Anonymous asked:

I know your policy. And I don't disagree that the content of that specific excerpt is valuable. But insofar as context matters, and insofar as Pervocracy and the rest of the cowardly rape-fans who cloak themselves in the rhetoric of consent while simultaneously advocating for a whitewashed sexuality politic in which consent is first and foremost rooted in contractual permission-granting schemes are concerned, any value they embody is a byproduct of quoting them WITHOUT the rest of their context.

rolequeer answered:

If people ascribe value to them because I quote a thing they said, that’s entirely their choice. I’ve made it perfectly clear that nothing I quote is an endorsement of the person attached to it. I would quote Hitler is he had accidently said anything sensible about consent. 


[ETA: Thinking aloud here. This isn’t directed at you, personally, rolequeer. More at myself.]

Hm. I think all the anon is trying to say here is that when a person who is abusive or otherwise harmful to interact with has nonetheless created content that is valuable independent of its relationship to the creator, the ethical thing to do is appropriate that content and use it without crediting or linking to its problematic creator. 

I’m sure that myself and many other people have a strong resistance to this, because we had it drilled into us in school that “plagiarism is bad” and will get you in trouble or whatever. But think about it in terms of physical proximity to dangerous people: If your friend is sick and there’s a medicine that can make them better, but the only person who makes that medicine is a serial killer, it’s probably not unethical to steal the medicine from the serial killer and give it to your friend. Furthermore, it probably would be unethical to send your friend to the serial killer’s house to get the medicine themself. If you were going to do so, you should probably at least tell your friend, “By the way, you can go get medicine at this guy’s house, but be aware that he’s a serial killer.”

It’s not really an issue of endorsement. It’s an issue of invocation. You can quote Hitler all day long; he’s not going to show up on Tumblr and give us his opinion of rolequeerness. But because of the way the Internet works at a basic technological level, discussing the work of a living author on the open web is an invitation for that author to enter the space in which their work is being discussed — especially when we credit them by name and especially if we link to them. They may not accept that invitation. (I sure as hell hope the “kink blogger” in question doesn’t.) But hyperlinks literally increase the intimacy of the relationship between two pieces of work and, by extension, between the authors of those works and whomever they’re intimately connected to. (You can probably imagine that some folks are more sensitive to this kind of proximity, and more likely to feel threatened by someone they consider dangerous “standing” uncomfortably close to them, than others. #cyborg)

TL;DR: Sometimes, really problematic people say really useful shit. If it’s the content, not the context, that’s important, it’s probably both equally effective and morally preferable to steal that content outright and give it to people in way that doesn’t put them into closer proximity with someone who’s likely to wish them harm. In other words, maybe: Copy but don’t credit. Or credit but don’t link. Or link but caveat. Depending on your personal tolerance for “getting in trouble” for plagiarism (and how relevant the additional context actually might be) in a given case.

People already do this on Tumblr all the time, e.g. when they talk about something but then say, “I’m not going to link to the site/post the person’s name/whatever because I don’t want to drive traffic there. You can Google it if you want.” Or when they just post quotes and art and shit without naming the author.

Anyway, sorry, I don’t mean to be on your case, personally. I’m actually just kind of thinking through this myself, and thought it was a distinction worth talking about in public. I’m not sure I’d say that the “memesis vs. attribution” aspect of the Intellectual Property debate is a rolequeer issue, per se, but they are two discourses that seem like they could be in conversation with one another. Especially re: this idea that the Ethic of Attribution implicitly insists that people must be willing to be in close proximity to their abusers in order to benefit from any valuable work their abusers do. Hm…

That’s a really good point. I might start doing that. 

I do hope that doesn’t lead to people assuming that they can safely interact with the people I do mention though. I am notoriously bad at remembering names and I don’t keep a list of known abusers next to my laptop and if I did, that would still not mean that people not on that list were safe. 

Occasional casual reminders that reblogs are not endorsements of the person and that I do not waste my time on background checks might be in order.