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seanan_mcguire: Sometimes You'll Never Know Why
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you're going to offend people. Sometimes you'll never know why.

Things I have done in the past week that someone has found offensive: listened to loud, "weird" music. Had an opinion about whether or not people who aren't me should be allowed to make decisions about my body. Enjoyed bad science fiction. Had my hair highlighted in preparation for the Hugos. Implied that there's a double standard in how women are expected to dress for the Hugos vs. how men are expected to dress for the Hugos. Implied that it's more expensive to be female. Bought children's toys for myself. Bought children's toys for a child. These are just the things I know about mind you, and I only know because in each case, someone told me. I'm not sure why most of these things were offensive. I don't actually want to know. And that, right there, probably offends someone.

I do my best to Marilyn Munster my way through life, leaving fields of happy zombies and sparkly plagues behind me. Sadly, though, nothing is that inoffensive. Not unless it's, say, a rock, and even that will offend, if it gets into somebody's shoe. There is no way to avoid giving offense. Not if you're a thing that actually exists.

And it can be hard, as someone whose audience is largely online, to deal with the thought that I might accidentally offend someone, lose potential readers, and wind up living in a cardboard box next to the creek. My cats aren't supposed to go outside! (This is the "worst case scenario" mindset. It kicks in when I think I've upset someone. My brain is a theme park that hates me.)

This is something I need to remember, myself, particularly when I get hit by one of those "I can tell what the person found offensive, but I can't for the life of me tell what they find offensive about it" moments. Or even better, the "someone is terribly offended at something I didn't say but they think I did," which tends to stick in my craw even worse.

The other thing I've learned the hard way, is there's no point in trying to defend yourself. People dig in and just go after you all the harder. All you can say is "I'm sorry to have offended you" and bow out, regardless of whether you think it's a fair reaction or not.

(Once, when I expressed the opinion that an anthology of "LGBT zombie stories" was a goofy idea, I got all kinds of vitriol from people claiming I hated LGBT folks and wanted to keep them out of literature. Every attempt I made to point out that I hadn't said that, didn't believe that, and resented being told I did, just made two more people jump on the "Gneech hates gays" bandwagon. Eventually there was nothing to do for it but walk away.)

Of course, if you do think they have a fair point, acknowledge and own up to that. Truth is more important than your pride.

-The Gneech


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 20th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
Once, when I expressed the opinion that an anthology of "LGBT zombie stories" was a goofy idea, I got all kinds of vitriol from people claiming I hated LGBT folks and wanted to keep them out of literature.

The only way to deal with these people is to - "ahem" - go right back on the offensive at them. How? Well, for me, the obvious way in this case would be to say, "Oh, you want LGBT zombie stories? You obviously hate LBGT people and think they're monsters! You know what? You're the monster, homophobe!" Then walk away, while they're spluttering and trying to defend themselves. The sheeple in the audience will take care of putting your antagonists out of your misery. (And no, that wasn't a typo...)
Aug. 20th, 2012 04:37 pm (UTC)
Ehhhh... not my style. :)

Aug. 20th, 2012 05:02 pm (UTC)
*Nods* It can be a problem. It stopped being as much of one for me when I decided that the sort of person who would mischaracterize my position (or make one up for me) and then strawman that position in order to score points deserved neither my mercy nor my sympathy. Many of them are not the brightest, but they can be taught that poking at me results in (usually emotional) pain, and that they're much better off not poking at me.

It took rather less time than I was expecting for them to learn, too. Which means that I underestimated either their intelligence or my skills at using Pavlovian techniques on them. Since I am not particularly renowned for underestimating myself (probably deservedly so, I must admit), I am forced to concede the rather surprising proposition that these people may not be quite as stupid as I thought they were. Food for thought.
Aug. 20th, 2012 05:38 pm (UTC)
It defies even the barest hint of reason to think that the man who created the character of Drezzer Wolf could be anti-gay.

And as a gay man I have to say the LGBT Zombie Stories would be an utterly silly notion.

Although I do freely admit to being openly biased against zombies - and zombie stories.

Edited at 2012-08-20 06:16 pm (UTC)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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