As with most philosophies, this can’t really be proven or disproven; there’s no sense trying to argue someone out of the opinion that Phil is an asshole for not acting the way famous people are supposed to act – or, crucially, for not acting the way *we* would act in his place. This is a popular argument because it’s an argument you can’t lose – no one can empirically prove whether Phil is or isn’t an asshole. What gets elided in this argument is the assumption that famous assholes – people who don’t act the way famous people are *supposed* to act – deserve to be *punished*.
- "This Is Phil Fish", Innuendo Studios, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmTUW-owa2w
(Content warnings on the full video for discussion of harassment, insults framed in terms of sexual assault, and bigotry.)
parenthetical elaboration, further discourse
(Yes, this is a subtoot. As usual when I engage in public subtooting, it is a subtoot of broad cultural or subcultural trends, not of the individual acts that inspired it.)
(Being an asshole does not make someone deserve punishment. There is a substantial and morally relevant difference between "problematic" and "campaigning for an ideology primarily shaped by a need to justify violence against outsiders and/or marginalized groups", and a substantial difference between "said problematic things" and "defends, facilitates, or engages in violence against real-world people less powerful than the perpetrators". To use justifications invented to defend violence against the latter as justifications for harassment of people associated with the former is wrong.)
callouts and accuracy (public redraft) (500 words, subtoots, pedophilia and harassment mentions, a bit of second-person at the end)
We've had ☝🏽 - a quote from the Innuendo Studios video on the harassment of Phil Fish - pinned for a while, and it's been there to say something we haven't tried to find a way to say explicitly. Somewhere between what Ian Danskin had to say about the attacks on Phil Fish, what Anil Dash had to say about online abuse - https://medium.com/humane-tech/the-online-abuse-playbook-575648c9f798 - what we've heard YouTube essayists talk quietly about, and what we've seen from people on Tumblr and on the fediverse, there's a pattern.
...I think the pattern is interpreting the facts towards "this person is evil".
People round the facts towards "this person is evil". Screenshots of the nineteenth tweet in a twenty-two tweet thread out of context. Chains of association - person A participated in person B's video, which also included person C, who years ago said something problematic - that assume everyone involved knows everything and is making deliberate choices about all of it. These two fictional characters, both of whom are canonically adults, having a relationship? Makes someone uncomfortable because the characters have a major age difference that can in the real world reflect a power differential that opens the potential for abuse ... and therefore this fictional relationship is pro-pedophilia propaganda and this real-world person who said they liked the movie with those characters in it is a pedophile.
And sometimes people will take those ideas are already interpretations-towards-evil and do the same process again.
And sometimes the harassment people do because of these ideas will get interpreted towards being innocuous. We saw someone who'd sent vicious DMs at their target describe those DMs as a joke, as part of a meme, and leave out the venom they filled that stock template with.
I want people to recoil when they see someone they hate being spoken of with this kind of intellectual dishonesty. When they see people making the facts worse than they are. We've seen a callout performed with careful, precise language that acknowledges in detail the ambiguity of the situation ... and be completely successful in meeting what I see as two of the three goals one might hope for from a callout: figuring out as a community what the truth is and getting an unrepentant bad actor in a community out of the community. (The third is "get a well-meaning person to learn something and do better", which I think in that case a lot of people tried and failed to accomplish.) There is /no cause/ to approach a callout by distorting the facts.
And, look: you, us, anyone, can't choose where strangers take our words when we point out bad ideas or bad behavior from people. But if we model due diligence and humility, I think we will have a different impact on the people listening to us than if we model axe-grinding, ire-raising, arrogance, and fury.
- 🦊 💭
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