Get up, stand up

5 03 2013

I’m not much for trigger warnings.

I’m not opposed to their use—I think bloggers who have a sense of their readership and who actively cultivate a “safe space” are justified in warning their readers—but I’m not someone for whom a safe space is a priority. I don’t actively try to cultivate an “unsafe” space, but I neither do I take care of my readers in terms of helping them to avoid topics which upset them.

I’m sorry if I do—that is not my intent—but as I generally take a chin-up and tits-forward approach to political and social matters, I presume my readers will as well.

Thus, my mixed reaction to Oberlin’s cancellation of classes in response to a series of racist incidents on campus.

On the one hand, I get it: take the time instead to address this as a collegiate community, make sure everyone is okay, safe.

On the other hand, I think: really? Cancel classes on account of some hateful assholes?

Back to the one hand: Some students undoubtedly are upset by the actions of the sheet-covered dipshits, feel targeted, threatened, and otherwise singled out. And other students are undoubtedly upset that these sheet-covered dipshits are wrecking their community by targeting, threatening, and otherwise singling out their classmates.

These students need to be supported by the administration and their fellow students in both public and private, and the racists need to be called out for the hateful shits they are.

However—and this is the other hand—I don’t know that dropping everything to have a campus-wide conversation “challenging issues that have faced our community in recent weeks” is the best way to go either. I wonder if this doesn’t make conversations about racism, sexism, and homophobia an emergency phenomenon, something to be dropped after the emergency passes.

Even more, I wonder if the emergency approach doesn’t somehow disempower students and faculty, as opposed to saying, We can—and will—handle this.

It’s also possible that shutting down the campus gives too much “credit” to the  hateful shits: Someone who parades across a campus with a long and honorable tradition on issues of equality in a fucking Klan outfit should be mocked for the troll s/he is.

And how should trolls be dealt with? If one can’t ignore them—and the Oberlin community probably can’t ignore them, not if if wants to support those who feel targeted—then they should be confronted, mocked, and in no way given any satisfaction for their shitty deeds.

Both hands: this is a tough call. I hate cancelling classes, but if Oberlin sees fit only to cancel a day or two’ s worth to address this, that’s not an unreasonable response.

But it would also be good if, as part of that not-unreasonable response, instead of focusing solely on the harm and the recovery, they offer a sense of resilience. Support those who feel threatened, absolutely, but also let it be known that the trolls who scrawl hate are small and mean and to be pitied rather than feared.

What was that old fake-Latin phrase? Nolite te bastardes  carborundorum—don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Those dipshits in sheets aren’t worth it.