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The system is broken


Kevin Owens

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Alright. Normally even my most serious of entries contain a healthy amount of depreciating humor that I'm just as eager to use on myself as I am on those around me. There's very little I approach without a quick wit. It's something of a coping mechanism that I use to deal with the world I find myself in. We all have to do what we have to do to survive, and I'm the same.

 

Because I'm approaching this without making a joke or an obscure reference that only Smeag or Wrack 'n' Ruin would get, I hope you all can appreciate just how serious I am about this. It's something I take extremely serious, and I hope all of you can respect that.

 

In case it isn't blatantly obvious, I am referring to a topic related to sexuality. Specifically I want to talk about BZPower's rules on the subject. While for the most part I've been happy with the ruling, but in the recent months I've become increasingly aware that it is an insidious double standard and one that simply must be done away if BZPower is to maintain its claim as being for equality.

 

This is a bold claim to be sure, but one that I am positive is demonstrable. The staff has claimed multiple times that sexuality is not a political nor a religious issue. I used to agree with them when it comes to this, and in many ways I still believe that claim. However ideals do not exist in a vacuum even if we want them to. While sexuality should neither be a political nor a religious issue, the sad fact is that sexuality is very much so both a political and a religious issue. To think otherwise would be to deny the reality that we find ourselves in. Sexuality is inexplicitly tied to both religion and politics even though it shouldn't be. My blog entries and the responses therein are a testament to this fact. An attempt to deal with sexuality as anything but a political/religious issue is an attempt doomed to failure. If we want real, permanent change we must accept this fact. To deny it is not only foolish. It is detrimental to progress.

 

I say it is time for the rules to change. The system is broken. The rules as they stand now do not line up with the virtues espoused and harbored by both the staff and the members. We stand for equality. We stand for the dignity of every single human being, regardless of their beliefs or orientation. If this is true, and I'm sure that we are believe in it, then I must pose this question: why am I being silenced alongside the bigots and the hateful?

 

There is no mistaking it. That is exactly what is happening. The rules that once kept the floodgates from breaking have become antiquated. They are suppressing those who are already suppressed. I am not allowed to voice events surrounding my rights and liberties. I am not allowed to talk about serious events that have a serious impact about me. Why? Because bigots might raise their voice. Because those who would seek to hate me for who I am would do exactly that. So to prevent them from doing so, I am prevented from talking. If I do wish to talk about these events, I am forced to do so in a manner that skirts around the issue at best and only thinly veils it at worst.

 

If you don't believe me, consult this entry. What exactly have I done wrong here? People were being supportive and there was no flaming or bigotry. Apparently mentioning the DOMA by name was the reason the entry was closed. Suppose I removed the reference. Suppose I said "Today some big event happened in relation to the GBLT community. I have mixed feelings." I suppose that would be an acceptable substitute in the eyes of the rules, but nothing as changed. It's clearly obvious as to what event I am mentioning, and it won't stop the bigots from coming in and being hateful. It's insulting to both parties to dance around the issue when it's cut and dry what we're really talking about.

 

In a twisted way I suppose it's a sense of equality. I'm not allowed to talk about serious events in relation to my sexuality, and the bigots aren't either. Then again the idea of silencing a person about their sexuality just because people won't take kindly to it doesn't exactly sit well with me. Mainly because it's erasure. Which is a bad thing.

 

It's for this reason I left staff a few months ago. At the time the current rules and their implementation didn't sit well with me, but I didn't quite understand why. I knew something was wrong. I didn't know what. Now I have realized the reason. I am being silenced alongside the bigots. Because my sexuality and reveling in progress might upset people. It might cause people to use hateful language. It might cause people to express bigotry.

 

Anywhere else this would be called victim blaming. On BZP we call this equality.

 

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the staff are all monsters who are suppressing me. I was once staff. I've stood in their shoes. I know what it's like. You often have to make the best of an absolutely terrible situation, and it's rarely an easy thing to do. I really do emphasize with them, and they have my sympathies. However my empathy will not prevent me criticizing the really culprit here. The rules are to blame, and they need to be changed in a way that does not silence those who are oppressed.

If people are going to be bigots in response to my blog post about DOMA, then let them be punished for being bigots. Do not silence me because they might be bigots. Do not ask me to not talk about my sexuality. Do not try to hide behind the veil of 'equality' by silencing both parties. Do not insult me by offering me small, narrow gaps with which I can express my sexuality.

