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Squalid Glass
August 7th, 2018, 01:57 PM
A controversy brews. Over the last few days, poetry magazine The Nation has made the mainstream press because of its editors' response to its readers' response to a poem. The poem, written by Anders Carlson-Wee, focuses on issues of homelessness, the disabled, and the ways in which we treat one another. The controversy stems from the fact that the poem is written in what is called African American Vernacular English (AAVE) but the poet is white, and also because the poem uses the word "crippled," which is considered an ableist word. After publishing the poem, many readers complained, so the editors issued an apology, the poet apologized, and, essentially, a trigger warning was added to the poem (posted below).

This might be the most publicity poetry has gotten in some time. It's not exactly good press, though. Those on one side argue that the editors were essentially bullied into apologizing, and by doing so they betrayed their role as editor and compromised the magazine's artistic reputation. Those on the other side argue that the poem should not have been published because its approach is racially insensitive and does not take historical context into consideration.

I found this controversy interesting as it intersects art and politics. There are a few issues here I think might spur an interesting discussion:

1. Were the editors right or wrong in issuing an apology?
2. Should the editors have even published the poem in the first place? Does an editor have a responsibility to weigh the possible controversy a work of art might cause? Or does the editor only have the responsibility to publish what they believe is good, important poetry?
3. In regard to artistic voice, does an artist have a responsibility to "stay in their lane"? Or is any voice available to the artist, provided they use the voice correctly (as argued in the Atlantic article linked below)?
4. Is there a balance an artist should try to find between speaking freely in their art and being conscious of political correctness (I know that is a loaded term, but I can't think of any other term to describe the behavior of consciously avoiding possibly offensive language)? Seeing as how art is designed to bring about powerful emotion and thought (positive or negative) and also express the artist's feelings and thoughts, what is the artist's responsibility here?
5. There are perhaps many other issues at play here. What do you think?

It should go without saying, but it's not: As you discuss this issue, please be purposeful and precise in your approach. Resorting to ad hominem attacks with people you disagree with will not be tolerated, so watch your "SJW snowflake" and "MAGA racist hat" comments. This issue is nuanced, and there are good points to be made on both sides.

Below is the original poem and some additional reading I've found interesting on the topic. Please be advised that the poem has been described as being ablest and insensitive, so if you click on the first link below, you do so knowing. If you find some more interesting commentary, please feel free to post it:

https://www.thenation.com/article/how-to/
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/01/a...n-apology.html (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/01/arts/poem-nation-apology.html)
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/06/o...nion&smtyp=cur (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/06/opinion/nation-poem-anders-carlson-wee.html?smid=tw-nytopinion&smtyp=cur)
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/08/who-gets-to-use-black-english/566867 (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/08/who-gets-to-use-black-english/566867/)

Darren White
August 7th, 2018, 02:14 PM
Political correctness is an issue I notice every day, it is a source of great amazement to me as well.

I am an amalgamation of 'minorities', and as such there should be a lot I could feel offended about.
I am not white (contrary to what my name suggests ;) )
I am crippled
I am gay
I am almost mute
I have Tourette's Syndrome
I have number of other issues.

However, I feel everything should be out in the open, and open to discussion. Words, even words that can hit hard, are only words. I don't feel offended by people who use language others see as offensive. I even think it's painful to notice that poems, poets are forced to apologize. They should be praised instead, and protected by their publishers.

Because by writing about it, there is an opening for thought and discussion. Oppression always has had an adverse result. Putting a ban on controversial books has not put an end to the neo-nazi movement.

People often think I am a muslim (while I am not), simply by looking at me, we all have first gut reactions. The challenge here is to step out of it, remove that restrictive box, and start thinking independently.

Pete_C
August 7th, 2018, 08:33 PM
I know Squalid Glass asked a bunch of lucid and well-considered questions, and so to recognise that sensible approach, I'm not going to answer any of them. However, I will throw in my tuppence worth.

My writing offends people, and I'm okay with that. People offend me, and I'm okay with that. However, the day that writers - creators of thoughts and feelings and emotional roller-coasters of the mind - start giving a fuck about the rules and regulations laid down by the easily offended, that's the day I'll put down my pen (or keyboard). There are very few freedoms left to mankind. Literature, whether that be poetry, prose or reportage, can transcend all boundaries. We can love and hate, kill and cure, build and destroy, supply hope and supply fear, sooth or aggravate, fight or fuck; we can do it all without anyone getting hurt. But a poet gets fucked over for using the word 'cripple'? That's an abomination.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who calls themselves a writer and who condones this utterly pretentious nonsense is dead inside. And I mean dead. And I mean inside. Words don't kill people. They don't harm people. Dey don't do nothin' (and he got slammed for writing like that, because it is apparently 'blackface' talk, whatever the fuck that is).

Before people say, 'well, he apologised,' I don't care. He shouldn't have. As writers, we walk a precarious line between loving and loathing. Veer too much to one side, and your words become puff, useless, worthless, pointless shit.

I'd rather die than ever change my words because some pontificating twat found them offensive.

P.S. I am prone to bad language, but if anyone wonders why I'm effing and jeffing a bit more than usual on this, it's because I am fucking livid. And if I have offended thee, pluck your fucking eyes out!

And relax...

Squalid Glass
August 7th, 2018, 09:40 PM
Pete, your passion is tangible. I appreciate it. Just to dive deeper, I wonder about another aspect of this: one of the issues people have brought up about this work is the issue of intent vs social/historical context. Clearly the poet was attempting to view a situation outside his lane with empathy, but because of historical context, some found his appropriation of African-American vernacular misguided. Do you think an artist has a responsibility to recognize the issues in the world at large related to their chosen approach, or is it more the artist’s responsibility to express themselves in whatever way they choose, social context be damned?

andrewclunn
August 7th, 2018, 10:11 PM
Wait, we're NOT supposed to use literature and art to empathize with others? Pen names and ghost writers aren't a thing? Damn, screw those culturally appropriating translators!

Pete_C
August 7th, 2018, 10:26 PM
I could get all mardy about the speech being described as 'African American Vernacular.' I'm an anglo-saxon white male that comes from the UK. For the first two decades (at least) of my life the term 'African American' wasn't used, even in America. However, I knew plenty of people that spoke in that way. Londoners, from London, in London. White working class blokes, long before Gansta rap was born, back when the Beatles were risque. Who the fuck are the bleeding hearts to tell me that speech using simplistic linguistics is now owned by a cultural clique on the other side of the pond? Is zippedee-doo-dah an African American owned phrase, and if so, why? Alliteration is a linguistic tradition. No one owns it over another person (or creed or colour).

So, here's my answer, sort of. I can only write what I write with my intentions in mind. I can't legislate for readers who will dig deep to find something that offends them. I can't legislate for people who wrongly read between the lines. I can't legislate for people who are determined to ride the 'fuck me, how offended am I?' gravy train as far as it will go. Their offended state is their concern. If I, as a writer, believe that what I write is not intended to hurt, humiliate or degrade other people who don't set out to hurt, humiliate or degrade others, I don't give a flying fuck how offended they are. That's their issue.

However, I will not refrain from writing what I believe is a good story (or poem) if I believe it offers an insight into the real world, even if I know some people will play the 'I'm offended' card. Fuck them; they're nothing to me.

aj47
August 7th, 2018, 10:29 PM
Empathy -- yes; mockery -- no. If it's "fun" or "style" it's not empathy -- it's superficial, without understanding or even an attempt at such.

As for political correctness ... I live in Texas and this is my view. Your mileage (of course) may vary.
"What ever happened to common courtesy?"
"You renamed it 'political correctness' and said it was a bad thing."

Pete_C
August 7th, 2018, 10:34 PM
Empathy -- yes; mockery -- no.

That is a whole other debate!

Mockery of the weak, those unable to defend themselves, those unable to defend themselves: wrong, totally fucking wrong.

Mockery of those empowered and who dictate terms for the underlings, or who have the ways and means to defend themselves: that's kind of all I write.

I vote mockery!

Squalid Glass
August 7th, 2018, 10:43 PM
That would be satire, which can be a tool for the marginalized and oppressed.

To the issue of language, I think the Atlantic article I quoted above does a good job addressing the issue.

Pete, I tend to see your side of this issue more clearly, but I do take pause at one thing you said, which is that if I intend not to hurt or offend an innocent person, then I am not doing anything hurtful or offensive. I think this is a bit narrow. We can often cause harm where we did not set out to. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t write what we want. I just think it’s a point worth being aware of.

After all, once your art is set upon the world, it’s no longer yours. It’s the world’s.

Theglasshouse
August 7th, 2018, 11:45 PM
1. I believe they were right to issue an apology but at the same time the artist made his creation, and it's unavoidable that it is part of an identity that is ingrained since we are born. 2. Yes, they had every right. The government has the responsibility of promoting culture. Freedom of the press is something that has allowed this to exist. What I think is that they should give more minority voices a chance. It rings true that the population that gets published the most by far and gets its recognition is bound to be the majority. People live different lives and have different identities and the most specific we can get is a person's likes and dislikes and pet peeves. No one is born the same, not even a twin. I, therefore, would say he has every single right to write since we live in this sort of world (Erick Erickson a professor who had tenured at Harvard came up with the identity theory). Politics have gone out of the window many times. Art can be a nuanced expression and not every art form will appeal to a political agenda or even politicians. Can it influence people? Yes, it can? Maybe some of the greatest people on earth were thinking not in art. As a virtue art has been said to be difficult to measure its influence. Except for some school programs like Japan (maybe the only one), books are required to be read every week. One book for every week during the school year. Art is associated with creativity and is a school tool, and is what we probably want to become. It has our values I argue and this is what we identify with. If it is with movies with Stephen King's novels, there'll be a poster on the wall for the Shawshank Redemption which my brother had in his room.

Values take shape with stories and from the earliest time since legends and fables. To have a command over the language and influence something the person needs to be a good citizen since childbirth raised in a good school system and environment.

3. The artist has every right to try to get away with art.

Morality is important and a way to reason issues. The more bookish you are the more aware you are of ignorance and it makes you a good mind reader.

In my reasoning, I say the government is to blame and not the artist.
4.
The artist can say what they want, but will probably not be viewed as an artist if they break the rules and offend the reader's emotions. I think this balance is something we want but cannot have. We value freedom just as much as we value creative expression. A celebrity has no responsibility for what they do. They are bounded by the law. They are artists too.

5. Yes, I think this is a lack of government powers to fix the world morally. Look at what they are doing in Japan. It is admirable. The Japanese people are typically polite too when their culture is studied by anthropologists.

I think it is a hit and a miss to make assumptions and this is just me. I don't intend to debate this post. It's just an opinion. Where I am coming from I know people have their own reasons for believing.

I believe art creates sublimation which has been mentioned in psychology. Not to mention it could send messages that are good. The good versus evil struggle is what art should try to do. But it suffers from commercialization. I want every well intending artist to succeed. I want to read positive morals and interesting stories.


There are no policing powers for artists. The audience votes with their wallets. (sorry for the joke, I am trying to make a serious comment and response)

Squalid Glass
August 8th, 2018, 12:08 AM
Glasshouse: your point about putting more diverse voices into positions of influence is spot on. More perspectives on an issue leads to more acknowledgement of nuance.

Pete: I agree. I set my questions as launching points, including the last question to allow the discussion to follow its own open natured path. Teacher trick. I think this conversation has been intriguing and informative. Iíd love to hear more voices too.

Bayview
August 8th, 2018, 12:22 AM
I'm having trouble reconciling:
We can love and hate, kill and cure, build and destroy, supply hope and supply fear, sooth or aggravate, fight or fuck.

With:
Words don't kill people. They don't harm people. Dey don't do nothin'.

As a writer, I believe words are powerful. I believe the "build and destroy, supply hope and supply fear" aspect of your post, but that means I'm really not sure about words that "don't harm people" and "do nothin'".

I think fear is harmful. When I look at the divisions within nations today, I think most of them are based on fear. Fear of the other, fear of the unknown, fear of being hauled out of your car and beaten by those in authority... whether the fear is justified or not, it's incredibly powerful, and, yeah, I think that power can be dangerous and damaging. And a hell of a lot of that fear is fed by words, written or spoken. So it's hard for me to accept the idea of words that do nothing. If they're not doing something, they're not the right words.

In terms of the questions from the OP?

1. I don't think there's anything wrong with apologizing if something you did had unintended consequences. If that's why they apologized, I think they did the right thing.

2. I don't know how to distinguish between "possible controversy" and "good and important". I think they're closely connected, but they seem to be presented as opposing factors.

3. I've always had trouble with the concept of "voice".Elsewhere on this board I believe I've read that "voice" is something that sticks with an author from piece to piece and is an inherent part of their writing... if that's the case, it seems like the wrong word to be using, here? Do we mean "dialect"?

4. I truly think of political correctness as "not being an asshole", so, yeah, I think it should be a factor in everything we do, not just in our writing.

Squalid Glass
August 8th, 2018, 12:26 AM
Bayview- to your issue with the word voice, that might explain some of the issue here. Clearly the voice in the poem is an appropriated voice. I think there are a lot of people who find that appropriation inappropriate, given historical and social context.

In this case, I think the voice and dialect are inseparable.

Pete_C
August 8th, 2018, 12:43 AM
I'm having trouble reconciling:

With:

.

Sadly quotes within quotes are disabled.

The first is a reference to fiction, the second to reality.

Bayview
August 8th, 2018, 12:55 AM
Sadly quotes within quotes are disabled.

The first is a reference to fiction, the second to reality.

So you don't think your words have any effect on people? Why do you bother writing?

Pete_C
August 8th, 2018, 01:00 AM
So you don't think your words have any effect on people? Why do you bother writing?

I would love to comment, but following the Admin note that debate is not allowed, I’m kind of at a loss as to whether a reply would constitute debate or not. Given some of the other threads this one does seem to be very respectful, but it received a warning so who knows?

Bayview
August 8th, 2018, 01:07 AM
I would love to comment, but following the Admin note that debate is not allowed, Iím kind of at a loss as to whether a reply would constitute debate or not. Given some of the other threads this one does seem to be very respectful, but it received a warning so who knows?

I tried to edit my original post to make it less personal, but my internet is dodgy and it didn't work out. But what I was going to add, was...

Do you think Martin Luther King's words had power? Hitler's? Churchill's? Do these words just have power because they're spoken out loud?

I mean, I agree with the ACLU that the best defense against bad ideas is better ideas. I'm not arguing for suggesting outlawing anyone's words. It's just... words are communication, right? And isn't communication the best way to change people's minds? And is there any power greater than the power to change minds (for better or for worse)?

ETA (see if it works this time): I'm not sure what the warning was for, but maybe you could ease off on the "they're dead inside" style rhetoric and it'd be okay? As long as we're talking about ideas and not people, hopefully we're in-bounds?

Thaumiel
August 8th, 2018, 01:17 AM
Honestly, I've heard white youths from UK council estates talk like that since I was a teenager so I'm finding it difficult to wrap my head around this. I also struggle with the idea of cultural appropriation, and how it differs from cultural integration. Anyway, I will attempt to answer your questions from my unsteady stand point.

1) Good that they apologised but I think it came from the wrong place, more like it was an attempt at corporate appeasement rather than a genuine apology. It reads like it was from a PR script they found in a back office. I'm an apologise if you really mean it sort of guy.

2) I think publishers and editors shouldn't back work they won't fully support after it comes out. If you can't stand the controversy then don't fry it up for breakfast. It's good to support free speech, but if you're going to do it, realise what you'll be in for and prepare for it.

3) I find it interesting that people are arguing that AAVE is a functional language but at the same time, you're not allowed to use it if you didn't grow up with it. I think this says more about the state of racial tensions than it does about poetry and art. Although, I wonder how other cultures would feel about work from outsiders in their language? Maybe it's not that simple as I consider it.

4) You have a responsibility to not incite violence or hate. There is a big difference between actively doing this and commenting on how things are/how you perceive the world. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people get their wires crossed and focus on us vs. them rather than the what the piece is trying to achieve, how it is attempting to do so and why it might not have worked.

5) Ultimately it falls down to the cultural climate. We are seeing the response of our time. I wonder how it will be viewed in fifty or more years time?

A university student's union over here painted over a mural of If by Rudyard Kipling based on racism and colonialist views they saw in his other works. If an unrelated piece can be scrubbed out and retired due to the views of the author, unpleasant to us but somewhat acceptable at the time of the work itself, then perhaps one day the piece that started this thread will be seen as attempt at empathy by a future culture or disappear from thought entirely.

SilverMoon
August 8th, 2018, 09:56 PM
3. In regard to artistic voice, does an artist have a responsibility to "stay in their lane"? Or is any voice available to the artist, provided they use the voice correctly (as argued in the Atlantic article linked below)?

Somehow, it’s very easy for me to slip into in a male voice. If my character uses the “C” word does this mean I’m offending women at large? Betraying my own kind? Straying from my own lane? I like to travel with my writing and staying in one lane gives me the same vista. I’ll never short change myself by abiding to other’s expectations, dictates. And if everyone stayed in the “Box” we’d have no new genres of writing.

5. There are perhaps many other issues at play here. What do you think?

Yes. I believe that Andres Carslon Wee’s apology had everything to do with succumbing to the pressure put on the “Nation” for not staying in their lane. They’ve published Bishop, Neruda, Walcot – familiar names. If a finger should be pointed in the name of prejudice it should be pointed at them.

And for crying out loud! This is not a literal poem. Not the stale message everyone out there is carrying on about.

If you got hiv, say aids. If you a girl,
say you’re pregnant––nobody gonna lower
themselves to listen for the kick. “Great Word Play”
People passing fast. Double meaning. Up for interpretation
Splay your legs, cock a knee cockney (More WP and speaking of dialect, guys…)
(funny.) “of or characteristic of "cockney humor"
It’s the littlest shames they’re likely
to comprehend. Such as this poem? “Brilliant sarcastic innuendo as I see it.
Don’t say homeless , they know or destitute, deprived? leading to idea of crippled. Why so literal?
you is. What they don’t know is what opens
a wallet, what stops em from counting
what they drop. If you’re young say younger.
Old say older. If you’re crippled don’t
flaunt it This should not be taken at face value. It’s too simplistic considering his erudite mechanics. A poignant caustic acerbity pointing to speaking up. Defy all that which is stigmatized.
Let em think they’re good enough
Christians to notice (the pain) Don’t say you pray,
say you sin.(say what they want to hear)
It’s about who they believe
they is. You hardly even there. Again, too easy. He’s not saying AAs are insignificant. It’s about other’s self- righteousness, more importantly their narcissism – that’s why you hardly even there - black or white.

Daft! All of it. But sometimes it jus be dat way......

Squalid Glass
August 8th, 2018, 11:04 PM
I did not pick up on some of that wordplay. Very nice analysis, SM.

And I agree with you: The Nation has a long history of standing by their artists. Going back on that now is very problematic.

luckyscars
August 9th, 2018, 02:01 AM
Not a poet whatsoever, but I did read the poem and the articles and fully believe this transcends poetry. Some thoughts...

(1) Apology for outcome is an entirely separate act than apology for intent. One can, and should, always apologize when told that the outcome of what they did was hurtful. Most of us learn that as toddlers. Some of us need to be re-taught. That does not mean the party apologizing needs be wrong in what they did or accept any degree of culpability or punishment. People talk about it like it's such a big deal sometimes. Like by apologizing they are giving something away. Nonsense. Apologizing is not to be weaponized. It is simply a matter of being kind. Refusing an apology or criticizing somebody else for offering one when an individual or a group makes clear they were hurt (regardless of whether you believe them) is rude. On that basis alone, the magazine and the author was right to do it.

(2) There are some genuinely unpleasant examples out there of exploitation of issues in a way that is wrong. An example of this would be "dressing homeless' for a Halloween costume. That is wrong and anybody who does it deserves ostracized. Blackface is absolutely the same deal. There is no question that poor art exists and a good chunk of it is racist/sexist/whatever-ist. Constantly appealing to "free speech" for protections for things that carry a clear undercurrent of hostility toward a group or, at a minimum, are so tone-deaf it is impossible to know for certain what the intent is, is a failure of intellect. I believe most of us know something hateful when we see it. Most of us can tell the difference between, say, Jim Crow strips and a poem like "The Congo". We know that the former was based on real racism, the latter based on celebration. The nuance is important and the understanding is clear: You don't get to use 'free speech' to protect hate, and I don't get to use censorship to attack love.

(3) There is a real problem of political correctness in art that runs the risk of affecting everyone. I consider myself very much a "social justice warrior" but I am absolutely appalled daily by what I hear about in this arena. I do not concern myself with it widely as I have yet to encounter it myself and do not believe in allowing myself to be outraged about things simply because I am told I should be outraged about them. However the very idea of legislating pronoun usage, as they do now in Canada under the banner of trans rights, is palpably absurd and I read a recent post on this very issue. How on earth can you enforce a law regarding words and remain a free country? You can't. Same with race. How can you punish people for what they choose to write based on some perception that they wouldn't know enough about it, as though a white writer couldn't have a clue how a black person speaks, or lives, because they are white? What if the writer in question had grown up in a "black area", or was adopted and raised by black parents? Are they still unable to write about anything remotely black even if they happen to be familiar with the issue in question? If that's the case, then the same logic could be used to say a black writer has no business being influenced by Shakespeare or Yeats or Nietzsche or any number of writers nor amalgamating "white ideas" into their "black work" but that would, of course, be reprehensible.

