Tuesday, 25 June 2019

My Thoughts on Ravelry

Long Post Warning!

So, I suspect many of you have seen Ravelry's stance that was unveiled over the weekend; about not allowing any content that supports Donald Trump, or the current US administration.

This makes sense to me. 

I've posted a bit about it on Twitter, but I wanted to expand on it a bit. 

The most telling, to me, is that the backlash and hate from this has caused Ravelry to stop accepting new membership applications; unpublish their Facebook page, and now, people are hacking unused or rarely used Ravelry accounts to post some of the most vile content I've ever seen (no. I won't link, It's terrifying). 

This wasn't civil questions about 'why did you do this?' or even 'what prompted this?' (Edit: Those comments were there too, but that's not what I'm immediately addressing). This was rage-fulled incoherent, terrifying threats. And in that environment, you can't do anything else but block and ban. There is no space for discussion, the only way to keep the environment from becoming totally toxic is a blanket ban. 

I also wasn't immediately aware of the major instigating incident, which was (I'm told) someone coming across a MAGA hat pattern and trying to ask that it be taken down. Because Ravelry didn't (it does now) have a pattern reporting system, that persons' personal information was doxxed by the designer. 

So, yes, this makes a sad amount of sense. 

A few counter arguments I often hear.

1) "Knitting is not political!" 

Uhm, no. Knitting has been political forever. Knitting has been political since the medieval (male-dominated) knitting guilds, the advance of (and protests against) mechanization of the industrial revolution, the 'knit for the troops' drives in World War 1, and so, so much more -- yes, up to the modern pussyhat!

And even today, knitting is politicized. It's decided who can be 'a knitter' and who can't. And as someone who often is completely left out of the fibre sphere (go check and see how many of your Local Yarn Stores, Class Spaces, and Fibre Festivals are wheelchair accessible. You'll be surprised!).
I've always been aware the the Fibre Spaces are, in fact, quite political. 

So Ravelry 'being political' is not a surprise. In fact, the ability to say 'knitting is not political' only comes when your a) ability to participate freely isn't in question, and b) your ability to be treated equally is not in question. 

I mean, I get it. People come to knitting as an escape from all the horrible things on social media and in the news, they're overwhelmed with all The Bad. I have that experience too, and knitting is indeed, one of my forms of self-care. Wanting to escape into your fibre arts is a perfectly understandable thing! But many of us don't have that luxury, because there's no guarantee we'll be accepted/allowed, or, that we'd be safe. 

2) "But I support Donald Trump, why are you censoring my views?"

Ok, just to be 100% clear, I -do not- support the US Administration. Moving on. 

Here's the thing. If you support the current US Administration, you are supporting an organization that believes that human beings dying of neglect is an acceptable thing. 

Now, usually, on political matters, I'd say "well, no, I'm not censoring political support -- I don't have to agree with someone to respect them, and as long as disagreements stay civil and respectful, it's ok!"

That doesn't work here. There is no other moral ground, there is no policy that can be debated. How can you argue that human beings dying is a desirable or acceptable thing? You can't. And many of these people have shown that they are incapable of being civil and respectful (see the above response to Ravelry). 

Does that mean all Republicans/Conservatives are horrible people?  

Absolutely not -- I know a bunch of people who are conservatives or US republicans who are appalled by what's going on, but don't know what do to or where to turn.  And these folks aren't the folks spewing this sort of crap, and they're the folks who you -can- have a civil discourse with.  Unfortunately, they're the folks who often get drowned out in the shouting matches.

3) "MAGA stuff isn't racist/sexist/etc"

So it's supporting the current US admin -- see point 2. 

Also, yes it is. MAGA, and the support of Donald Trump is being used as a weapon against minority folks. I know when someone says "I support Donald Trump" that I have to be very cautious -- I have had death threats merely for being disabled, and almost all of them have come from people who are clearly within that far right-wing stance. 

Remember, the basic premise is that America will be made great when "the undesirables" either can't come in or are controlled. Who are the undesirables? Immigrants, POC, indigenous folks, women, LGBT+ folks, disabled folks, and more. So yes, it is, in fact, sexist/racist/ableist, etc. 

So, as I thought through all of this, I realized that Ravelry's stance was sort of the only one they can take to protect their wider community. 

I wish it hadn't come to this. One of the things that I do know is that many on the far right are there because they are terribly isolated. The far-right is frighteningly good at its own form of radicalization, and it's for that reason, I do always try and keep lines of communication open (as much as I can without jeopardizing my own safety or the safety of my community). I try to model more of Daryl Davis' work in how I do my advocacy. Because despite all the hate and illogical behavior, we're still -all- human beings.   But, despite that, my first priority is keeping this corner of the internet safe for my community, and that means there are things I will not tolerate here -- hate speech being a big one. 

And, this isn't just about unlearning hate, which happens on an individual level. This is about protecting an entire community, and Ravelry's staff is already overwhelmed just trying to keep the community safe. It's the idea that you must put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help your neighbor -- you must make sure you and your own community are as safe as you can be before you can even consider reach out to those who are radicalized.

For my readers, what I care about are your actions. I care that you're here. That you believe enough in what I'm doing to be here. I care that you're human, and that you try and treat other human beings in this space with respect, compassion, and understanding -- and that yes, we may sometimes mess that up! We're all learning! I care that you abide by the rules that I set out for this blog. And I care that I can (hopefully) make a space where if someone is harmed, unintentionally, by words, actions, or inactions, we, as a community (including me), can figure out what to do and how to lift that member back up. That common human bond? That does transcend politics, and that is (I believe)  what's going to get us out of this. ❤️

. . . I'm leaving comments open for the moment, but I reserve the right to turn them off, and, they will be going through a moderation queue. 

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