In Which I Am Banned

Yes! I have reached that seldom-sought-after mark of distinction as a writer: I’ve been banned for something I wrote.

Admittedly, I’ve only been banned from posting in the main forums on a craft site, so I’m not exactly hiding in a damp basement huddled over a Gestetner while the Powers That Be burn my book in the streets. On which note: Restoration Day is print-on-demand – no fixed print run – so feel free to order and burn as many copies as you like. (Also make great Christmas presents!)

What I wrote was in response to Ravelry’s recent announcement that support for Trump and his administration would now be banned on their site, as it is “unambiguously support for white supremacy”. Trump supporters are still welcome, however, as long as they keep their tongue behind their teeth, i.e. as long as it isn’t evident that they’re Trump supporters.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am not a Trump supporter (nor a white supremacist). Not now, not ever. But nor am I of the school of thought that sees Trump as a dark blot upon what was, until now, the unstained escutcheon of the US Presidency.

This is what I wrote (warning: contains one crudity).

Hullo, Ravelry and Ravelers!

Being in a wildly different time zone to the moderators on the (at present locked) no-Trump discussion, I am venturing to say my bit here, trusting that it will be whooshed across if that is deemed appropriate.

My question, as part of the 95.73% of the world’s population that is not from the U.S.A., is: why is this different? Why this president in particular?

Every one of the US presidents since Reagan has been Commander in Chief of at least one war in which innocents were killed – wars over oil, wars over ideology, wars over who gets to wield influence in a particular region.

Barack Obama authorized extra-judicial executions of US citizens by drone, which also killed others travelling with them. If supporting Trump means supporting white supremacy, why doesn’t supporting Obama mean supporting extra-judicial executions?

If it’s the offences against immigrants and refugees that marks the difference, why is it not offensive to speak well of Obama, under whose administration similar outrages occurred, including splitting up families, imprisoning babies, and deporting women trafficked into sex work?

Or of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who ordered “the forced relocation and incarceration in concentration camps” of hundreds of thousands of Japanese & Japanese-Americans?

If it’s the racism, is it also offensive to speak well of Thomas Jefferson, who kept some of his own children as slaves because they had some black ancestry, and then left them as property in his will to his fully-white son?

If it’s the sexism and boasts of sexually assaulting women, is it also offensive to speak well of Bill Clinton? I don’t know what-all goes on in the White House, but as far as I know, Trump isn’t getting blow jobs from young female staff.

Why is speaking well of Trump taken as supporting everything he is and does, when the same is not true of other political figures? Is it just that he’s more blatant? Or has fewer redeeming features?

And how do you define “pro-Trump”? Is it forbidden to speak well of anything which Trump or his administration have ever done? If one writes on a Ravelry forum “I’m so glad Trump decided not to go ahead with airstrikes that would have killed 150 people. That would have been totally disproportionate!” is that sufficiently pro-Trump to get one banned?

Clear guidelines are needed so people know what is acceptable and what is not. Taking the example of Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister of New Zealand), and defining hate speech as “when you see it, you know it” is simply not acceptable, as it leaves people uncertain as to whether anything they say may or may not be construed as hate speech by others, including The Powers That Be.

I may say that I myself would not vote for Donald Trump if he was the only candidate in the known universe, but I don’t think that everyone who supports him is de facto a white supremacist, or accepting of white supremacist views in others. Too many, I fear, are simply lost in a fog of lies, misinformation, back-pedalling, fear and confusion, unable to discern what is true.

And if I’m frank, a lot of what Trump does smacks to me not of white supremacism per se but of American supremacism – something which is by no means limited to “Trump and his administration” – nor even his side of the American political divide.

I have asked for clarification as to why my post “breaks community guidelines” but have yet to hear back. Unless it’s the one crudity being deemed inappropriate for a general audience, it seems that I have fallen foul of the No Trump rule. Because “I myself would not vote for Donald Trump if he was the only candidate in the known universe” is not enough to clear me from the suspicion of supporting Donald Trump – and being, therefore, a white supremacist.

* * *

Update 27/6/19: I have been unbanned from the main Ravelry forums, it appears. But my post is still hidden and archived, and I am banned from commenting on it. No explanation has yet been forthcoming.

* * *

For further updates, see this post.

12 Replies to “In Which I Am Banned”

  1. Good grief! What has sewing got to do with freedom of speech? Can’t they just declare that they’re a politics free site? But good for you, for challenging their double standards.

