There is a short story I once read. It takes place in a small town, and every so often, the citizens of this town meet up in the city square for this big shindig. The whole purpose of this get together is to draw a name out of a hat- a name of one of the attendees. The winner of this drawing gets a free stoning- by their fellow peers.
We often see this within the Pagan community, where a fight breaks out, someone acts like an ass for no real reason (bolding for emphasis because there can be times and places - such as when someone openly attacks you, let’s not speak in absolutes, please) - and yet no one says anything. That, or one (or a few) person/s try to say something- only to receive the above treatment by others. Sometimes it’s by followers. But sometimes the BNP has the largest stone.
When this happens, what do we do? Is there anything that can be done?
It’s a tricky situation here, because if you provoke the BNP (large stone and all) you could then have followers coming after you- which is bad enough as it is. Conversely, you could become the spectacle for your peers in which the BNP bludgeons you to death while no one does anything - or worse, your public stoning gets 479875 likes (in the story referenced above, a lady’s name was drawn, and she cried out for her husband to help her, as he handed a rock to their son).
So how does one behead such a monster? Why do we allow it to go on repeatedly?
Every time a public stoning happens (and every time we continue to allow them to happen) we teach the newbs in our “community” that this is an un-safe place. Don’t you dare open your mouth or ask any questions because you will get stoned to death in a public forum. And not only will you get stoned, you will get stoned by some of the biggest names in the building. And not a single soul will do a damned thing about it.
And what then? How many great people do we lose due to our indifference? How does allowing this to go on truly benefit any of us in the long run?
The answer - as always - is that it doesn’t. Every time we allow this type of thing to occur, we shoot ourselves in the foot. Every time we degrade our debating and discussion skills into “OMG YOU GONNA LEARN TODAY THAT YOU ARE THE DUMBEST POOPY HEAD IVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE AND YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED BECAUSE HOW YOU SO DUMB?” we come off as illiterate fools and drop the IQ of everyone who happens to come across the scene.
And what gets me more is that every time someone tries to actually do something about it they are labeled as being overly sensitive tone police. Because everyone in this place seems to be a teenager with a complex (you know the one- the “you’re not the boss of me! don’t tell me what to do!” complex). Any time someone tries to say “Hey, you know- you’re being a bit hypocritical” or “you know, you’re being kind of an ass”- they get stoned as well. No matter which angle you take- you lose.
This has to stop.
This benefits no one. Respect amongst our peers should not be such a commodity. It shouldn’t be so hard to have a civil discussion. And I’m sure that some people think that “you have to talk that way in order to make people see ‘the light’.”
No. No you don’t.
You know why? Because those who really want to learn will be open to the idea that they could be wrong or misinformed. And those who aren’t open to new ideas?
They will simply shut you down (and are more likely to do so if you jump down their throat uninvited).
You know how I know?
Because I see certain BNPs do it every. Single. Day.
And no amount of niceness or crassness changes their mind. No matter how you phrase your objections or ideas- you are instantly wrong wrong wrong. And screw you on top of it.
So if it doesn’t work on a BNP, how do you think it’s going to work on someone who is new?
The answer is- it doesn’t.
I know I am a crack-smoking, kumbaya singing hippy for even suggesting the idea, but how about we all grow up and learn to be respectful, huh? Or at least learn when our pot is calling the kettle black, and when someone legitimately says “Hey, you’re being a hypocritical dick” we actually listen to the idea- and change it- instead of sticking to our assiness like it’s some badge of honor.
Because it’s not a badge of honor. Being a dick is not a badge of honor.
It’s just being a dick.