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Source: (consider it) Thread: Felbrigg Hall lanyards
lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Granted, you didn't say you would backtrack, but implication is the same.

No deal then [Waterworks]
Cannot have a deal if you insist on misrepresenting the point.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
They might have signed on for an NT campaign, but not for something that could be percieved as an LGBT campaign.

They sign on to the NT which has various campaigns.


quote:
And I still think there is an element of coercion, because I think volunteers are more than billboards.
For one, billboards don't whinge.
Seriously, though. I never said they were only billboards. This is more of the pushing a comment farther than it reads.
Part* of their job is to advertise.

*part
pärt/
noun
1. a piece or segment of something such as an object, activity, or period of time, which combined with other pieces makes up the whole.
"divide the circle into three equal parts"
synonyms: bit, slice, chunk, lump, hunk, wedge, fragment, scrap, piece; More
portion, proportion, percentage, fraction
"the last part of the cake"
antonyms: whole

2. some but not all of something.
"the painting tells only part of the story"

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Doc Tor
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Eutychus, I'm going to say that you're making some fair points. If, in the course of work, I'd been told "You must wear a poppy", I'd have said, "Actually, I think the poppy has become a symbol of military celebration rather than national remembrance, and I'd rather not." (Which is, indeed, what I think, and why I don't wear a red poppy any more).

The problem I'm having is that I'm not seeing any thought-through reason for not wearing a rainbow lanyard. There is - being charitable - "this is disrespectful of the last owner of this property who was an intensely private man". But I'm not feeling that. What I'm getting is "I don't want to be seen to promote equal rights and recognition for homosexuals".

I won't deny the power of symbols to represent both equality and oppression. There also might be - as you suggest - a kick-back here against being co-opted into possibly contentious socio-political campaigns. I'm going to suggest in return that this is a post-hoc justification for what is most likely low-level bigotry.

I have no problems with an actual campaign for freedom of/from expression at both workplaces and charities. But this, with the best will in the world, is not really an example of that.

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Forward the New Republic

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Pomona:
Ultimately LGBT people's humanity - which includes reversing the historical erasure of our lives - come before cishet discomfort over LGBT people and history being acknowledged.

There's that "discomfort" word again.

Taking my cue from Louise, to the best of my ability to keep myself honest my discomfort is not related to the LGBT element but to the issue of organisational coercion, for want of a better word. I'd like to know what people think of the article I quoted from, and specifically this:
quote:
This kind of mobilization poses a serious threat to the right of workers, as citizens, to arrive at their political views and decisions free from the undue influence of others. Coercive mobilization also violates individual workers’ rights to free speech, as they are pressured into making political statements that they may not believe but feel are necessary to appease their employers.
If you win me to a cause I'll be a forceful advocate for it, but you'll only win me if I feel free from undue influence and free to make statements I believe wholeheartedly. Not everyone's wired like me, but that's how I roll and I assert my right to my individual freedom of conscience and by God's help, to thinking things through myself rather than allow someone else to do the thinking for me.

As far as this dissenting protestant is concerned that's New Covenant 101.

To my mind, if homosexuality is something to be embraced I shouldn't need to resort to aggressiveness or duplicity for people to be persuaded of that.

I find Paul's words in 2 Cor 4:2 inspirational:

quote:
we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.
One of the great ironies of the Ship for me is that practically everywhere else I hang out, I am perceived as a threat to traditional values because of my pro-gay stance, and probably kept at a distance from some circles I would otherwise move in because of it. I would lay good odds on the church I help lead being the first in the region to bless a same-sex marriage.

quote:
LGBT people aren't an abstract issue to be disagreed with or not
My issue is a) with organisational coercion b) branding all those who disagree with a particular action homophobes. That is all.

quote:
Eutychus - I feel like there's a perception of LGBT people, particularly by many cishet Christians, as a model minority
WTF? That certainly doesn't correspond to anyone in the LGBT (real) world I know.

quote:
Minorities historically have had to get 'aggressive' in order to get a basic modicum of respect and protection from the law - politeness has unfortunately rarely worked
See the second part of my post here. I have come to accept a role for 'aggressive' activism but I strongly disagree that this is the only legitimate means of advancing any issue of minority rights.

Personally, I think the tactic employed at Felbrigg Hall is overly aggressive and may put off potential sympathisers. I would also be willing to bet that there are other pro-LGBT people reading this who feel the same way but who do not feel up to posting because they don't feel they have a thick enough skin. Activism is a heady brew and aggressive behaviour can easily be seen as the ends justifying the means, but in my view it also has the unfortunate attendant danger of seeing everybody who does not join in wholeheartedly as an enemy - which, again, is where I joined this conversation.

Again, off the Ship, I think I can fairly claim to be in the leadership of one of the most diverse churches in the region in any sense of the word, including sexual orientation. We haven't come this far by being aggressive.

quote:
I'm sure conservative discomfort feels horrible but it's not really the same as being targets of actual violence.
Of course not, but again, discomfort can come from a whole load of sources and not all of them can simply be labelled "homophobia". Discomfort can be the first step to positive change, if you'll allow it. Simply inflicting verbal violence on outsiders may not have the same terminal consequences as physical violence or suicide, but that doesn't make it right or desirable.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Eutychus
From the edge
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Cannot have a deal if you insist on misrepresenting the point.

