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Originally I was just going to pack my bags and leave quietly, because this is some disgustingly offensive shit, and impossible to just ignore, as you so disingenuously suggest; I want no part of a site that permits and even encourages this kind of monstrosity (and look at the rep! Christ!). But in the end quiescence struck me as cowardice. I am a man who believes, strongly, in moral terms, in being a loudmouth. So:

Smacking rating labels on others' work for the sake of your own bullshit fringe politics? Claiming to act in defense of a hypothetical group of readers who, if they exist, are so sensitive they shouldn't be let out on the Internet at all unsupervised, let alone E2? Classifying material as offending on your own unilateral judgment (or how else do you determine it? Do you find someone traumatized to read your candidates and see what puts them into catatonia?)? All this is too reprehensible for words. Calling it »social justice« when it's the opposite of either of those things only adds insult to injury, but it's a pretty serious insult.

Let us be clear: it's only nominally that this constitutes any kind of objective system of protection; you just say it is. In reality it is the sequence of prejudices and valuations of yourself, user Aerobe, personally, given flesh. You could have asked people voluntarily to add disclaimers at the beginning of strong writing; you could have created the categories and only added writeups to them at the author's request, you could have shown even a slight bit of humility concerning your own beliefs, &c. &c. There are any number of solutions which allow the writers to control the presentation of their own writing. But you didn't use any of those. Instead, you opted to force your own ideas on their work — and your choice from all available options of the specific terminology of a bunch of pop-shithead authoritarians is as telling as it is revolting. Because, of course, the only real drawback to any of those other approaches is that if given the option, some people would inevitably opt out. And we can't have dissent, can we?

(Here I must remark that I really find it troubling that, even here, among reasonably intelligent, educated people, almost nobody can apparently tell the difference between just naming something, let's say, »justice«, and it actually being justice. I find myself wondering if you people would support the Klan if only they renamed themselves »The Equality And Fairness Initiative«.)

I'm pretty sure this operation is a complete perversion of what categories were supposed to be for — but even if they really were coded for this kind of shit, that doesn't make it any more acceptable. As I understand it there is also now a tool for actively censoring out the writeups you've decided are offensive — to be perfectly frank it sort of staggers me that even a single person can condone that, let alone dozens. The whole thing is not only despicable in itself, although that would be enough, but a slippery slope to even worse censoring »for the good of the users«. Even if you were acting in favor of a remotely sensible belief system, this would be goddamn abominable.

(Incidentally, and as a total aside of the sort I've never been able to avoid, the slippery slope is a lot less of a fallacy than some people would like it to be. The most famous example of slippery-slope reasoning I can think of offhand is a quote by Heine: »das war ein Vorspiel nur: dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen«. Go on, call him wrong. NOTE: Apparently this requires clarification, despite my stating it at the start of the parenthesis: this is an aside, a curio, and to be read as unrelated to any of the rest of this node!)

This, all this, is replacing the good with the appearance of good. Cheap fucking pharisaism. I've said several times that I couldn't imagine anything other than a changed policy on the ownership of users' work that could make me pull mine; that just goes to show you how far I was from imagining anything this fucked up could actually be permitted here. Not even Wikipedia, that hulking monster of bad decision-making, has any policies quite this stupid.

In short: If this is who we are now, it isn't »we« anymore; it's »you«. I'm out.


That's it. That's all.

I assert that the new categories are an objectively good thing. I base this on the fact that they will reduce the chance of harming a few while increasing the freedom of all others. From a strictly utilitarian standpoint, anything which does more good than harm is good.

Those who discuss rights and privileges have all heard or said something like your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. This is a statement of a fact which I don't think anyone can disagree with: some rights take priority over others. A major role of government is defining which rights rank above which others, and E2's government is a democracy with editor representatives.

So let's translate that old adage into the terms of the current situation. "Swinging" is "writing." A "fist" is "a graphic or gratuitous description of violence which some might find triggery". And the "nose" is, of course, an affected person's "trigger."

Now, if we can agree that freedom to swing fists is limited by the close proximity of noses, we can agree that giving people a chance to dodge and get their noses out of the way increases the fist-swinger's freedom to flail. Attaching a warning tag to a writeup which has even the slightest chance of triggering someone gives those who expect to be triggered a chance to "dodge" that possibility. Thus, the debate as to whether triggery writeups should be tagged as such without permission of the writeup's author is equivalent to a debate as to whether the fist-swinger should always be allowed to choose whether to punch the space currently occupied by someone's face before giving them a chance to move out of the way. But they don't have the right to indiscriminately punch people in the face, so why should they be given the choice to leave the presence or absence of a nose in that space up to chance?

We should take it as a given that the possibility of triggering susceptible individuals overrides any and all claims of having control over one's own data. That privilege to control ends where it starts to make other people intensely unhappy.

Thus, the discussion we should be having is not "Is it better to allow users to opt out of tagging their triggery writeups with trigger warnings, or to insist that all triggery writeups be tagged?" The only debate where both sides are equally ethical is "Should we try to make sure all triggery writeups are tagged so susceptible individuals can avoid them, or should we delete and forbid triggery writeups altogether?" And in this debate, involuntary tagging is the clear winner, since the latter option constitutes unneeded censorship.

