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In SXSW Republic, civility choose you

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My guest post was going to be a few weeks from now and about medical care, but this is happening:

BuzzFeed and Vox Media* threatened to pull out of the SXSW festival after the conference organizers canceled two panels, including one related to harassment in the video gaming industry.

SXSW 2016 (Motto: Safety is a top priority and so is your voice) cancelled the panels because:

…event staff had received “numerous threats of on-site violence related to [the] programming.”

How unpleasant to be sure. SXSW responded to BF & VM by emitting a dense cloud of pablum titled “Strong community management: Why we cancelled two panels for SXSW 2016.”

SXSW prides itself on being a big tent and a marketplace of diverse people and diverse ideas.

However, preserving the sanctity of the big tent at SXSW Interactive necessitates that we keep the dialogue civil and respectful. If people can not agree, disagree and embrace new ways of thinking in a safe and secure place that is free of online and offline harassment, then this marketplace of ideas is inevitably compromised.

Slow-motion replay:

  1. Some unknown number of people behave uncivilly in response to panels at SXSW that touch on diversity.
  2. SXSW responds by shouting “Le yipe!” and kills the panels in order to preserve its sacred safe secure big and above all civil, tent. That contains the marketplace. Selling hot, fresh ideas.
  3. At least the tent will be sacred, safe, secure ‘n civil for people like Hugh Forrest.
  4. And what’s available at the marketplace will be subject to approval by anyone who can access the internet.

Is Hugh Forrest, SXSW’s clichewrangler thug enabler interactive director a tossbeast, perhaps a secret regarder of the gamer-gaters? Don’t know. And really, don’t care. He’s an excellent example of why people who insist on civility above all else are the height of uncivil.

Civility does not now, nor will it ever mean that when less than 100% of the population agrees to behave like rational human beings, one should turn to the people who are behaving like RHBs and say “Gosh guys, we’d love to let you do your little [finger quotes] thing, but some people are getting nasty about it. Maybe next year (decade, century, after the first ice-dancing competition in hell)?”

A person who thinks that letting whoever dials in the best threat control events = civil, that person is deluded. Or a liar. Maybe both, the human mind can perform some fascinating tricks.

And on the subject of mind games, there’s Forrest’s use of the word diverse. Twice. In one sentence. I can’t help but wonder what hell he thinks diverse means, especially when laid next to his definition of civility. It appears to be whatever mixture of people and ideas the nastiest portion of the species is OK with. I suspect that to Forrest it is word that one uses because it resonates with the kind of people who will fork over lots of cash to attend SXSW.

It certainly isn’t anything he thinks worth defending.

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