Squalid Glass
August 9th, 2018, 02:30 AM
luckystars, I completely agree with your distinction between apologizing for intent vs. apologizing for outcome. In this case, it seems like they apologized for both.

And I love this: "Constantly appealing to "free speech" for protections for things that are carry a clear undercurrent of hostility toward a group or, at a minimum, are so tone-deaf it is impossible to know for certain what the intent is, is a failure of intellect."

Kevin
August 9th, 2018, 02:38 AM
I wonder what his intent in apologizing was? Did he truly feel he'd done wrong, or was the 'fear' pressure just too much? Something like that could ruin a career.

Bayview
August 9th, 2018, 02:45 AM
I wonder what his intent in apologizing was? Did he truly feel he'd done wrong, or was the 'fear' pressure just too much? Something like that could ruin a career.

Or, as luckyscars mentioned, he may have simply been acknowledging that his actions had hurt someone.

If I'm in a crowd and I step on someone's foot and they say "ouch", I say "sorry", even if my stepping wasn't deliberate or reckless. I hurt someone. I'm sorry that happened. I say so. Everyone wins.

Bayview
August 9th, 2018, 02:55 AM
...However the very idea of legislating pronoun usage, as they do now in Canada under the banner of trans rights, is palpably absurd and I read a recent post on this very issue.

Do you have a link to the post you read? I'm Canadian and I'm not familiar with any legislating of pronoun usage... probably you're referring to Bill C-16, but unless you're a follower of Jordan Peterson, I don't think you need to be too worried about it.

For the full text of the bill, see: http://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/bill/C-16/royal-assent (it's not long)

Or for a commmentary, see: http://sds.utoronto.ca/blog/bill-c-16-no-its-not-about-criminalizing-pronoun-misuse/

ETA: On the larger issue, and assuming I'm correct that you read a piece of clever propaganda rather than an article referring to some legislation of which I'm unaware... I think this is the problem with a lot of the "Political Correctness is Absurd!" arguments. There are certainly some cases of things going too far, but by and large there's a much larger problem with misrepresentation and oversimplification of nuanced realities.

luckyscars
August 9th, 2018, 02:58 AM
I wonder what his intent in apologizing was? Did he truly feel he'd done wrong, or was the 'fear' pressure just too much? Something like that could ruin a career.

His publisher may have requested it, but I doubt they needed to. I also doubt he gave the issue of wrong-doing much serious thought. As a young writer, I suspect apologizing was good as instinctual.

Look I don't think it's much of a mystery, is it? In 2018 whenever any given handful of internet experts finds any evidence of possible racism in your work you might as well get yourself a robe and join the Klan tomorrow.

Kevin
August 9th, 2018, 03:13 AM
Did you read the poem? I did. I suppose a generic ' sorry, if this offends you' is supposed to do something.
I'm sorry, but if I'm in a crowd and in their space , and they're in my space, I don't expect any apologies. I saw no foot-stepping. If in some country you're supposed to apologize for being in a crowd well then I don't know about it , but for my country, the place I live, demanding an apology for this poem is inappropriate. There was no denegrading of anyone, except maybe the public who pass by without opening their wallets. I actually don't agree on that point with the poet, but I do see the inherent selling of oneself, the manipulation, exaggeration. I've heard that begging in India is the most competitive, sometimes even involving self-mutilation, or forced mutilation by handlers, pimps. It is a rough world out there. Rougher in some places. The subject of HIV I didn't quite get. I mean, I couldnt get the tie in. I have been around a lot homelessness so I see things. The poets use of dialect- I did not get what was wrong with that, not in the slightest. We are all individuals. That's my take.

and...p.s. Bay, you did sort of make a joke , I mean no offence, please, but the whole Canadian apology thing, I mean, I have no idea if it's real, but theres that stereotype. Most certainly it's not a bad thing to be known for, I mean...at least you're not portrayed as a bunch of pushy, loud-mouth fatties, no offence anyone , please...

Squalid Glass
August 9th, 2018, 03:22 AM
Do you have a link to the post you read? I'm Canadian and I'm not familiar with any legislating of pronoun usage... probably you're referring to Bill C-16, but unless you're a follower of Jordan Peterson, I don't think you need to be too worried about it.

For the full text of the bill, see: http://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/bill/C-16/royal-assent (it's not long)

Or for a commmentary, see: http://sds.utoronto.ca/blog/bill-c-16-no-its-not-about-criminalizing-pronoun-misuse/

ETA: On the larger issue, and assuming I'm correct that you read a piece of clever propaganda rather than an article referring to some legislation of which I'm unaware... I think this is the problem with a lot of the "Political Correctness is Absurd!" arguments. There are certainly some cases of things going too far, but by and large there's a much larger problem with misrepresentation and oversimplification of nuanced realities.

As much as I enjoy any opportunity to shred Jordan Peterson's foolishness to shreds, I think digressing into the issue of pronoun usage and the larger political debate outside of artistic representation will only lead us, in this thread, to problems. Let's keep our focus on how the issues presented relate to the roles of writer/editor/publisher/artist.

luckyscars
August 9th, 2018, 04:22 AM
Do you have a link to the post you read? I'm Canadian and I'm not familiar with any legislating of pronoun usage... probably you're referring to Bill C-16, but unless you're a follower of Jordan Peterson, I don't think you need to be too worried about it.


For the full text of the bill, see: http://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/bill/C-16/royal-assent (it's not long)


Or for a commmentary, see: http://sds.utoronto.ca/blog/bill-c-16-no-its-not-about-criminalizing-pronoun-misuse/


ETA: On the larger issue, and assuming I'm correct that you read a piece of clever propaganda rather than an article referring to some legislation of which I'm unaware... I think this is the problem with a lot of the "Political Correctness is Absurd!" arguments. There are certainly some cases of things going too far, but by and large there's a much larger problem with misrepresentation and oversimplification of nuanced realities.


No I don't have a link to the post. It was not on this forum. I'm sure one would not have to look far to see plenty such posts from a smorgasbord of internet lawyers, though.


I am not familiar with Jordan Peterson and from what I have heard about him would not wish to be. I believe what I was reading was a (relatively mainstream) newspaper column by somebody who I would not wish to guess at for fear of libeling. In any event, in hindsight, I absolutely should have qualified assertions regarding Canada, where I do not live, in a more careful and "sourcey" way. I apologize for any offence (see! very easy!) regarding anything unfounded. As mentioned I do try to avoid going along with what people say is the case with these things as to avoid a quagmire of bottom gravy. But nobody is perfect eh?

I started the particular statement you are questioning talking about "the idea of legislating" speech. That is, to be clear, what I meant. The idea of legislating language, as denoted by the debate over pronouns and that some would likely have done over racial epithets. I should not have made it sound like anything more than an idea. I don't think it can be reasonably argued, however, that there is not a movement that is alive and growing which does strongly favour mandating language in the name of furthering "equality". Also, that while very much not at the stage some people (generally on the right) frame it as being at (Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, etc etc), the movement toward regulation of language both exists AND has legislative aspirations. It's no longer particularly fringe, as the gender debate in Canada presumably illustrated.

Regardless of whether gender neutral does or does not become law, I think the fact it can even be something submitted to legal inquiry in 2018 is a concern. A hate crime, by definition, is an anti-free speech legal concept and that cannot be reasonably argued with. Whenever the definition of a hate crime is widened, by necessity free speech is eroded. To have its scope broadened further is probably not a good thing. Of course there is a valid conversation to be had as to whether the outcome of improving the quality of life for minority groups is worth what is lost with restricting quote-artistic-expression-unquote.

So far, I think most western countries have, more or less, got this balance about right (although you would hardly know with all the complaining) and I think that primarily because I see little artistic value in gratuitously inflammatory material anyway. I like most who have commented here, did not think this poem was inflammatory in the least. Unfortunately some magazines and certainly a very many corporations have extremely stringent, sometimes irrational standards of what is and is not acceptable.



Did you read the poem? I did. I suppose a generic ' sorry, if this offends you' is supposed to do something.
I'm sorry, but if I'm in a crowd and in their space , and they're in my space, I don't expect any apologies. I saw no foot-stepping. If in some country you're supposed to apologize for being in a crowd well then I don't know about it , but for my country, the place I live, demanding an apology for this poem is inappropriate. There was no denegrading of anyone, except maybe the public who pass by without opening their wallets. I actually don't agree on that point with the poet, but I do see the inherent selling of oneself, the manipulation, exaggeration. I've heard that begging in India is the most competitive, sometimes even involving self-mutilation, or forced mutilation by handlers, pimps. It is a rough world out there. Rougher in some places. The subject of HIV I didn't quite get. I mean, I couldnt get the tie in. I have been around a lot homelessness so I see things. The poets use of dialect- I did not get what was wrong with that, not in the slightest. We are all individuals. That's my take.


I am not sure who you are addressing. I think one could probably fall down a rabbit hole of whether apologizing was the right thing to do. I think it is, in spite of my disdain for those who were apologized to. More often than not those we must say sorry to are people who do not deserve it. C'est la vie!


But yes, I agree. I thought the poem was fine. As a non-poet who reads only scant poetry I generally treat all unknown poems with a certain level of revulsion but I enjoyed his. It had an evident purpose which was addressed in a brief yet profound way and was unlike what I have read. There was no real sense of pretentiousness to it, which is ironic given the fact he was lambasted for supposedly pretending.

Bayview
August 9th, 2018, 02:24 PM
Did you read the poem? I did. I suppose a generic ' sorry, if this offends you' is supposed to do something.

Of course I read the poem. And I read the apology; I think the poet was pretty specific about what he felt he was apologizing for.



There was no denegrading of anyone, except maybe the public who pass by without opening their wallets.

Honestly, I didn't seen the denigration either. But I have a hard time really feeling the race issues in the States, from my white upper-middle-class position. I can understand it intellectually, but I can't really grasp it emotionally. So I tend to listen to people who are living it to tell me how stuff feels. If a single black person tells me they're offended by something, I listen to them. If a lot of black people tell me they're offended, I'd make the jump to believing there was something offensive, whether I saw it myself or not.

Now, it's not really clear to me exactly how many black people were offended by this poem. The magnifying power of social media makes it pretty hard to really get a grasp on how wide-spread any given school of thought is. I respect the hell out of Roxanne Gay and believe in her talent, but I also believe she has cultivated a persona of being the voice of a certain group of black people (mostly women?) who have their own brand of privilege.

I feel like all of this is really tiring, if that makes sense. It would be so much easier to just stop thinking about it, and stop agonizing over what really seems like a triviality. And, yeah, I'd much rather see us all talking about solutions to police brutality or the outrageous rates of incarceration in the black community or other problems that seem to have real concrete bearing on people's lives. But, again... I believe words are powerful. Everyone here believes words are powerful or we wouldn't be so concerned about free speech, right? So maybe there's a connection between the attitudes and lack of respect that lead to brutality and incarceration and the the attitudes and lack of respect that some people apparently saw in this poem?

I have absolutely no clear boundaries on any of this. But I don't think it's a good idea to totally dismiss any voices, especially the voices that have traditionally been dismissed.


and...p.s. Bay, you did sort of make a joke , I mean no offence, please, but the whole Canadian apology thing, I mean, I have no idea if it's real, but theres that stereotype. Most certainly it's not a bad thing to be known for, I mean...at least you're not portrayed as a bunch of pushy, loud-mouth fatties, no offence anyone , please...

I know it's a stereotype, but... seriously? You only apologize when you think you've been morally wrong? You don't say sorry as just a sort of commiseration? If someone tells me their grandpa died, I'm gonna say "I'm so sorry." That doesn't mean I killed the old guy!

Kevin
August 9th, 2018, 03:00 PM
When you do something wrong you can't simply say you're sorry and then go ahead and do it again. But what did he do wrong? The shrill voices are not about fairness or common courtesy. And they are insisting you shut up. Or else. This is poetry, not running for office where it's expected you don't reveal too much if you want to win while mouthing whatever constituents' ideals to get yourself elected. Honestly, how can you be honest with this Religious SJW PC Thought Police dictating even how you say things? What sort of poetry comes of that?

Bayview
August 9th, 2018, 03:44 PM
When you do something wrong you can't simply say you're sorry and then go ahead and do it again. But what did he do wrong? The shrill voices are not about fairness or common courtesy. And they are insisting you shut up. Or else. This is poetry, not running for office where it's expected you don't reveal too much if you want to win while mouthing whatever constituents' ideals to get yourself elected. Honestly, how can you be honest with this Religious SJW PC Thought Police dictating even how you say things? What sort of poetry comes of that?

I have a response, but I feel like we're moving in a non-productive direction (Shrill voices, Religious SJW PC Thought Police, etc.)

So I think I'll just refer you to the apology from the writer, in which he says what he's planning to do moving forward. And then I'll bow out.

SilverMoon
August 9th, 2018, 08:26 PM
.............................................How Dare Wee?

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

“An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose”. Langston Hughes

I wonder what Hughes would bring to the table at this party? A black man who grew up in the Mid-West with his grandmother, lonely…..

LH - "It was then that books began to happen to me. The wonderful world in books where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language.”

He was inspired by Walt Whitman and wanted black writers to be objective about their race. For this he was considered a “racial chauvinist”

He attended Columbia University and is now listed in “The Academy of American Poets” not “The Academy of Black American Poets”

LH “My seeking has been to explain and illuminate the negro condition in America and that of all human kind."

Coincidental titles?

“I, Too”.........by Langston Hughes

.“How–To” ...by Andres Carlson–Wee


Culled from an Interview with Andres Carlson-Wee

I’m a frugal man, and for the past ten years I’ve been getting the bulk of my food from dumpsters behind grocery stores, paying minimal rent, and traveling cheap by bicycle and freight train. I used to study wilderness survival, and that brought a kind of primitivism into my life, as well as my writing. Living cheap has allowed me to focus the bulk of my energy on poetry, which has been a great blessing. The NEA grant will allow me to continue this lifestyle, and I’m forever grateful for the support.

"I hear language more than I see it. I feel it more than I think it. You have to trust that the important stuff is nailed to your poems with the hammer-strikes of emotion and story and image and song."

__________________________________________________ ______________

How dare Langston Hughes mingle with the White Social Elite?
How dare Carlson-Wee rummage through dumpsters for food?

........................How dare we make assumptions?
............How dare we toss out our crayon box and write in one color?



https://sonorareview.com/an-interview-with-anders-carlson-wee/ (https://sonorareview.com/an-interview-with-anders-carlson-wee/)

TuesdayEve
August 10th, 2018, 03:21 AM
I read the poem and the news articles, personally,
I think the editors should apologize for apologizing.
It was a wonderful piece and I read it as literal. To me,
the writer was saying be real, own what you are,
say you sin, say you’re old, don’t beg or look for
sympathy from those who can’t see you because
they’re so wrapped up in their own world, thoughts
and selves.....nor do they care.

And when did crippled become a bad word? It’s a
description not demeaning. These days, we like to be
specific in our terminology...and that’s great but to me,
it doesn’t matter what word or phrase is used, it’s the
intention and motivation or ‘meaning’ behind those
words. The inflection in your voice, even a smile or smirk
can speak volumes.
So, I like the poem.

TuesdayEve
August 10th, 2018, 06:01 AM
One more thing, to those who complain the poet’s white,
you don’t know where he’s been or who he knows.
He may have black family, neighbors or maybe he
knows the person in the poem..... maybe this is a
conversation they had. There are so mary variables,
I think it’s immature to judge the poet so harshly.

Squalid Glass
August 11th, 2018, 06:10 AM
Tuesday, I do agree that the judgment cast upon the writer is misplaced in this case. I also think the instinctual reaction present in a lot of people is valid, considering the long history of oppression and appropriation at the expense of the culture being appropriated.

I think this case is a great example of what rash judgments can do, and the danger of action without extensive reflection and thought. America right now is a country where the constant tension of differing groups is always threatening to erupt, and I think we all would be better served to take a step back and try to see other viewpoints (provided they are not extreme and violent) before we cast judgment in the court of public opinion.

SilverMoon
August 12th, 2018, 12:04 AM
https://www.writingforums.com/images/misc/quote_icon.png Originally Posted by Sqaulid Glass Tuesday, I do agree that the judgment cast upon the writer is misplaced in this case......I think this case is a great example of what rash judgments can do, and the danger of action without extensive reflection and thought.
Yes. And to reiterate what I said above more clearly: He was not speaking about a homeless women but himself in the article below.


Culled from an Interview with Andres Carlson-Wee

I’m a frugal man, and for the past ten years I’ve been getting the bulk of my food from dumpsters behind grocery stores, paying minimal rent, and traveling cheap by bicycle and freight train. I used to study wilderness survival, and that brought a kind of primitivism into my life, as well as my writing. Living cheap has allowed me to focus the bulk of my energy on poetry, which has been a great blessing. The NEA grant will allow me to continue this lifestyle, and I’m forever grateful for the support.

"I hear language more than I see it. I feel it more than I think it. You have to trust that the important stuff is nailed to your poems with the hammer-strikes of emotion and story and image andsong."

Is not language song? Years back "'something" unpleasant had been happening and this black fellow turned to me, shrugged his shoulders and said "Sometimes it jus be dat way". I liked it, it was song-like in its newness for me It stuck with me and was certain I would use it in some writing context which I did - concluding my post above this one.

I brought Black poet, Langston Hughes, into the picture of my post because he was considered a "racial chauvinist” encouraging black artists to be objective about their race" - keep the ranting at bay. But still we hear the ranting by both blacks and whites - even when it comes to art form.

Langston dined with white elites. Wee ate garbage. Should Langston have written about "black-eyed peas". Should Wee have written about caviar? They broke the stereotypictal rule. Let's send them to "Poet's Hell for devouring language, digesting it with thought, zeal - winning awards and given grants.

More or Mo re: AAVE
A case can be made that these words entering the mainstream is ultimately a good thing. It can be viewed as a melding of ideas and worlds, proof that the English language is always changing, and evidence that black people and black culture are becoming more largely accepted. And anyway, don’t black people use “white” slang words, too? Like awesome, and rad, and totes https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-slang-white-people-ruined_us_55ccda07e4b064d5910ac8b3 (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-slang-white-people-ruined_us_55ccda07e4b064d5910ac8b3)

It's late. Now, I'm gonna to fry up some chicken and treat myself to watermelon for desert - just like a good white girl....

TL Murphy
August 13th, 2018, 08:38 PM
I’ll say first that I haven’t read the other comments. I will, but I don’t want them to interrupt my train of thought. The question is important and well placed. The articles are supportive and revealing. I have to agree with both the Times aritcle, that the editors of The Nation did themselves and the author a disfavour by publishing the apology. Imposing such rules on poetry also does poetry a disservice. Enough said. I also agree with the Atlantic article that “Black Vernacular” is not lazy English, it is an alternative form of English. It is the nature of language in general that it evolves, changes, morphs. It only takes a few kilometres for the sound and vocabulary of language to change.

I am white and grew up in America’s Deep South at a time when the public school system was changing from segregated schools to integrated schools. It took a long time. My entire public education was overshadowed by this cultural shift. By high school, the transition was more or less complete, at least physically, but not without serious growing pains and a lot of tension. I played basketball, and so I had a lot of mixed race contact outside the classroom that was casual and full of physical energy. By my senior year, I was the only white player on the basketball team. For the most part, I was accepted, although it was clear that my upbringing had been very different than most of the other players. They used strong vernacular among themselves, and I, as the minority, found it easier and more productive socially if I emulated their speech. I became bidialectical, as were most of the black players on the team.

Years later, I wrote a short story about that experience. In the story, I relied heavily on rustic African American dialect that I had become familiar with in high school. The story wasn’t about a bunch of black basketball players, it was about a white basketball player who found himself integrated into the black experience. It never occurred to me that the story might be cultural appropriation, although I was aware that it trod a fine line. The n-word pops up a few times. But the story itself deals, in part, with the question of culturally appropriate language. So I felt okay about it and I still do. but that was nearly 30 years ago that I wrote the story, and the whole issue of cultural appropriation has really come to mainstream public light since then. I sent the story out for awhile, never got it published. But then, as the issue of cultural appropriation became more focused, I stopped sending the story out. To this day, I don’t really know where it stands but have decided that it’s probably best to leave in the bottom drawer and forget about it.

Outsider
August 13th, 2018, 10:11 PM
This thread is going nowhere. We need some people who are offended by the poem to make for a lively discussion.

TL Murphy
August 14th, 2018, 12:13 AM
That's an intetesting comment, O. I'll ignore the inference that you are offended that no one is offended and take your comment at face value. We are all writers here, discussing political correctness in writing. I think it's safe to say that most of us share a somewhat biased view, that the writer should be free to express whatever that writer feels is appropriate and not what the current code of political correctness dictates. I will limit that statement with the exception that freedom of speech does not give someone the right to preach hatred or to contradict historical fact or to spin lies. Beyond that, I would expect most writers would support another writer's right to write whatever they want. It's quite another thing when a publisher decides to publish it. One would hope that publishers of literature make their decisions based on literary merit and not on ideology, and having done so, should stand by their decisions and support their writers. After all, it's easy to be offended. The real danger seems to me to be in being offended, not in offending.

Squalid Glass
August 14th, 2018, 04:00 AM
I’ll take the bait and play devil’s advocate. In reality, I consider myself very progressive and have been torn on this issue. I do believe the writer is well within his rights to express his art in the vernacular he chooses, but I also think everyone who was offended is being reasonable too.

