I woke this morning to an email announcing a friend's new blog, with a lead story about a Marie Claire blogger who has been gaining some, shall we say, notoriety after a recent post she wrote entitled (oh my god yes this is actually the title): "Should Fatties Get a Room?"
Let me just say that it was not a very nice article (understatement), directed pretty cruelly at the overweight, and it has caused a lot of virulent anger all over the web. There are 994 comments associated with the offending post and most all of them say, in a nutshell: "I hate you, you bigot". Marie Claire has taken a quiet position of defense , not taking the post down, and apparently not firing said blogger, which doesn't seem to me like the smartest decision in the world, as I will for sure not be buying an issue anytime soon...
HOWEVER, what interested me way more than the offending blog post (which sounded, really, just like a lot of school-yard snobbery), was the reaction, and the reaction to the reaction, and the reactions to the reaction to the reaction. Which went a little something like this
1. Blogger writes hasty and insensitive blog post.
2. People get FURIOUS and start writing FURIOUS comments to said blog post.
3. Blogger tries to respond in comments, then quickly realizes that she's made 1,000 people angry overnight, just as quickly realizes that these 1,000 people are just the ones who are commenting and that there's probably a lot more angry people out there, and so amends post with luke-warm apology.
4. People don't care. People still mad. People still writing angry comments. Other online fashion sites are chiming in, chastising Marie Claire and this blogger. Blood in the water!!
5. Blogger tries to move on, blog about other things.
6. People don't care. People STILL writing furious comments, even on her new posts which include tips on "how to know if he's the one" and some uninteresting gushing about Jane Austen.
7. Blogger's other readers getting frustrated on blogger's behalf and writing posts telling everyone else to back off.
8. Commenters say, "Blogger, you're a bully!"
9. Blogger says, "Sorry!"
10. Other readers say, "No, commenters, YOU'RE the bullies!"
etc., etc., etc..
Reading the comment streams was like watching some terrible yet hypnotic reality show. Everyone is angry. Everyone is convinced they're right. Some people are being very confessional, some people are just being crass, and about every ten posts there is some very sensible comment pleading compassion and thoughtfulness.
There's something very familiar about all this...
Oh, I know! It's just like listening to election coverage!!
This writer voiced some very shallow and very cruel opinions in a public forum and I am completely in agreement with peoples anger. I'm shocked that she hasn't been fired by Marie Claire--but, who knows, maybe they love the PR, negative or not. What I'm NOT in agreement with, however, is the tirade of hate and insult (one commenter actually said he thought she was the spawn of Satan) that follows in the wake of something like this.
It's difficult, when there is blatant cruelty happening, or ignorance, or whatever it is, to not want to start throwing spears at the offender. It's difficult not to want to SHOW said person how WRONG they are...I was composing my own little rebuff in my head as I was scrolling through the comments section...but it is just not ever going to get us anywhere. I firmly, truly believe (and if I get 994 comments about this, so be it) that calling a name-caller names is never the answer.
Hatred is hatred. Cruelty is cruelty. Even if I feel entirely justified, even if EVERYONE else would say that I'm entirely justified...it's still hatred. And if I'm calling some woman worthless and the spawn of satan...well then I've just created a pretty divisive world for myself to live in.
Because it's MY mind and MY heart and MY body that I have to live in. It's not this apartment, this city, this country, this planet--it's the landscape of my own heart and mind that I occupy--and if I'm building walled off places for the good and the bad and claiming my rights to hatred because the BAD people did something BAD, then I'm living in a police state, no matter who the government is.
(Sorry, I had to get some yoga in there somewhere...)
Anyhow, I would love to know what you all think about all this, because there's a big question mark here about how it is we remain compassionate without being democrat--I mean, doormats. How can we be fired up about silencing bigotry and hatred WITHOUT falling into the trap of bigotry and/or hatred ourselves?