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I like guns, or discussing unpopular opinions

September 5, 2008

Its true, I like to shoot guns. Now that the handgun ban has been lifted in my area I am considering taking a class and purchasing one of my very very own. I have lived with guns all my life, and consider it a matter of personal safety as well as sport. (From what if someone breaks into my house, to what if there is a cataclysmic emergency and I need to be able to defend my home/family/pets from other people, or even worse, the government.) It is a paranoid and possibly delusional viewpoint. But as long as anyone in this country has a gun, I want one too.

What is the point of this?

Lindsay’s post today about withdrawing from the fatosphere feed has made me realize that I do tend to censor some of my less liberal opinions in the fatosphere. The vague idea I got from her post and comments is that 1. People have been bringing politics into the fatosphere and that makes people who disagree with them uncomfortable. (I myself am guilty of the politics thing, I miss my political blog.) 2. People who have opinions that differ from the fatosphere mainstream don’t feel comfortable speaking up about them.

I respect Lindsay’s decision to leave the feeds. When you realize something is not for you, or that it is not making you happy the correct decision is to take action to change that. So this post is not an attack on her in any way, I am just trying to foster discussion. (Also, I do not read the fat liberation feed and am not really clear on what lead to its creation so if I’m totally missing something as a result feel free to correct me in the comments.)

It’s not that surprising that this issue is coming up now. The fatosphere is supposed to be this safe space to discuss fat issues and make everyone feel warm and fuzzy. As such there is a lot of heavy duty comment moderation, and a lot of echo chambery-goodness. Oh sure we have disagreements, but they are usually disagreements how much more inclusive we could possibly be. It’s sortof like arguing over which shade of red you are going to paint the living room, important, but we’re not exactly talking about orange versus blue here. It’s still a shade of red.

And now politics has infected the American consciousness for a time, and people disagree, but we are so used to this being our warm fuzzy echo chamber that reading about how someone supports the person we are being taught to loathe by our respective political affiliations on the feed is like getting punched in the face by your teddy bear. (Sorry international folk! We’ll be over it in time for Christmas hopefully.)

Do I think politics really belongs on the fatosphere feed? Not really. In an ideal world I would like to be able to tag fat related posts to put into the feed and then post about a billion totally unrelated things on a day to day basis. People read this feed to talk about stuff related to fat, not to argue about who should be president.

However the fatosphere group think potential does concern me. It concerns me that people who may disagree on certain issues don’t feel comfortable speaking up. How are we supposed to improve as a movement, or learn more as individuals if we never hear opposing viewpoints? How do we make the right decisions if we only hear our own side of the story?

We certainly get enough opposing viewpoints from the media to keep us all quite busy. But I really think we can handle more respectful discussion. So I would like to encourage people to stand up for their opinions even if they don’t believe they are shared by the majority. If you don’t represent your own viewpoint, then no one else will. You might be surprised that there are more people out there that agree with you than you previously thought.

Things I will not tolerate in the comments-

  • Insults
  • Personal Attacks
  • “ist” language or comments of any kind
  • Insanity (repeating the same thing over and over with the expectation that someone will suddenly agree with you.)
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6 Comments
  1. Okay, so this:

    “reading about how someone supports the person we are being taught to loathe by our respective political affiliations on the feed is like getting punched in the face by your teddy bear.”

    Funniest.

    Line.

    Ever.

    Okay, proceed. 😉

  2. I think that as long as we (each on our own blog) make it clear that we welcome differing opinions, there shouldn’t be a problem. I blog about everything, and that includes politics. My political beliefs are inherent to who I am, and how I see Fat Acceptance. I can’t justify my views on FA without talking about my political beliefs. I have also made it amply clear that ALL opinions are welcome on my blog. Some of my most active readers disagree with me on a lot of issues, and I’m fine with that. I welcome a good challenge, and I respect people who stand up for what they believe in.

  3. I think some politics talk is absolutely appropriate in discussions of fat acceptance. Issues of reproductive freedom, for instance, pivot on the idea of body autonomy. Your body, your choices. The same logic applies to fat acceptance. You, and not the government or Jenny Craig, should be the one to make decisions about your body and health. And since I believe fat to be a feminist issue, I feel feminist topics are open-game in the fatosphere, even if they do not deal directly with issues of fatness. I view feminism as an umbrella for all marginalized peoples, regardless of gender. Ergo, advances in feminism supports advances in fat acceptance.

    My blog is an eating disorders awareness and education blog. My readers run the gamut, from emaciated people with anorexia, to morbidly obese people with binge eating disorder. There are also a lot of people lurking in those gray areas, fat and thin, who struggle with overcoming dieting and disordered eating habits, and/or with mental illness. So, when I blog about the presidential candidate’s positions on health care, such discussion is absolutely relevant and within the scope of fat acceptance.

    Fatness occurs in people of all ethnicities, genders, nationalities, socio-economic backgrounds, religions and cultures. While we may all agree that fat people shouldn’t be discriminated against, we are likely to disagree on everything else. This isn’t a negative; our strength lies in our diversity. Politics can be very divisive and can turn nasty fast, so I understand how many people with opposing positions may feel turned off by seeing such talk arise in spaces they consider to be safe and supportive. But the solution isn’t to discourage people from discussing politics, but to encourage more people to share their positions.

  4. In line with what Rachel is saying, this may not exactly be a solution, but I believe you can request of fat fu that only your posts tagged “fatosphere” (or whatever) go on the feed. This is how my blog is. It’s not so much because I want to talk about politics or taboo subjects as it is that I also like to navel-gaze about my running or talk about Michigan issues or homeownership or blah blah blah from time to time.

    It’s a tough slippery slope, because in my experience most people’s political opinions are not just political–they are also moral. So someone’s opinion on abortion or affirmative action is not really an area where you can go “OK, fine, we’ll agree to disagree.” Many bloggers on both sides of the political aisle believe, and I agree with them, that certain policy topics as well as racism and other prejudice are matters of great moral importance, and for some of them their comment policies reflect this. I can’t really find too much fault with that.

    I honestly don’t know what the right answer is because “opposing opinions” sometimes turn into bigoted or hate speech real fast, but on the other hand I agree in principle that it is better to have an open forum to air opinions. (Not opinions like “all you fatties should just go on a diet and lose weight and I think you should have to pay higher taxes until you do,” of course.)

    So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m totally on the fence here. I’m just glad nobody reads my blog so it’s not really a call I’ve had to make. 🙂

  5. I personally am not blogging about politics on my fat blog, but that’s because I started the fat blog specifically to talk about being fat. Maybe it’ll wear off in a year or so 🙂

  6. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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