Look, it comes down to how you view marginalization and appropriation. Sure, the writer might be familiar with the vernacular and culture, especially in regards to homelessness, but considering the history of oppression and the ways in which black culture has been unfairly appropriated at the expense of black people, it’s a fair question to wonder if a white person has any business utilizing the culture in this way for his own gain. Do I think the writer is racist? No. Do I think this poem is racist? No. But it might just be the case that this space in this magazine could have been given to a black poet who wanted to speak on the black experience instead of a white one speaking of the black experience. Is it possible to mimic another culture’s voice? Yes. Is it appropriate? It depends. No matter how wel you know a culture, if you’re not part of it, you cannot possibly understand the emotional truth and experience of being in that culture. I grew up with black friends. I spend a lot of time with black people now. I feel empathy for black people. I want to help fight the injustices they face. But I will never know the feeling of being a young black boy and getting told by my parents how to not get shot by a cop. That’s an impossible experience to replicate outside of culture. another example: My wife is Mexican and we often talk about the experience illegal immigrants in this country face. Doesn’t mean I can feel the same heartache she feels when Mexicans are called rapists and drug dealers. I empathize, but I don’t know that pain on as personal level as she does. And how could I?

So it circles back to this question of who gets to tell who’s story? We can certainly create artistic empathy by appropriation, but by doing so, do we inadvertently harm those we wish to ally with? And if we choose to bow to what our sensitivity says about what is in our lane and what isn’t, then are we betraying our muse?

Furthermore, I think this issue is not one that works in both directions. Black people cannot appropriate white culture because white culture was forced upon them, it is the dominant culture, and white people are not oppressed. This is the same reason why it’s not acceptable for a white person to go around saying the n-word.

Now all that being said, I am white so I can only speak on this issue with so much authority. I have a friend who is black, and we regularly discuss and debate these sorts of things. On this issue, he thought the poet was not stepping out of bounds but the editors should have known better and probably would have known better had there been some diversity in their reading room. That is his opinion and it is not representative of all black people, but I thought he had more authority on the racial issue here than I did.

andrewclunn
August 14th, 2018, 05:13 PM
Warning, many will not like this post, but while many have expressed this sentiment in apologetic terms, I believe the condescension and self-righteous indignation of many opposed warrants a more... brazen response:

I have a right to write whatever I like. And if I were to write a piece that takes place in the Antebellum South, I would most assuredly attempt to use authentic language of the day. Is all historical fiction socially unacceptable because those stories belong to the dead? Are individual authors not allowed to have characters from different backgrounds in their stories? Why the hell should white people be less allowed to write say a black character than a black author to write a white character? I absolutely refuse to be shamed or condemned for using the written word (both in terms of what I read and what I write) as a means to imagine new vantages and views. The absurdity of self censorship in the same of social justice is infuriating. It leads to both less empathy (as people are falsely told that they are incapable of truly relating to one another) and invariably results in appraisal of art by some contrived standard of perceived oppression, rather than actual literary, emotional, or expressive merit. It's a didactics of falsehood posing as enlightenment. You are free to believe whatever you will, but I'll be over here reading about Tom Sawyer and Nigger Jim going down the Mississippi without an ounce of guilt, but rather gratefulness to the unblinking frankness of Samuel Clemens. I leave the rest of the self-masturbatory virtue signalling and naval gazing to those who get more joy from criticizing others' expressions than expressing anything of value themselves.

Bayview
August 14th, 2018, 06:31 PM
Warning, many will not like this post, but while many have expressed this sentiment in apologetic terms, I believe the condescension and self-righteous indignation of many opposed warrants a more... brazen response:

I have a right to write whatever I like. And if I were to write a piece that takes place in the Antebellum South, I would most assuredly attempt to use authentic language of the day. Is all historical fiction socially unacceptable because those stories belong to the dead? Are individual authors not allowed to have characters from different backgrounds in their stories? Why the hell should white people be less allowed to write say a black character than a black author to write a white character? I absolutely refuse to be shamed or condemned for using the written word (both in terms of what I read and what I write) as a means to imagine new vantages and views. The absurdity of self censorship in the same of social justice is infuriating. It leads to both less empathy (as people are falsely told that they are incapable of truly relating to one another) and invariably results in appraisal of art by some contrived standard of perceived oppression, rather than actual literary, emotional, or expressive merit. It's a didactics of falsehood posing as enlightenment. You are free to believe whatever you will, but I'll be over here reading about Tom Sawyer and Nigger Jim going down the Mississippi without an ounce of guilt, but rather gratefulness to the unblinking frankness of Samuel Clemens. I leave the rest of the self-masturbatory virtue signalling and naval gazing to those who get more joy from criticizing others' expressions than expressing anything of value themselves.

What is it that makes you so aggressive and angry about this? Has anyone ever told you, personally, to change what you write? Has anyone ever challenged your right to write what you want?

I mean, people may not want to publish it, but that's their freedom, right? You write what you want, they publish what they want, and everyone's happy in their own freedom.

But you're clearly pretty angry about this, and I assume it's because you feel - oppressed? attacked? Can you elaborate on that?

andrewclunn
August 14th, 2018, 06:43 PM
Dismissing my statements by attributing anger to me? Nope, nice try. I've submitted exactly two poems for publication in my entire life. No frustration from personal rejection here, so save the arm chair psychology. One "side" of this discussion is objectively wrong. As in the things they hope to achieve are in fact undermined by the very approach they are prescribing (which puts aside the other costs to such an approach). Rather than dance around it and wail all over myself in some self-deprecating display of deference to the latest justification for censorship and thought-crimes, I choose to state plainly exactly how little I think of this outmoded destructive line of thinking. No apologies for calling insanity and pseudo-intellectual masochism out. Or to put it more plainly:

Try Not To Take This Personally (https://www.writingforums.com/threads/178356-Try-Not-To-Take-This-Personally?highlight=Try+Not+To+Take+This+Personal ly)

To the person reading this, are you judging me again?
Have the words in my poem caused you to take offense?
That certainly wasn't my goal, but seriously,
your indignation isn't going to censor me.
If every idea that artists tried to express
had to first pass through an ideological test
then the purity spiral of vitriolic constrictions
would smother truth under self-righteous restrictions.
Expressing or grappling with an idea isn't advocacy,
but the first step in reflecting upon it honestly.
I've become coldly indifferent to your bleeding heart.
Politeness has it's place, but not in art.
So I declare now, before women, children, and God:
Cats are objectively inferior to dogs.

Squalid Glass
August 14th, 2018, 07:04 PM
Andrew, you have to remember that the poem in question is not historical fiction. It’s an attempt to present the perspective of black experience. So the comparison is moot.

In Twain’s case, the context is also much different as the story is written from Huck’s perspective, not Jim’s.

A better comparison to Twain might be Quenton Tarrentino, who often writes black characters who speak with black vernacular. There are people who believe his dialogue is problematic, but I am not one of them. I think there is a huge difference between writing a character with different experiences from you and writing as that character. Again, I don’t necessarily think the writer of this poem is out of bounds, but I think we need to get out of this mindset that there is no problem whatsoever with any appropriation and that anybody can perfectly express the feeling of anyone else’s experience. It’s almost like writing a biography without input from the person you are writing about. Inherently you you will miss some of the nuance the subject might wish be present.

As a side note, I think Bayview has a point identifying the anger in your post. We should all be perfectly able to discuss this without resorting to veiled swipes at those we oppose, such as you suggesting those with a so called sjw view on this are merely virtue signaling, suggesting our views are somehow not as legitimate as those who are brave enough to not care about how other people react to things they might find offensive. It’s also a falsehood to claim that one side of this argument is “objectively wrong.” This issue has no right or wrong answer because it is entirely based on concepts of morality, philosophy, and is set in the pathos of those who engage in it. I would suggest you not be so easily dismissive of those who might disagree with you on the finer points of a nuanced issue.

Squalid Glass
August 14th, 2018, 07:07 PM
One more thing: nowhere is there talk of censorship here. The poem was published. It remains published. You can still read it. Bayview is right that the editors have as much right to publish what they want as the artist has to write what he wants. Censorship is not the issue here.

andrewclunn
August 14th, 2018, 07:16 PM
1) Saying that something which was published should not have been (or perhaps not even written) as a matter of principle, and that this should apply beyond this particular situation to similar ones is a call for censorship. I'm simply naming the thing.

2) No differentiation has been made regarding the perspective being contemporary. The historical fiction example is something I brought up to show the inescapable nature of imagining others perspectives to fiction.

3) There are some "magic" traits which somehow make the imagination of other's perspectives "appropriation." In one sense fictional characters are imagined, so there can be no appropriation. In another sense anything other than autobiography is innately appropriation. These "magic" traits make it clear what the actual motivation of this "sensitivity" advocacy is, as it cannot have any justification that is separated out of ideological and political advocacy.

Squalid Glass
August 14th, 2018, 07:36 PM
But you can’t really sperate the history of appropriation from the actual appropriation, in this case. At least not in America. The whole reason appropriation of black culture is an issue here is because for the past hundred years, black culture has been appropriated by white people at the expense of black people. That is why some people have reacted to this poem so negatively, regardless of intent and regardless of the fact that all fictitious characters are appropriated from real life examples to some degree. It’s not magic: it’s real world reaction to a long history of trauma. For a lot of people, racial experience is a personal thing not to be “stolen” by people who have not experienced it. Advocating for more careful use of such appropriation is not censorship; it’s a plea for empathy and an attempt to not reproduce the mistakes of the past.

Now, I think we are on very similar grounds in our desire for artistic freedom. I’ll say again, I have no problem with an artist expressing themselves how they please. But as an artist, I can freely admit that there are some things I cannot speak to with as much emotional honesty as someone who has experienced those things. For example, I can do all the research in the world on the experiences of people who have been raped, but I don’t think I could ever speak to the raw emotion a rape victim feels. So does that mean I shouldn’t try to write from a rape victim’s perspective? Personally, I would say yes. And I don’t think I would blame actual rape victims if they thought my writing was a bit misplaced.

It’s a crude example, but I think it fits.

Bayview
August 14th, 2018, 07:48 PM
Dismissing my statements by attributing anger to me? Nope, nice try. I've submitted exactly two poems for publication in my entire life. No frustration from personal rejection here, so save the arm chair psychology. One "side" of this discussion is objectively wrong. As in the things they hope to achieve are in fact undermined by the very approach they are prescribing (which puts aside the other costs to such an approach). Rather than dance around it and wail all over myself in some self-deprecating display of deference to the latest justification for censorship and thought-crimes, I choose to state plainly exactly how little I think of this outmoded destructive line of thinking. No apologies for calling insanity and pseudo-intellectual masochism out. Or to put it more plainly:


I wonder why I'm seeing anger if you're not feeling angry. Your posts feel angry to me. And honestly, that makes it hard for me to really see past the inflamed rhetoric and find what you're objecting to.

I don't want to play armchair psychologist, but I do want (or I did, when I started...) to give you the benefit of the doubt. If there's a reason for you to be so aggressive about this issue, I'd like to hear it. But I'm not seeing anything concrete in your posts.

How does this issue actually affect you? At all?

andrewclunn
August 14th, 2018, 07:48 PM
Oh yes, historical appropriation, like that dreadful book "Black Like Me" which helped spark white support for ending Jim Crow laws and segregation. As I stated before, the very goals that those advocating for such self-censorship (we'll give them entirely too generous benefit of the doubt that they do not want widespread institutional level censorship) are undermined by the exact policies they are advocating for. That people might be able to understand and even relate to other's experiences through the written word is both obviously true, and one of the fundamental reasons why literature is a worthy form of art. I am happy to say "believe what you want," and "agree to disagree," but when a belief system or group takes upon itself a mantle of virtue and asserts its right to dictate its standards to me, I take notice. That this ideology is so clearly self refuting to anyone who knows history would make it laughable. I say "would" because the audacity of its proponents is such that their ignorant fervor is downright scary at times.

EDIT -
The use of dreadful was sarcastic, which I think should be plain, but I'm adding this here just in case.

andrewclunn
August 14th, 2018, 07:55 PM
Here's something concrete:

Should anyone ever write a mentally retarded character, or attempt to present their view of things?

Assuming that an individual with an IQ of 70 or so wouldn't be able to write, or perhaps even express them self effectively (and they certainly are a marginalized group), this would make any attempt to express their perspective as clear appropriation. So are they to effectively be written out of all our literature as a result?

Bayview
August 14th, 2018, 08:11 PM
Here's something concrete:

Should anyone ever write a mentally retarded character, or attempt to present their view of things?

Assuming that an individual with an IQ of 70 or so wouldn't be able to write, or perhaps even express them self effectively (and they certainly are a marginalized group), this would make any attempt to express their perspective as clear appropriation. So are they to effectively be written out of all our literature as a result?

I don't think equating black people with mentally challenged people is really the way to go - as you point out, mentally challenged people can't tell their own stories. Black people certainly can.

But many black people feel that their authentic voices are being effectively written out of literature when white people write on their behalf. They want to tell their own stories. And given the horrific record of white-washing in the publishing industry, I don't think they're wrong to worry that there does seem to be a limit on just how many black stories the industry is willing to put out. I don't think they're completely out of line to argue that, especially while there's a pretty obvious ceiling on black characters, we should pay attention to who's getting the chance to write those black characters.

(Which is, of course, one of the reasons why the hell white people should be less allowed to write say a black character than a black author to write a white character. There are loads of white characters out there. No apparent limits. Also, of course, the history of appropriation. And, of course, the reality that most minorities are well-versed in the dominant culture of their area, making it easier for them to authentically portray a member of the dominant culture than it would be for a member of the dominant culture to write a character from a minority.)

Squalid Glass
August 14th, 2018, 09:21 PM
I think Bayview is right. And in regards to censorship, it’s exactly the opposite. The point is that people are looking for an opening up of discourse. They’re looking for stories we haven’t heard before, presented by voices that have not been allowed to speak.

But the natural counter to that is the idea that white voices will be censored, but this isn’t really the case. The point is to allow people who have not been allowed to tell their stories the opportunity to tell them. Does that mean a white person cannot write a black character? No. But it does mean that if they do, they can expect increased scrutiny.

andrewclunn
August 14th, 2018, 09:44 PM
I will no longer be engaging in this conversation as I have come to the conclusion that I regard at least one person here as being bigoted against whites, and can therefore not continue in good faith. I was not angry, but I am now, and there's no way forward for me that would not violate forum rules.

Squalid Glass
August 14th, 2018, 10:06 PM
I’m sorry you won’t be continuing the dialogue. It’s unfortunate you feel there is bigotry at play here. I do not see any indication of that from anybody, but I do apologize if anything I have said comes off that way.

TL Murphy
August 15th, 2018, 01:02 AM
I don't see any bigotry happening here either.

There have been some very compelling statements made here and I want to thank everyone involved for their perspectives. I empathize with Andrew's passion about the dangers of self-censureship. I have a mentally retarded son that I have written poetry about. Actually, he is brain injured, which is different, but most people see him as "retarded". And thank you Squalid Glass for pointing out that Clemens wrote from a white character's perspective in Huckleberry Finn, he did not presume Jim's personal perspective (this was the model I used when writing about my son) and I think that makes a profound difference. Because the writer is expressing his own experience, not someone elses.

I want to thank Bayview for pointing out that writers and editors don't necessarily have the same goals. There is a big difference between a writer who writes in an adopted, marginalized minority dialect and a publisher who chooses to publish it. The former is exercising certain perceived rights of expression, and I believe most writers would support that. within reason. The latter is promoting social/political controversy and should be conscious of that. Whether we believe that cultural appropriation should be controversial or not is really beside the point; among large segments of society it is. As writers, I don't think we can expect the rest of the world to agree with our beliefs or our motives. By the same token, it is the task of writers to inform and to raise general consciousness. Having said that, anyone who chooses to write in a manner that challenges predominant views of political correctness severly limits his chances of publication. So it's up to the writer to assess where she wants to stand in this continuum. It's entirely possible to stand out by being controversial. No doubt there are readers out there who want that for a variety of reasons. On the other hand, it's a good way for a writer to get himself ostracized. This may not matter to some writers in their passion to write truth or to write compelling work. But there are many paths to truth and some are more effective than others.

Kevin
August 15th, 2018, 01:23 AM
Hmm. On appropriation, when you speak it, whatever it is, whatever way you speak it, it is out there. Same with clothes, hairstyle, foods, music. Would you have it that each culture must only use that which it itself has invented? For instance, should I be limited to plastics like polyester, nylon, because cotton was not an invention of 'my' culture? Should some other unnamed culture be only allowed to wear maple leaves, solidified syrup; hockey-puck jewelry? Cheese curds? No jalapeŮos for me?! Oh de-ah, how dare thee? You see, that is the outrage. Says who exactly, to all of it? Hey you, minority person, no speaking majority tongue, no using any of their inventions. Ridiculous. You may make your point, but there will be a discussion of where to draw the lines, and that discussion will include disagreement. And the n-word, No , may even be used, in like "how about no?" to whatever insistence or demand made. Like how about this poet ( see op)may speak in whatever vernacular he thinks appropriate, and that considering that we are all brothers (and sisters; humanity, despite these tribal amalgams that some insist they are part of, and therefor separate from the rest...) he has not really 'appropriated' anything. It's all family.

TL Murphy
August 15th, 2018, 01:41 AM
Sorry Kevin, I don’t buy it. "We are all family" is your perspective. Not everyone sees it that way. I think the definitive position is whether an author is expressing his own cultural experience or if she is presuming to express a cultural experience that he cannot know because of socio/economic barriers. It's a fine line perhaps but I would suggest that "voice" is critical in this situation.

Bayview
August 15th, 2018, 01:49 AM
Hmm. On appropriation, when you speak it, whatever it is, whatever way you speak it, it is out there. Same with clothes, hairstyle, foods, music. Would you have it that each culture must only use that which it itself has invented? For instance, should I be limited to plastics like polyester, nylon, because cotton was not an invention of 'my' culture? Should some other unnamed culture be only allowed to wear maple leaves, solidified syrup; hockey-puck jewelry? Cheese curds? No jalapeŮos for me?! Oh de-ah, how dare thee? You see, that is the outrage. Says who exactly, to all of it? Hey you, minority person, no speaking majority tongue, no using any of their inventions. Ridiculous. You may make your point, but there will be a discussion of where to draw the lines, and that discussion will include disagreement. And the n-word, No , may even be used, in like "how about no?" to whatever insistence or demand made. Like how about this poet ( see op)may speak in whatever vernacular he thinks appropriate, and that considering that we are all brothers (and sisters; humanity, despite these tribal amalgams that some insist they are part of, and therefor separate from the rest...) he has not really 'appropriated' anything. It's all family.

Bolding mine, because, exactly. Says who? Who is saying white people can't adopt any aspects of black culture? I feel like you're stretching things to an absurd degree (and like you're strangely obsessed with Canadian stereotypes?).

For the rest... are you familiar with the term false equivalence? I think you're making one.

I mean... do we all agree that there have been huge problems with race in the US in the past? I assume so. Do we all agree that there are still significant issues with race now? Maybe that's what this boils down to. If you don't think there's a problem with the way black people in the US (and many other parts of the world) are treated, then, sure, I can see how you wouldn't think their culture was in need of any special protections. I can see you making the argument that we should treat black culture and white culture exactly the same. Black people are "allowed" to write white people, so naturally white people should be "allowed" to write black people.

But I think all that falls apart when you believe there is a problem with the way black people are treated. I think if you see the system and the dominant culture as being racist, then you stop thinking it's "fair" to apply the same rules to everyone. Or, rather, if we actually did apply the same rules to everyone, then maybe no one would need special protection or different treatment, but since one set of rules isn't applied the same way, it's not "fair" to insist that other rules be applied the same way. Like if we could wave a magic wand and get rid of racism, then I'd agree, everyone should be free to write characters of any colour, etc. But since we don't have a magic wand...?

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2018, 01:58 AM
Correct. It’s not a question of who invented what. It’s a question of who has traditionally been given a voice and who has traditionally been silenced.

TL Murphy
August 15th, 2018, 02:28 AM
That's right. It's not a level playing field. And I'll stick my neck out here and say it's a privileged perspective that presumes it is. The dominant class doesn't experience the class oppression, at least not from the position of the oppressed. So we cannot assume that artistic licence is spread evenly across society. There are legitimate greavances that oppressed classes have which dominant classes can't claim. Not to the same degree. So we can't look at a white person's involvement in black experience the same way that we look at a black person's involvement in white experience. The two situations are completely different because of the power struture that prevades the culture.

Kevin
August 15th, 2018, 04:05 AM
Back in the day... M-hmm.
Back in the day a lot of things. So what? So this guy can't write this poem with that voice because he'll be oppressing. How? Well, he's got the wrong color skin. It doesn't match.
TL... "No Irish; no dogs". Is that how you live your life? I'm guessing, no. It was a big deal, for generations. The language was even extinguished.

Sorry, but I'm not buying it.

TL Murphy
August 15th, 2018, 05:02 AM
Kevin, I try hard not to reduce complex issues to simplistic statements. If you review my comments, you'll see that I am not advocating anything like what you suggest. By the way, I'm Irish.

Underd0g
August 15th, 2018, 05:18 AM
Kevin, I try hard not to reduce complex issues to simplistic statements. If you review my comments, you'll see that I am not advocating anything like what you suggest. Try to be open minded. And by the way, I'm Irish.