Your limitations on where I can swing my fist should rightfully end where your nose does. Why limit freedoms where they don't come into conflict with more fundamental rights?

Now to address this ridiculous idea that the category tag is censorship or is a slippery slope to censorship. First of all, as I wrote above, it is the only ethical alternative to censorship. It exists in the place of censorship. But let me attack the actual crux of this argument instead of dancing around it.

The fundamental concept in this argument is that authors of E2 writeups should have control of how their content is presented. What a strange world it is where anyone can ever conclude they have control of anything they say after it leaves their lips. The irony is that it is exactly that attitude that leads down the slippery slope to censorship. This site is modeled on the idea that the users have complete control over the writings they publish: they can edit or delete them at will; they retain copyrights over them. However, the infrastructure surrounding the writeups is not intended as a part of that creative work. Nodes, writeuptypes, categories, and softlinks exist to organize that information so that it is convenient to retrieve and relevant to other users' interests. The community as a whole decides how these writings are presented. Otherwise, why would it be up to the other users to promote and demote these writings, or to attach them to categories?

Another viewpoint is that this category is a unilaterally assigned judgment about the works it is used to label. But this is nonsense. The only judgment being exercised is "Is it triggery?" There is no one claiming that triggery works can't be perfectly legitimate and even artistically appealing works.

Lastly, these categories do absolutely nothing to shield the users from questionable content. It merely provides up-front information for those who want to exercise their right to nose around the site without impaling it on any flying fists.

I want to thank Aerobe for taking the initiative for moving this site in a more ethical and just direction. I am not personally one of the "hypothetical" people for whom this addition does the most good, but I call several such people my friends, so it is good to know that people here are keeping their interests at heart too. If the only negative thing that happens as a result of this is that an ignorant and close-minded loudmouth ragequits to return to a life of enjoying privilege without having to notice its existence, then this change has created nothing but benefits for the community.

Okay, let's begin.

So hi.

I will attempt to seize the middle ground here, or at least explain and contrast the points of view.
I guess to start I'd like to note that while I am for Trigger warnings, perhaps better named content warnings, with an opt-out system, I do understand Clockmaker's point of view.

It seems that one of the main problems Clockmaker has with the trigger warning categories is the issue of choice. quintopia rebuts saying while the content is under the control of the author, the site is not. Now, this is only half true. E2 has a long standing history of having users voices heard in the making of decisions and a culture based around users developing and controlling the site to a large extent. Aerobe has stated that the categories are in fact up for discussion but admittedly, that was not as clearly conveyed as it could have been. Without that explicit mention, it seems very much like something that will be instituted, with or without user consent. quintopia notes that the E2 community as a whole decides things, but as Clockmaker certainly noted, when was the voting? What Clockmaker seems to be asking for is a community discussion on both if trigger warning categories should be instituted as well as on what constitutes a trigger.

*addition - Clockmaker is also asking that the categories be opt-in for everyone, including retired/fled noders, and that the categories stay as simple categories maintained by Aerobe and not an official part of site policy.

* additions - I forgot about the Virgil writeup on them! Now that in my opinion was a bit of an interesting move. It certainly makes it feel more official, and less open to discussion. Aerobe mentioned in the catbox that she made the Virgil page to help educate new users on the subject. However, this does strongly imply that the trigger warnings will be implemented. I disagree with the Virgil page since the trigger warnings are new and still being discussed. If a Virgil page is to be made, it should wait until everything has been hashed out. Oh, and it also makes it more official than just a category and makes it a part of site policy which at this moment is unclear since Aerobe is a user as well as an admin.

I'd like to node that quintopia describes E2 as a democratic republic with editors and admins as our representatives. This is of course not entirely true since they aren't voted in.

On a side bit of fun, Aerobe didn't really have to do any of this as an admin. I mean, as I understand it, anyone can make just about any kind of category they want and just add stuff to it. But that moves us nicely to a term we have to define in this discussion.

Category. I feel as though instead of a category, Clockmaker sees the trigger warnings as more of a Label. Labels make people uncomfortable.


quintopia states, "We should take it as a given that the possibility of triggering susceptible individuals overrides any and all claims of having control over one's own data. That privilege to control ends where it starts to make other people intensely unhappy."
But this is an assumption. You do not have a right to not be offended. But it gets tricky because this is not in fact about being offensive. Still, the principle is at least partially applicable. Taking quintopia's metaphor, one view is that the right to swing fists ends at someone's nose, therefore we should tell people that fists are swinging, which is a valid standpoint. On the other hand, I believe that Clockmaker is trying to say that fists are swinging in general, within everything2, and it is a person's own responsibility to avoid those fists, which is also a valid standpoint.

Currently, Aerobe has made a public statement that users can opt out of the trigger warning categories which is certainly the best way to institute them since given out large userbase and long list of retired and fled noders, asking for permission from each beforehand is extremely difficult if not impossible. However, what Clockmaker is asking for is not only for users to be able to opt out but whether or not the categories should be instituted at all and who should decide on what is put in them.

I feel like I summed it up. But for fun, I will be making a user poll about this so keep an eye out for it.

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