    1. Ah, but they aren’t a politics-free site – even if they stuck to their knitting. Is it ok to knit a MAGA hat? Is it ok to knit a pink pussy hat? (Current answers: no and yes.) The personal and the political overlap.

      I think the general idea behind this move is to make some groups feel safer by banning speech that makes them feel unsafe. Ironically, that makes other people feel unsafe (will my words be taken as support and therefore as white supremacy/hate speech? What can I say? What can’t I say? I don’t feel welcome – maybe I should leave?). Of course, this was only supposed to target those who openly support Trump – but succeeding events suggest that others have cause to worry too.

      And possibly some people think Trump is The Problem, rather than a symptom of a much larger problem, so targeting Trump-speech will solve the issue, right?

      (Also it’s not a sewing site – it’s a knitting/crochet/spinning/weaving site. Sewists wish there was a Ravelry for sewing…)

  2. 1. I don’t see the need for political discussions on a craft/ knitting site. I’d like to ban Trump discussions from social media, but they will keep popping up (I use the ‘hide post’ button quite a bit). Glad to hear you’re allowed back in the debating chamber – just ignore that elephant in the chamber!

    2. Amazingly, this is the second time I saw the word ‘Gestetner’ in the last 12 hours!! I saw it on some sort of label to so with a stationery or printing company, and was trying to recall exactly what the last Gestetner I saw looked like, and how many decades ago it was. Possibly 4.

  3. At present I am a Ravelry member who’s head continues to spin trying to comprehend the logic and premise behind the new gag order there. I found your blog through your account page on Ravelry, which was linked to a follow-up post there. And here I am on this beautiful and new-to-me blog! You have quite a gift for expressing yourself, dear lady. Of course you need to do whatever it is you decide to do, but I, for one, am very grateful you’re still a member there right now and have articulated yourself so clearly to them (and through your blog, to any who passes through here). I have been stunned seeing so many articulate and thoughtful posts being deleted in the past 5-6 days. Reading your letter to them makes me wonder how many similar posts don’t see much daylight before they’re deleted. Glad to have found your blog, and now I’m going to subscribe via e-mail as I think I want to read more from you. 🙂

    As for myself, I have been a moderator of two groups for years and have referred people to Ravelry through weekly links on my blog. Going forward I know that has to end for me, but I haven’t quite put to rest whether or not remaining active on the Ravelry site is “unambiguous support” of the premise(s) behind their thoughts about those who support Trump…

    1. Thanks for stopping by – and for your words of encouragement!
      I think the intentions behind this policy were good – some people are saying nasty things and we don’t want to allow that – but the way it’s been carried out means they’re not only tarring with a very broad brush, they’re also treating anything but support for the policy as equivalent to hate speech. Thus draining away a lot of goodwill from a lot of people who don’t see why they should be gagged for civil discussion.
      Like you, I haven’t quite settled the question of staying or going, but I can’t see myself ever feeling quite comfortable there again, despite never having fallen into the category of those who are officially targeted by this ban.

  4. Thank you for putting so concisely into words exactly what I have been thinking ever since I read about this ban!

  5. I found your blog link thanks to your husband’s intro post on Open Ravel; I truly appreciate the perspective of someone from outside the USA.

    I took to reading as much of the archived posts as possible on the main thread (FTLOR) before they were blocked/locked/hidden away. (I took a screen shot of one in particular that said “R****** has just joined the Fourth Reich”.)

    Among those responses that were not hidden (I assume the original post said something about the 1st Amendment) was a gem that essentially said that it is a privately owned website and the owners have a right to dictate with whom they will or will not do business. What I find most ironic about that viewpoint is that same person probably feels that a Christian-owned bakery should be litigated out of existence for declining an order for a wedding cake in celebration of a same-sex marriage. Unfortunately, it appears that society has moved to a preschool stance of “you don’t like my (insert object/thought here) so I hate you”. Difference of opinion has been labeled as hate speech by those who don’t want to listen to other viewpoints. On a somewhat related note, I’m thinking of beginning a colony on Pluto and will be searching for rational people who can apply logic to most life situations to join me.

    1. It is disturbing the way disagreement is labelled as hate (and practiced as hate, by some).
      I dunno about Pluto though – I don’t think I’ve got enough knits for that level of chill. I might just stubbornly stay here 🙂

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