The Company You Keep

Monday, December 6, 2010
Like many people, I have a number of people with whom I am "friends" on Facebook that I know only casually. Some of them I met through work, some I knew many years ago and we've recently reconnected, and some are friends of friends. The one thing they have in common is that I don't know them very well.

So Facebook provides an interesting window into those individual's lives, and the lives of their friends, through comments. Which brings me to the point, and an addition to my list of Seven (now Eight) Things That Make Me Judge You:

If you have friends in your social network who make bigoted comments on your Facebook wall or on your blog, and you remain silent, I'm going to assume that silence is acceptance and judge you accordingly. In other words, I'll think you're a bigot yourself, or you tolerate bigotry, or you lack the moral courage to stand up when you see bigotry in your own space. And I'm going to drop you like a hot rock.
To a certain extent, people are judged by the company they keep, and their reaction to that company. If you choose to tolerate bigoted shitbaggery in your personal space, what, exactly, am I supposed to think about who you are? When it comes to this sort of behavior, tolerance is NOT a virtue - ethical and moral standards demand that we act.

When people show you who they are, believe them.

13 comments:

Phiala said...

It's not Facebook, but here's one that bothers me: Nick's mom and other relatives frequently make racist or otherwise bigoted comments. Friends and acquaintances I won't put up with that sort of thing from, but I'm stuck with family. And actually, I have at least one relative who does the same thing.

So far I've kept my mouth shut rather than risk major family trauma, but it bothers me. I'm sure I haven't come up with the best way to handle it, but what IS that mythical best way?

Janiece said...

Phiala, I can't really answer that, unfortunately.

In my own case, I actually "disowned" an entire branch of my family because of their racist points of view. I have no contact with my father's side of the family - at all. I cut off contact in 1992, and haven't heard from them since. Which is probably a relief for both sides.

However, I did instigate family trauma prior to making that decision - I let them know that using the word "nigger" in my presence simply wasn't acceptable, and I'd appreciate it if they would refrain. Unsurprisingly, they didn't, which led to my final decision to kick them to the curb. I simply was not willing to subject the Smart Twins to that sort of nonsense, under any circumstances.

That decision has made me far less tolerant of bigotry among others, as well. If I'm willing to cut off contact with half of my blood relatives because they're racist asshats, then what makes you think you're special enough to get a pass?

I guess the final choice comes down to tolerate or change. If you're not willing to change, then you have to be willing to tolerate. I surely wish I had something more insightful to give you - it's a tough situation.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

Bigoted Shitbaggery.
Love it.
I will attempt to use it 5 times today.
But on topic: Divorce #2, why oh why do your parents think it is OK to use The N-Word in regular conversation? And no, when we retire I will NOT be moving to Ohio, thanks for asking.

Phiala said...

Janiece, I hope I wouldn't put up with that level of bigoted shitbaggery. The family (rural conservative Christians), are prone to statements like "All X are Y," where X is a group of people and Y is some usually-undesirable behavior (but not always, it could be good too). That sort of thing is still both wrong and incorrect.

Janiece said...

Phiala, I've always found such stereotyping is usually the result of ignorance rather than deliberate malice - which means that the situation can be resolved with some gentle education.

Use of racial epithets, however, are almost always an indicator of something far more sinister. At least in my experience.

Shawn Powers said...

I agree with you to a point. Racial slurs, personal attacks, and hateful bigotry won't be tolerated -- but misguided, ill informed, and hateful-because-they-don't-know-better people will get a gentler hand from me.

Too many people are the product of their environment, and unless they're given a patient, tolerant (only to a point, only to a point) hand, they might never change.

I think my "line" in the sand is that I'll tolerate people being nasty to me personally much more than I'll tolerate them being nasty to others. Still, I like to give people a chance to redeem themselves before cutting them off.

Shawn Powers said...

And, in reading back the comments, yeah it looks like we're on the same page anyway. :)

Janiece said...

Shawn, we are.

I have a strong belief in the power of redemption, and I'm perfectly willing to help someone achieve it if they have a desire and a will to change.

Unfortunately, I don't think most people have either of those things, and I'm not willing to invest if they aren't. And if I have no emotional investment? You get THE BOOT.

redeye103 said...

Bigoted shitbaggery in the form of racism is easy to identify and luckily, other my brother, I never have to deal with it. On the other hand, my father is an extremely conservative christian and we have others in the family who are as well. I was really surprised to see this post this morning because my father and I had a pretty nasty flamewar over a post a cousin had put up. In her post, she linked to the Family Research Council which has been designated a hate group by the SPLC. The video was supposed to be all of the reasons why DADT shouldn't be overturned and that there was a vast homosexual conspiracy to corrupt America or something. I didn't say anything about anyone's beliefs but I did point out that it would be wrong to believe anything a known hate group would post. Needless to say, my father decided that was too far and told me to get my facts straight. I pointed out all of the reasons why FRC is a hate group with proof in the form of links to relevant web sites. We went back and forth, he called me a Nazi liberal then I questioned the existence of god. The last part was probably uncalled for, but I got called a Nazi and I was mad.

My question, does the anti-gay movement count as bigoted shitbaggery? Especially when the link in question goes to a site whose founders believe homosexual behavior should be criminalized. There is a ton of nasty stuff on the website which is why it got its designation and I don't feel I was in the wrong to point it out. But am I being a dick for questioning a belief held for religious reasons?

Janiece said...

Welcome, redeye103.

In my book, the anti-gay movement is in fact bigoted shitbaggery. I take such matters quite seriously, and really - I don't give a good goddamn why someone chooses to be anti-gay...my response is always going to be punching them in the throat. Including EVERY member of the FRC, who have been featured here before.

While I try to be respectful of others' religious beliefs, I draw the line at dogma that directly contradicts the principles of the enlightenment, i.e., women as chattel, homophobia, disrespect for human rights, etc. I, too, have family members with whom I vehemently disagree about these matters. Our solution is to keep our opinions to ourselves at family gatherings, and unsurprisingly, we don't see each other much outside of holidays.

Of course, they all know my personal history with the other side of the family, too, and how I feel about people disrespecting my daughter. So their silence regarding their possible bigotry against the LGBT community may have something to do with the guaranteed vehemence of my response. Nothing ruins a family holiday like the dirty, dirty liberal punching the Christina fundy in the throat for being a douchebag.

Janiece said...

I just realized I didn't answer your question...

No. You're not a dick. In far too many cases in this country, the Christian majority are nothing more than bullies. And my Hot Mom taught me that standing up to bullies is always the right thing to do.

MWT said...

Hrm. Well, the story with that one guy during my last cruise who kept saying "fag" ended well. I eventually pointed out my own membership in the LGBT and he accepted all the educational info a lot faster than the other guy on the cruise who was all talk about tolerance but couldn't do the walk at all...

Janiece said...

MWT, I'm very glad to hear that. I usually try to give people the opportunity to do the right thing. And sometimes they even surprise me.