I shared a longer version of this with our online community today and with our Patreon members, and I'm putting it here on the blog because our community extends beyond our forums. (If you didn't know we're building an old-school forum [with awesome, contemporary tech and features], well, we are! I've been terrible about mentioning it here on my website, but here's the gist. I hope to see you in there!)
Ravelry has announced a new policy yesterday, banning expressions of support for President Trump and his administration, equating such support with support of white supremacy. If you haven't seen it, please read it. It's succinct, direct, and clearly not intended to stoke a flame war, though you can probably imagine the deeply polarized response to it (it's a Twitter dumpster fire is what I'm saying).
I'm going to hit pause for a sec and tell you about a photo I posted on Instagram last night. It's of a demonstrator holding a sign at a rally I attended yesterday in support of transgender rights.
The sign in the photo reads “Be careful who you hate. It could be someone you love.”
Words to live by, really. (If, like, not hating in the first place isn't an option?)
The reason I'm bringing it up is that I'm pretty sure it's the most “hearted” photo I've posted so far this year, and in the day since I posted it my total follower count on IG went down by exactly two (then went up by two, so).
I live and work in a bubble, is what I'm saying.
Most of my colleagues who post about supporting the rights of any marginalized group often experience a shitstorm whenever they do so, no matter the platform they're using. People rage-unfollow them, attack them with vicious verbal abuse, and occasionally said abuse turns to outright physical threats.
I suppose that over the years, I've opened my mouth about enough things that the only people left who follow my work are those who either agree with me or accept that my opinions are part and parcel of their enjoyment of my work.
So, back to Ravelry's announcement and our community.
The last time I hosted an online community was Crochet Me, and that was a community that pretty much built itself while I tried my damnedest to keep up.
This time around, we're starting slowly, and we're starting very consciously, and we're taking the time to discuss how we want our community to be and how we're going to make it something we value and love and use to connect us meaningfully to other people all around the world.
When I first put the new community site together, I wrote a blurb about it being an inclusive space where intolerance will not be tolerated.
I had and continue to have a tremendous amount of faith that the social bonds that tie us together in our creative adventures are the strong kinds of ties that, even if we disagree with each other about any number of things, will always lead us to be respectful of each other and to always, always support each other's right to live and breathe and thrive in this world.
I have recently been reminded, though, that there are some (many) circumstances that should not be left up to faith in the goodness of others.
I will be fleshing out the inclusion policy of our community this week. It will boil down to: All people are welcome here, all opinions are welcome here except those that deny the rights of anyone or any people.
I always think in terms of human rights. We all deserve them, we are all entitled to them. Making sure all people have them does not take away from any one person's or group's possession of them. Therefore, we do not, under any circumstance, assert that any person or group is undeserving of human rights. This includes rights to exercise bodily autonomy, to freely love, to be fed and clothed, to receive medical care, to practice religion, to speak out, to vote, to express any gender identity, to have access no matter one's physical ability, to be of any colour, size, ethnicity or nationality.
This is not about politics. Politics is about which approach to take to ensure all people enjoy these rights. Claims that denial of rights to certain people(s) is a matter of politics is a gross misstatement. Denial of rights to certain people(s) is bigotry. This is where Ravelry's ban on expressions of support for Trump and his administration comes in – the president and his people have repeatedly denied rights to a variety of groups, and they have repeatedly shown sympathy or downright support of individuals and groups that are violently hateful.
Bigotry will find no home in my work, or in our new and wonderful community.