If the deal is that being trapped in the mind and body of a cishet male I lose all rights in this forum to express any and every emotion I may feel in this debate (and whatever you say, that was my sincere intent) while you, not being the above, get a free pass to provoke my emotions any way you damn please, then no.

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
They might have signed on for an NT campaign, but not for something that could be percieved as an LGBT campaign.

They sign on to the NT which has various campaigns.
I think there's an ambiguity here revolving around the word "campaign" and how it relates at present to LGBT activism, and that this fuss arises partly from that ambiguity, deliberate or otherwise. Yes it is an NT "campaign" but it looks suspiciously to me as though it's part of an LGBT campaign, which is not the same thing at all. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not the same thing.

quote:
For one, billboards don't whinge.
Seriously, though. I never said they were only billboards. This is more of the pushing a comment farther than it reads.

I refer you to my comments about dealing with matters of conscience for volunteers in particular. If someone feels in all good conscience that a temporary initiative is "not what they signed up for" then good volunteer management should find a suitable and respectful compromise for all. After all the heat generated by this incident it's impossible to tell whether this happened here or not, but that's how I'd handle it.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Eutychus
From the edge
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
There also might be - as you suggest - a kick-back here against being co-opted into possibly contentious socio-political campaigns. I'm going to suggest in return that this is a post-hoc justification for what is most likely low-level bigotry.

Again, I think there is broad consensus here that we don't really know how things actually went down at Felbrigg. That means we're left with the tabloid reports, our speculation, and naturally our own projection of our own feelings and experiences.

I joined in because of how the opters-out were at one point indiscriminately labelled as homophobes. Perhaps they were all homophobes but I took exception to that indiscriminate designation and all the more so as it applies to the general case, because I find this kind of attitude - on either side of any debate - abhorrent.

I'm not seeking to justify the actions of those actually involved in this actual case because I don't know their real motivations, but I think the issue raises more general questions about the respective roles of activism, discussion, mediation, and the complex reasons why each of us may feel "uncomfortable".

I love the Ship for its ability to dig a bit deeper than what passes for journalism out there these days, and to hear what people with vastly different stories and histories have to say, and I'd like to nurture that.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Doc Tor
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I concede that we don't know their motives, but I think, on balance, it's more likely that the 30 refusniks have a beef about being seen to promote gay rights than they are a vanguard of radical libertarianism.

I'm also pretty certain that the same people who've hitched their wagon to this protest will be on the opposite side of the argument come November 11th.

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Forward the New Republic

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ThunderBunk

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I think there is something else to consider here. It's had a bit of an airing, but is in danger of disappearing.

The National Trust is a registered charity. That means, according to UK charity law AIUI that they can only run campaigns and otherwise spend money in pursuit of the charity's aims. These are registered with the Charity Commission, and do not include any particular social or similar positions.

As such, I do find myself wondering how a reasonable person might feel about volunteering to support the NT in pursuing its aims only to find themselves apparently supporting a campaign in favour of the local Pride march.

This is not to say I don't support Pride - I'm a gay man, and I would agree with the proposition that there is a widespread assumption that only straight people have ever contributed to history, aside from Alexander the Great. It is, however, to say that all organisations are emphatically not the same, and charities can only act in pursuit of their own aims. For my part I would far rather see the NT work with local LGBT organisations to investigate and promote the part of people within their spectrum of interest in the history of the property, rather than have them turn into generic corporations, leaping on bandwagons as they pass.

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Doc Tor
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That's a fair point: 'rainbow washing' is indeed a thing. However, that's it's (AFAIK) just something that this one property is doing, due to the specific connection with the previous owner, I'm not sure the NT are guilty of it in this instance.

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Forward the New Republic

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

To my mind, if homosexuality is something to be embraced I shouldn't need to resort to aggressiveness or duplicity for people to be persuaded of that.

Funny, aggressiveness is exactly what it took to start the modern gay rights movement.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Cannot have a deal if you insist on misrepresenting the point.

If the deal is that being trapped in the mind and body of a cishet male I lose all rights in this forum to express any and every emotion I may feel in this debate
"Hehp, help! I'm being gaypressed!"
quote:

(and whatever you say, that was my sincere intent)

I'm not questioning what your meant as much as what you said.

quote:

while you, not being the above, get a free pass to provoke my emotions any way you damn please, then no.

What I am trying to provoke is your ability to reason. What you mean to express and the meaning of what you say can be different things.

quote:
If someone feels in all good conscience that a temporary initiative is "not what they signed up for" then good volunteer management should find a suitable and respectful compromise for all.
They did. "If you do not like the lanyard, you can work in another part of the facility for the duration".

--------------------
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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
I concede that we don't know their motives, but I think, on balance, it's more likely that the 30 refusniks have a beef about being seen to promote gay rights than they are a vanguard of radical libertarianism.

True, but at the risk of starting all over again, my feeling is that they should have been allowed to opt out gracefully (on all sides) without being branded homophobes, because they did not sign up as volunteers to promote gay rights. If they did not get such an approach, then there was an element of coercion regardless of the cause in question.