 

And don't tell me nothing good ever comes out of this. Kakaru stands as a shining example of the good that comes from confronting bigotry head on. He made some offhand remarks like how "My religion doesn't agree with your sexuality but I still like you." I challenged him on it. He changed. Change does happen when you don't silence people because of their sexuality.

 

My name is Gato, and I'm done putting up with this disgusting double standard.

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I'm not 100% sure what you're saying here. Are you asking for the rules on political discussion to be done away with? That seems... dangerous.

 

Besides, most of these "bigots" are little kids. I feel like the ideal solution would be to toss the "sexuality" thing back into "political discussion" and we can talk about bionicles. Or increase the lower age limit for membership, like some other Lego communities.

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I'm not 100% sure what you're saying here. Are you asking for the rules on political discussion to be done away with? That seems... dangerous.

 

Besides, most of these "bigots" are little kids. I feel like the ideal solution would be to toss the "sexuality" thing back into "political discussion" and we can talk about bionicles. Or increase the lower age limit for membership, like some other Lego communities.

I'm not asking for either of those. What I'm asking for is a meaningful change where I am not being silenced along for the bigots. My tenure as staff ended about two months ago, and it's not my decision to make.

 

I'm actually pretty offended that you put bigot in the quotation marks in reference to kids. It doesn't matter that they're kids. It is not an excuse. What if they told a joke about racism or sexism? Should they be pardoned then, or should they be told that what they're doing is wrong and will not be tolerated. The whole 'they don't know any better' is a massive problem. It's a symptom of institutionalized homophobia. They should be taught better, and I shouldn't be silenced because some ignorant person takes offense to my very existence.

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No, I mean people here tend to explode when bigots (I didn't use quotation marks) appear on this site. There is not gentleness here, and there should be. That's all. It's like a feeding frenzy when some misinformed individual appears in the blogs. It's frightening to me, even though I'm on the side of the sharks.

 

Let me get this straight. You want political discussion (DOMA) to be allowed when it's not rude and homophobic?

 

 

Edit: I suspect we agree and I'm just not communicating (or understanding) very well.

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No, I mean people here tend to explode when bigots (I didn't use quotation marks) appear on this site.

 

I might be wrong here but....

Besides, most of these "bigots" are little kids....

Those are quotation marks, right? Or am I missing something?

 

I wouldn't say we act like sharks, and those that act out of line should be criticized for doing so. But if we seem angry, it's probably because we are. I'm unsure if you've been on the receiving side of discrimination, but it hurts. It hurts a lot. In the sake of brevity I'm not going to rehash what I've said in other blog entries, but when somebody is hurt by somebody else don't expect them to be calm about it.

 

That's pretty much not what I said. I feel as if the rules as they stand right now are suppressive as I feel as if I am being silenced alongside the bigot.

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When people post hurtful, disparaging, or insulting comments about groups of people our members belong to, it's not really uncalled for that they would be upset. A lot of people have to deal with that during their real life, some more than others, and to make an entry to celebrate something about oneself just for another to come in and needlessly hurt them for doing so... I mean, it is understandable that people would not take kindly to that type of behavior. Either way, I've never seen outright insulting going back and forth as of late -- in the past the term bigot was used and applied, correctly, to people who were posting disparaging remarks about other people needlessly.

 

It's not exactly every member's job to gently educate people who hurt them; many will reply feeling insulted and explain the reasoning behind their feelings (Often in a form of request for them to not post stuff like that). Things tend to only escalate when the other party disregards those feelings and continues to post disparaging and hurtful remarks.

 

I can totally see where Gato is coming from on this subject and, admittedly, people shouldn't be forced to be quiet because talking about something that deeply affects them could potentially offend a small group of people. At the very least, when issues about actual rights and human decency come up and there's a victory in favor of them, no matter how small, it would be a boon to have a place to voice happiness for it. Then just deal with rule breakers as they break rules, rather than try to preemptively strike (as the preemptiveness ends up restricting both sides; the one not really causing trouble or harm, and the one that's often going out of their way to cause trouble and harm whether or not the see it as such).

 

I'm not nearly as eloquent as Gato or Princess, but that is my take on all of it.

 

EDIT: Most of this was in response to Bunda's second response, I got a little sidetracked so it came up late. (I doodled a chocobo, okay).

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By that I meant I removed the quotations the second time I used the term as a sign I had accepted my chastisement. I guess that wasn't clear. :P

 

Gay Bible-belter here. I've heard a lot of unpleasant things. I just tend to be a really passive person, I guess. Kill them with kindness.

