? Oh they made a joke that’s offensive gotta go cry about it and get them banned lol. Yeah some of his logic is flawed but no one claimed him to be perfect. This is kind of fucked though what you’re doing. Hopefully you’ve grown a bit.

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