We have no way of knowing if this happened or not at this point, in this case.

Again to my mind, if, and only if, their issue of conscience was gently and respectfully dealt with and they then went on to effectively portray themselves as victims of a "gay agenda" then they would themselves be adopting an activist position and it's open season.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
That's a fair point: 'rainbow washing' is indeed a thing. However, that's it's (AFAIK) just something that this one property is doing, due to the specific connection with the previous owner, I'm not sure the NT are guilty of it in this instance.

This is a thing ("Prejudice and Pride") that the NT are doing at a number of its properties (anywhere where they can dig up a gay connection) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of decriminalization.

Note also that that page contains a photo of a National Trust group at Birmingham Pride, wearing the same rainbow NT logos that the NT volunteers were asked to wear.

[ 08. August 2017, 21:16: Message edited by: Leorning Cniht ]

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Pomona
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My reference to 'model minorities' was to suggest that there is a feeling amongst some churches/Christians that LGBT people somehow benefit institutionally from being LGBT. It exists in the secular world too - eg accusations that LGBT people get bumped up the social housing waiting list specifically for being LGBT (I have heard this with my own ears - we don't!) - but I think particularly intensely in Christian circles. There's an idea that LGBT people are celebrated while Christians are seen with suspicion (of course that someone could be both is impossible....). The reality in the UK especially - obviously France is very very different - Christianity still enjoys many institutional privileges while homophobia and transphobia are still a real reality for LGBT people, including in some legal areas (mostly in NI). I feel like this is partly what fuels this kind of conservative discomfort, the idea that LGBT people have the societal upper hand and are just doing this to rub it in Christians' faces. I don't think many people would think in those exact terms or at that level, but I think it's a background thought to a lot of this.

I don't think the lanyards should even be compulsory, what bothers me is the really rubbish justification for not wanting to wear them. It's not about the right to refuse to wear one, but people's unexamined prejudices and biases meaning they don't want to. I haven't seen any evidence that people are taking their stance because of a Jon Snow and poppies stance on freedom of expression. I know that doesn't mean those reasons don't exist, but I do feel that perhaps your very noble stance is rather loftier than that of those actually involved. I am for the record a non-wearer of red poppies (not brave enough to wear a white one), so I do understand that way of framing it. Much like many Brexiteers talking about how for them it was about Democracy And Definitely Not Racism, whereas in reality hate crime spiked and EU nationals were attacked in broad daylight.

I do get why you feel as you do, but I just think your sympathies are rather misplaced.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Funny, aggressiveness is exactly what it took to start the modern gay rights movement.

Do you see these boards as an extension of that same campaign on the same terms? Think carefully before answering. And read what I said to Pomona.

quote:
"Hehp, help! I'm being gaypressed!"

Seems I got the proposed terms of the arrangement clear, anyway.
quote:
What I am trying to provoke is your ability to reason.
Then engage with the reasoning I put forward and ignore all the rest. That's how I manage to answer you, anyway.

quote:
"If you do not like the lanyard, you can work in another part of the facility for the duration".
There are a million ways that could be put forward and discussed. We just don't know how it went down.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Eutychus
From the edge
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Pomona: thanks for your kind words. I think I've said more than enough for one day and I need to go and put my head in a bucket of water or lie down or something now.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Louise
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Louise:
It's clearly not all about lanyards.

Since you last posted there has been some degree of consensus about that. For my part my discomfort (more on that later) relates to the concerns I find epitomised in the American Prospect article I linked to, which following its lead I am now referring to as organisational coercion. Which is where I think the lanyards, as opposed to the curatorial aspect, come in, and is why I reacted to a specific comment by you in that respect.

quote:
because they feel uncomfortable with them
I don't like the idea that "mere" discomfort is trivialised. Both you and Jane R have used the word "uncomfortable". I imagine you expect your discomfort to be taken seriously. Why then draw a line so readily from the dissenters' "discomfort" to "homophobia"? They might put words on it which you can qualify as homophobic, but perhaps you're missing the chance for a conversation there.
quote:
It's when we reach that tricky bedrock where our own omissions, laziness, discomforts, habits and quibbles for which we think we have jolly good valid ‘reasons’ impact on representation and real equality for minorities that we have to grapple with the fact that we may think we’re champion LGBT allies but actually it may not look like that to the people on the sharp end who see that their history doesn't get covered or gets attacked or rubbished or gets loads of objections that naval history or 'look at the nice ceilings!’ don't get. I include myself in that - I don't think my practice is perfect. I try to keep myself honest and open to improving how I cover representation of minorities in history, but what I thought was adequate 25 years ago isn't adequate now and if I insisted that nothing had to move on from what was good enough in the 1980s then I would be open to charges of homophobia.
I note the use of the word "discomforts" there again [Two face] You've lost me somewhat in the very last bit but thank you for your frankness and evident humility in the first bit.

We all need to try to keep ourselves honest - volunteers, historians, activists, peacemakers, servants, leaders - and especially when the issues are hot-button ones for us.