An Irishman named Murphy? That is so racist. Don't you mean MacMurchadha?

TL Murphy
August 15th, 2018, 05:55 AM
Haha. That ud be me da.

JustRob
August 15th, 2018, 08:50 AM
I haven't looked at the items linked to the original post as I find petty political correctness appalling in general and prefer to maintain a healthy blood pressure by ignoring it. However, I think the issue of staying in one's lane has arisen again recently with Disney casting Jack Whitehall, a heterosexual, as a gay man in their new production Jungle Cruise. There have apparently been strong comments that a genuinely gay man should have been given the role. Apparently some people don't understand the concept of actors acting.

I was so heartened by the fact that Stephen Fry, a well-known gay man, commiserated with Jack, saying that he was equally an offender to be persecuted, having in the past played straight roles, even playing a husband and father of all things! Trust Stephen to reduce the argument to the level of absurdity in this fashion. What's the appropriate hackneyed phrase to use (or avoid using) here then? How about "sauce for the goose ..."?

Yes, actors act, writers write and poets po... (What do poets do?) Reality has nothing to do with it anyway.

An appalling afterthought --

OMG! Who do these people want to play the paedophiles, psychopaths and axe murderers then?
That certainly puts my poem with its allusions to necrophilia in a different light.

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2018, 11:32 AM
It might be a worthy exercise reading the supplementary material. Might help you see some of the nuance here, as the link’s I posted are not exactly dogmatic approaches to this topic. Not reading them because you assume they’ll be petty is ... a bit presumptuous, yes?

As far as the actor is concerned, again it’s a nuanced issue. The problem is that if the character’s sexuality is a defining characteristic in the movie, then a straight actor runs the risk of devolving the character into stereotypes. The writer, if straight, does too. The other issue most people have is that the role could have gone to a gay actor, thus increasing the diversity in Hollywood, which is objectively lacking. Does that mean a straight man cannot or should not play a gay man? I honestly don’t think so because a rigid stance would be full of assumptions. But to not see the casting as having some inherent issues is to not see the broader issue here.

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2018, 11:35 AM
Back in the day... M-hmm.
Back in the day a lot of things. So what? So this guy can't write this poem with that voice because he'll be oppressing. How? Well, he's got the wrong color skin. It doesn't match.
TL... "No Irish; no dogs". Is that how you live your life? I'm guessing, no. It was a big deal, for generations. The language was even extinguished.

Sorry, but I'm not buying it.

Unfortunately back in the day is still today as well. These issues of uneven playing fields still exist. The problems haven’t been solved.

luckyscars
August 15th, 2018, 12:07 PM
I have discussed this a few times with various people away from the forum. What I have found is a common pattern. People generally agree that a poem written by a white man imitating the dialect of a black homeless person is unacceptable...until they read the actual poem and discover it is done in a way that is rather mild and with a clearly non-racist intent.

This to me suggests we live in a world where people are more triggered (in both directions) by racism as an idea than racism as it actually exists. Whether it's perceived "anti-white" bigotry or what I (and I hope most people would call) the real problem which continues to be racism against non-white people, the reality is truly racist literature (work that exists for no other reason than to project hate toward a group) is extremely rare and hardly an issue whatsoever. The journal was wrong to pull this piece on the basis of being racist, period, but if the public are going to act like children then it's going to happen.

So I don't blame the magazine for being wrong, and of course I don't blame the author. I do blame the media for blowing these kinds of things out of proportion as often as they do. I blame various (unnamed) politicians for dog whistling. I blame Twitter campaigners and other self-righteous bourgeoisie who ignore nuance, intent and the value of free thought and pretend that they cannot tell the difference between Jumpin' Jim Crow and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Most of all, I blame actual racists for causing the issue to begin with.

Bayview
August 15th, 2018, 12:12 PM
I haven't looked at the items linked to the original post as I find petty political correctness appalling in general and prefer to maintain a healthy blood pressure by ignoring it. However, I think the issue of staying in one's lane has arisen again recently with Disney casting Jack Whitehall, a heterosexual, as a gay man in their new production Jungle Cruise. There have apparently been strong comments that a genuinely gay man should have been given the role. Apparently some people don't understand the concept of actors acting.

Okay, again, obviously, bolding mine... I'm seeing a fair bit of this on this thread, the instinct to paint people you disagree with as stupid or clueless or whatever other insults have been thrown. One poster didn't like it when I tried to explore the response, but... I'm still intrigued/confused by it.

I don't think anyone on this thread is stupid or clueless or whatever. I think this is a nuanced issue with a lot of intricacies and and grey areas, and I don't think the discussion is well served by dismissing one perspective as something that can only be considered by people.

Are there people arguing in favour of diversity and minorities that resort to knee-jerk sound bite production? I'm sure there are. But none of them are taking part in this thread, so this doesn't seem like a reasonable place to sling insults at them.

...


OMG! Who do these people want to play the paedophiles, psychopaths and axe murderers then?

Again, I don't think it serves the argument well to equate gay people with pedophiles, psychopaths and axe murderers. There are [I]reasons to avoid casting those people... there are no reasons to avoid casting gay people.

I'm not saying I agree with the specific objections minority groups have raised in either the poetry case or the casting case. I'm just saying I think it's a perspective that has enough merit to be treated with respect, not dismissed.

Bayview
August 15th, 2018, 12:17 PM
The journal was wrong to pull this piece on the basis of being racist, period...

I don't think the journal did pull the piece? I mean, it's a print magazine - they can't really pull things. I don't have access to their online version so I can't check there, but... did they pull it from the online version?

Underd0g
August 15th, 2018, 12:41 PM
Again, I don't think it serves the argument well to equate gay people with pedophiles, psychopaths and axe murderers. There are reasons to avoid casting those people... there are no reasons to avoid casting gay people.




How about talent, name recognition, loyalty and history with an actor; all meaning more money.

Has anyone made the point that we live in a capitalist world that base their decisions on the belief that they should be able to operate on a profit? Plus a lot of people in power like the autonomy and resent being told what to do.
However if being politically incorrect makes them lose money on boycotts, then they'll learn a different path.

I kinda think the moral aspects take back seat, unless human nature has changed since I woke up.

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2018, 12:48 PM
I don't think the journal did pull the piece? I mean, it's a print magazine - they can't really pull things. I don't have access to their online version so I can't check there, but... did they pull it from the online version?

Nope. It’s linked in the OP.

Bayview
August 15th, 2018, 12:48 PM
How about talent, name recognition, loyalty and history with an actor; all meaning more money.

Has anyone made the point that we live in a capitalist world that base their decisions on the belief that they should be able to operate on a profit? Plus a lot of people in power like the autonomy and resent being told what to do.
However if being politically incorrect makes them lose money on boycotts, then they'll learn a different path.

I kinda think the moral aspects take back seat, unless human nature has changed since I woke up.

I think that's the point of the protests, isn't it? Trying to make the casting so controversial that it will affect the company's bottom line?

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2018, 12:50 PM
How about talent, name recognition, loyalty and history with an actor; all meaning more money.

Has anyone made the point that we live in a capitalist world that base their decisions on the belief that they should be able to operate on a profit? Plus a lot of people in power like the autonomy and resent being told what to do.
However if being politically incorrect makes them lose money on boycotts, then they'll learn a different path.

I kinda think the moral aspects take back seat, unless human nature has changed since I woke up.

You’re right about the capitalistic nature of these things. Which is unfortunate. That money means more to so many people than morality is one of the central problems with the world.

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2018, 12:58 PM
I have discussed this a few times with various people away from the forum. What I have found is a common pattern. People generally agree that a poem written by a white man imitating the dialect of a black homeless person is unacceptable...until they read the actual poem and discover it is done in a way that is rather mild and with a clearly non-racist intent.

This to me suggests we live in a world where people are more triggered (in both directions) by racism as an idea than racism as it actually exists. Whether it's perceived "anti-white" bigotry or what I (and I hope most people would call) the real problem which continues to be racism against non-white people, the reality is truly racist literature (work that exists for no other reason than to project hate toward a group) is extremely rare and hardly an issue whatsoever. The journal was wrong to pull this piece on the basis of being racist, period, but if the public are going to act like children then it's going to happen.

So I don't blame the magazine for being wrong, and of course I don't blame the author. I do blame the media for blowing these kinds of things out of proportion as often as they do. I blame various (unnamed) politicians for dog whistling. I blame Twitter campaigners and other self-righteous bourgeoisie who ignore nuance, intent and the value of free thought and pretend that they cannot tell the difference between Jumpin' Jim Crow and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Most of all, I blame actual racists for causing the issue to begin with.

I also struggle with cases of appropriation that are done with good intent and pulled off in an effective way. And I agree that the editors were not wrong in publishing, as I donít think this poem specifically is offensive. I actually agree with the article from The Atlantic in my OP.

That being said, the concerns of poc who view this poem as problematic are still worth listening to, and I donít think the editors were wrong to acknowledge that response. I also think this should serve as a lesson for white writers that there are some aspects of culture they must be very, very careful about treading.

JustRob
August 15th, 2018, 01:08 PM
Okay, again, obviously, bolding mine... I'm seeing a fair bit of this on this thread, the instinct to paint people you disagree with as stupid or clueless or whatever other insults have been thrown. One poster didn't like it when I tried to explore the response, but... I'm still intrigued/confused by it.

I don't think anyone on this thread is stupid or clueless or whatever. I think this is a nuanced issue with a lot of intricacies and and grey areas, and I don't think the discussion is well served by dismissing one perspective as something that can only be considered by people.

Are there people arguing in favour of diversity and minorities that resort to knee-jerk sound bite production? I'm sure there are. But none of them are taking part in this thread, so this doesn't seem like a reasonable place to sling insults at them.

Again, I don't think it serves the argument well to equate gay people with pedophiles, psychopaths and axe murderers. There are [I]reasons to avoid casting those people... there are no reasons to avoid casting gay people.

I'm not saying I agree with the specific objections minority groups have raised in either the poetry case or the casting case. I'm just saying I think it's a perspective that has enough merit to be treated with respect, not dismissed.

My remarks were directed at those elsewhere who felt more than that Disney had simply "missed an opportunity", which seems to have been the mildest reported form of objection to the casting, one which I agree is quite reasonable. It is when people take their attitudes beyond the reasonable that I cringe. As I haven't read the many posts on this thread I have no idea whether any posters might feel insulted by what I wrote, but it was not my intention to do so.

Please don't take my mathematician's tendency to apply reductio ad absurdum to such an issue as insulting. It is in the nature of such logic to appear so. So far as equating gay people to paedophiles, psychopaths and axe murderers, I was quite obviously making the opposite point, that even though they definitely can't be equated the same logic would apply if carried to absurd lengths. In fact I consider all people to be fundamentally equal and it is society that dictates which are more equal than others. So far as the casting of gay people is concerned, I specifically applauded Stephen Fry as a very good actor who just happens to be gay, not that that in any way should determine what roles he might play, and also as a well respected intellectual writing very much within his lane who saw the nonsensical aspect of the issue. What other interpretation can one put on his message to Jack Whitehall? One can easily imagine Fry saying "Oh poppycock!"

Bayview
August 15th, 2018, 01:30 PM
My remarks were directed at those elsewhere who felt more than that Disney had simply "missed an opportunity", which seems to have been the mildest reported form of objection to the casting, one which I agree is quite reasonable. It is when people take their attitudes beyond the reasonable that I cringe. As I haven't read the many posts on this thread I have no idea whether any posters might feel insulted by what I wrote, but it was not my intention to do so.

Please don't take my mathematician's tendency to apply reductio ad absurdum to such an issue as insulting. It is in the nature of such logic to appear so. So far as equating gay people to paedophiles, psychopaths and axe murderers, I was quite obviously making the opposite point, that even though they definitely can't be equated the same logic would apply if carried to absurd lengths. In fact I consider all people to be fundamentally equal and it is society that dictates which are more equal than others. So far as the casting of gay people is concerned, I specifically applauded Stephen Fry as a very good actor who just happens to be gay, not that that in any way should determine what roles he might play, and also as a well respected intellectual writing very much within his lane who saw the nonsensical aspect of the issue. What other interpretation can one put on his message to Jack Whitehall? One can easily imagine Fry saying "Oh poppycock!"

I think the problem with reductio ad absurdum is that it could go both ways. I could be making grand pronouncements about "Well, I guess it's okay if they do a biopic of MLK and cast a white actor, and I guess there was nothing wrong with Mickey Rooney's role in Breakfast at Tiffany's and shouldn't black people just shut and be happy they're getting any attention at all?!?" but it doesn't really contribute to the discussion, I don't think. It essentially sets up strawman arguments that are easy to knock down, but... hopefully we aren't trying to knock down strawmen?

(Possibly I'm naively optimistic, but I always come into these discussions thinking that there must be some middle ground that we can all agree on and from there we can branch out and explore the nuances and agree to disagree on the subtleties...)

TL Murphy
August 15th, 2018, 02:42 PM
I also struggle with cases of appropriation that are done with good intent and pulled off in an effective way. And I agree that the editors were not wrong in publishing, as I don’t think this poem specifically is offensive. I actually agree with the article from The Atlantic in my OP.

That being said, the concerns of poc who view this poem as problematic are still worth listening to, and I don’t think the editors were wrong to acknowledge that response. I also think this should serve as a lesson for white writers that there are some aspects of culture they must be very, very careful about treading.

I agree with both statements here. And I'm going to go out on a limb now and suggest that the kind of racism that festers in the United States is particularly nasty. It is a unique situation considering America's violent past and the nature of institutionalized racism that exists in a country that calls itself "the land of the free". Racism is so systemic that most white Americans aren't even aware of it, so political correctness takes on a different weight than it would in some other societies. I would even go so far as to say that white Americans who express their frustration at the inconvenience of PC in terms of black/white relations are expressing a racist undercurrent without really being aware of it. Sorry, that's the way I see it.

Robbie
August 15th, 2018, 04:13 PM
Unconscious racism is the most insidious.

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2018, 04:28 PM
I agree with both statements here. And I'm going to go out on a limb now and suggest that the kind of racism that festers in the United States is particularly nasty. It is a unique situation considering America's violent past and the nature of institutionalized racism that exists in a country that calls itself "the land of the free". Racism is so systemic that most white Americans aren't even aware of it, so political correctness takes on a different weight than it would in some other societies. I would even go so far as to say that white Americans who express their frustration at the inconvenience of PC in terms of black/white relations are expressing a racist undercurrent without really being aware of it. Sorry, that's the way I see it.

I think you’re right. While there are certainly aspects of pc culture I find excessive and there are certainly some legitimate gripes about it, for the most part the opposition is rooted in an inability to understand why so many people find it important. The trouble begins when we enter the artistic arena and pc culture comes up against free speech and artistic expression. This happens in the US a lot with comedians. It’s a tricky line to find, but I think there are rational compromises that can be made.

Terry D
August 15th, 2018, 04:34 PM
I guess as a writer I'm screwed.

I'm an old, middle-class, white male from the semi-rural Midwest. So, according to the prevailing line of 'politically correct' thought, all I can write about without appropriating someone's culture, or experiences, is stuff fit for the pages of Boy's Life, or Midwestern Living. That ain't gonna happen folks. I'm not going to spend my writing life apologizing for the accident of my birth.

One perspective I haven't seen discussed yet -- and forgive me if it has been, I've read quickly through the thread and may have missed it -- is an interpretation of the writer's job as an artist. I didn't see the poet posing as a homeless African American, rather I saw a writer attempting to understand his own interpretation of that experience; and isn't that what we should be doing? I mean, if I "stay in my lane" am I ever going to grow as a writer? As a person? Don't we write to explore our own perspectives, to challenge our own preconceptions? If we don't do that we are never going to get deeper than our own surfaces. If I try to do that with some sense of integrity, and honesty and I get it wrong, pissing someone off in the process, then I'm sorry for their discomfort, but not for my intent. Hell, if we all "stay in our lanes" then we're just writing what's 'safe' and will never learn anything.

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2018, 04:50 PM
Terry, the point is that you can write what you want but you should be aware of the limitations of your experience and the long history of marginalized cultures being claimed by white people at the expense of marginalized people. That doesn’t mean “stay in your damn lane!” It means be careful about taking over other people’s lanes and pushing them off the road.

Bayview
August 15th, 2018, 05:01 PM
I guess as a writer I'm screwed.

I'm an old, middle-class, white male from the semi-rural Midwest. So, according to the prevailing line of 'politically correct' thought, all I can write about without appropriating someone's culture, or experiences, is stuff fit for the pages of Boy's Life, or Midwestern Living. That ain't gonna happen folks. I'm not going to spend my writing life apologizing for the accident of my birth.

One perspective I haven't seen discussed yet -- and forgive me if it has been, I've read quickly through the thread and may have missed it -- is an interpretation of the writer's job as an artist. I didn't see the poet posing as a homeless African American, rather I saw a writer attempting to understand his own interpretation of that experience; and isn't that what we should be doing? I mean, if I "stay in my lane" am I ever going to grow as a writer? As a person? Don't we write to explore our own perspectives, to challenge our own preconceptions? If we don't do that we are never going to get deeper than our own surfaces. If I try to do that with some sense of integrity, and honesty and I get it wrong, pissing someone off in the process, then I'm sorry for their discomfort, but not for my intent. Hell, if we all "stay in our lanes" then we're just writing what's 'safe' and will never learn anything.

I think this argument is a bit problematic...

I mean, if you don't think appropriation is harmful, that's a different argument, and I think it can be made.

If you think that appropriation is only harmful sometimes and the way you want to do it wouldn't be harmful, that's another separate argument I think could be made.

But the argument you're making here feels more like "I don't care if appropriation is harmful and I've decided that my own growth as a writer is important enough to merit the chance of harming other people". And... maybe? But there has to be an examination of degrees of harm, doesn't there?

(And also, of course... I've never heard anyone trying to stop anyone from writing anything. What I'm seeing is people objecting to people publishing things. I feel like you could probably get the growth-as-a-writer aspect just by writing, not publishing...)

There's a mindset of 'everybody is free to do what's right for themselves without taking any care for the well-being of others because that's what freedom is all about" and I think the downside of that mindset is that, yes, people are free to write and publish whatever they want, but other people are also free to protest and argue against whatever they want. So there really isn't a moral argument to be made. The poet and publisher in this case had the freedom to issue the poem, the people who protested had the freedom to do that, the poet and publisher had the freedom to choose to apologize, and nobody's right or wrong because everyone's just exercising their freedoms. But there are people on this thread who aren't satisfied with that approach. They seem to want the freedom to write what they want, but don't like it when other people have a similar freedom?

I don't think we can reasonably expect to have the freedom be one-sided. Authors should have the freedom to write/publish whatever they want, but nobody should have the freedom to protest/argue against it? Nah.

I'm white and upper middle class and able-bodied and all the rest of it myself. I sometimes worry about whether what I write is appropriation. For sure. I'm not pretending to be in any way pure on any part of this.

For me, there's value in just doing the thinking, and having the discussions. I don't think there are likely to be answers, but the questions themselves are valuable, at least to me.

Terry D
August 15th, 2018, 05:21 PM
Terry, the point is that you can write what you want but you should be aware of the limitations of your experience and the long history of marginalized cultures being claimed by white people at the expense of marginalized people. That doesn’t mean “stay in your damn lane!” It means be careful about taking over other people’s lanes and pushing them off the road.

That awareness is what I was writing about. By exploring beyond the boundaries of our individual experiences -- and doing so thoughtfully -- we start understand our own limited perspectives. 'Merging the lanes' if you will.

H.Brown
August 15th, 2018, 05:52 PM
No matter what the writer intends for their work, others will always read and parttake from it something different. For example when studying literature whether it is poetry, prose or drama the readers own expiriences colour their views and nobody has ever lived the same life as the next person. So where one would find a white person writing about black persecution offensive, another will view it as insightful, whereas the otiginal author may just see it as a story not a statement.

In terms of the op I don't think the poet should have appologised for writing what he wished to write and I agree with LuckStars that the media is to blame, for years the press has been responsible for blowing things out of proportion, a person's writing if done well should be praised regardless of the narrative voice's ethnicity. For example the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime is a story about an autistic child and it is celebrated as an authentic exploration of beibg an autistic child however the writer himself is not autistic himself, why should chosing to write from a black persons pov, be a problem just because they are white, if the poem is good and presents understanding of the presented situation why does it matter the ethnicity of the writer?

Terry D
August 15th, 2018, 06:05 PM
I think this argument is a bit problematic...

I mean, if you don't think appropriation is harmful, that's a different argument, and I think it can be made.

If you think that appropriation is only harmful sometimes and the way you want to do it wouldn't be harmful, that's another separate argument I think could be made.

But the argument you're making here feels more like "I don't care if appropriation is harmful and I've decided that my own growth as a writer is important enough to merit the chance of harming other people". And... maybe? But there has to be an examination of degrees of harm, doesn't there?

How did you get that out of my post about exploring our own perspectives in our writing.


(And also, of course... I've never heard anyone trying to stop anyone from writing anything. What I'm seeing is people objecting to people publishing things. I feel like you could probably get the growth-as-a-writer aspect just by writing, not publishing...)

Write what you want, just don't let anyone see it? Not a very good way to communicate ideas, IMO.


