Sunday, January 31, 2016

Besmirching My Good Name? That's A Paddlin'

Disclaimer: the title of this blog post should not be construed as pro-violence against women. It's a Simpsons joke, poking fun at corporal punishment against children. In this case, it's a verbal paddlin'. Please stop jumping to conclusions, people.

It's come to my attention that maybe some people are threatening the two people involved in this debate. If it's specifically about my blog post, or about Queersgate in general, let's set one thing straight: NOT FUCKING COOL. You're giving me and my other well-behaved white brethren (yes, I know you're a white male, I wasn't born yesterday) a bad name. Please don't do this.

I promised myself I wouldn't speak up. I comforted myself in knowing that the majority of people who know me recognize my good nature and think I'm pretty rad. But then I started thinking about the people that don't know me.

Click this link for some unbiased back story. For the people that don't know me, I'm the Greg mentioned in the article.

I've been very vocal about this, engaging the petition's authors and their supporters on Facebook. I've tried to keep it civil, I promise. I know that most times, taking the high road is best because it shows my dedication to reason and common sense. Trust me, the juvenile part of me wants to mock and tease and prod the social justice bear, but I kept to the high road to see if we could actually have a proper discussion on the subject.

Turns out, that doesn't matter. I woke up to some unsettling news today: someone was talking smack about me on the internet, and there was nothing I could do to defend myself. I'm blocked from their page, so I had to use someone else's  profile to view and take screenshots.

This person and I have many common friends on Facebook, but they also have well over 500 other friends who don't know me from Adam. That's a lot of people who, if they read this, will walk away thinking I'm racist and sexist. I should also add that the following discussion is actually between two people, both of whom have equal contempt for me due to my previous anti-social justice warrior ramblings.

I blacked out the names of all directly and indirectly involved parties. But I present the discussion in full, as well as some very important rebuttals. I care because this is a direct attack on me, in a public forum on the professional page of a local burlesque performer, full of people that know my wife through her important work in the burlesque community in Ottawa. I don't need people thinking she married me despite (and by association, endorses) my allegedly racist and sexist views. Also, I guess I do care about my own reputation somewhat. Ok, a lot. I'm only human.

1. You're absolutely right, we do not owe each other discretion. However, we do owe each other the courtesy of being able to speak on our own behalves in order to defend ourselves (comments are open to you on this article, by the way). In this situation I'm being called out by my full legal name, which is NOT my "public figure" name, in a thread where I'm blocked from viewing without having to use someone else's account, and am blocked from commenting.

I chose to black out the names of all involved because I'm less concerned with making them look bad as I am making me look not bad.

2. I don't know what my opinions RE Blackpussygate have to do with this, and you didn't make it terribly clear. When you refer back to Queersgate, you're implying that I said public outrage is invalid because slacktivism. Actually, I said THIS particular piece of outrage (the anti-Queers petition) is invalid because slacktivism. I said from the start that I have no opinion one way or the other on Joe Queer's attitudes or behaviour, and that this wasn't an anti-social justice warrior post, this was only about the validity of the petition, which I felt sorely lacked in any convincing evidence (both within and in the article linked within) that would merit cancelling a show. I understood from the get-go how my stance could be misinterpreted, and worded everything carefully so that I wouldn't be misunderstood. Clearly that didn't work.

3. The very essence of my initial complaint was "show me more proof". I read every reply of the thread obsessively, much to the detriment of my day job, hoping that I would find satisfaction. There was literally nothing. If you posted links, I never saw them. I never saw any anti-black stuff beyond the Darren Wilson stuff, I never saw a single mention of transmisogynist views and behaviour, and these two complaints where THE FOCAL POINT of the petition.

Either way, even if said links exist and I just missed them, that doesn't matter and here's why: the initial petition was never modified to show additional evidence. The petition was the only source of communication (to my knowledge) between Babely Shades and the promoter/venue. It's certainly the only widely public communication. Everything else is buried in Facebook comments or private messages (if it exists at all), which you can't expect everyone to read. So at the top of the pile remains the original petition, which calls out the band in a very specific way but continues to provide poor evidence in support of said accusation. THAT is what the general public is going to see and form their opinions on, not the ensuing discussion.

Look, I'm no lawyer but burden of proof is a pretty straightforward concept. If you make an accusation, the onus is on YOU to show guilt, not on anyone else to prove innocence. It's not my job to scour the entire internet looking for a negative result. The best I could do is say "I didn't see anything after 10 Google pages" whereas you can say "Here are 20 links supporting our claims".

Also, hyperlinking may or may not constitute defamation, depending on the statements accompanying the link, but I'll bet you whole lot of money that issuing a petition to the general public wherein specific claims are made against an individual and wherein there is a demand that this person should be barred from performing and getting paid... that is very much defamation should said claims be proven untrue in a court of law. The whole point of defamation law is to prevent the dissemination of falsehoods against an individual in such a way as to ruin their reputation and/or livelihood. This is exactly that, even without taking links into consideration.

4. Nice, thanks. That stings. Wait I don't care, I haven't told any lies to damage someone's reputation. I said weak evidence this and be responsible that, but I never told a single untruth, nor did I name anyone by... uh, name.