If my discomfort is because as a member of a privileged majority group I'm being asked to give a discriminated-against group something I take for-granted but which they've been denied, then yes my discomfort should take second place and doing right by that other group should take precedence as matter of justice and equality. It should override my feelings. Easier said than done, but nonetheless it's what I think should happen.


I can go to just about any stately home in Scotland and see my history reflected. I very much doubt I could go anywhere that would leave out all the stories connected to the building or site about the women, even though there is still sexism in the world. I don't run risks that if I go to a National Trust for Scotland site and ask about Scottish history that they will turn on me and start telling me about how that history shouldn't even be researched let alone promoted, or possibly even look at me like I've got two heads for asking. I can see the stories of people like me reflected in the history quite frequently. If I start saying other people who have been discriminated against for centuries cannot have what I have because I feel uncomfortable with doing the things needed to make that happen or I have lots of excuses why not, then I'm saying my ego and privilege as an already-privileged person takes precedence over justice and equality for them. I would say I have a responsibility and a duty to address historic discrimination that my group has enforced/profited from even when I feel uncomfortable with that. I'm sure I fall short all the time but it's what I aim for.

To say privileged groups can give up privileges to other groups who've been disadvantaged or oppressed to bring justice and equality closer and nobody at any stage feel any discomfort or hurt feelings in that process isn't going to happen. If we were all angels that could happen, but simply by virtue of being the sinful souls we are or by habits of upbringing, people will find excuses not to give up those privileges or not to give other people what they are due or will feel resentful or hurt when they are asked to think of others who - and this is a key part of being privileged - they have never had to think about or take into account before or give representation or visibility to.

Asking someone to give up their privilege of being able to ignore or marginalise LGBT history while hearing plenty about their own history is asking someone to treat LGBT people equally and has to take precedence over hurt feelings, just as I'm sure there were lots of angry and hurt feelings when women were allowed to train as medical students and men had to share their classrooms and get over their aggrieved feelings.

You don't get those hurt feelings now but not because people gave male feelings precedence over justice for women. They gave justice and equality precedence over male feelings to begin with and the feelings changed and people got both justice and comfortable feelings for everyone as a result.

If you wait for all the privileged groups to feel happy and graceful about ceding their privileges, then you'll expect the people who are discriminated-against to suffer that for a very long time, if not indefinitely.

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Louise
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# 30

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[I have massively cross posted again - slooooow!!!]

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lilBuddha
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Things that annoy me that are touched on this thread:

  • The idea that Rainbow Flag = activism. This isn't accurate. It equals awareness.
  • LGBT+ should be sensitive to the delicate flowers. No significant progress has been made in Civil Rights by being polite. They are made when people take a stand. I'm not saying polite isn't nice, but it doesn't get much done.
  • Every Damn Day is Straight White Male Day. Acknowledging anything else becomes pushy activism.
  • Occam's razor isn't good enough for LGBT+ The simplest, most reasonable explanation in this situation is that the objectors have an issue with homosexuality.


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I put on my rockin' shoes in the morning
Hallellou, hallellou

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Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
# 11770

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That there is nothing negative in the press around this campaign that I could find about any of the other properties taking part seems to suggest that this campaign hasn't been seen as a problem at the other properties, just this one.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
That there is nothing negative in the press around this campaign that I could find about any of the other properties taking part seems to suggest that this campaign hasn't been seen as a problem at the other properties, just this one.

I think I saw a claim in the press somewhere that it was just this place that made the lanyards & badges compulsory - I'll see if I can find it.
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Curiosity killed ...

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The National Trust asked customer facing staff to wear the badges and lanyards and offered back room jobs for those that didn't want to wear them at Felbrigg Hall. It's not easy to pick out of the outrage, but according to the Daily Mail the National Trust banned workers from meeting the public if they didn't wear the badges, which the Daily Telegraph explains as:
quote:
However, a decision by the National Trust to demand 350 of its volunteers at a Jacobean mansion wear the banner or be banished to backroom chores has triggering an angry backlash.(sic - straight copy and paste)


[ 08. August 2017, 22:15: Message edited by: Curiosity killed ... ]

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Hiro's Leap

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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
The National Trust asked customer facing staff to wear the badges and lanyards and offered back room jobs for those that didn't want to wear them at Felbrigg Hall.

You can see how the Daily Mail and Telegraph are stirring up trouble by the way they both describe these backroom jobs as "chores".

[ 08. August 2017, 23:09: Message edited by: Hiro's Leap ]

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Funny, aggressiveness is exactly what it took to start the modern gay rights movement.

Do you see these boards as an extension of that same campaign on the same terms? Think carefully before answering.
Why?

quote:

And read what I said to Pomona.

I did. The last post anyway. Not sure which part you are considering relevant. I think I might, but it might be simpler if you just link which para you mean.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Louise:
To say privileged groups can give up privileges to other groups who've been disadvantaged or oppressed to bring justice and equality closer and nobody at any stage feel any discomfort or hurt feelings in that process isn't going to happen.

On discomfort:
I don't see anyone here arguing for no discomfort.

On the one hand, discomfort is an inevitable part of change. It is certainly misguided to resist change merely because it causes discomfort (I suspect we all do, though, in many trivial areas of our lives, let alone important ones), but the discomfort in and of itself is not wrong.

