Random Thoughts and Musings by moi

Musings by a feisty, opinionated Deaf gal who wants nothing but the best for her community and her people

mardi 9 janvier 2007

Concrete Reasons Against Anonymous Attacks

As I sleepily and groggily read Chris Leon's latest entry, I read this amazing comment about why not-so-positive comments written under the guise of anonymity destroys unity. We all know why, but it was spelled out so clearly that I just had to highlight it here. This response contained salient issues and points that need to be considered, touching upon so many issues, including our children, dispelling a myth about hearing culture, and a lot more. Whether or not readers agree with his assessment of Chris Leon's and Ricky Taylor's blogs should not be the issue - what he is saying as a whole is so much more than that, exploring cultural norms (both hearing and deaf), thoughts about the next generation of deaf people, and more.

Thank you, DE, for posting this thoughtful treatise that encourages honesty and constructive criticism when appropriate, but makes it starkly clear why personal attacks are so destructive.

Found at: http://chrisleon.wordpress.com/2007/01/08/ridor-threatens-to-sue/
14. DE | January 9th, 2007 at 6:04 am

Aidan- as always, your comments are soothing and that “let’s get along” tone of yours is infectious. Keep being yourself, Aidan. I admire you.

Chris’ post is very reasonable. Yes, he is correct that responsibility begins with the individual. However, negative comments could (and has) cloud(ed) the blogger’s agenda, stance, image, or whatever. I’ve seen people complain that “Chris said this” or “Ridor said that” only to find that it was an anonymous commenter who made that remark, not the bloggers themselves. Sometimes people would even claim that Chris or Ridor themselves are overwhelmingly negative, hateful, and crossing the line. I often have to return to their ORIGINAL entries, and I see none of those “negative, hateful, and crossing-the-line” energy in the bloggers’ writings.

Not only that, anonymous comments that are personal, cross the line, and simply hateful gets in the way of Deaf unity. Why anonymous comments fundamentally violate and prevent our Deaf culture from thriving–

1) Deaf culture is heavy on social context. We collectively discuss issues, and like to know who said what. Anonymous comments warps that. Majority culture (i.e. hearing capitalist societies) that emphasizes individualism might have no problem with anonymous comments- they don’t live with those people. Deaf people, on the other hand, do have suspicions who made that negative comment anonymously, and have to struggle with that. That’s why Deaf people, in person, continue to complain that “anonymous comments” are not acceptable in our culture.

2) English. While English AND ASL (or any country’s Sign Language) are our languages, discourse is more honest face-to-face. However, if one wants to post a critical comment in English, use your real name. That way, the criticized/accused has a chance to follow up with that person, and resolve issues. Simple. I’ve seen one situation where one Deaf blasted another Deaf, but used her real name. The accused offered to talk with the accuser over videophone. They did, and now they are working together beautifully on Deaf-related issues. Bottom line, discourse is not healthy if negative and personal anonymous comments are posted online. Discourse is much better when people face each other, and honestly share their thoughts, feelings, and hopes.

Even hearing non-profit organizations ban e-mail discussions, because “discourse is better in person”. Not all hearing people enjoy discussing online- many do prefer to talk in person, so they can catch the tone, implications, gestures, etc. We shouldn’t assume that online discussions are acceptable for hearing people- therefore they should also be acceptable in our culture.

3) Children do read those comments. Anonymous comments discourage our next generation of leaders from rising up and taking the reins. They’d see what commenters say about their parents, friends, and peers and probably will decide “It ain’t worth it. Deaf people are indeed vicious! Why should I join a non-profit organization, volunteer at Deaf events, plan a gathering, etc.?” Minority cultures place a high value on “futurography”- our children’s futures.

Ultimately, what is our goal? Bloggers may claim that they want the truth to come out, hold people accountable, etc. Sure. I believe that bloggers like Joey, Chris, Ridor, Mishakenza, Shane, Mike, Jared, etc. are for real and doing us a great service. But what are the personal/vindictive anonymous commenters’ agenda? Do these help elevate our discourse, support our leaders (of course, I don’t mean be nice to our leaders all the time! If they warrant feedback, by all means! Blunt criticism with a name attached, fine!), and improve our community? If they have a personal beef with people, they can simply contact that person and work things out then get back to the business of improving Deaf people’s lives. We have a lot of work to do.

I want to believe that deep down inside, all Deaf people- even those anonymous commenters, really want the best for our community. I hope so.