zero tolerance for intolerance

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{image is a photo of a woman’s feet on a coffee table next to a teacup. Borrowed from here.}

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As many of you know, I have what I like to pithily call a “zero tolerance for intolerance” policy on Diary. That seems to confuse some folks, so I thought it might be helpful to answer some of the specific concerns that pop up any time I mention the policy.

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“You’re being a hypocrite. You’re insisting that we be tolerant, but you’re being intolerant.”

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So let’s start here. “Zero tolerance for intolerance” was supposed to be a cute little turn of phrase, but apparently the words themselves are problematic. Let me break it down and explain what I mean by it.

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When I say I have zero tolerance for intolerance, what I mean is that I will not abide ableism, racism, sexism, discrimination against the LGBT community, or pretty much anything else that hurts or reinforces the oppression of a group of people based upon an intractable, fundamental part of who they are. My goal on Diary is to create a space where all people are accepted, celebrated, and, above all, safe.

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“But don’t I get to be accepted and celebrated too?”

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Of course you do. You just don’t get to spout bigotry here that will make folks who spend their lives fighting for their most basic rights feel unsafe. There are plenty of places to do that. Just not here. That doesn’t mean you’re not accepted here. It just means that you have to check your prejudice at the door when you come in. And since prejudice ( unlike gender or sexual orientation or race or neurology) is not “an intractable, fundamental part” of who you are, that’s possible. 

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“I don’t have to agree with that lifestyle.”

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I’m not sure that I understand what it means to agree or not agree with who a person is or why it matters whether or not we all subscribe to the same thinking about it. What I do know is that living authentically, be it through intimate relationships or gender expression is not “lifestyle.” It’s life. It’s living. Period. No one should ever be denied the right to love nor live their truth.

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“What ever happened to freedom of speech?”

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Um, nothing. Freedom of Speech is still protected under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution as well as in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where it’s more broadly defined as Freedom of Expression. Both codify our right to say what we will (with explicit and fairly numerous exceptions, a la screaming fire in a crowded theater) without threat of prosecution by our government. It does not mean, nor has it ever meant, that we are free to say something hurtful and insensitive without someone telling us, in their inside voice or not, that we’re kind of being a douchenoodle, nor does it mean that we get to say anything we want on a Facebook page without the owner of that page deleting it. Until FBI agents start showing up at our doors, I can assure you, Freedom of Speech is alive and well.

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“But what about MY rights?”

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Which ones are you concerned about? Your right to marry the person you love? Your right to a free and appropriate education? Your right to get and keep a job or an apartment without discrimination based solely on your neurology, gender identification or sexual orientation? Unless you are LGBT or neurodiverse, I can promise you that those are all safe. And will be, even when everyone can say the same.

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Hopefully this helps clear up some of the confusion. The bottom line is this — Diary is my home. I turn on the lights every morning, brew the coffee, and open my door to 227,000 or so people who pull up a chair and talk. I love learning from those with different perspectives. I thrive on respectful debate. I welcome anyone who wants to join us.

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So please make yourself at home. Feel free to put your feet up on the virtual table. Get comfie. Take what you need from the fridge. Just know that there are a couple of things I don’t allow in my house.

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Thank you so much for being here. It wouldn’t be the same without you.

21 thoughts on “zero tolerance for intolerance

  1. I dislike the “lifestyle” thing as well ….and the “choices” thing. Who chooses to be bullied, harrassed, discriminated against? Thanks for trying to keep the place safe.

    • From POV of a bi person: I think the “choice” discussion is a very nasty verbal trick that the bigots use to try to get even self-professed progressives to implicitly admit that marginalized sexualities are Bad and Wrong.

      Cuz the moment “choice” becomes part of the discussion, it’s no longer a question of whether or not bi people like me or gay people or lesbian people or pan people or aces or aros or what have you deserve the right to live in peace with and love people we are attracted to (or not as our orientation may dictate). It becomes a question of whether or not we do this Bad Wrong Disgusting thing because it’s biology (implied: in which case unfortunate affliction we can’t be blamed for and should be pitied for – yey intersectional ableism and homophobia) or because choice (implied: in which case we should be condemned and ostracised).

      I hate the “choice” question for that reason. The moment you start down the “choice” path, you’re tacitly surrendering the point that I and people like me are Bad/Wrong/Disgusting. I refuse to discuss choice/not choice because of that. I always return to “how does love hurt anyone?”

      • yup, precisely why “love the sinner hate the sin” is so patently offensive as it relates to love – which isn’t a sin. it’s love.

  2. Jess, I read all of your posts with interest, and enjoy the insight and knowledge you share. I have something to share with you now! On April 13, the FB page iVillage Australia shared a video that instantly made me think of your family. It showed a family having a plaster cast being made of them doing a “Hands In” type of pose. Everyone grasping another’s wrist to form a ” love knot” of sorts. This would be a perfect thing for your family! Just wanted to share this with you.

  3. Your page rocks, your rules rock, and “douchenoodle” rocks!

    Interestingly, those same “but what about MEEEEE?” people are the ones who, if you DARE disagree – just disagree with a post they put out there, will jump on you with both feet, crying “I’ve been bullied! You’re so mean and disrespectful!” (no, you’ve been disagreed with, and with tact). And they and/or their friends will go back to YOUR page and attack you (i.e. “defend” themselves) for disagreeing (“bullying/disrespecting”) and anyone else who comes to your defense or agrees with you. Sigh.

    Thank goodness rational and respectful pages like Diary exist!

  4. Thank you for letting me stop in for a visit. I do feel at home here. It is YOUR house, blog, ideals that make me comfortable. When I begin to feel otherwise, I will move on. Others should do the same. They are free to make that choice. Unfortunately some others do not have a choice. Their beliefs and decisions are discounted and government regulated. I don’t have to like what they say or do…. But do we not have the obligation to them to respect their decisions also?

  5. Jess, Any chance we could get a diary meme of the whole paragraph about freedom of speech? 😘. It might save time in a pinch. 😄

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