This week, discussions I was a part of collided. Over in political land, it was a discussion about the Website Jezebel. In case you were unaware, after Obama was re-elected, Twitter and Facebook lit up with dis-satisfied voters who thought the best response to the news was racism and hate. Some of these people were teenagers doing that thing teens do so well…say stupid things. Jezebel was understandably put off by these comments. Their response was to compile a list of these folks…their names, their schools, their extra-curricular activities, what sports they play, etc. The idea is, apparently, to really hit these kids by ruining their chances at college and so on.
In comic world, the other day, someone found a website post Director James Gunn did two years back (possibly closer to three). It was a list of the 35 comic book characters folks want to have sex with. So, it was a mature list. I was actually familiar with the list…and the less controversial list (one with none of the commentary that bothered people) has comments by me. I used to be pretty active at Gunn’s site. He was very interactive, and in spite of random moments that made me cringe, seemed pretty open minded. The list I commented on, Gunn and I had an exchange about our shock that the only Watchman character to make the list? Comedian. Seriously. The rapist. The list was compiled by a vote, and on one version of the list, Gunn made commentary that was a bit…uncomfortable. Rachel Edidin addresses it nicely.
Some have stated it was satire of Misogyny. Maybe. But it failed because it did not lampoon the outdated attitudes…it seemed more to lampoon it’s subjects. But the point is, people wanted to do something about it. And this is where stuff collided. People seemed to want to destroy Gunn.
I am not crazy at all over the idea that the right answer when someone offends us is to try and get them fired. People have the right to express the most heinous of ideas. I have every right to decide whether I want to give them my money. I have every right to express how wrong I think they are. I have every right to take to twitter and express that. Or Facebook. It is important to have that outlet of protest. But when we take it the step ahead and force destruction to rain on their heads, we start to lose our righteous ground. Especially, I am concerned because these are tactics that were used on the left for decades. Threat to out gay people, petitions to get people with unpopular opinions fired, etc. Look at the pro-life movement. There were some within the movement that publicized the names and addresses of doctors who performed abortions. As some doctors were shot and killed, they were crossed off the lists in blood.
Do we want to have a legacy like that? Where we start keeping a list of people who “think correctly” and those who fail to meet our standards are not allowed to move on in life? Do we really think it is different when we do it to them? It’s somehow different to try and get someone fired because they are homophobic than to get someone fired because they are gay? Should something you said years ago be held in higher regard than where you are now? The person I was long ago held very different opinions on issues than the person writing this post. There was a time in my life that I saw homosexuality as evil. I was vehemently pro-life. Do the views I evolved to mean less than the ones I held when I was decades younger? I cannot comfortably agree that punishing kids as Jezebel seeks to do is wise or good. It is not the right step forward. Especially hurting their ability to get into schools. Yes, lets try and keep them teens from going to the place that often results in a personal re-evaluation of one’s beliefs.
Gunn, btw, apologized. And hey, he avoids the “sorry you were offended”…he takes credit for the failure on his own. Considering that other recent offenders took the “Stop being offended route? (including defenders of Gunn) it was kind of refreshing.