Discomfort may be due just to us being set in our ways, and it might be due to bigotry - but it may also be a valid warning sign that something's not right. Have you never looked back on a situation that turned out badly and said to yourself "I felt uncomfortable about it at the time...", only to have ignored your uncomfortable feeling and regretted it?

In the specific case of Felbrigg Hall it may well be that the non-lanyarders were simply being, as Doc Tor put it, low-level bigots, but I don't think the case is proven beyond all reasonable doubt, or that it sets a universal jurisprudence ("all uncomfortable non-lanyard-wearers are bigots"). I've looked at my own sense of discomfort over this issue as honestly as I am able, and so far as I can tell it is because of the presence, as I see it, of organisational coercion.

(ThunderBunk appears, to me at least, to be feeling something similar, albeit using different words).

Of course we should strive to progress civil rights, but I don't think this will be achieved long term if in seeking to progress some civil rights we trample others in the process, starting with the individual right to freedom of conscience.

(Could it be that difference between Felbrigg Hall and the other P&P sites was not that they have more bigoted volunteers but that the way the initiative was presented meant the line of organisational coercion was crossed?)

TL;DR: discomfort is not in and of itself bad and the reasons for it deserve exploring.

On privilege:

My personal experience is that becoming meaningfully aware of one's own privilege is not the product of activism on behalf of the minority in question.

Activism has a role, and might possibly make a majority intellectually aware of its privilege. But if there's nothing but activism, it may well actually harden the stance of the privileged.

(The really perverse bit to my mind - having learned of the Useful Idiot concept here in DH thanks to Joesaphat - is that this may actually be the intent of some militants, because it legitimises increasingly aggressive action.*)

Speaking for myself, the instances which have made me meaningfully aware of my privileges (i.e. which have changed my thinking and behaviour, hopefully for the better) have been the result of interacting with people who have become close to me in one way or another and who, rather than acting as activists, behaved as ambassadors unawares. The result being that when they fell foul of a lack of privilege, my empathy has been for them as a person, not as a cause, and been an immediate epiphany.

==
*Actual example: organiser of an intersex conference I attended actively inviting participants to go and burn a few uncooperative doctors' cars (whilst carefully ruling out doing so himself).

[ 09. August 2017, 06:02: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
In the specific case of Felbrigg Hall it may well be that the non-lanyarders were simply being, as Doc Tor put it, low-level bigots, but I don't think the case is proven beyond all reasonable doubt, or that it sets a universal jurisprudence ("all uncomfortable non-lanyard-wearers are bigots"). I've looked at my own sense of discomfort over this issue as honestly as I am able, and so far as I can tell it is because of the presence, as I see it, of organisational coercion.

quote:
(Could it be that difference between Felbrigg Hall and the other P&P sites was not that they have more bigoted volunteers but that the way the initiative was presented meant the line of organisational coercion was crossed?)
I wonder if the difference with Felbrigg Hall is that this is a new story - the research that the last owner was gay. For many of the houses the stories of e.g. Sissinghurst and Knole are well known, so would not be a surprise to the volunteers. Here much of the outrage is around outing the previous owner. To accept the previous owner was gay will require changes in understanding of the story of the house and coming to terms with a different history to that that the volunteers have absorbed, and maybe their own feelings around homosexuality. The stories refer to the ten people who protested all being older and having volunteered at the house for 10 years or more - which suggests they are likely to be in their 70s, so were young people before the decriminalisation of homosexuality and have the attitudes of that generation (I can hear my parents in my head in those reported comments, who are of that generation). (It's in the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph stories I linked to above.)

These volunteers have been presented with two things they may have found challenging together:
  • the previous owner was gay - someone who some of the volunteers may have known - so the history of the house has changed;
  • the requirement to take part in a LGBT+ campaign as a result of this research

I suspect that the National Trust did not think through that presenting the change in history along with a LGBT+ campaign might be too much of a challenge to volunteers.

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I think those are some very helpful points, and seem to fit in with the "evidence" we have.
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Eutychus
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Agreed.

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

(ThunderBunk appears, to me at least, to be feeling something similar, albeit using different words).

Sort of, but not really. My point was more about the unconscious processes which surround volunteering, and how in particular the process of identification is disrupted by an organisation that assumes that someone who has volunteered based on identification with a given prospectus, as it were, will continue to identify with and work towards an altered prospectus.

In this case, however, I think I may have been wrong. It's not a generic Pride rainbow wash; it's a re-examination of the history of that particular property, which is incorporating a specifically relevant element of its history.

The process by which an NT property came into the form now seen is consistently relevant across all NT properties; the trigger for discomfort is clearly in this case the incorporation of the last owner's sexuality into that story.

The illegality and thus repression of homosexuality at the time had two relevant effects. First, it encouraged sublimation of sexuality into aesthetic activity, as in this case work on the house. Secondly, it made repression of someone's sexuality a condition for legitimisation of their story. This is in stark contrast of a heterosexual person, whose history of marriage and children is entirely naturally incorporated into the history of the buildings they inhabit, particularly if those buildings are of interest to a wider public.