There's a mindset of 'everybody is free to do what's right for themselves without taking any care for the well-being of others because that's what freedom is all about" and I think the downside of that mindset is that, yes, people are free to write and publish whatever they want, but other people are also free to protest and argue against whatever they want. So there really isn't a moral argument to be made. The poet and publisher in this case had the freedom to issue the poem, the people who protested had the freedom to do that, the poet and publisher had the freedom to choose to apologize, and nobody's right or wrong because everyone's just exercising their freedoms. But there are people on this thread who aren't satisfied with that approach. They seem to want the freedom to write what they want, but don't like it when other people have a similar freedom?

I don't think we can reasonably expect to have the freedom be one-sided. Authors should have the freedom to write/publish whatever they want, but nobody should have the freedom to protest/argue against it? Nah.

Again, I may have missed it in my quick read-through of this thread, but I didn't see anyone saying readers didn't have the right to complain about what was written, more that the writers weren't particularly concerned about such feedback, or, more accurately, weren't concerned enough to let that concern dictate what they write. Which i support.


I'm white and upper middle class and able-bodied and all the rest of it myself. I sometimes worry about whether what I write is appropriation. For sure. I'm not pretending to be in any way pure on any part of this.

For me, there's value in just doing the thinking, and having the discussions. I don't think there are likely to be answers, but the questions themselves are valuable, at least to me.

That's what I was suggesting in my previous post, exploring our attitudes and preconceptions. If those explorations are publishable, so much the better.

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2018, 06:42 PM
That awareness is what I was writing about. By exploring beyond the boundaries of our individual experiences -- and doing so thoughtfully -- we start understand our own limited perspectives. 'Merging the lanes' if you will.

I agree. I don’t have a problem with this approach, just as I don’t have a problem with this poem. I do think, though, that when attempting to merge lanes, great care must be taken. Care that many in the past and present fail to take.

On the issue of this poem, I think that’s what the poet was trying to do. I also think he succeeded. That being said, I don’t think it’s wise to be so easily dismissive of the poem’s critics as some people were being early in this thread. I also stand by the idea that the biggest problem with this poem is not that the poet wrote it or what he wrote, but that if the editors wished to present black experience in their magazine, it seems they could have given this space to a black person. Because the best way to fight against marginilaizatiom is to give opportunities to marginalized people.

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2018, 06:46 PM
No matter what the writer intends for their work, others will always read and parttake from it something different. For example when studying literature whether it is poetry, prose or drama the readers own expiriences colour their views and nobody has ever lived the same life as the next person. So where one would find a white person writing about black persecution offensive, another will view it as insightful, whereas the otiginal author may just see it as a story not a statement.

In terms of the op I don't think the poet should have appologised for writing what he wished to write and I agree with LuckStars that the media is to blame, for years the press has been responsible for blowing things out of proportion, a person's writing if done well should be praised regardless of the narrative voice's ethnicity. For example the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime is a story about an autistic child and it is celebrated as an authentic exploration of beibg an autistic child however the writer himself is not autistic himself, why should chosing to write from a black persons pov, be a problem just because they are white, if the poem is good and presents understanding of the presented situation why does it matter the ethnicity of the writer?


But didn’t Mark Haddon go to great pains to say the main character in that book was not autistic and that he was not an expert on autism? I believe he said the book was just about being different, and he fought against the notion that Christopher (the MC) was on the spectrum.

Bayview
August 15th, 2018, 06:57 PM
...why should chosing to write from a black persons pov, be a problem just because they are white, if the poem is good and presents understanding of the presented situation why does it matter the ethnicity of the writer?

I would agree with you, if we were living in a perfect world without racism or oppression. But we don't live in that world, so I would say,

A) There are serious problems with black people (and other writers of colour) being underrepresented in the publishing industry. So it must be especially galling for a black person who's trying to break into the industry to see a white person (when there are already so many other white authors) being published while telling a "black story". Get rid of under-representation in the industry, and this issue goes away;

B) I'm not sure many (or possibly any) white people really can get inside the heads of marginalized people, giving that a major aspect of marginalization is that their voices are rarely heard and their experiences aren't widely shared, or are shared only in a distorted way. We may think we're representing them well, and maybe we really are. But I think we'll be spending a lot more of our writing energies putting ourselves in their brains than they'd spend putting themselves into our brains. Again, get rid of marginalization and this issue goes away.

So, yes, in a perfect world, I think it would be totally fine for anybody to write any story from any perspective. But I don't think we're in that world yet.


(And, again - there's a reason autistic people would likely have difficulty telling their own stories; there's no reason black people can't tell their own stories.)

H.Brown
August 15th, 2018, 06:58 PM
But didn’t Mark Haddon go to great pains to say the main character in that book was not autistic and that he was not an expert on autism? I believe he said the book was just about being different, and he fought against the notion that Christopher (the MC) was on the spectrum.

He did but many a reader have still read the autism side into the way the mc is portrayed, regardless of what the author stated. which was my point (maybe not written well ironically) even though Mark Haddon stated it was not what people believed, their own views have still coloured the text with their own context and explination, regardless of the author's original intent. I felt that the same had happend with the poem in question, audience interpretation should not (imo) be a cause to make a writter apologise for the response their writing has evoked, writing should evoke reactions.

Bay yes my views might be nieve but the fact is that publishing houses have become more inclusive of not only all ethnic groups but also towards writers of the LGBT comunity and writers with or that write about mental health as well.

Don't get me wrong I'm not saying these groups aren't still being maginalised in places but I do believe that now with both traditional publishers offering more oportunites to both ethinic and LGBT writers and also the more and more popular method of self-publishing there is in my view not as many obsticles in the way for both groups to publish their own stories, as there have been in the past.

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2018, 07:05 PM
He did but many a reader have still read the autism side into the way the mc is portrayed, regardless of what the author stated. which was my point (maybe not written well ironically) even though Mark Haddon stated it was not what people believed, their own views have still coloured the text with their own context and explination, regardless of the author's original intent. I felt that the same had happend with the poem in question, audience interpretation should not (imo) be a cause to make a writter apologise for the response their writing has evoked, writing should evoke reactions.

That opens up a whole other can of worms for another topic, I think. The issue of artistic intent vs. critical reaction goes beyond race. It’s an issue literary critics have been debating for over a century.

In regards to this poem, I think this issue is entirely about appropriation and its appropriateness.

Bayview
August 15th, 2018, 07:21 PM
Bay yes my views might be nieve but the fact is that publishing houses have become more inclusive of not only all ethnic groups but also towards writers of the LGBT comunity and writers with or that write about mental health as well.


They might be getting better, but they still have a hell of a long way to go. See, for example:

http://blog.leeandlow.com/2018/05/10/the-diversity-gap-in-childrens-book-publishing-2018/ (Black, Latino, and Native authors combined wrote only 7% of new children's books in 2017. 31% of books published had at least some non-white characters, but obviously a lot of these books are being written by white authors)

https://www.therippedbodicela.com/sites/therippedbodicela.com/files/2017%20diversity%20study%20%281%29.pdf (in romance, the largest genre, things actually seem to be getting worse, at least over a two year period. 7.8% of books from major romance publishers were written by authors of colour in 2016, and that fell to 6.2% in 2017. (the graphics on this site make it look pretty fluffy, but I think the data is solid))

H.Brown
August 15th, 2018, 07:22 PM
That opens up a whole other can of worms for another topic, I think. The issue of artistic intent vs. critical reaction goes beyond race. Itís an issue literary critics have been debating for over a century.

In regards to this poem, I think this issue is entirely about appropriation and its appropriateness.

That might be correct but the op is about reader interpretation of the poem shaping the response of the publisher. Imo there is nothing in the poem that is offensive, racial, or in need of an aploogy to its readers other than in response to wide veiws of negativity, as one of the comments states maybe the editing staff should hbe headed by someone with a stronger backbone, one who will defend the writers work.

TL Murphy
August 15th, 2018, 07:32 PM
I think Bayview made an important point when she said:

"There's a mindset of 'everybody is free to do what's right for themselves without taking any care for the well-being of others because that's what freedom is all about" "

Again, I see this as a partcularly American POV. The cult of individualism or - the John Wayne vision of freedom. I mean, I grew up in America and I'm not about to compromise my individual rights, but freedom can't exist without responsibilty. So to say "I will write and publish whatever I damn-well please" is a breech of true freedom because it fails to consider the possible harm your words may cause. I think this is a bigger problem in the U.S. than most other places because of the American cult of individualism. And because of America's physical, economic and ideological isolation, many Americans see this as a sacred position. So in the face of cultural appropriation having strings of polictal correctness tied to, the balance between freedom and resposibility gets loaded on the "freedom" side.

Terry D
August 15th, 2018, 08:04 PM
I think Bayview made an important point when she said:

"There's a mindset of 'everybody is free to do what's right for themselves without taking any care for the well-being of others because that's what freedom is all about" "

Again, I see this as a partcularly American POV. The cult of individualism or - the John Wayne vision of freedom. I mean, I grew up in America and I'm not about to compromise my individual rights, but freedom can't exist without responsibilty. So to say "I will write and publish whatever I damn-well please" is a breech of true freedom because it fails to consider the possible harm your words may cause. I think this is a bigger problem in the U.S. than most other places because of the American cult of individualism. And because of America's physical, economic and ideological isolation, many Americans see this as a sacred position. So in the face of cultural appropriation having strings of polictal correctness tied to, the balance between freedom and resposibility gets loaded on the "freedom" side.

But no one in this thread -- other than in Bayview's comment on my post -- has said any such thing (unless I missed that quote somewhere along the line). We are not talking about yelling "Fire!" in a movie theater here, we are talking about writing fiction from perspectives other than those with which we have familiarity, be they racial, gender based, cultural, or any other POV who may be considered marginalized. By that logic, I should hesitate write a story from the POV of a female protagonist, or from that of an Hispanic, or a gay white-nationalist. As writers we are responsible for what we write, and we are held accountable by publishers and readers for our output. If I do my job poorly and my story fails, it will not be published, or it will not be read. Anyone who reads it has the right -- the freedom -- to respond to it as they wish.

Bayview
August 15th, 2018, 08:18 PM
But no one in this thread -- other than in Bayview's comment on my post -- has said any such thing (unless I missed that quote somewhere along the line). We are not talking about yelling "Fire!" in a movie theater here, we are talking about writing fiction from perspectives other than those with which we have familiarity, be they racial, gender based, cultural, or any other POV who may be considered marginalized. By that logic, I should hesitate write a story from the POV of a female protagonist, or from that of an Hispanic, or a gay white-nationalist. As writers we are responsible for what we write, and we are held accountable by publishers and readers for our output. If I do my job poorly and my story fails, it will not be published, or it will not be read. Anyone who reads it has the right -- the freedom -- to respond to it as they wish.

Well... I wasn't gonna respond to your original response, but... I don't think I totally misread your post. I saw (and still see) "That ain't gonna happen folks. I'm not going to spend my writing life apologizing for the accident of my birth" as you saying you'll write what you want, consequences be damned. And "If I try to do that with some sense of integrity, and honesty and I get it wrong, pissing someone off in the process, then I'm sorry for their discomfort, but not for my intent" also sounds like you're valuing the purity of your intentions over the possible consequences of your actions?

I totally accept that this may not be how you intended the words to be interpreted. But I don't think I'm crazy to think they could be interpreted that way.

Firemajic
August 15th, 2018, 08:54 PM
[QUOTE=Bayview;2178611] And ***"If I try to do that with some sense of integrity**, and honesty** and I get it wrong, pissing someone off in the process, then** I'm sorry for their discomfort, but not for my intent"** Quote from: Terry D'''


Bayview...With all due respect to everyone's opinion... what is the problem with Terry D's POV???
If the writer is not trying to incite racism and hatred, and in the process of telling his story, he unintentionally offended someone.... how is that the writer's responsibility ???

Quote from Bayview: also sounds like you're valuing the ***purity of your intentions over the possible consequences of your actions?***

We all are personally responsible for the way we deal with "Offensive Material"....meaning ... if someone writes something offensive to you...DON'T READ their work....

Bayview
August 15th, 2018, 09:09 PM
[QUOTE=Bayview;2178611] And ***"If I try to do that with some sense of integrity**, and honesty** and I get it wrong, pissing someone off in the process, then** I'm sorry for their discomfort, but not for my intent"** Quote from: Terry D'''


Bayview...With all due respect to everyone's opinion... what is the problem with Terry D's POV???
If the writer is not trying to incite racism and hatred, and in the process of telling his story, he unintentionally offended someone.... how is that the writer's responsibility ???

Quote from Bayview: also sounds like you're valuing the ***purity of your intentions over the possible consequences of your actions?***

We all are personally responsible for the way we deal with "Offensive Material"....meaning ... if someone writes something offensive to you...DON'T READ their work....

I'm not directly arguing against his perspective. He just said that he hadn't said anything of this sort, and I wanted to point out that I believe he did, or at least said something that could be interpreted as if he did.

In terms of your questions...

"If the writer is not trying to incite racism and hatred, and in the process of telling his story, he unintentionally offended someone.... how is that the writer's responsibility ??? " I think this is a valid position. (I mean, assuming your question is rhetorical and you're actually saying "this isn't the writer's responsibility"). But it's not my personal position. Personally, I think that if someone is hurt by something I do, even if it wasn't my intention to hurt them, I bear some responsibility. I think we have a duty of care to other members of our society. With something like appropriation, something that's gotten so much attention lately, I think we can't pretend we were completely unaware of the issue. So if I knew there was a possible issue and I went ahead anyway? Yes, I would feel, as a writer, that I bore some responsibility if someone was hurt. Which brings me to your next point...

"if someone writes something offensive to you...DON'T READ their work...." And I think this needs a bit of unpacking. First, I notice that you're saying "offensive" while I'm saying "hurt", and obviously there are different connotations, there. Personally, I think "offensive" has been an overused, abused word lately. And I think that an offense can certainly rise to the level of being a hurt. I don't personally see the hurt in the poem from the OP, but I feel like we're having a broader discussion, here? So I think my argument is clearer if we speak in terms of hurt.

Like... if someone writes something that advocates the murder of Jews, that's offensive to me, but I think it's also hurtful to society as a whole, and to Jews in particular. I don't think the solution, in that case, is to just not read their work. I think responsible citizens need to speak out against the work, right? So, no, I don't accept that the "don't read it" solution will apply in all cases.

Now, in the case from the OP, I don't think there was anything hurtful or obviously offensive. So, sure, one solution would be for people who were offended to just not read their work. But, again... this applies in both directions, right? If the poet wrote something I found offensive, I could just not read any more of the poet's work, or any more work from the journal that published it. Similarly, though, if the people who objected or the editors wrote something someone else found offensive, then someone else could simply not read more writings from the people who objected or the editors. Right? That argument works both ways.

Terry D
August 15th, 2018, 09:16 PM
Well... I wasn't gonna respond to your original response, but... I don't think I totally misread your post. I saw (and still see) "That ain't gonna happen folks. I'm not going to spend my writing life apologizing for the accident of my birth" as you saying you'll write what you want, consequences be damned. And "If I try to do that with some sense of integrity, and honesty and I get it wrong, pissing someone off in the process, then I'm sorry for their discomfort, but not for my intent" also sounds like you're valuing the purity of your intentions over the possible consequences of your actions?

I totally accept that this may not be how you intended the words to be interpreted. But I don't think I'm crazy to think they could be interpreted that way.

Fair enough if you choose to insert "consequences be damned" (which I never said). To me writing with integrity means considering the implications of my words and choosing them with some consideration as to their impact, but even doing so, if I veer outside my lane, someone is going to take offense and ascribe motivations and meaning (interpretations) to my words which were never stated (sort of like in this thread). That's on them. I won't waste my energy trying to keep everyone feeling good any more than I will spend my time trying to piss everyone off. It's symbolic of our times that a statement saying, in essence, "I'm not going to limit my writing topics and style to those considered appropriate (by some unknown entity) to my white, middle class, Midwestern background," needs to be defended.

Bayview
August 15th, 2018, 09:21 PM
It's symbolic of our times that a statement saying, in essence, "I'm not going to limit my writing topics and style to those considered appropriate (by some unknown entity) to my white, middle class, Midwestern background," needs to be defended.

That's kinda the point of the thread, right? Trying to discuss whether it needs to be defended or not?

Firemajic
August 15th, 2018, 09:25 PM
[QUOTE=Firemajic;2178619]

I'm not directly arguing against his perspective. He just said that he hadn't said anything of this sort, and I wanted to point out that I believe he did, or at least said something that could be interpreted as if he did.

In terms of your questions...

"If the writer is not trying to incite racism and hatred, and in the process of telling his story, he unintentionally offended someone.... how is that the writer's responsibility ??? " I think this is a valid position. (I mean, assuming your question is rhetorical and you're actually saying "this isn't the writer's responsibility"). But it's not my personal position. Personally, I think that if someone is hurt by something I do, even if it wasn't my intention to hurt them, I bear some responsibility. I think we have a duty of care to other members of our society. With something like appropriation, something that's gotten so much attention lately, I think we can't pretend we were completely unaware of the issue. So if I knew there was a possible issue and I went ahead anyway? Yes, I would feel, as a writer, that I bore some responsibility if someone was hurt. Which brings me to your next point...

"if someone writes something offensive to you...DON'T READ their work...." And I think this needs a bit of unpacking. First, I notice that you're saying "offensive" while I'm saying "hurt", and obviously there are different connotations, there. Personally, I think "offensive" has been an overused, abused word lately. And I think that an offense can certainly rise to the level of being a hurt. I don't personally see the hurt in the poem from the OP, but I feel like we're having a broader discussion, here? So I think my argument is clearer if we speak in terms of hurt.

Like...***** if someone writes something that advocates the murder of Jews,****** That would be an intentional, Racial statement, inciting violence, and that is not what I was speaking about [ please ignore the red lettering ..it was supposed to be purple]

we were talking about INTENT... when someone unintentionally offends / hurts someone...




that's offensive to me, but I think it's also hurtful to society as a whole, and to Jews in particular. I don't think the solution, in that case, is to just not read their work. I think responsible citizens need to speak out against the work, right? So, no, I don't accept that the "don't read it" solution will apply in all cases.

Now, in the case from the OP, I don't think there was anything hurtful or obviously offensive. So, sure, one solution would be for people who were offended to just not read their work. But, again... this applies in both directions, right? If the poet wrote something I found offensive, I could just not read any more of the poet's work, or any more work from the journal that published it. Similarly, though, if the people who objected or the editors wrote something someone else found offensive, then someone else could simply not read more writings from the people who objected or the editors. Right? That argument works both ways.


anyway, thank you for clearing up my misunderstanding... I appreciate ;)

Underd0g
August 15th, 2018, 09:55 PM
Ha, it just occurred to me that the reason my thread got 200 views with no response was because it was offensive.
I guess I should be lucky I didn't get banned.
I knew I would get more responses if WF had a 'This Post Sucks' button.

https://www.writingforums.com/threads/178353-My-Homeless-Friend?highlight=

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2018, 10:19 PM
It's symbolic of our times that a statement saying, in essence, "I'm not going to limit my writing topics and style to those considered appropriate (by some unknown entity) to my white, middle class, Midwestern background," needs to be defended.

But honesty, as a white, middle class, Midwestern person, do you really think you could write a true representation of, I donít know, a disenfranchised black youth from Oakland who grew up on the streets and now feels a need for armed revolution? If you tried, do you think your character would be as authentic as Killmonger? I seriously doubt it. Instead, youíd be much more likely to fall into the trap of stereotyping the character and missing his nuance. Not because youíre racist, but because your window of experience is limited. And you could say, well that just traps me in writing about myself, but thatís not really the case. Whatís being argued is that those unintentional stereotypes toward POC have been damaging for a long time in America, and maybe itís time to stop making the same mistake.

bdcharles
August 16th, 2018, 12:55 AM
1. Were the editors right or wrong in issuing an apology?
2. Should the editors have even published the poem in the first place? Does an editor have a responsibility to weigh the possible controversy a work of art might cause? Or does the editor only have the responsibility to publish what they believe is good, important poetry?
3. In regard to artistic voice, does an artist have a responsibility to "stay in their lane"? Or is any voice available to the artist, provided they use the voice correctly (as argued in the Atlantic article linked below)?
4. Is there a balance an artist should try to find between speaking freely in their art and being conscious of political correctness (I know that is a loaded term, but I can't think of any other term to describe the behavior of consciously avoiding possibly offensive language)? Seeing as how art is designed to bring about powerful emotion and thought (positive or negative) and also express the artist's feelings and thoughts, what is the artist's responsibility here?
5. There are perhaps many other issues at play here. What do you think?


To me, this situation seems to be about as optimal as it could get. A poem was written and published and no-one tried to censor it. Hot-topic word that, censor. People often misconstrue someone saying they don't like something as actively getting it silenced, or trying to, but it isn't that. It's nothing more than a counteropinion. As it was, the people that didn't like it (do we know who that was) had their say. The publications involved noted the objections but kept the poem, complete with notes. I applaud that outcome.

To your questions:

1. I think it would have been worse for them if they hadn't.

2. It's up to them. There's no one "editor" archetype. They're all different. The fact that it was legally allowed to be published, and that any wavering on the matter is merely down to an assessment of potential brand damage on the part of the publisher (a private entity), is a great thing.