5. How did women of colour get pulled into this conversation? This is about anti-black behaviour, specifically RE Michael Brown's shooting death. You can make the stretch that Joe Queer is anti-black and that he's also anti-woman, and so is therefore anti-black women, but these are stretches that YOU are making, not me.

I can't defend myself within that thread, and anyone who doesn't bother to research what I've written on my website (I assume it'll be most people who are reading these comments) will now walk away with the impression that I mock women of colour, which is categorically untrue. If anything, THIS constitutes defamation.

6a. This is in reference to my not being part of the punk scene, or a fan of The Queers, which somehow invalidates my opinions. That's neither here nor there, because I'll bet you cash money that the majority of people reading that petition aren't punks or Queers fans either.

One might think that when I first saw the petition, I immediately set out to disprove it, but it's quite the opposite: I read it and thought "Oh geez, another fallen rock icon who's actually a terrible person", and scrolled down to the bottom of the page, expecting a bunch of links to back up the claims.

Instead I found one link, and was very disappointed by the lack of supporting evidence at said link. This is when I started questioning the validity of the petition, and here we are.

Fans of The Queers or members of the punk scene might know more about Joe Queer than I, but that doesn't matter. This petition is asking the general public, WHO DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE QUEERS OR OTTAWA'S PUNK SCENE, to pass judgement based on the "evidence" you provided.

6b. I can't believe this keeps coming up as an argument, but at the same time can I really be surprised? I stressed over and over that I was looking for MORE information, not less. I didn't want to silence them, I wanted them to speak louder and more clearly. Imagine a gathering with a big banner that says JOE QUEER IS BAD and me yelling "Speak up, we can't hear you in the back of the room!"

There's a foregone conclusion that I'm trying to silence women of colour through this entire debate, and it's making me crazy that no matter how many times I try to clarify that this isn't the case, this keeps coming up as fact.

Listen: I'm trying to help you use your social justice powers more responsibly by asking you to improve your petition. If you can't do that, you're silencing yourself.

7. See point 3, and point 6a. I'd like to repeat that my knowledge of the band in question has ZERO to do with the validity of the petition. Somehow, this became a sticking point for them. In fact, I've received positive comments along the lines of "I can't believe you're doing this and you don't even know the band". I'm fighting for fairness all around, as opposed to fairness towards everyone non-white/male/etc.

Also, we live in a day and age where I now have to clarify that the above statement should not be held in the same regard as those #alllivesmatter idiots. Don't lump me in, that's just lazy.

8. I was responding to the actions of someone who thinks they have the authority to police the fate of a concert with many, many willing participants in the crowd, of all shapes and sizes and colours. It's one thing to voice your opinion, more power to you. But knowing that your opinion, in the form of a petition that will likely pressure the show into getting cancelled? That's police brutality if you don't have a damned good reason to shoot.

9. I applaud the attempt to have their voices heard before the show. I'm not generally a fan of petitions to cancel concerts or speakers based on their previous comments or actions, but if you feel you absolutely have to, then do it right. Not once in my article did I ask them to take down the petition, even though I don't agree with this practice. I only asked them to write a better petition.

Incidentally, I named Babely Shades because they wrote the damn thing and put their name all over it. Don't talk like I singled them out. Hell, I'd never heard of them before this all started.

10a. I think it's pretty clear that my petition is one-off joke to conclude my much more detailed blog post on the subject, the one full of supposedly shitty things. Let's focus on that going forward.

10b. Again with the silencing. Don't paint with such broad strokes, it shows that you never really read my blog post, or if you did, you went in with your mind made up and nothing would ever change that. You're actually making yourself look bad by repeatedly claiming something that I denied right from the beginning.

10c. I tried from the start to have a critical discussion and was immediately shut out for being a white male. That's frustrating as hell, I want you to know that. I also know that most non-white/non-male/non-straights know all too well how frustrating it is. How the hell can we get anything accomplished if no one is listening to each other?

10d. And there it is, the direct accusation against me that a friend messaged me about, alerting me to this thread that I don't actually have access to or the ability to defend myself on.

Look, the words racist and sexist are highly open to interpretation as to their severity, but can have profoundly bad consequences if thrown around loosely (especially the race one, duh).

I don't have a racist bone in my body, but I also know that this statement is usually met with "Yeah that's what all racists say". What in the hell are people who actually aren't racist supposed to say, if the claim "I'm not racist" means "I'm actually racist"?

I'm not going to bang my head against the wall trying to prove I'm not racist or sexist. I've seen this fail so many times by other people because of an unreceptive audience.

And look, I'm not the type to try to follow this up in court. Everyone knows that I don't have enough money to even look up a lawyer in the phone book. Even if I did, I'd let this one go because it's not worth the drama or stress for either of us.

But I want to go on record to say that this statement is highly defamatory, as it's a direct and false attack on my character. It's bullshit and you have lessened yourself in the eyes of many in our shared community by making this statement when they all know it to be categorically untrue.

You know damn well that this is personal. We hate each other, and we both know it. But I've got the class to keep my mouth shut and let you live your life without calling you names on the internet.

And now, some Everly Brothers to take us home

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