All that is happening is that this unjust silencing is being corrected, and the story is being told in the way it would otherwise always have been. I don't see any special pleading or invented activity/outrage, and therefore nothing in that sense to prompt discomfort.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

(ThunderBunk appears, to me at least, to be feeling something similar, albeit using different words).

Sort of, but not really.
In that case I apologise for co-opting you into my argument.

With regard to what you say and the volunteers' reaction, I think CK's analysis is really helpful.

[ 09. August 2017, 07:29: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
The illegality and thus repression of homosexuality at the time had two relevant effects. First, it encouraged sublimation of sexuality into aesthetic activity, as in this case work on the house.

I don't know anything about Ketton-Cremer, although I do know Felbrigg. But is your statement really true? Because, at face value, it suggests that, had he not had to repress his sexuality, then his house wouldn't be so "aesthetic". That doesn't sound quite right to me.
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It is documented that much of the collection at Kingston Lacy was acquired by William Bankes who fled overseas in the 1800s to avoid prosecution for his activities with other men.

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Doc Tor
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If I might bring this to the conversation?

This article resonated deeply with me, and has put into a single pithy phrase my somewhat wordy circumlocutions.
quote:
Tolerance is not a moral absolute; it is a peace treaty.
I think that might be at the heart of the matter here, and in this case it may well be (as much as it pains me to concede the point) that the NT are guiltier in breaking the peace treaty by coming at the issue in a ham-fisted way.

Because while only a dick would be against basic human rights for all, this doesn't mean there aren't dicks out there, even working at NT properties. If, as Eutychus charitably posits, there are questions of individual liberty here, then the classic liberal position would be to allow those who wish to promote the exhibition to do so, without compelling those who do not to do likewise. We cannot compel people not to be dicks. We can compel them not to do people harm.

As with all peace treaties, it's going to be a messy compromise. I have no truck with the argument that I'm 'intolerant' of Nazis and am therefore against free speech, because they actually want me and my family dead. That, in the terms of the article, indicates that they have already broken the treaty. I do not wish them dead. I wish them in a position where they cannot harm me or people I care about.

I'm going to have to have a long think about this, and the limits of my own tolerance.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
I wonder if the difference with Felbrigg Hall is that this is a new story - the research that the last owner was gay.

I'm not sure I accept this interpretation that this was a new story. An unmarried man who dies childless and with no relationships with women. There would have been speculation, there would have been talk. And there was. He was described as ‘the bachelor squire’ and ‘not one for the ladies’. Hard to think that the volunteers had no understanding.

quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
I think that might be at the heart of the matter here, and in this case it may well be (as much as it pains me to concede the point) that the NT are guiltier in breaking the peace treaty by coming at the issue in a ham-fisted way.

I'm not sure about this.
Why is the NT allowed no benefit of doubt, but the volunteers must be?

There is no peace treaty here to be violated, unless it is the old one where society was allowed to pretend LGBT+ don't exist and LGBT+ are also allowed to pretend that LGBT+ don't exist.

Should the NT have understood that older people are more likely to be homophobic? Yes.
What, then, should they have done?

[ 09. August 2017, 19:52: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]

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It was a new story in the sense that the National Trust are now going to be interpreting the house in the light of new research - so the volunteer guides would be expected to disseminate the information that the last owner was gay and the history of the house in those terms.

I suspect that if the research had been introduced to the house without the campaign, some of the volunteer guides who are now unhappy would have left because they were not comfortable with the new history of the house, but that would not have been a story that the media would have covered in the same way.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
I'm not sure about this.
Why is the NT allowed no benefit of doubt, but the volunteers must be?

I'm not saying that the NT aren't allowed the benefit of the doubt. But having been at the sharp end of several well-meaning but ultimately ham-fisted employer initiatives, the onus is on the NT to implement change with due care - they are the ones in the position of power here.

It comes down to, ultimately, how I would like to be treated. If my employer/charity boss told everyone that they had to wear a red poppy from the end of October to the middle of November, I would be trying to get that 'had' changed to 'could', or even 'are encouraged'. I appreciate the analogy isn't perfect - the situation at Felbrigg is different, but from the volunteers' point-of-view, they (rightly or wrongly) believe that the terms of engagement that they thought they had with their supervisors has changed with the new emphasis on the sexuality of the last owner of the property.

I'm not arguing that the NT are doing anything wrong in moving the emphasis. Far from it. But acknowledging that it has changed, and acknowledging that some would feel uncomfortable about it, appears to have been badly handled.

We can near-enough guarantee that the volunteers are all old, and come from a generation where gay relationships were seen as shameful. And, bluntly put, they're going to die soon. They shouldn't be able to hold the NT to ransom - and they clearly haven't, as the exhibition and change in emphasis is going ahead. But a new peace treaty with these people, and people like them, needs to be agreed if we can. Blessed be the peace-makers and all that. And bearing in mind that as far as the under-35s are concerned, the battle is pretty much won, even in the church.

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mr cheesy
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It seems to me that the poppy thing is different, to the extent that it is rarely about pressure to wear it because it is part of an organisation's uniform but because there is societal pressure or semi-official pressure from someone unnamed to get people - particularly TV newsreaders for no particular reason - to wear them.

