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More adventurous than the average bear

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Andrew Sullivan on the Politics of Offence and Censoring Words

From the famous bigot, homophobe and religious fundamentalist Andrew Sullivan:

Engaging The T, Ctd « The Dish

"This plea in a university to be free of hearing things that might hurt, offend, traumatize or upset you is an attack on the very idea of education itself. And don’t get me started about “trigger warnings.” So many things worth thinking about, grappling with, and chewing over can be offensive at first or second blush. That’s what a real education is about: offending your pre-existing feelings and prejudices with reason and argument and sometimes provocation. Education is not and never should be about making you more comfortable and more safe within your current worldview. It should not be about accusing someone with whom you might disagree of a hate crime.

And the idea that trans people or gay people are those signing up for this mindless crap is particularly distressing.

Policing language is something no gay person should ever countenance – if only because our language and our speech, as tiny minorities, could be the first to be policed in that brave new world. And what does it say about someone’s self-esteem that they run crying out of a seminar because they cannot handle a simple fricking word (and that they do that, while preferring to be referred to as “it”!). I know life as a member of a sexual minority is not exactly an easy one. But what happened to self-empowerment? Whatever happened to the proud, fearless trans people fighting back against the cops at Stonewall? Whatever happened to the great tradition of flouting all sorts of public norms and parading down main street in full Pride regalia? Or the tradition of bawdy outrage perfected by generations of drag queens, gay satirists, cultural provocateurs, and performance artists whose goals often include the salutary impact of – precisely – offense?

All of this is to be buried in a ghastly, quivering, defensive crouch of affirming claptrap, with trans people whining to teacher that someone said a naughty word, and incapable of taking in even a completely benign discussion without collapsing into trauma and tears. There is only one word for this and it is pathetic."


On labelling people 'bigot':

What’s In A Bigot? « The Dish

"I once described the goal of Virtually Normal - written at a time when marriage equality was still a joke to many – as getting past the dynamic of one side yelling perverts and the other side yelling bigots. That has some emotional satisfaction for both sides, but it achieves nothing, and closes dialogue, rather than opening it. And dialogue is what supporters of marriage equality should always want – because our arguments are so much better. Another reader backs me up:

'I have a lot of sympathy for the idea that not every opponent of gay marriage is a bigot. The problem is that I don’t think there is a simple binary between good people who respect gay people and therefore accept marriage equality and evil people who wish to take away the fundamental right of a loving couple to marry'...

People are usually much more complicated that one word “bigot” can convey."
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