Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Our side? Plus misc.

Back from a great dinner with friends. Sat on their patio and watched the almost-full moon rise over the Rincon mountains while eating blue chips and salsa, crackers and cheese, salad, mushrooms and eggs, some sort of awesome potatoes, bananas flambe... Also, wine and brandy. The coyotes sang for us. You are free to be jealous. (But I'm sorry you couldn't be there.)

1. On my facebook, a friend said, "I have little patience for people who get all offended about art they have heard about. That's what the other side do, not our side."

Which made me realize "our side" has changed. When I was young, this was the package deal for cool folks: you supported free speech along with equal rights for people of all hues, genders, classes, and faiths. Censorship and banning was for "the other side"--the squares, the straights, the unhip, the people who love oppression.

But when the general idea of equal rights was finally embraced by the middle class, free speech was ignored, maybe because the middle class just feels a need to repress someone. Schools ordered teachers and students to adhere to speech codes. In some countries, laws were passed to punish "hate speech." (To spare me from saying why I think restricting speech is wrong, see Hate Speech on Campus | American Civil Liberties Union.)

The people who call for restrictions, the people who say certain subjects are taboo, are not "our side". When your means are wrong, your motives don't matter.

2. Because two people asked, I'll try to clarify this: I am in favor of warning people about potentially triggery things, just as I’m in favor of spoiler warnings. That's simple courtesy. But having a trigger does not give me the right to demand that the world change its ways for my sake. So long as humans talk, they’ll use metaphors and examine subjects that will bother some people. As Philip Pullman said about his current book, “ one has the right to live without being shocked. ... You can write to me, you can complain about it, you can write to the publisher, you can write to the papers, you can write your own book. You can do all those things, but there your rights stop. No one has the right to stop me writing this book. No one has the right to stop it being published, or bought, or sold or read. That's all I have to say on that subject."

3. Misc. stuff:

Gluten Free Call to Action - Gluten Free Mom: A gluten-free product isn't necessarily gluten-free. Thank you, capitalism.

13 small things to simplify your workday | Zen Habits. An excellent list. I should adopt all of them.

Raymond Chandler on Grammar: 'By the way, would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss-waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will remain split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of barroom vernacular, this is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed and attentive. The method may not be perfect, but it is all I have.'

Sunny Fader has a blog about ordinary people who have taught her lessons. I especially liked this quote from one of those teachers: “I don’t know why people are afraid of the unknown. It is the known, with all its limitations and rigid conventions that should frighten us. It is in the known that we tend to get stuck. But the unkown—the unknown is full of infinite possiblities.” --Edward “Ted” Huntley