If one was working for a museum hosting the poppy sculpture (currently touring the North of England) then it might be entirely appropriate for staff and/or volunteers to wear a poppy lanyard.

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Doc Tor
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It is different. But unless I come up with a ludicrous example of something that'd never happen in real life, it's all I've got.

There was a principled boycott of the Newcastle United strip when Wonga became the main team sponsors. Fans were forced to choose between buying that year's shirt (something that normally happens) and wearing an older one (something that fans don't normally do - no, I don't understand it either, but it's still a thing). Again, the situation isn't analogous.

Having an exhibition sponsored by BAE, maybe? I don't know.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
the onus is on the NT to implement change with due care - they are the ones in the position of power here.

Really? I think this debacle shows a different power dynamic than you seem to.
quote:

It comes down to, ultimately, how I would like to be treated.

I push to be treated fairly and would like to be treated well. But I do not want my comfort at the expense of other people being treated fairly.

quote:

We can near-enough guarantee that the volunteers are all old, and come from a generation where gay relationships were seen as shameful. And, bluntly put, they're going to die soon. They shouldn't be able to hold the NT to ransom - and they clearly haven't,

Clearly they have. They might not have stopped the film, but they made the case that the tail can wag the dog. And that equality isn't quite equal for everyone.
And, old they might be, but they are also adults. Did they deal with this as adults? No. They whinged, created a fuss so they would not have to be seen wearing a symbol of tolerance.

The NT missed this as an opportunity for a teachable moment. Instead of immediately caving in, they could have created a dialogue as to why this was important.


quote:
Blessed be the peace-makers and all that. And bearing in mind that as far as the under-35s are concerned, the battle is pretty much won, even in the church.

Funny, though. The day history gives for the end of a conflict often pre-dates the its last victim.

A major problem with some of the arguments here is that people want to shift the blame to how the NT might have mishandled this instead of how the volunteers actually behaved.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
the onus is on the NT to implement change with due care - they are the ones in the position of power here.

Really? I think this debacle shows a different power dynamic than you seem to.
My response, before reading Doc Tor's to you, was exactly the same as his on this point. The NT is in the position of power here. I think the reason you can't or won't see that is because they happen to be exercising that power to the advantage of a cause you hold dear.
quote:
But I do not want my comfort at the expense of other people being treated fairly.
What do you have to say to CK's analysis of the volonteers' discomfort here?

quote:
And that equality isn't quite equal for everyone.
Indeed. From your perspective, in their capacity as subordinates, the volonteers are "less than equal". You objectified them. They are billboards (that's what you said, however much you try and walk away from it) and should just suck it up or leave and get over it.

In other words, in your mind gay rights trump workers' rights, every time. If an initiative advances the cause of gay rights (as you suppose) there can be no admission of mistakes, no "it could have been handled better", no accommodation and no compromise. Anyone differing is merely "whingeing". You will accept no truce (such as the one Doc Tor's thought-provoking article makes the case for) anywhere.
quote:
A major problem with some of the arguments here is that people want to shift the blame to how the NT might have mishandled this instead of how the volunteers actually behaved.
And I find a major problem with your argument is that you are trying to make this about gay rights and nothing else. You have cast the volonteers' behaviour in the worst possible light by defining homophobia as covering the range from slight discomfort to hate, thus allowing you to qualify their discomfort as homophobia, and deny anyone else the possibility of any more nuanced explanations of it, as CK has put forward.

[ 10. August 2017, 05:41: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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For what it us worth, this year has been a crash course in people management, often unpicking and resolving a situation that has not gone well. I have had a fair bit of practice in standing back and trying to work out what the problem is and then how to resolve it with as many people saving face as possible. It is often the case that those involved have brought their past experiences and preconceptions into a sensitive situation and been triggered into reacting in ways that may not have been the most appropriate.

The National Trust accepting that not all the volunteers were ready to wear rainbow lanyards at Felbrigg Hall doesn't seem disproportionate to me, as a way to resolve the immediate issue and allow the campaign to take place. I would imagine that there will also be work with the volunteers to support them in understanding the new research and the ways this will be incorporated into the story of Felbrigg Hall.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
They might not have stopped the film, but they made the case that the tail can wag the dog. And that equality isn't quite equal for everyone.

They haven't stopped the film. They haven't stopped the exhibition. They haven't stopped the updating of the history of the hall. Most (90%+) of their colleagues have identified them as low-level bigots, or out-and-out homophobes. So have most of the rest of the country. A country which now, as a result of them throwing their toys out of the pram, knows far more about Felbrigg Hall and it's last, gay, owner than it would have done previously.

Is that enough, or do you want to crush them like beetles beneath your heel as well? Because how we behave in victory is how we will be treated in defeat.

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I've read this thread in bits, and what has stayed with me is how successive generations have different upbringings, values and experiences.

My dads generation was raised to regard homosexuality as wrong( it was illegal), his generation knows the world has changed, but it remains hard to move beyond early established patterns of thought.

I hope that my children and grandchildren will judge me with gentleness and kindness when I 'dont get' how the world continues to change.

I don't think that this thread has always been gentle and kind to the elderly volunteers whose life experiences might be so different to that of many posters here,

Cheers

Asher

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Well said.