3. I don't think they should have to stay in their lane. If they stayed in their lane, writers from the ghetto and wherever else would face an issue writing in a more accessible vernacular. They may well face this anyway, but they oughtn't. Writing is often about making stuff up, being someone else. Art is empathy, and if someone is able to usefully put themselves in person X's position, where person X is very different from them, and communicate something well, then great. I imagine people got up in arms because the writer here was being a mouthpiece for the people in inner city San Francisco, and potentially kind of presenting them his way. The publication of it says the same sort of thing, and I do understand that. But that is also to disrespect, in a way, the people of that part of San Francisco or wherever it was, suggesting that they are incapable of fighting their corner. Maybe they have trouble doing that. So maybe this writer was doing them a favour, leveraging his white privilege for their exposure. But then won't that help perpetuate the problem. Or maybe there is no problem. It's complicated.

4. Artists putting their work out for public consumption can definitely benefit from being sensitive of as much human stuff as possible, in my view. If they're not aware, or if they don't care, about how it may be read, how much worth can they really have as artists? What do they have to say? The counterargument of course is that their stuff may be of use to someone like them. It may also just be for their own indulgence. But the joy of all this is that the people that don't like it can say so, and choose something they do like.

5. Hehe yes there are always other issues. People like simple answers to complex problems. There aren't any. People also like to grab a little individual power at the expense of understanding a problem, because we do, we're people with a drive to survive no matter what, and which explains, to me, the reason for all the arguments around this issue. In my more paranoid moments I would say that the powers that be have us right where they want us, sowing discord and watching us squabble over this and that. If the liberal in the street popped over his conservative neighbour's fence to say hi and let's have a barbecue, the elites'd most probably shit a brick.

TL Murphy
August 16th, 2018, 03:19 AM
If the writer is not trying to incite racism and hatred, and in the process of telling his story, he unintentionally offended someone.... how is that the writer's responsibility ???


Let me point out that the author of the cited poem in this discussion probably had no intention to offend anyone. He is young and likely was unaware that he was "appropriating culture" or appropriating a voice beyond his experience... which is different than creating a character outside ones experience. Now this author was likely unaware of the potential controversy implicit in his poem. Whether you agree that cultural appropriation is a bad thing or not doesn't negate the fact that he did it. And cultural appropriation is symptomatic of unconscious additudes in a complex society. It isn't a matter of whether the author "intended" harm or not, it's a matter of calling attention to unconscious situations which are potentially harmful, regardless of intention. In other words, raising consiousness. That's how cultures evolve morally and ethically. And it is the task of poets and artists to facilitate that change.

luckyscars
August 16th, 2018, 12:24 PM
But honesty, as a white, middle class, Midwestern person, do you really think you could write a true representation of, I don’t know, a disenfranchised black youth from Oakland who grew up on the streets and now feels a need for armed revolution? If you tried, do you think your character would be as authentic as Killmonger? I seriously doubt it. Instead, you’d be much more likely to fall into the trap of stereotyping the character and missing his nuance. Not because you’re racist, but because your window of experience is limited. And you could say, well that just traps me in writing about myself, but that’s not really the case. What’s being argued is that those unintentional stereotypes toward POC have been damaging for a long time in America, and maybe it’s time to stop making the same mistake.

I think the biggest problem in all this is epitomized by this one phrase "true representation". Strictly speaking, one cannot write a true representation of anything can they? Certainly not of a character who does not exist. What would you or anybody else be using to assess it? You don't have a real person to compare it with, so I assume you would be comparing it to an imagined character. One that would be, by necessity, constructed from the same stereotypes you admonish.

While my knowledge of poetry is minimal I do believe it is classified as a kind of fiction. Therefore I am going to apply the same rules as I do a fictional story and say that while a "true representation" while perhaps might be desirable is not needed for the piece to have worth. There can, for want of a better word, be an "emotional truth" which is equally important -- certain things we could have in common regardless of background. Basically what my signature quote from Hemingway refers to...

I appreciate you are referring to authenticity and "the bigger picture" and I agree these things are important in the grander scheme of things. I am certainly not blind to the inherent issues that are commonly found in, as you put it, a white middle-class Midwestern person writing about an inner-city black youth -- I don't think anybody with half of a brain is these days. It is ground that needs to be trod carefully, but assessing there is a higher likelihood for a white person to write according to stereotype when it comes to a black character than, say, when a white American writes about a white Australian does not actually make sense beyond racial politicking. If we take the view that "all stereotypes are a trap" we can find problems in all but the very simplest and safest of writing. And who wants to read poetry that is simple or safe?

Squalid Glass
August 16th, 2018, 12:40 PM
The whole point, though, is that a lack of authentic representation of POC has led to harmful stereotyping in America. For example, the Indian character Apu on the Simpsons, for twenty years, was the only representation of Indian people on television, and his character was created by a white person and played to all the typical stereotypes of Indian people that one might expect in America. Because there was no authentic representation to compare this too, many Americans see Apu as representative of the whole, and that influences their thoughts and actions toward Indian people.

The reason why authentic representation is so important for POC in America is because the lack of it has perpetuated marginalization. For example, the perpetuation of the black “gangster” stereotype has CERTAINLY negatively affected the way many white people see black people. When a white person writes a black character and relies on stereotypes to differentiate the character from their white ones, the white author is only furthering the stereotype without presenting the nuance that a black author might understand, and therefore might be able to utilize to fight the stereotype and create an empathetic character like Killmonger.

In this regard, when it comes to marginalized people who have traditionally not been given a voice, it is impossible to separate the political from the artistic. Whereas a stereotypical Australian like Crocadile Dundee might be inaccurate and maybe absurd (I don’t know if HE is, btw), there is no history of oppression and racism and marginilaization of Australians in America, so the stereotyping doesn’t do much damage. But if all an American has ever been presented is black characters from the hood who join a gang, use the n-word constantly, and sag their pants, such representation might be a factor when a certain white person calls the cops on a group of black people because they’re bbqing in the park or when a black boy reading a book is looked at as “acting white.”

Kevin
August 16th, 2018, 01:20 PM
Acting white is not a white thing.

The industry is more than aware of all of this stuff.
I haven't seen a black gang member character since the 90's. I suppose they're out there. Some people think the country is being overrun by Nazis and KKk., too. That's a gross exaggeration not based in reality. Sone people would swear I'm wrong, ignoring the actual numbers. Now would be a good time to write and capitalize on that.

Steriotypes are actually based in reality. It's the ratio/actual percentages they get wrong. 'All like that' is always incorrect.

I remember a show where West Indians were made fun of for having 'two-jobs, man'. There was even a vocal minority that complained. I wonder how big that minority actually was? Are the Wayans Bros racists? Don't expect answers to any of these. There are no definitive answers. There's math here, but it's impossible to get all the data for a 'true' representation. That's why polls are always skewed. Missing factors...

Just curious: what is wrong with APU ? He ran a business, he worked, family man, was not an alcoholic, was not angry... I'm just curious what was negative? Have you ever seen the figures on mini-mart ownership by country of origin? They are way-skewed. Perhaps East Indians are otherwise underrepresented here. Not in Bollywood. Kumar is funny and cool. That guy in that comedy cop show, too. It must be about money. Business decisions usually are. It's good they get it wrong though, the industry, sometimes, and someone will do it anyway, the wrong thing business-wise, something different that makes it.

luckyscars
August 16th, 2018, 01:30 PM
The whole point, though, is that a lack of authentic representation of POC has led to harmful stereotyping in America. For example, the Indian character Apu on the Simpsons, for twenty years, was the only representation of Indian people on television, and his character was created by a white person and played to all the typical stereotypes of Indian people that one might expect in America. Because there was no authentic representation to compare this too, many Americans see Apu as representative of the whole, and that influences their thoughts and actions toward Indian people.

The reason why authentic representation is so important for POC in America is because the lack of it has perpetuated marginalization. For example, the perpetuation of the black ďgangsterĒ stereotype has CERTAINLY negatively affected the way many white people see black people. When a white person writes a black character and relies on stereotypes to differentiate the character from their white ones, the white author is only furthering the stereotype without presenting the nuance that a black author might understand, and therefore might be able to utilize to fight the stereotype and create an empathetic character like Killmonger.

In this regard, when it comes to marginalized people who have traditionally not been given a voice, it is impossible to separate the political from the artistic. Whereas a stereotypical Australian like Crocadile Dundee might be inaccurate and maybe absurd (I donít know if HE is, btw), there is no history of oppression and racism and marginilaization of Australians in America, so the stereotyping doesnít do much damage. But if all an American has ever been presented is black characters from the hood who join a gang, use the n-word constantly, and sag their pants, such representation might be a factor when a certain white person calls the cops on a group of black people because theyíre bbqing in the park or when a black boy reading a book is looked at as ďacting white.Ē

I do not disagree with your concerns about black stereotypes for a second. My issue is there is constantly a conflation made between portraying racial stereotypes and being racist.

Apu is a pretty good example of what I think is acceptable. Sure, it's a stereotype -- an Indian who works in a corner store. But a lot of corner stores are indeed run by Indians and there is nothing unholy about working at a corner store. The writer's job is to reflect reality, not construct it, and as long as there are millions of Indians running corner stores there are going to be such depictions. I don't think that is a problem. It is a problem if it becomes the uniform perception among "the masses" but since the average American is as likely to encounter an Indian doctor as an Indian corner shop worker I don't watch The Simpsons and think "oh this is damaging". I don't know of too many Indians who do, either, though I am happy to be corrected by Them (and would respond accordingly).

You are, of course, correct about the "black thug" stereotype, and indeed the Mexican drug dealer/illegal immigrant stereotype. Those are different creatures, so to speak. This is, however, a literary conversation and I don't know if we all want to go there, do we? The original post, the poem in question, did not refer to the black gangster stereotype -- which of course is largely unfounded -- and instead focused on the issue of black homeless which is absolutely true.

Can I suggest that in a society where the vast majority of homeless folks are people of color it would be perhaps more problematic for a white poet intent on writing about homeless people to stick to writing only about white ones, in a white voice? Or is the thinking more than white people should not write about homelessness at all? Because it seems to me one cannot have it both ways?

Kevin
August 16th, 2018, 01:40 PM
A quick Google says there's more whites homeless in the us than others. The ratios are off, though, not equal to overall proportions:
https://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/minorities.html

a quick google search of percentages of mini-marts owner by race does not come up. I can only go by my neighborhood which comprises about 11 million people. The east India/ sub continent ownership stereotype is correct to over 50% at a minimum. One of my friends owns three ( but that is anecdotal..)

TL Murphy
August 16th, 2018, 02:11 PM
The trouble with reinforcing stereotypes is that it reinforces stereotypes. As if indians can only be doctors or run mini-marts. What about a indian quarterback or an indian school teacher? Surely they exist. Reinforcing stereotypes is like retweeting inflammatory rhetoric. It exaggerates reality and makes it seem bigger than it is. That's why so many feel that neo-nazis are taking over. They have figured out how to exploit their stereotype so it makes it seem like they are eveywhere. That's what stereotyping does and why it's dangerous. It narrows perception and fuels paranoia.

Kevin
August 16th, 2018, 02:24 PM
The trouble with reinforcing stereotypes is that it reinforces stereotypes. As if indians can only be doctors or run mini-marts. What about a indian quarterback or an indian school teacher? Surely they exist. Reinforcing stereotypes is like retweeting inflammatory rhetoric. It exaggerates reality and makes it seem bigger than it is. That's why so many feel that neo-nazis are taking over. They have figured out how to exploit their stereotype so it makes it seem like they are eveywhere. That's what stereotyping does and why it's dangerous. It narrows perception and fuels paranoia. oh gawd... my friend's daughter is a doctor, and his son -in-law , arranged marriage, Hindus , no meat... How is that dangerous? He does have a screw-up, in-law that goes to prison every so often. Should we write about that? There's a danger there, possibly.

And about those Nazis, surely you're not suggesting they are creating the hype- the overhype, statistically? I mean that takes all the fun out of beating them with brass knuckles (as was/is popularly suggested to me on social media). That means they want us to beat them? Or?
Confusing...

T.L., i will, however, take your point and think on it.

Terry D
August 16th, 2018, 02:36 PM
But honesty, as a white, middle class, Midwestern person, do you really think you could write a true representation of, I donít know, a disenfranchised black youth from Oakland who grew up on the streets and now feels a need for armed revolution? If you tried, do you think your character would be as authentic as Killmonger? I seriously doubt it. Instead, youíd be much more likely to fall into the trap of stereotyping the character and missing his nuance. Not because youíre racist, but because your window of experience is limited. And you could say, well that just traps me in writing about myself, but thatís not really the case. Whatís being argued is that those unintentional stereotypes toward POC have been damaging for a long time in America, and maybe itís time to stop making the same mistake.

I can write a representation as true as my empathy, knowledge (I wouldn't venture 'out-of-my-lane' without research), and imagination can manage. That's all anyone can do. But, yes, I think I could construct a character as authentic as Killmonger (he was, after all, created by two white guys, Don McGregor and Rich Buckler). Would I make mistakes? Sure, but I make mistakes when I write about characters like me too. Everyone's perception is filtered through their own, unique, set of experiences and is colored by them and, as a result, is not 'authentic'. People talk about stereotypes as if they are evil. They are not unless they are used as the sole representation for a character. We all think, and write in stereotypes all the time. I would guess that if you were dropped off in the Washington Park area of East St. Louis, Illinois one evening, or in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, or the Bedlow Drive area of Stockton, California, you wouldn't be thinking about the nuances of the cultures. You would be thinking about the stereotypes, and there's nothing wrong with that. All of us fit into one stereotype or another. It's only when we drill down into the individual that the stereotypes break down. I'm a fat, old, middle-class, white male, a pretty common stereotype, but I've also been so poor I've had to cash-in pop-bottles to buy toilet paper, driven a car so decrepit my kids couldn't sit in the front seat because there was no floor between them and the road, and been turned down for a job I was qualified for because I was the wrong color. No, I can't completely understand what it's like living in a refugee camp in the Sudan and wondering where my next meal is coming from, but I have spoken at length with people who did live there and can incorporate what I learned from them into a character, as well as using what I gleaned about their own character.

I'm not suggesting that gross misrepresentations of marginalized people are in any way okay. That's when the "harm" occurs, not when a writer steps out of his lane to explore experiences he may never have had, or to look at his own experiences from an alternate perspective. I believe doing that is a good thing. Telling me I shouldn't write from the perspective of a person-of-color, or a woman, or a disabled person, or a person with a different sexual orientation from my own simply because I have never experienced that is a form of censure. Go ahead and criticize my work if I do it poorly, or me if I do it gratuitously, but don't tell me I shouldn't even try.

TL Murphy
August 16th, 2018, 06:01 PM
And about those Nazis, surely you're not suggesting they are creating the hype- the overhype, statistically? I mean that takes all the fun out of beating them with brass knuckles (as was/is popularly suggested to me on social media). That means they want us to beat them? Or?
Confusing...

T.L., i will, however, take your point and think on it.

Kevin, if the current political atmosphere has taught us anything, it is that facts and statistics do not sway people if they conflict with a prefered ideology. Most people stop thinking critically when it challenges their identity.

Robbie
August 16th, 2018, 06:38 PM
That’s good Tim. My core identity is related to my children. I had no idea how much I disliked having that challenged, until one of my children’s teachers said something about him with which I disagreed. He was right but it hit me in the gut because I had no clue how my own identity was tied to how people see my children. I began to try to see my children through the neighbor’s eyes and still love them. Now, after saying that I am not even sure it is relevant to what you said. Sorry if I veered off topic all.

Squalid Glass
August 16th, 2018, 07:27 PM
I do not disagree with your concerns about black stereotypes for a second. My issue is there is constantly a conflation made between portraying racial stereotypes and being racist.

Apu is a pretty good example of what I think is acceptable. Sure, it's a stereotype -- an Indian who works in a corner store. But a lot of corner stores are indeed run by Indians and there is nothing unholy about working at a corner store. The writer's job is to reflect reality, not construct it, and as long as there are millions of Indians running corner stores there are going to be such depictions. I don't think that is a problem. It is a problem if it becomes the uniform perception among "the masses" but since the average American is as likely to encounter an Indian doctor as an Indian corner shop worker I don't watch The Simpsons and think "oh this is damaging". I don't know of too many Indians who do, either, though I am happy to be corrected by Them (and would respond accordingly).

You are, of course, correct about the "black thug" stereotype, and indeed the Mexican drug dealer/illegal immigrant stereotype. Those are different creatures, so to speak. This is, however, a literary conversation and I don't know if we all want to go there, do we? The original post, the poem in question, did not refer to the black gangster stereotype -- which of course is largely unfounded -- and instead focused on the issue of black homeless which is absolutely true.

Can I suggest that in a society where the vast majority of homeless folks are people of color it would be perhaps more problematic for a white poet intent on writing about homeless people to stick to writing only about white ones, in a white voice? Or is the thinking more than white people should not write about homelessness at all? Because it seems to me one cannot have it both ways?

Apologies for not being able to format very well with my posts. Iím mobile right now, so Iíll take each point in order.

I agree that there is too often a confatiom between portraying a stereotype and being racist. Of cours, being called a racist is, for many people, a much worse crime in this country than being a racist, so the term inspires a lot of emotion.

In regards to Apu, the problem is not that the character is racist. The problem is the stereotype. Apu was the only Indian character on TV for a long time, and his role was essentially the Indian dude in the corner store. Thereís nothing negative here. The problem is one of representation. Like, perhaps the reason for the stereotype has more to do with the manufactured image in media as opposed to reality. When the only representation of an Indian children see is Apu, itís hard to recognize and appreciate cultural differences and nuance. Which is why I brought up Black Panther earlier. Cooler was able to present very different aspects of black culture and flip some stereotypes on their head. A white writer, despite everyoneís claims to the contrary, NEVER did that! The push for inclusivity and people telling their own stories is so that the stereotypes that have been built up in media by white artists creating black characters can be changed. Black Panther, with all its nuance and its subtle commentary about racial stereotypes, could not have been written by a white person. Iím sorry. It couldnít have. The entire history of western media should back that up. When POC were not given the opportunity to write their own stories, racial stereotypes were the norm. Itís how we get from a breakfast at Tiffanyís to Rich Crazy Asians or Huck Finn (with minstrel Jim letting the boys play with his life) to Black Panther.

The original poem in this thread Does not, as you point out, reduce itself to stereotype. As Iíve said, itís purely an issue of appropriation. And as Iíve said, I donít find this poem problematic in its use of appropriation because, a. Itís a poem, so itís analysis of character and emotion is not as extensive and prone to missing nuance as a longer work; and b. As silver moon pointed out, the author has lived his life in homelessness with people of colo, and it seems like he has naturalized the vernacular.

Again, I think the bigger issue that people have with this particular sort of thing is the space given to tell the story. It just seems odd that when we can admit objectively (Bayview provides the numbers) that POC are woefully underrepresented in the publishing industry, why would the publishers give space to a white man to tell their story? Thatís the main issue: the lack of representation. That, I think, is where publishers and artists can think deeper about what they choose to write and publish, and what they step back from with the idea that other voices can and should tell those stories better.

luckyscars
August 16th, 2018, 07:28 PM
A quick Google says there's more whites homeless in the us than others. The ratios are off, though, not equal to overall proportions:
https://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/minorities.html

a quick google search of percentages of mini-marts owner by race does not come up. I can only go by my neighborhood which comprises about 11 million people. The east India/ sub continent ownership stereotype is correct to over 50% at a minimum. One of my friends owns three ( but that is anecdotal..)

Thanks for catching this. I definitely did not mean to say a majority. Population of whites and non whites respectively makes it obviously correct that a majority of homeless people are white. What I should have said is that non whites are over represented as a proportion

Squalid Glass
August 16th, 2018, 07:36 PM
I can write a representation as true as my empathy, knowledge (I wouldn't venture 'out-of-my-lane' without research), and imagination can manage. That's all anyone can do. But, yes, I think I could construct a character as authentic as Killmonger (he was, after all, created by two white guys, Don McGregor and Rich Buckler). Would I make mistakes? Sure, but I make mistakes when I write about characters like me too. Everyone's perception is filtered through their own, unique, set of experiences and is colored by them and, as a result, is not 'authentic'. People talk about stereotypes as if they are evil. They are not unless they are used as the sole representation for a character. We all think, and write in stereotypes all the time. I would guess that if you were dropped off in the Washington Park area of East St. Louis, Illinois one evening, or in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, or the Bedlow Drive area of Stockton, California, you wouldn't be thinking about the nuances of the cultures. You would be thinking about the stereotypes, and there's nothing wrong with that. All of us fit into one stereotype or another. It's only when we drill down into the individual that the stereotypes break down. I'm a fat, old, middle-class, white male, a pretty common stereotype, but I've also been so poor I've had to cash-in pop-bottles to buy toilet paper, driven a car so decrepit my kids couldn't sit in the front seat because there was no floor between them and the road, and been turned down for a job I was qualified for because I was the wrong color. No, I can't completely understand what it's like living in a refugee camp in the Sudan and wondering where my next meal is coming from, but I have spoken at length with people who did live there and can incorporate what I learned from them into a character, as well as using what I gleaned about their own character.

I'm not suggesting that gross misrepresentations of marginalized people are in any way okay. That's when the "harm" occurs, not when a writer steps out of his lane to explore experiences he may never have had, or to look at his own experiences from an alternate perspective. I believe doing that is a good thing. Telling me I shouldn't write from the perspective of a person-of-color, or a woman, or a disabled person, or a person with a different sexual orientation from my own simply because I have never experienced that is a form of censure. Go ahead and criticize my work if I do it poorly, or me if I do it gratuitously, but don't tell me I shouldn't even try.

