Monday, 25 January 2010

Are we the baddies?

An update from Bird of Paradox about the Queer Question Time event featuring everyone's favourite bigot, Bindel.

It would appear the organisers are playing the victim card, and arguing that people protesting the inclusion of Bindel - who really has no business whatsoever being on a panel of this sort (aside from anything else, she's said she regards queer-identifying people as akin to devil-worshippers and that she wants nothing more to do with them, so why go on a panel for them?) are the evil forces of censorship which is evil.

Bindel herself has advanced a similar line about those who 'persecute' her, of course, a line which I deconstructed here. But this line of thinking is actually more widespread than Bindel, and probably needs a more serious debunking than my snark-heavy efforts. Fortunately, there's an excellent critique of that mindset to be found here.

There are people who think that when we protest giving a platform to people like Bindel, it's because we're offended. And it's true that we are offended. And, undoubtedly, they are equally offended by what they see as us trying to 'censor' them. But that's not the reason for the protests. The reason for the protests is that giving Bindel a platform where she can spout her bigoted BS causes harm. I explain below how media attitudes help to create a climate in which, where some women are concerned, people can get away with murder, and that's a climate which Bindel, with her dehumanising remarks about trans women, has helped to enforce again and again.

It's very hard for people like Bindel to understand this, of course. One of the reasons it's so hard is that they haven't really grown up and got used to the world we now inhabit. As an old-style feminist, Bindel hasn't got used to the degree to which the struggle's moved on. She's stayed behind on the curve and, as often happens, has gone from radical to conservative without apparently changing. But more than that, as an old-style newspaper columnist, she's not used to the degree to which the web makes it easier for her opinions to be challenged. Anton Vowl at the Enemies of Reason has a good post on that here.

What this all comes down to in the end is Bindel taking offence at the fact that her spurious authority as a 'leader' is being challenged by people who can bring attention to the harm done by her words. We live in a world now where it isn't enough to inveigle yourself into a safe position at the Guardian and rest safe in the knowledge that any critical opinion of you will be thrown in the bin and never make it into the letter column. We live in a world where, if you fuck up, if you act badly, if you write words that get people killed, you will be called out on it, and, if you fail to properly apologise and make amends for what you've done, those bad deeds will follow you no matter what you do. And when people take the chance to remind others of what you've done, and why it was wrong? Those people are not the aggressors and you, no matter how aggrieved you feel, are not the victim.

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