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Seconded. It's too easy to condemn people for manifesting attitudes with which we disagree - whatever those may be - without trying to understand why they hold them.

[ 10. August 2017, 11:47: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:

Is that enough, or do you want to crush them like beetles beneath your heel as well? Because how we behave in victory is how we will be treated in defeat.

Thank you. This is worthy to be written in diamonds surrounded in gold.

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Doc Tor
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I wouldn't actually go that far. I've no real interest in why someone is a racist or a Nazi. What I'm more interested in how to best neutralise the harm caused by their opinions.

If they want to be racist over there, with all their racist mates, they can knock themselves out. It's when they put their racism in my face that my tolerance becomes stretched. You don't want to get treated by a black doctor? That's fine. No one's forcing you. The door's thataway, try not to bleed too much on your way out.

(in reply to Baptist Trainfan)

[ 10. August 2017, 12:32: Message edited by: Doc Tor ]

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Yes, but if we understand why they feel like that then perhaps we may be able to help them change.
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Doc Tor
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There is a saying that a man cannot be reasoned out of an opinion he has not reasoned himself into.

I go to a lot of Science Fiction conventions, and there's been moves to make these 'safe spaces', that is to actively exclude those who hold racist/sexist/ableist/whatever views. Personally, that strikes me as a purity test (which, when they include Christian, will exclude me), and I'm very much agin it.

I much prefer the 'holy ground' model (as in Highlander) in that anyone is welcome, as long as a set code of conduct is kept. Which is pretty much how we operate in all public spaces anyway.

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LGBT people being treated as human beings isn't like not understanding Twitter or contactless cards - age is no excuse. It erases the experiences of older LGBT people and their struggles and suffering. I would be gentle with someone who can't work an ipad, but why should I be gentle with someone's unjustifiable prejudice against other human beings?

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

Posts: 5319 | From: UK | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged
goperryrevs
Shipmtae
# 13504

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quote:
Originally posted by Pomona:
why should I be gentle with someone's unjustifiable prejudice against other human beings?

Firstly, because people react much better to carrots than they do sticks. Like it or not, in the only culture they grew up in that was most likely the only paradigm they encountered. It takes time to change people's minds.

Secondly, because we should hope that future generations will treat us with the same patience and dignity. Do you believe that we have reached the pinnacle of human morality? Or is it possible that we, too, have huge blind spots that will have to be pointed out to us by subsequent generations.

Society vilified LGBT+ people for generations because society's moral consensus said that there was something wrong with them. Now society has mostly changed its moral consensus. Is the real solution then really more vilification? Or could it instead be to combat the 'othering' mindset that brings about the vilification in the first place?

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"Keep your eye on the donut, not on the hole." - David Lynch

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mr cheesy
Shipmate
# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
There is a saying that a man cannot be reasoned out of an opinion he has not reasoned himself into.

I go to a lot of Science Fiction conventions, and there's been moves to make these 'safe spaces', that is to actively exclude those who hold racist/sexist/ableist/whatever views. Personally, that strikes me as a purity test (which, when they include Christian, will exclude me), and I'm very much agin it.

I much prefer the 'holy ground' model (as in Highlander) in that anyone is welcome, as long as a set code of conduct is kept. Which is pretty much how we operate in all public spaces anyway.

A little tangential story: lots of science conferences are now considering how they have historically acted in ways that discriminated against women. It wasn't so much that they were not platformed (although that did happen), it was largely that the whole culture failed to recognise underlying causes of discrimination.

So people have started campaigns to get more women onto the organising committees of conferences, to have zero tolerance for unpleasant-but-common conference sexual abuse, to stop having all-male panels and to start organising things like crèches.

Anyway, the white men who dominated the billing for some of these conferences for however long have sometimes objected. Some seem to particularly object to the idea that there might be small children at a conference or that funds are being used to pay for them.

The thing is that there is only so much of their shit that one can possibly listen to. If white male professors are going to object to the possibility of seeing a mother breastfeeding in a conference hall, then there isn't very much listening that one can do.

What are you going to do? Nod carefully as someone says that they want their privilege protected so that a woman never really gets the chance because they're old and never had to face this change before? As if the idea that a mother's right to be an academic presenting at a conference is up for debate?

It seems to me that this is in no sense a "purity test", it is simply facing the reality that there are women who need help going to conferences.

As I said, this is tangential to the NT example - however the reality is that the NT wants to expand their welcome to people beyond their usual constituency of middle-class heterosexual families and there are people who don't want that to happen. Either overtly because they don't want to welcome people who are different or because they don't want the NT to reflect anything beyond the Dunning-style version of aristocratic history of England or perhaps because they don't like their cosy club to be broken.

What are you going to do? Capitulate every time that a small hardened core of OAPs decide that something is happening that they don't like?

Or finally say that you've heard enough, that these people can use their consciences and not participate if they can't bring themselves to - but that you're not backing down just because they happen to feel a bit offended at the idea of welcoming people who are different to "their" NT property. Because for one thing they're a minority, for another they've had their own way for long enough, for another this is a temporary exhibition and for another this is just the damn way it is going to be for now on.

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arse

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