'Staying in Your Lane,' Poetic Voice, and Political Correctness - Page 3


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Thread: 'Staying in Your Lane,' Poetic Voice, and Political Correctness

  1. #21
    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.
    Last edited by luckyscars; August 9th, 2018 at 02:47 AM.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

  2. #22
    Global Moderator Squalid Glass's Avatar
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    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."



    "I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision."

    "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

  3. #23
    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.

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Bayview; August 9th, 2018 at 02:56 AM.

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    ...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...6/royal-assent (it's not long)

    Or for a commmentary, see: http://sds.utoronto.ca/blog/bill-c-1...ronoun-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.

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    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.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

  7. #27
    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...

  8. #28
    Global Moderator Squalid Glass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    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...6/royal-assent (it's not long)

    Or for a commmentary, see: http://sds.utoronto.ca/blog/bill-c-1...ronoun-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.
    "I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision."

    "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    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...6/royal-assent (it's not long)


    Or for a commmentary, see: http://sds.utoronto.ca/blog/bill-c-1...ronoun-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.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    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.
    Last edited by luckyscars; August 9th, 2018 at 04:54 AM.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    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!

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