catsittingstill: (Default)
[personal profile] catsittingstill
There have always been things it was unacceptable to say in public. For example if you seriously proposed that we should steal other people's babies, cook them, and serve them up at large public banquets--there would be consequences for that.

Freedom of speech doesn't enter into it--the government isn't going to fine you or jail you for this proposal. But there are social consequences; people start treating you differently. You might lose friends, or clients, or your job. People might start hustling their children inside when you come around--people may be less willing to be seen talking to you, or less willing to talk to you at all. That's just how it is when you start saying unacceptable things.

The thing that weirds some people out, is what is acceptable to say in public changes over time. It used to be okay to say that women were not intellectually fit to head up a family, or have the vote. It used to be okay to say blacks were half-savages. People might disagree with you, but nobody would think you were deranged or morally questionable to say it. Now people scootch away from you on the Group W bench there. There are social consequences; you lose your ability to use the official communication channels of your professional organization to express these ideas; people don't want to be seen associating with you. The government won't fine or jail you, but you've moved into "I have some great recipes for roast baby!" territory.

Sometimes what is acceptable to say in public changes quite quickly. "Gays are immoral and probably dangerous" was okay even thirty five or forty years ago. Even twenty years ago you could probably have gotten away with it. People might have disagreed with you (I hope,) but you weren't in any trouble when people found out you thought this. Now, we don't want to hear about your recipes for roast baby and we think there's something wrong with you that you even bring it up.

And of course, there's never a really clear dividing line or any obviously posted rules. But there is one rule that I think will do well to keep you out of trouble. Don't be a dick to people who have a harder life, or less power, than you do; don't punch down. Don't tell jokes about blacks, or repeat lies about Muslims declaring women un-Islamic, or whine about how illegal aliens get free college education. Because don't TALK to us about roasted BABIES, okay? Why did we even have to SAY that?

Date: 2014-05-24 08:23 pm (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
This should be on a poster everywhere.

Date: 2014-05-25 12:44 am (UTC)
randwolf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] randwolf
Someone is talking about roasted babies? (Googles.) Oh. Glurg.

Date: 2014-05-25 02:07 pm (UTC)
randwolf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] randwolf
I was far too tired when I wrote that. But teh Google is not our friend. (No, there isn't advocacy. But…)
Edited Date: 2014-05-25 02:23 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-05-25 04:55 pm (UTC)
autographedcat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] autographedcat
We'll, it's also the premise of Jonathan Swift's satiric essay "A Modest Proposal".

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catsittingstill

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