 

As for being silenced... I'm still not following. People talk about being LGBTQ here all the time. Like, ALL the time. And the staff is fine with it. It's just when you start talking about actual political decisions you get shut down. I don't see the problem with this.

 

 

Edit: This was @ Gato, but it works for Spink's comment, too. Hi, Spink.

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The line between discussion of sexuality and discussion of the politicization of sexuality is a very fine one, and oftentimes any meaningful discussion has to at least toe this line. Generally speaking, when entries are closed, I can understand why - but I don't think it's necessary all of the time and I don't believe that there is any legitimate double standard behind all of this. It's just really hard to judge when something is becoming political/religious enough to boil over into rule-breaking, and I'm sure some closings have been preemptive strikes.

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By that I meant I removed the quotations the second time I used the term as a sign I had accepted my chastisement. I guess that wasn't clear. :P

 

Gay Bible-belter here. I've heard a lot of unpleasant things. I just tend to be a really passive person, I guess. Kill them with kindness.

 

As for being silenced... I'm still not following. People talk about being LGBTQ here all the time. Like, ALL the time. And the staff is fine with it. It's just when you start talking about actual political decisions you get shut down. I don't see the problem with this.

 

 

Edit: This was @ Gato, but it works for Spink's comment, too. Hi, Spink.

 

The line between discussion of sexuality and discussion of the politicization of sexuality is a very fine one, and oftentimes any meaningful discussion has to at least toe this line. Generally speaking, when entries are closed, I can understand why - but I don't think it's necessary all of the time and I don't believe that there is any legitimate double standard behind all of this. It's just really hard to judge when something is becoming political/religious enough to boil over into rule-breaking, and I'm sure some closings have been preemptive strikes.

 

I'm obviously not being entirely clear here, so I'm going to try to break this down as best as I can. I posted an entry about the repeal of DOMA. I was happy that it happened. This is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with this. To be opposed to the repeal of DOMA would represent a hurtful line of thinking, and it would be against the rules. It would be wrong. The entry was preemptively closed to prevent people from saying hurtful things. Why were the people rejoicing silenced when nothing wrong had happened? Nothing hateful had been said. Nothing demeaning other people had been said. Why was it closed? People should be punished for saying hurtful, spiteful things. People should not be punished for rejoicing that a step was taken in overthrowing institutionalized homophobia.

 

I'm not nearly as eloquent as Gato or Princess, but that is my take on all of it.

 

EDIT: Most of this was in response to Bunda's second response, I got a little sidetracked so it came up late. (I doodled a chocobo, okay).

Pfffft. You are plenty eloquent. Also I want to see that chocobo.

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Ok. I get it now. Sorry for being dense. I guess the only problem with that thought is, where to draw the line? It's obviously a political issue, even though it has personal implications. Do we draw the line of the no-politics rule just past discussion of gay rights? That doesn't seem right.

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The "No politics" rule, in my perspective, ought to encompass purely political topics and fare. Human rights, decency and wanting to be treated like everyone else in society (and having the ability to post a happy entry on the matter when something positive does happen) aren't the same as, say, going on a tirade about taxes, or political ideologies.

 

On the former you have people expressing a sentiment about being treated a little better by society and the nation, and the only dissent to be heard would be rule breaking in its very nature (saying one group of people doesn't deserve rights hardly amounts to what BZPower strives to promote, or says it strives to promote). On the latter, you get the heated debates where ideologies and political philosophies come in and it simply is a big mess at that point and it doesn't promote the ideals BZPower holds (equality, treating one another decently).

 

 

(also Gato, I'd show you the chocobo but it was a 3DS swapnote doodle to a friend :<)

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I suppose that is a valid desire.

 

Drat, I conceded your point. I think that means I lost the conversation.

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I suppose that is a valid desire.

 

Drat, I conceded your point. I think that means I lost the conversation.

Pffft. Nothing wrong with losing an argument. I lose arguments all the time. Just as Princess. It just means that you've come to a better place, whether it be understanding yourself or the world you live in. You learn better from your mistakes than your successes or something like that.

 

But yeah Spink pretty much hit it on the head. Human rights should be okay to talk about. I mean I'm sure somebody (e.g. me) would make the argument that Communism is a human's right issue, but at that point they'd be so far gone that we wouldn't take them seriously.

 

 

(also Gato, I'd show you the chocobo but it was a 3DS swapnote doodle to a friend :<)

Blast. I need to pick up a 3DS at some point.

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I said that more in jest, as I don't think we really disagreed enough here for it to be labeled and argument. (Right? I haven't felt like I've been arguing...)