I agree with most of this, but a couple things. First of all, the movie Black panther was written by two black men. The comic was created by two white men, yes, but if you look at the comic vs the movie, you’ll notice that even the comic fails at avoiding stereotypes and racial things, such as some of the character names and such. I’m on mobile so I can’t link out right now, but it’s worth looking up. The movie, on the other hand, presents very subtle and smart images of prejudice and racism and stereotyping that only those black authors could conjure. So the point is this: people aren’t censuring you. They’re trying to tel you that when you try to appropriate their very real stories of trauma and marginalization, you will inherently miss some very important things that could hurt the quality of the writing and, in turn, inadvertently perpetuate issues that already hurt the community you write about. So no, you can certainly verge into other lanes as we discussed before. All the more power to you. But when the history of our media has been written full of stereotypes and falsehoods by white men, maybe it’s due time for other people to try and correct the misconceptions that have been created. Maybe other voices should be given equal opportunity to speak. Maybe other people can speak to issues that we could never know. That doesn’t mean you can’t write what you want. It just means that the playing field is wider than its ever been, and if you choose to veer into an area that directly affects the quality of other people’s lives, you can expect to receive backlash if you misstep.

Squalid Glass
August 16th, 2018, 07:37 PM
Kevin, if the current political atmosphere has taught us anything, it is that facts and statistics do not sway people if they conflict with a prefered ideology. Most people stop thinking critically when it challenges their identity.

This is godly wisdom here.

Kevin
August 17th, 2018, 02:51 PM
I agree with most of this, but a couple things. First of all, the movie Black panther was written by two black men. The comic was created by two white men, yes, but if you look at the comic vs the movie, you’ll notice that even the comic fails at avoiding stereotypes and racial things, such as some of the character names and such. I’m on mobile so I can’t link out right now, but it’s worth looking up. The movie, on the other hand, presents very subtle and smart images of prejudice and racism and stereotyping that only those black authors could conjure. So the point is this: people aren’t censuring you. They’re trying to tel you that when you try to appropriate their very real stories of trauma and marginalization, you will inherently miss some very important things that could hurt the quality of the writing and, in turn, inadvertently perpetuate issues that already hurt the community you write about. So no, you can certainly verge into other lanes as we discussed before. All the more power to you. But when the history of our media has been written full of stereotypes and falsehoods by white men, maybe it’s due time for other people to try and correct the misconceptions that have been created. Maybe other voices should be given equal opportunity to speak. Maybe other people can speak to issues that we could never know. That doesn’t mean you can’t write what you want. It just means that the playing field is wider than its ever been, and if you choose to veer into an area that directly affects the quality of other people’s lives, you can expect to receive backlash if you misstep..

Let me me see if I'm getting this right:

While the poem in of itself is not bad, as in not poorly executed, the fact of the poets ethnicity 'harms' others, in this case, those who share the subject of the poems ethnicity, by being published, which, because there is only a limited amount that a magazine or other may publish, given room and time constraints. Therefor, it is incumbent upon the poet ( or author) to 'be careful' to not venture into attempting to publish that which might cause harm to certain segments of the population by the implicit denial of said segments' works by having one's own works published in their place, or risk "backlash". This directly affects their ( said denied groups) quality of life by 'squeezing them out', as it were, denying them access by the presence of ones published work. In other words, if they print you, they can't print them. So stay in your own lane.

Bayview
August 17th, 2018, 03:44 PM
.

Let me me see if I'm getting this right:

While the poem in of itself is not bad, as in not poorly executed, the fact of the poets ethnicity 'harms' others, in this case, those who share the subject of the poems ethnicity, by being published, which, because there is only a limited amount that a magazine or other may publish, given room and time constraints. Therefor, it is incumbent upon the poet ( or author) to 'be careful' to not venture into attempting to publish that which might cause harm to certain segments of the population by the implicit denial of said segments' works by having one's own works published in their place, or risk "backlash". This directly affects their ( said denied groups) quality of life by 'squeezing them out', as it were, denying them access by the presence of ones published work. In other words, if they print you, they can't print them. So stay in your own lane.

For me, the publication issue is more something the editors should be looking at, not the poet himself. And I don't know enough about the journal to say whether they have a good record of publishing poets from diverse backgrounds or not. They didn't offer any evidence of this as a defense, but they really didn't seem interested in defending themselves, so them not raising evidence doesn't mean the evidence wasn't there to be raised.

Really, I think this is more of a publishing issue than a writing issue overall - I don't see any harm in anyone writing whatever they want, and I don't think it makes sense to expect writers to police themselves re. publication when the editors/publishers are in a better position to do so.

(And I don't think anyone on this thread has gone so far as to say that the poem in this case was harmful? I think most of the discussion of harm has come from a broader discussion of appropriation in general, not this poem in particular.)

Squalid Glass
August 17th, 2018, 04:33 PM
Kevin, Bayview sums up my thoughts well. The issue of publication is one entirely incumbent on the publisher. If they wish to present the story of marginalized people, I think they need to publish marginalized people.

The poet himself can write what he wants. But he should be aware of the inherent problems that come with appropriation.

bdcharles
August 17th, 2018, 04:36 PM
.

So stay in your own lane.

I think it's more of a case of "be mindful of other road users"

andrewclunn
August 17th, 2018, 06:13 PM
I can't resist. When you say "be mindful" all I hear is "bend the knee" to a set of values I wholeheartedly reject. To which I will only shout back louder, "No!"

Squalid Glass
August 17th, 2018, 06:39 PM
And you’re entirely within your rights to do that, just as others are entirely within their rights to reject such discourse from the published conversation, and just as others are entirely within their right to criticize what they consider to be offensive.

I don’t wish to sound combative, but that’s the direction we are moving in our progressive society. And it’s not like I don’t see the danger present in this. I’m actually in the process of writing a novel entirely about this issue, thematically focused on the cons of both sides. We do risk a little independence in our attempts to correct the inequalities of society. But for me, I tend to see more pros in leveling the playing field as opposed to keeping the status quo.

What I fear more than anything is absolutism, and I think those who scream “freedom of speech” at everything are just as dangerous as those who scream “that’s offensive” at everything. We need to find a proper balance, and I think being cautious and measured about what we say is the best approach, so long as it comes with a healthy dose of listening and accepting that other people may feel harmed by things we do not feel harmed by.

andrewclunn
August 17th, 2018, 07:29 PM
And you’re entirely within your rights to do that, just as others are entirely within their rights to reject such discourse from the published conversation, and just as others are entirely within their right to criticize what they consider to be offensive.

I don’t wish to sound combative, but that’s the direction we are moving in our progressive society. And it’s not like I don’t see the danger present in this. I’m actually in the process of writing a novel entirely about this issue, thematically focused on the cons of both sides. We do risk a little independence in our attempts to correct the inequalities of society. But for me, I tend to see more pros in leveling the playing field as opposed to keeping the status quo.

What I fear more than anything is absolutism, and I think those who scream “freedom of speech” at everything are just as dangerous as those who scream “that’s offensive” at everything. We need to find a proper balance, and I think being cautious and measured about what we say is the best approach, so long as it comes with a healthy dose of listening and accepting that other people may feel harmed by things we do not feel harmed by.

I'm calling BS. This is standard "I see it from both sides, but I side with..." It's card stacking. It's a well known dishonest debate tactic. Take your side and defend it honestly. Don't pretend NOT to be on a side when you have a clear position you're advocating for. If being straight forward and honest about what my views are when debating and discussing things is now considered "combative" then I accept the label proudly. False modesty, and pretending at objectivity, do not make you more convincing. It's a tactic to avoid having to actually defend your position, and as several other people have clearly pointed out in numerous ways, there is no clear consistent defense of your position that can survive the light of day. So I am left to think that the obscuring of it is entirely intentional. If not, prove me wrong, openly admit to what the costs are to your position (after you've actually been honest with the coercion needed to prop it up) and we can go from there, but if you must continue this feigned apologetics, then know that nobody here who isn't already invested in your position is dumb enough to fall for it.

Bayview
August 17th, 2018, 07:41 PM
I'm calling BS. This is standard "I see it from both sides, but I side with..." It's card stacking. It's a well known dishonest debate tactic. Take your side and defend it honestly. Don't pretend NOT to be on a side when you have a clear position you're advocating for. If being straight forward and honest about what my views are when debating and discussing things is now considered "combative" then I accept the label proudly. False modesty, and pretending at objectivity, do not make you more convincing. It's a tactic to avoid having to actually defend your position, and as several other people have clearly pointed out in numerous ways, there is no clear consistent defense of your position that can survive the light of day. So I am left to think that the obscuring of it is entirely intentional. If not, prove me wrong, openly admit to what the costs are to your position (after you've actually been honest with the coercion needed to prop it up) and we can go from there, but if you must continue this feigned apologetics, then know that nobody here who isn't already invested in your position is dumb enough to fall for it.

Whoa, what?

The only acceptable position is the extreme position? Every issue must be treated as black and white? There's no room for seeing both sides of an issue and then working toward a compromise?

What position is it you think Squalid Glass is advocating for?

andrewclunn
August 17th, 2018, 08:02 PM
Now you're coloring being up front about my position with the word "extreme." Can anyone here from the "I love (self?)censorship in the name of social justice" side respond to the ACTUAL statements and arguments made by those who disagree with them, rather than needing to attempt to pass them through a Cathy Newman style "So what you're saying..." filter where you misrepresent them and then respond to that, or just flat out ignore them and say, "Well you have the right to think that, just as I have the right to think that you shouldn't have the right to think that," as if the two were equivalent?

Bayview
August 17th, 2018, 08:05 PM
Now you're coloring being up front about my position with the word "extreme." Can anyone here from the "I love (self?)censorship in the name of social justice" side respond to the ACTUAL statements and arguments made by those who disagree with them, rather than needing to attempt to pass them through a Cathy Newman style "So what you're saying..." filter where you misrepresent them and then respond to that, or just flat out ignore them and say, "Well you have the right to think that, just as I have the right to think that you shouldn't have the right to think that," as if the two were equivalent?

Dude. You're characterizing a side of the discussion as the "I love (self?)censorship in the name of social justice" side while complaining about people who misrepresent other people's arguments. Does that not seem a bit ironic to you?

ETA: But, good, I'm glad to hear that I was misunderstanding what you were saying, because what I thought you were saying was ridiculous. So... can you clarify what you meant in the "Don't pretend NOT to be on a side when you have a clear position you're advocating for" post. You weren't saying that everyone has to take an extreme view and can't look for middle ground. You were saying...?

Squalid Glass
August 17th, 2018, 08:15 PM
I'm calling BS. This is standard "I see it from both sides, but I side with..." It's card stacking. It's a well known dishonest debate tactic. Take your side and defend it honestly. Don't pretend NOT to be on a side when you have a clear position you're advocating for. If being straight forward and honest about what my views are when debating and discussing things is now considered "combative" then I accept the label proudly. False modesty, and pretending at objectivity, do not make you more convincing. It's a tactic to avoid having to actually defend your position, and as several other people have clearly pointed out in numerous ways, there is no clear consistent defense of your position that can survive the light of day. So I am left to think that the obscuring of it is entirely intentional. If not, prove me wrong, openly admit to what the costs are to your position (after you've actually been honest with the coercion needed to prop it up) and we can go from there, but if you must continue this feigned apologetics, then know that nobody here who isn't already invested in your position is dumb enough to fall for it.

If you cannot accept that I have a nuanced position and I see pros and cons on both sides, and if you feel such a position is dishonest and just a tactic, then there is no point in us continuing. My position has continually been that I am on the side of social justice in this domain, but I recognize and appreciate the fact that your position has merit and aspects I agree with and mine has some limitations.

Not every issue and debate can yield the possibility of a nuanced approach, but this one, in my opinion, does.

andrewclunn
August 17th, 2018, 08:25 PM
Squalid Glass's post below to illustrate:


And you’re entirely within your rights to do that, just as others are entirely within their rights to reject such discourse from the published conversation, and just as others are entirely within their right to criticize what they consider to be offensive.

Okay, so this sounds like an "agree to disagree" sort of thing. Which is fine. Absolutely nobody here who thinks this poem being published wasn't a problem has made any statements regarding publications having to do so, or saying that publications couldn't have standards that would preclude such a work.


I don’t wish to sound combative, but that’s the direction we are moving in our progressive society.

Appeal to what? History? Implying that those opposed to these progressive values are on the wrong side of history? An empty rhetorical statement that is entirely combative (despite the disclaimer) and completely devoid of substance.


And it’s not like I don’t see the danger present in this. I’m actually in the process of writing a novel entirely about this issue, thematically focused on the cons of both sides. We do risk a little independence in our attempts to correct the inequalities of society.

This is a very vague "I hear you" statement. It says, "Hey, I've looked into this. You have some points. I won't actually state what those are, but trust me on this. I'm objective / an expert / reasonable." Again with no details given.


But for me, I tend to see more pros in leveling the playing field as opposed to keeping the status quo.

Glad he comes out and says as much, but he has again, not responded to any of the actual points being made, merely suggested that he's taken them into account, dismissed them as being "just my opinion that I'm free to have" and now attempting to refute them with, "But my opinion is." Is this what passes for an argument in progressive circles these days?


What I fear more than anything is absolutism, and I think those who scream “freedom of speech” at everything are just as dangerous as those who scream “that’s offensive” at everything. We need to find a proper balance, and I think being cautious and measured about what we say is the best approach, so long as it comes with a healthy dose of listening and accepting that other people may feel harmed by things we do not feel harmed by.

Ah yes, everyone who isn't "reasonable" like you is an absolutist. Of course you clearly identify more with the taking offense crowd (by your own admission), so this comes off as just a way of framing those you disagree with.

So I proudly and openly denounce the "progressive" position here as blatantly racist (against whites), pro-censorship, authoritarian, and not even effective at achieving its own goals (as it exacerbates racial, cultural, and gender conflicts). I do so openly because I KNOW that the preferred tactics of its proponents are to attempt to pass themselves off as "reasonable" and moderate (while clearly aligning themselves with one side), use colored adjectives to frame the debate rather than engage with arguments, and misrepresent those who disagree with them. I make no apologies for this because if the true policies being advocated and real costs and benefits are laid bare, the progressive side loses easily. So I am intentionally cutting through the crap, because I refuse to be passive aggressively bullied into silence. Freedom of expression in art, argument, and speech now and forever without apology or reservation. If fighting for freedom as such is extreme, then a proud extremist am I!

Underd0g
August 17th, 2018, 08:43 PM
I'm calling BS. This is standard "I see it from both sides, but I side with..." It's card stacking. It's a well known dishonest debate tactic. Take your side and defend it honestly. Don't pretend NOT to be on a side when you have a clear position you're advocating for. If being straight forward and honest about what my views are when debating and discussing things is now considered "combative" then I accept the label proudly. False modesty, and pretending at objectivity, do not make you more convincing. It's a tactic to avoid having to actually defend your position, and as several other people have clearly pointed out in numerous ways, there is no clear consistent defense of your position that can survive the light of day. So I am left to think that the obscuring of it is entirely intentional. If not, prove me wrong, openly admit to what the costs are to your position (after you've actually been honest with the coercion needed to prop it up) and we can go from there, but if you must continue this feigned apologetics, then know that nobody here who isn't already invested in your position is dumb enough to fall for it.



Well then I'm going to put myself out there and try:

Freedom of Speech= You are strong enough, smart enough, capable enough to decide for yourself.

Things Are Too Offensive= You are too weak and stupid to handle life without somebody needing to protect (read that: control) you.

This is from somebody who censors and controls everything his wife encounters or even sees on TV. This includes her relationships. She has a mental illness (FTD) but I look out for her.
She can't even watch the news without HIGH levels of stress. If I were to require all of the trigger issues be labeled, you would have to split the TV time in half. Half trigger warnings and half the program itself. I have watched the TV show NCIS, the whole series, four times in three months. (Sometimes it plays as white noise) It was a show she enjoyed before her recent decline and she is comfortable and familiar with all of the characters.

But I don't think that it's anybody else's responsibility to watch out for her but mine.
But if what offends the public (if my wife is still the public) is to be filtered... I have a list... Everything on TV, newspapers, and internet. From fiction to non-fiction to reality shows to nature documentaries.

When I see what offends people I laugh. It's entertainment to me. I would trade with any persons appropriated culture to my wife's marginalization in a heartbeat.

Trigger Warning......
.......
.......
.......
.......
.......
.......
.......
.......

Boo Hoo

Squalid Glass
August 17th, 2018, 08:46 PM
Squalid Glass's post below to illustrate:



Okay, so this sounds like an "agree to disagree" sort of thing. Which is fine. Absolutely nobody here who thinks this poem being published wasn't a problem has made any statements regarding publications having to do so, or saying that publications couldn't have standards that would preclude such a work.



Appeal to what? History? Implying that those opposed to these progressive values are on the wrong side of history? An empty rhetorical statement that is entirely combative (despite the disclaimer) and completely devoid of substance.



This is a very vague "I hear you" statement. It says, "Hey, I've looked into this. You have some points. I won't actually state what those are, but trust me on this. I'm objective / an expert / reasonable." Again with no details given.



Glad he comes out and says as much, but he has again, not responded to any of the actual points being made, merely suggested that he's taken them into account, dismissed them as being "just my opinion that I'm free to have" and now attempting to refute them with, "But my opinion is." Is this what passes for an argument in progressive circles these days?



Ah yes, everyone who isn't "reasonable" like you is an absolutist. Of course you clearly identify more with the taking offense crowd (by your own admission), so this comes off as just a way of framing those you disagree with.

So I proudly and openly denounce the "progressive" position here as blatantly racist (against whites), pro-censorship, authoritarian, and not even effective at achieving its own goals (as it exacerbates racial, cultural, and gender conflicts). I do so openly because I KNOW that the preferred tactics of its proponents are to attempt to pass themselves off as "reasonable" and moderate (while clearly aligning themselves with one side), use colored adjectives to frame the debate rather than engage with arguments, and misrepresent those who disagree with them. I make no apologies for this because if the true policies being advocated and real costs and benefits are laid bare, the progressive side loses easily. So I am intentionally cutting through the crap, because I refuse to be passive aggressively bullied into silence. Freedom of expression in art, argument, and speech now and forever without apology or reservation. If fighting for freedom as such is extreme, then a proud extremist am I!

Okay. I’ll just say I disagree and leave it at that. :)

Bayview
August 17th, 2018, 08:58 PM
Well then I'm going to put myself out there and try:

Freedom of Speech= You are strong enough, smart enough, capable enough to decide for yourself.

Things Are Too Offensive= You are too weak and stupid to handle life without somebody needing to protect (read that: control) you.

This is from somebody who censors and controls everything his wife encounters or even sees on TV. This includes her relationships. She has a mental illness (FTD) but I look out for her.
She can't even watch the news without HIGH levels of stress. If I were to require all of the trigger issues be labeled, you would have to split the TV time in half. Half trigger warnings and half the program itself. I have watched the TV show NCIS, the whole series, four times in three months. It was a show she enjoyed before her recent decline and she is comfortable and familiar with all of the characters.

But I don't think that it's anybody else's responsibility to watch out for her but mine.
But if what offends the public (if my wife is still the public) is to be filtered... I have a list... Everything on TV, newspapers, and internet. From fiction to non-fiction to reality shows to nature documentaries.

When I see what offends people I laugh. It's entertainment to me. I would trade with any persons appropriated culture to my wife's marginalization in a heartbeat.

Trigger Warning......
.......
.......
.......
.......
.......
.......
.......
.......

Boo Hoo

I'm sorry about your wife. That must be really hard. And I can see how you might be so burned out on being responsible for her that you don't have any energy left to feel a sense of responsibility to strangers. That makes sense to me.

And someone up thread didn't like it when I tried to understand his emotional response, so maybe you won't like it either, but... there seems to be some hostility, some anger toward people who see things differently than you? Does that sound accurate? (I'm looking at the "weak and stupid" line, the "Boo Hoo", and the laughing when people are offended parts of your post.) And I don't really understand that.

I mean, I assume that you probably don't actually feel hostility toward people who are less intelligent than you are? Like, if you were spending time with a mentally challenged person, you wouldn't laugh if he got upset by something, wouldn't taunt him with the "Boo Hoo" business, right? So... I'm confused.

I'm clearly coming at this from a different perspective than you are, and maybe you're just venting, and don't really mean what you're saying? But if you do mean it, is there a different way you could say it? I'm having trouble understanding it in its current version.

Gumby
August 17th, 2018, 09:17 PM
I am adding an Admin caution, here. This discussion is coming close to becoming a "Flamefest" If it doesn't veer back into the proper lane of discussing the original topic and not slinging personal comments at each other it will be closed.

bdcharles
August 17th, 2018, 09:29 PM
I can't resist. When you say "be mindful" all I hear is "bend the knee" to a set of values I wholeheartedly reject. To which I will only shout back louder, "No!"

Well I never say no to a little light genuflection ;)

andrewclunn
August 17th, 2018, 09:37 PM
To explain the anger: nobody is mad the the Amish for doing their own thing. The Quakers, the Mormons, etc... in the US at least there's a long history of groups saying, "We don't like society's values, we're going to have our own community over here and do our own thing." Contrast that with the people from various backgrounds who joined together to oppose the "Moral Majority" types when they decided to try and use the government and corporate pressure to impose their values on society as a whole. This in fact had the effect of uniting various different groups in opposition to them. Then (in denial) they convinced themselves that if only people would just see that their way was indeed the true moral and ethical path, they would gladly submit to their censorship and restructuring of society. Self-assured in their own righteousness they fought and lost a culture war that they started out of hubris. The modern progressive movement would do well to learn from history.

