Plain Speaking, Politics

Banned in Boston. Oh, Wait. I mean “Restricted on Ravelry.”

It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?  I mean, we all know what “banned” means.  It means you’re toast.  Your goose is cooked.  You’re fried.

(The following interlude is brought to you by the Nasty Little Man Who Sits On My Shoulder, and who keeps whispering: “Remember, this is 2019, and thou art woke!” into my ear:

NLMWSOMS: Hey!  What’s with all these cooking metaphors?  You got something against cooks? Against cooking?

Me: Errr.  No.  Wassup?

NLMWSOMS: Stop using cooks and cooking as a figure of speech to illustrate oppression then!  Cooks are people, too.  They deserve respect.  So do the [expletive] geese!  For Pete’s sake.  Cut it out.

Me:  Umm.  OK.  Let me think.  I know!, I’ll say, if you’re banned, it means, you’ve been sent to the dog house!

Another voice:  Hey, no!  Wait a minute!  Speciest!

Me: Who the hell are you?

Another voice:  I’m the Nasty Little Man Who Sits on Your OTHER Shoulder!

Me:  Glory Be.  I’ll just shut up then

BothNLMWSOBothMS (clinking glasses together): DRINK!

And that’s where it stands.

Now, I’m guessing that most people who read this don’t remember Banned in Boston. But I do.  It was a phrase used through the early 1960s to describe the activities of officials in Boston, Massachusetts who deemed certain literary and artistic works too corrupting for the eyes and morals of their gentle citizens, and it’s come to be a metaphor for societal overreach in keeping transgressive points of view out of the public square.

Today, the fact that one’s work was “banned in Boston” is considered a badge of honor, a relic of the days when conformity was normalized, and when the odd, the brazen, the gay, and the out-of-round were celebrated by those who considered themselves progressive, and by those who believed in free speech for all,  even when such speech offended.  And today we laugh at the old fuddy-duddies who objected to works of art such as Fanny Hill and Lady Chatterly’s Lover, and who wanted to make sure they were consigned to the ash heap of history, never to offend or pervert the morals of our youth.

Another interlude, this one from RWKJ’s literary critic, the one she tries to suppress, but who erupts occasionally and unwelcomly, like the Ancient Mariner’s wedding guest, just to cause heartburn and bother:

LitCrit: Have you ever read Fanny Hill and Lady Loverly’s Chatter?

Me: Umm.  Yes.  But . . .

LitCrit:  They’re crap.  Total crap.  Speaking just from the point of view of literary criticism.  Two instances (and there were probably more) when the Women’s Christian Temperance League, or whoever was driving the “let’s ban this in Boston bus”  was on to something, when they insisted on keeping them out of the public square.

Me:  Hmmm.

Yep.  They were crap.  But was it right to ban them?  That’s the question.

Kevin D. Williamson has an interesting perspective on this in a National Review Online post here.  You may agree with it, or you may not, but it’s worth reading.  (I don’t always agree with him myself, but I think he’s on to something here.  And, as ever, he writes like an angel.)

Now, as far as Ravelry goes (not all that far, I’ve discovered), there’s a difference between a private business saying we don’t want any Trump supporters feeling free to speak out on our site, so, Trump supporters, “Shut Up Already!” and that being written into law by the good Selectmen of Boston.  I get that.  But all things start somewhere.

Now, I’m not an avid Trump supporter.  And other than saying that I don’t agree with their new ukase policy insisting that all people who support Trump must support white supremacy, I’m not sure why my account has been “restricted.”

I replied to the email telling me I’d been “restricted” for violating their “terms of service” as follows:

Please explain, with some specificity, in what way I have violated the terms of service.

Please also tell me why, in view of my repeated requests that you  (Moderators?  Editors?  Owners?  Whoever you are) have suddenly come to attention over my account, when I, a Ravelry member in good standing for over a decade, have repeatedly, both privately and publicly, asked you to engage and stop the disgusting personal attacks on me over the past 48 hours, including accusations of presenting a false identity (false), photoshopping my profile (false), misrepresenting my activities on Ravelry over more than a decade of membership (false),  lying to the current membership (false), “talking shite,” (false), and the accompanying derision and mockery that has been cast my way as a result of your letting this go for as long as you did.

You seem extraordinarily selective in the “community guidelines” you’re interested in enforcing.  I have to wonder why that is.

Looking forward to hearing from you.  Thanks, so much.

Of course, I’ve heard nothing since I sent that.  Free speech for me.  But not for thee.  Insults OK when directed at me.  But don’t criticize others.  Lying about me OK for you.  Speaking truth about you, not OK for me.  Check.

What does “restricted on Ravelry actually mean?”  (I’ve been asked.)   Here’s what they say it means:

Restriction applied: forum posting, messaging, and commenting are disabled for 60 days.

I can’t send, or reply to, a message to, or from, any of my friends.  I can’t comment on a post.  I can’t create a new post.

I suppose I could buy patterns.  Or patronize the vendors.

I’m not sure, at this point, that I want to, though.  Ravelry vendors take note.  I’m looking for alternatives.  I suspect I’m not alone.

Perhaps I’ll just sit back and wait until the fact that I was “Restricted on Ravelry” becomes a badge of honor, just like “Banned in Boston” has.

I know it will.  One day.

PS: As far as Ravelry is concerned, and absent the courtesy of a reply to my civil inquiry, I can only speculate as to why my account has been restricted.  I suspect my transgressions against them were twofold.  I’m not an avid Trump supporter, so I don’t think it was that (although several members felt free to call me a bigot, and several other names.  They probably think I’m a white supremacist, too. lol.  If they only knew).

I think my transgressions were that  1) I pointed out in response to a Ravelry member’s eruption (paraphrasing) of “WTF and Christian Republican Pro-Lifers, why are you blaming this woman in Alabama for the death of her baby rather than the man who held the gun (emphasis added).  I committed the cardinal sin of pointing out the relevant fact–that woman was actually shot by another woman.  They didn’t like that at all.

Then, I compounded my sin by telling  a member (who I think was engaging in good faith) that I was glad she’d (I think it was a she) never had to respond to an abusive or threatening situation in a self-defensive mode.  I described (in a sentence or less each) four or five situations that I or my friends or family have faced, and said that I’d never second-guess their self-defense reaction in any of those cases.  That was described as “hurtful,” and “triggering,” and I was accused of bringing up episodes that made victims relive their trauma all over again.

Silly me.  I thought that, if there was a useful outcome to all the #MeToo gum-flapping and pussy-hat wearing of the last eighteen months, it might be that all this tiz-wozzing about “triggering” and “we can’t talk about this” might be toast (to circle back to my earlier point.)  But, no.  Ashley Judd notwithstanding, we’re still, apparently, not allowed to mention, or talk about, difficult subjects.

As I tweeted yesterday:

I am sorry that people are sometimes triggered by factual descriptions of factual situations. It’s hard for me to understand how we can have conversations about difficult things if we are not allowed to mention the difficult things that we are having conversations about.

PPS:  The image at the top of this post is from Boston, in the year 1659.  It’s a public notice, from the Puritans, banning the celebration of Christmas.  Let’s not play into the hands of those who think we’re too stupid to recognize what’s going on today.  If we’re about free speech, we must also stand for those who speak “truths” that we don’t subscribe to.   And I do.  Try to shut me up, though?  Good luck with that.

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