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Being a History major combined with like eight years of philosophy training has taught me to view any minor disagreement with a point and counterpoint to be considered an argument. The term doesn't contain the same negative connotation for me that it might with others. I guess civil disagreement would be more accurate?

 

At any rate we're cool. No worries.

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(Hi, I'm nobody but wished to put my opinion on this.)

In my vague understanding, the current system is in place to prevent hate speech. People get very passionate about political and religious issues. When there is conflict in opinion, this passion lends itself far too easily in insults and really hurtful comments - from both sides.

You speak of bigots who need to be corrected. The fact is that with all due respect, you are not called upon to change others' opinions. They have the right to their opinion, whether right or wrong. If you have the freedom to express your opinion, they must have also.

At the present, if you are gagged, so are they. Changing this is liable to spark conflict and insults to both sides, which I guess is what the staff wishes to avoid.

 

Do not get me wrong. I support LGBT rights, women rights and equality for all. I was celebrating too on Wednesday. I want to see a society where all people are free to be who they are without discrimination or hate speech. The mere fact is that if you want your opinion to be heard, you cannot ask for another's to be silenced.

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(Hi, I'm nobody but wished to put my opinion on this.)

In my vague understanding, the current system is in place to prevent hate speech. People get very passionate about political and religious issues. When there is conflict in opinion, this passion lends itself far too easily in insults and really hurtful comments - from both sides.

You speak of bigots who need to be corrected. The fact is that with all due respect, you are not called upon to change others' opinions. They have the right to their opinion, whether right or wrong. If you have the freedom to express your opinion, they must have also.

At the present, if you are gagged, so are they. Changing this is liable to spark conflict and insults to both sides, which I guess is what the staff wishes to avoid.

 

Do not get me wrong. I support LGBT rights, women rights and equality for all. I was celebrating too on Wednesday. I want to see a society where all people are free to be who they are without discrimination or hate speech. The mere fact is that if you want your opinion to be heard, you cannot ask for another's to be silenced.

I think the main point of contention is that one group of people is discriminating, hating, and demeaning a group of people because of who they are. The other group is trying to be who they are.

 

Why are the people in the right being censored alongside those who are being hateful? BZPower has a long standing support of equality, and that's something I've always been proud of. Equality doesn't mean that people get to say hateful, hurtful things about other people. That's a false generalization. Equality means that all people are treated the same, and they shouldn't have to put up with hateful things being said about them.

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You speak of bigots who need to be corrected. The fact is that with all due respect, you are not called upon to change others' opinions. They have the right to their opinion, whether right or wrong. If you have the freedom to express your opinion, they must have also.
One may hold the right to an opinion, but if that opinion is voiced it is up to the powers that be (be it the authorities/law in real life, or BZPower Administration) to determine whether or not that opinion ought to be voiced. When an opinion is less of an opinion and closer to a damaging attack on a group of people, such would be saying that they do not deserve rights, are not normal, are unnatural, are abominations, and when those people choose to use hurtful terms to refer to those particular groups... then no, it really should not be tolerated. At all.
Being happy for human decency, for human rights, for human progression and for being treated like everyone else is hardly an issue. In being happy, no one is being harmed, marginalized, demeaned, disparaged, or made to feel uncomfortable or hurt (actually, the opposite). However, by going into that person's space and saying "no you don't deserve those rights, no you are not normal, no you are not what you say you are, no you are unnatural" now that's just petty and cruel and has absolutely no place on a website that presents itself to hold up ideals of human decency, kindness and equality in order to foster a welcoming, safe community for all walks of people.
So I'm sorry, but not all opinions are "valid" and some are flat out cruel and utterly mean and demeaning. And I don't tolerate people treating others in such a disgusting manner.

 

At the present, if you are gagged, so are they. Changing this is liable to spark conflict and insults to both sides, which I guess is what the staff wishes to avoid.
Changing it would not, unless the staff stood by and allowed it to happen and take place (and, knowing DeeVee, he definitely would not allow it to happen). The idea behind changing this rule is so that people can support each other, can come together and exude happiness when something regarding human rights, decency and equality is put into effect within their lives. As for those who would rather crush that happiness? Well, BZPower does not tolerate disparaging remarks regarding groups of people based on their characteristics so, even without the debated rule in effect, they would still be breaking the rules and ought to be dealt with as any rule breaker be dealt with. Simple as that.
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I'm hearing a lot about rights in this topic. I'm not going to debate about whether or not anybody deserves certain rights. But if you have the right to post about your sexuality, then others have the right to be against that. Everyone has their own opinion. Your opinion is that the LGBT community should be equal with everyone else, while someone else might believe that they shouldn't be equal. I'm not justifying those who post rude and hateful comments. But once you post an opinion, you have to let the other side post their opinions, and that is why the staff are so careful with political and religious debates and discussions.

