May. 24th, 2014

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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?

New Song

May. 24th, 2014 05:32 pm
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Ha! It's Alice Day* again!

I have been assiduously doing my reading for the Hugo awards. I was looking forward to _Ancillary Justice_; I had heard good things about it. I enjoyed it very much. _Neptune's Brood_ conjured big ideas of things outside my head, but _Ancillary Justice_ made me look at the *inside* of my head in a new way, which I found very fun. I was also utterly charmed by the idea of a character that sings harmony with herself.

So I wrote a song. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: One Esk. The mp3 and the pdf sheet music are linked under the title on that page as usual.

*My friend Alice encouraged me to get back into writing filk more often by asking me to put up new songs for her to learn. It's not much fun to write songs if there is no one to sing them to, but she pointed out I could put them up on the web. Now the days when I do this are called "Alice Day" in her honor.


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