Bayview
August 17th, 2018, 09:57 PM
To explain the anger: nobody is mad the the Amish for doing their own thing. The Quakers, the Mormons, etc... in the US at least there's a long history of groups saying, "We don't like society's values, we're going to have our own community over here and do our own thing." Contrast that with the people from various backgrounds who joined together to oppose the "Moral Majority" types when they decided to try and use the government and corporate pressure to impose their values on society as a whole. This in fact had the effect of uniting various different groups in opposition to them. Then (in denial) they convinced themselves that if only people would just see that their way was indeed the true moral and ethical path, they would gladly submit to their censorship and restructuring of society. Self-assured in their own righteousness they fought and lost a culture war that they started out of hubris. The modern progressive movement would do well to learn from history.

So the anger comes when people feel as if someone else's values are being forced on them. I can see that.

It's difficult, though, because I'm not sure what the option is. Like, to counter your Moral Majority example (I don't really know what that was, but I'll take your word for it that things happened as you say) I think of the Civil Rights Movement. There was a lot of anger in people resisting that--the iconic shot of the children being led through the crowd toward the newly desegregated school, and the absolute, ugly, hatred on the faces of the protesters is burned into my memory banks. But in that situation, the people pushing for change were right, and the people resisting it were wrong.

How do we know who's right or wrong in the current situation? Is there even a right or wrong? It certainly doesn't seem as clear cut as the Civil Rights issues!

Honestly, I come back to the importance of communication and dialogue and trying to find common ground. I mean, we've clearly got some pretty diverse views in this thread, but I think when we look at specific details, we can generally find agreement, at least in broad strokes. Like, I don't think anyone on this thread has personally found anything egregious in the poem under discussion. I'm liberal by Canadian standards, which means I'm a total bleeding-heart commie by American taste, and I found nothing directly offensive in the poem itself. I absolutely believe that the poet had good intentions, and that the editors did too.

At the same time, I absolutely believe that people of colour in just about every country I'm aware of have a very different experience of race than I do, as a white person. So I feel like when people of colour say there's a problem with something from their perspective, I should listen closely to what they have to say. I don't think I have to agree with them on broad principles, but I think I have to trust them when they tell me how they perceive things. Don't I? Or if I'm not willing to listen to their perspective, then maybe that's when I should stay in my own lane? As a white person, I have the luxury of not really having to worry about issues of race. So if I'm too tired, too beat-down by other stuff in my life to be able to listen to people of colour, then maybe I should stay out of discussions of race?

(I'm sorry if the "I" is feeling like some passive aggressive construct. It genuinely isn't. I tend to be more than willing to charge into discussions that really aren't any of my business and I have stomped on far too many toes in my time through my own clumsiness. I need to remind myself that I don't need to have an opinion on every damn thing.)

Honestly, I tend to have more questions than answers in discussions like this. I tell myself there's value in just having the questions; hopefully that's true.

Mostly, what I really, really, really want to be sure of? I want to be sure I'm never one of the faces twisted up in vicious hatred toward anyone. I don't want to look like that, but more importantly I don't want to feel like that. I don't want anyone to feel like that, no matter what side of a discussion they're on.

Underd0g
August 17th, 2018, 10:17 PM
I'm sorry about your wife. That must be really hard. And I can see how you might be so burned out on being responsible for her that you don't have any energy left to feel a sense of responsibility to strangers. That makes sense to me.

And someone up thread didn't like it when I tried to understand his emotional response, so maybe you won't like it either, but... there seems to be some hostility, some anger toward people who see things differently than you? Does that sound accurate? (I'm looking at the "weak and stupid" line, the "Boo Hoo", and the laughing when people are offended parts of your post.) And I don't really understand that.

I mean, I assume that you probably don't actually feel hostility toward people who are less intelligent than you are? Like, if you were spending time with a mentally challenged person, you wouldn't laugh if he got upset by something, wouldn't taunt him with the "Boo Hoo" business, right? So... I'm confused.

I'm clearly coming at this from a different perspective than you are, and maybe you're just venting, and don't really mean what you're saying? But if you do mean it, is there a different way you could say it? I'm having trouble understanding it in its current version.


I shouldn't have commented, my bad. When I see discussions like this I get frustrated as Kimmel, Colbert, Meyers etc... get a pass.
The writers for them get to keep their secrecy.

Bayview
August 17th, 2018, 10:19 PM
I shouldn't have commented, my bad. When I see discussions like this I get frustrated as Kimmel, Colbert, Meyers etc... get a pass.
The writers for them get to keep their secrecy.

I sympathize with your frustration, but don't understand what you're saying with this, either.The comedy writers...? Have secrets?

andrewclunn
August 17th, 2018, 10:25 PM
Honestly, I come back to the importance of communication and dialogue and trying to find common ground..

Just so you know, you're not going to find it. We need to accept some sort of original sin based guilt because of my skin tone / race? Not happening. I need to embrace censorship as a means of (supposedly) promoting equality? Nope. There is literally no common ground to be found here. The anti-censorship crowd here makes no demands, and also concedes to no demands. Sometimes there is no such thing as a nuanced position because the views are mutually exclusive. This is such a case.

Bayview
August 17th, 2018, 10:27 PM
Just so you know, you're not going to find it. We need to accept some sort of original sin based guilt because of my skin tone / race? Not happening. I need to embrace censorship as a means of promoting equality? Nope. There is literally no common ground to be found here. The anti-censorship crowd here makes no demands, and also concedes to no demands. Sometimes there is no such thing as a nuanced position because the views are mutually exclusive. This is such a case.

Well, no... we've found common ground in the idea that there's no original sin based on skin tone or race. I don't believe there's anything wrong with being white. I don't think I've seen anyone on this thread say there's something wrong with being white... are you bringing that in from some other discussion somewhere else, maybe?

andrewclunn
August 17th, 2018, 10:51 PM
Well, no... we've found common ground in the idea that there's no original sin based on skin tone or race. I don't believe there's anything wrong with being white. I don't think I've seen anyone on this thread say there's something wrong with being white... are you bringing that in from some other discussion somewhere else, maybe?

It's been stated that there's no reason why blacks writing in a white voice should have the same moral problems as the reverse. Are you saying that is not your opinion? Or are you claiming simultaneously that certain rights or privileges should be afforded to different people based on skin tone, while also suggesting that there is nothing materially different between those people?

H.Brown
August 17th, 2018, 11:07 PM
I think we all need to take some time and cool off, things seem to be getting heated again guys.

Plasticweld
August 17th, 2018, 11:32 PM
Ah yes, everyone who isn't "reasonable" like you is an absolutist. Of course you clearly identify more with the taking offense crowd (by your own admission), so this comes off as just a way of framing those you disagree with.

So I proudly and openly denounce the "progressive" position here as blatantly racist (against whites), pro-censorship, authoritarian, and not even effective at achieving its own goals (as it exacerbates racial, cultural, and gender conflicts). I do so openly because I KNOW that the preferred tactics of its proponents are to attempt to pass themselves off as "reasonable" and moderate (while clearly aligning themselves with one side), use colored adjectives to frame the debate rather than engage with arguments, and misrepresent those who disagree with them. I make no apologies for this because if the true policies being advocated and real costs and benefits are laid bare, the progressive side loses easily. So I am intentionally cutting through the crap, because I refuse to be passive aggressively bullied into silence. Freedom of expression in art, argument, and speech now and forever without apology or reservation. If fighting for freedom as such is extreme, then a proud extremist am I!


I like this on so many levels :}

Bayview
August 17th, 2018, 11:44 PM
Nevermind.

TL Murphy
August 18th, 2018, 12:20 AM
I don't understand the logic behind these statements:

Kevin: "let me get this straight ... the fact of the poets ethnicity 'harms' others, ..."

and Andrewchum:
"... I proudly and openly denounce the "progressive" position here as blatantly racist (against whites) [sic] ..."

The first statement implies that someone on this thread has made an argument that "ethnicity" itself can be harmful to others. No one has made any such claim. What has been discussed is the potential harm of a person appropriating a cultural experience (defined by ethnic dialect) that is outside his own cultural experience, and passing it as his own experience. The second statement claims that progressives, including white progressives, are racist toward white people - implying that a white person is racist toward himself because all white people are racist - which is blatantly absurd.

These two statements are pseudo-logic. There is no way to present a logical argument against them since they defy basic reason. I can only assume, therefore, that the statements are intended to be inflammatory, which is sad, because I thought this was a great discussion, one of the best we have seen. But it has broken down into camps and emotional accusations.

I don't believe that anything is black and white. That mindset reduces issues like this into opposite perspectives, which denies the infinite complexity of social interaction. Complex societies have complex issues. It's never this or that. Everything has considerations, which change constantly as culture evolves and requires continuous diologue and constant revision. That's what democracy is, an ongoing, civil discussion. And everything is a continuum. It goes this way and it goes that way and it is up to us to constantly seek the balance.

TL Murphy
August 18th, 2018, 05:36 AM
It's been stated that there's no reason why blacks writing in a white voice should have the same moral problems as the reverse. Are you saying that is not your opinion? Or are you claiming simultaneously that certain rights or privileges should be afforded to different people based on skin tone, while also suggesting that there is nothing materially different between those people?

It isn't about skin-tone. It's about cultural hierarchy. There is a correlation due to systemic racism which imposes a hierarchical social order based on skin-tone. White Americans enjoy a privileged economic and social position and they are in the vast majority. Black Americans are held in a subordinate socio/economic position by an oppressive system and they are in the minority. A privileged white American (being white in America means being privileged) does not participate in the subjected black experience, but the black American does participate in the white American experience in the very fact that he is inundated and subjected by it. It's not a level playing field. It doesn't work the same way in both directions.

luckyscars
August 18th, 2018, 06:56 AM
The poem, of course, does not really have much to do with any of this stuff. People can harp all they want about social injustices/privileges they perceive and what's legitimate to censor versus what is not and maybe it's fine to wear Nazi uniforms to fancy dress parties or maybe it's not. None of that has a whole lot to do with this situation -- unless of course you want it to. Regardless, deciding not to publish something is not the same as censoring or banning it, which kind of takes the wind out of the sails of any "this is anti-free speech" stuff. And crucially what's being missed is the right of a magazine to make independent decisions regarding its content is also a manifestation of free speech.

Magazines may refuse/withdraw publishing offers for a variety of reasons. Most reasons reasons are far more trivial or irrational or unfair than this one was. I once had a magazine decide not to publish one of my stories because it was 200 some words too long. Never mind the fact it was within the word count range they had asked for initially -- they changed their mind later and that's that and oh well! The common denominator, of course, is decisions are always taken on what drives readership and therefore money. In the case of the "racist poem" they sensed some bad publicity from the small, rather simple-minded group that cannot differentiate between work featuring race and work attacking it -- a group that has always existed in some form and always will. Capitalism, not social engineering, dictated the outcome. The same capitalism, of course, that allows the magazine to exist in the first place.

Despite what Larry Flynt and a few Libertarians might say, free speech has never existed in any remotely pure form in any functional country and certainly not the USA. If you believe otherwise consider the last witch trial in America was in 1912. After that they used to try to ban people they perceived to be communists. Then it was those they felt were contributing to moral decline and sexual malpractice. Now its people thought to be racist, sexist or homophobic. What's changed really? Why is this a bigger attack on freedom of speech than that time the British Broadcasting Corporation decided to rename the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (a show with an audience in the millions) the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles because a couple of overzealous parents/teachers thought "ninja" sounded a little too violent? It isn't really any different than that, is it? And yet somehow it feels a lot different when it becomes anything to do with race. I wonder why that is.

andrewclunn
August 18th, 2018, 01:51 PM
luckyscars,



Absolutely nobody here who thinks this poem being published wasn't a problem has made any statements regarding publications having to do so, or saying that publications couldn't have standards that would preclude such a work.

None of us have argued that the publication MUST publish the poem, however when other people say that it should not have, or should have redacted it, they are not speaking on the publications behalf, but their own. Also those people have universalized that moral judgement to all publications. You are arguing with a straw man.

andrewclunn
August 18th, 2018, 01:55 PM
Based on the warnings... do I have permission to engage with TL Murphy directly here? It will get ugly, as there's no way it wouldn't, but the timing of the "let's simmer downs" make it clear that my posts are considered at least part of what is giving the mods pause.

Phil Istine
August 18th, 2018, 02:04 PM
If it gets ugly, I will lock it, regardless of who the perpetrator(s) might be.
Also, there would be a possibility of infraction(s) for ignoring staff.

Gumby
August 18th, 2018, 02:10 PM
Andrew, no one wants to stifle the conversation, conversation is good, we only want it to remain on topic and to not become flinging personal arrows at each other. Discuss the topic in the original post, make your points to support your view, but if you (or anyone, not just you) feel the need to get personal, then it should be addressed by PM and not here.

Still everyone needs to be aware that PM's which are abusive are reportable. I am talking about a possibly heated discussion being taken to PM, and not a flamefest.

Kevin
August 18th, 2018, 02:34 PM
I don't understand the logic behind these statements:

Kevin: "let me get this straight ... the fact of the poets ethnicity 'harms' others, ..."

and Andrewchum:
"... I proudly and openly denounce the "progressive" position here as blatantly racist (against whites) [sic] ..."

The first statement implies that someone on this thread has made an argument that "ethnicity" itself can be harmful to others. No one has made any such claim. What has been discussed is the potential harm of a person appropriating a cultural experience (defined by ethnic dialect) that is outside his own cultural experience, and passing it as his own experience. The second statement claims that progressives, including white progressives, are racist toward white people - implying that a white person is racist toward himself because all white people are racist - which is blatantly absurd. TL- here it is :
" They’re trying to tel you that when you try to appropriate their very real stories of trauma and marginalization, you will inherently miss some very important things that could hurt the quality of the writing and, in turn, inadvertently perpetuate issues that already hurt the community you write about"
This is in the thread.
I didn't write it.


Here I wil try to re-write it:

If you, as a writer, appropriate the culture of others who have suffered trauma, and are marginalized etc. you inherently ( can't help but) get it wrong which will likely result in poorer writing while perpetuating stereotypes which already hurt that community you write about.

appropriate/take/borrow, marginalized vs. not marginalized, hurt /harm, and in this specific case given by the op as example...white vs black. Did I miss something ? The absolute complaint was about the poet's ethnicity not matching the subject.

Message: If you are not part of the culturally marginalized then don't culturally appropriate from them because 1) you can't help but get it wrong 2) it will likely hurt people that you've appropriated from, and 3) as everyone knows: Hurting people is bad. So don't do it.

And then later in the thread someone says well I guess you can do it if you want / no one is saying you can't, and I guess it's up to the editors/ publishers, but you should still really think about it.

luckyscars
August 18th, 2018, 04:03 PM
luckyscars,



None of us have argued that the publication MUST publish the poem, however when other people say that it should not have, or should have redacted it, they are not speaking on the publications behalf, but their own. Also those people have universalized that moral judgement to all publications. You are arguing with a straw man.

Andrew, it was you that made the statements about how “free speech is under attack” etc which is was what I was responding to.

You don’t get to have it both ways, one minute waxing lyrical about freedom being compromised and how you are going to fight it - the next pivoting to “oh nobody said they couldn’t do it” approach. Either free speech is under attack or it isn’t, right? Fight it all you want, just realize that your “fighting for free speech” is, in itself, proof that free speech is alive and well.

My point was simply a magazine making editorial decisions based on customer’s “moral judgments” is not only allowed in a free society but it is actually desirable. It is a fundamental part of how a market economy is supposed to work. . You seem to be suggesting that public backlash against anything offensive that is printed and action by the publisher as a result of that backlash is not free speech. I am saying the opposite is true — opposition to perceived “bad” ideas and subsequent petitioning private companies to change is how progress works. It sounds like this is more a case of you being upset at how other people think about race more than it is about any real concerns over freedom of expression. That is a fair concern and one I have no wish to squabble with you over.

In in this case like you (and most other people) I think the people concerned are mistaken/foolish but that is neither here nor there.

andrewclunn
August 18th, 2018, 04:58 PM
luckyscars,

That is not my position. You are not engaging with my position. Were that opposition to "appropriation" were confined to boycotts or personal purchasing decisions, there would then be no argument here.

There have been several hintings at a crowding out effect of "legitimate" work via appropriation. Yet for all the implications of this being systemic, no clear policies (voluntary or enforced) have been laid out by those opposed to appropriation. It is not I who have been vague or duplicitous in my appraisal of the topic. In the absence of clarity regarding "what should be done" we look to the real world to see what is actually being done, and it ain't pretty.

luckyscars
August 19th, 2018, 02:33 AM
luckyscars,


That is not my position. You are not engaging with my position.


It absolutely is (or was) your position that the decision made by the magazine regarding the poem represented an attack on free speech, as eloquently illustrated by this...



So I am intentionally cutting through the crap, because I refuse to be passive aggressively bullied into silence. Freedom of expression in art, argument, and speech now and forever without apology or reservation. If fighting for freedom as such is extreme, then a proud extremist am I!

If you want to argue semantics regarding what you meant by the above then so be it. It certainly came across as though you were equating this situation with the magazine with some organized left wing conspiracy destined to harm your ability to say what you want. Heck, you may even be right! I am simply going to point out, again, that since there is no government legislation you can possibly point to concerning what can or cannot be printed that bringing up attacks on freedom of expression and "fighting for freedom" is an absolute red herring in 2018 America where, as of right now, nobody has yet proposed banning anything in law (which is the only place anything can be banned). What's stopping you and all those who share your hatred for politically correct liberalese starting your own magazine full of whatever? Nothing. So don't worry about it.

Anyway, I know you feel differently. And that's fine.

andrewclunn
August 19th, 2018, 03:10 AM
You will kindly stop attempting to explain my own position to me. The interpretation offered is off base in such a way that I'm inclined to assume [redacted].

clark
August 19th, 2018, 06:34 PM
This thread began as an enquiry into artistic freedom and public standards, morphed into a predictable digression on Freedom of Speech, trembled on the brink of a bit of a pissing contest, and is now struggling back to the main highway.

A few observations: the efficacy of a generalization or abstract position can never be proven, disproven, or even discussed significantly through stories and/or anecdotes. Stories and anecdotes will be received and interpreted differently by different individuals or by different culturally defined groups. Cumulatively, they may seem to provide legitimate argument, but they cannot, ruled as they are as much by the stroyteller's modifications as they are by the story itself. Add to all this the personal passion we all feel foe our own 'positions' on these explosive issues, and you have a stew in need of seasoning.

In terms of ARGUMENT, Abstract statements of moral, ethical, or epistemological position must be met in kind. They must be argued in abstract terms. Passion, love, hate, indignation, conviction, tenacity--all the good stuff--comes a little later. An encompassing proposition that seems to be the foundation for the REAL argument of this thread might be this famous statement from John Stuart Mills' On Liberty, published I think about forty years after the Declaration of Independence:



The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.

So, the original poet has the right to write and submit for publication anything he damn well wants, and the publisher--seeing merit in the piece and perceiving no 'harm' to anyone-- has the right to put it out there for public reading. He also has the right to change his mind if he decides he erred. I see no formal or legislative inconsistency with any of these decisions vis-ŗ-vis the issue of exercising "freedom".

Whether I like or approve of the way these kinds of issues play out, is another matter entirely. In Canada (broadly similar in the US?) advocating hate, advocating torture and/or genocide, or advocating the violent ​overthrow of duly elected government, are indictable offences under the Criminal Code of Canada. The prohibition of these kinds of acts is typically spelled out in only a few sentences. Each alleged offence is then argued in Court on a case-by-case basis. That's where the strength of the legislation shows, but it also reveals most of the problems, because case-by-case is only as good as the individuals applying the generality of cultural understanding subsumed in the law.

All this teddibly, teddibly intellekshul discussion forces ME to defend the right of a neo-Nazi to write his disgusting garbage and try to get it published. Let's say he does. The full exercise of freedom lies in the spirited opposition his piece generates. The death of freedom would be to vigorously oppose publication of his piece because his views are different than my own. Rather obviously, for what it may be worth, I am passionately against any kind of censorship by anyone at any time under any circumstances, with protection of children assumed,

Underd0g
August 19th, 2018, 06:58 PM
I mostly try to be a light hearted guy and want to get back to my original mission on this site so
as repentance I will share an autobiographical cartoon that I like to write. You would need to read
a few of the cartoons from the beginning of the series to understand why the lamp talks to me
but it kinda stands on it's own.


http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n20/doubletakespresents/Day-7-frame-2_zpsyz8hirrs.jpg (http://s108.photobucket.com/user/doubletakespresents/media/Day-7-frame-2_zpsyz8hirrs.jpg.html)



http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n20/doubletakespresents/Day-7-frame-3_zpsidvrpn1l.jpg (http://s108.photobucket.com/user/doubletakespresents/media/Day-7-frame-3_zpsidvrpn1l.jpg.html)



http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n20/doubletakespresents/Day-7-frame-4_zpsicbl7wxb.jpg (http://s108.photobucket.com/user/doubletakespresents/media/Day-7-frame-4_zpsicbl7wxb.jpg.html)