 

I'd also like to add that sometimes the people that aren't all for homosexuality are insulted and put down as well. Maybe not nearly as often, but during my membership here at BZP, I've seen some hurtful words toward someone who doesn't agree with homosexuality given by those supportive of the LGBT community. I think both sides just need to sit down, calm down, relax, and just believe what they believe. BZPower is really not the place to debate about such topics. I'm not saying to stop being you, or to stop believing in what you believe in, but everyone really needs to stop arguing about this and just let it be. Either you agree with homosexuality or you don't. And not agreeing with it does not in any way make you a bigot, or homophobic; it just means you have different beliefs and you probably were raised in a different way than others. There are definitely bigots and homophobic people out there, but please, do not call someone a bigot or homophobic because they don't necessarily agree with your own beliefs.

 

-Rez

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1) Human rights isn't debatable, sorry. If a group of members respond to the additional amount of rights, freedoms and equal avenues granted to a group of people who lack those by saying "no that's wrong" then... no, we're not even going to humor that. It's absolutely no different than people who marginalize other minorities to where the terms "sexism" and "racism" may be applied (hint: BZPower tolerates neither). BZPower is a website that condones equality, that condones treating your fellow human beings as humans, that condones decency; this website does not condone the very concept of condoning the opposite.

 

2) If everything deserves people's opinions to be posted, then by myself very much saying "I'm gay" or "I'm trans" then everyone deserves to post their opinion on that, right? Even if that opinion causes me distress, feeling uncomfortable, feeling insulted, targeted, or harassed? Right? After all, we must let absolutely everyone voice their opinion on everything, no matter the consequence it holds on the person who only wanted to share in their happiness. (hint: No. If an opinion is doing damage, it's hardly an opinion you're allowed to express on this family friendly website).

 

3) No, others on the side of being treated nicely really aren't "putting down" anyone. I've never seen anyone put down on that side of the fence and I've followed every single one of the discussions, way back when they happened a couple of notable times on the old forums. Those people are called "bigots" they're called "sexist" they're positions are called "hurtful" and they're called out for hurting others. Additionally, no: the label "bigot" and "sexist" are definitely not insults. They're accurate terms to describe an attitude someone puts forth, namely when that attitude is actively demeaning and harming other members for absolutely no reason. If someone is going to have the audacity to insult someone else, to hurt them, then they don't deserve to be placed in a super fluffy box safe from being called out on it. At best, they deserve a deleted comment and a "You're not to post insulting and degrading rhetoric on our website."

 

4) This isn't debatable political issue. This is a human rights issue. (See my last post, even).

 

(Note: I'm sorry, but when someone is actively hurting people because they are gay or trans* -- claiming they don't deserve to be treated equally, insinuating there's something wrong with them, or posting that it's "unnatural" and such other nonsense, then yes they are being trans/homophobic. "Homophobic" is not some sort of standard insult, it's a description of how people are choosing to behave and present themselves and, I'm sorry, but it's accurate. I'll call a racist a racist and not go out of my way to make them feel better about their viewpoints when they want to oppress a subset of society.

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I think any system where half the country will be free to speak and the other will be silenced is a bad idea, regardless of how you spin it. Regardless of what side you are on, not everyone on the other side is evil and not everyone on your side is a saint. The issue is far more complex than that.

 

In my humble opinion if both sides would just sit down and talk about it - without the insults or labels - everyone would be a whole lot better off, but clearly that is impossible here and, more importantly, would be impossible if you ban either side from speaking their opinion. This is a children's website still and the topic of sexuality is undoubtedly an adult one, and adult content isn't allowed here. That's my two cents, really.

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The issue is pretty simple to me. The moment you use hateful speech and try to take away someone's rights you pretty much lose the right to have an opinion. Calling someone a "bigot" is a statement and a fact(assuming they have actually said intolerant/hurtful things).

 

Sadly, sitting down and talking about a lot of issues has gotten us nowhere in the world. Not allowing hateful speech would not be impossible, it would be the right thing to do.

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Funny how people use the words, "bigot" "haters" "radicals" "extremists" "ignorant" to label people if we disagree with them.

 

Rather funny to me.

 

(I do realize that a few of those words I mentioned, were not mentioned in this blog or any of the comments, but they have been.)

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