BEING A BLOGGER DOES NOT GIVE US THE RIGHT TO SAY WHATEVER WE WANT

I really debated with myself about writing this.  I don’t want to add to the pain, but on balance, it is something that I need to say.  I need to write this.

Last week I subscribed to a blog.  It was a blog full of lovely things, and I’ve been struggling a bit emotionally lately, and needed something uplifting, so I subscribed.

Yesterday I received my first post.  I eagerly opened it and immediately my heart sank.

It was a post that could not have been more exclusionary, more against the very thing I stand for, if it tried.

It was a post that stood resolutely against the rainbow marriage-equality photos adorning Facebook at the moment, a post that openly called homosexuals unnatural sinners, and that marriage equality is not what (their) god wanted.

Shocked and without a second thought, I unsubscribed from the blog.

And then I felt bad about unsubscribing, because I sort of know the person who wrote it through another blog forum that I belong to and I really like this person and I know they are well liked by the other members too.  And suddenly, I didn’t want to go into that blog forum because that person would have known that I had unfollowed them.  And I didn’t want to be ostracised for that decision.  Because I’m an introvert and I really don’t do confrontation very well.  Plus I am a people pleaser and I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  But I really feel strongly about equality for all people, especially people in love.  Because love is important.  It makes us more kind, tolerant and accepting.

And suddenly, yet again, because of my very strong principles, I felt the need to leave another tribe.  Except I really liked this tribe.  Even though I hate the word tribe.

It is an accepting group, where we all dip in periodically to find support.  In fact, I never so much of thought of it as a tribe as a meeting place where bloggers from all walks of life and of all persuasions would come together to celebrate and commiserate.  And then head off again into our own worlds, only to come together at a later date for another chat.  It was a microcosm of how I imagined the world would one day look – inclusive, peaceful, tolerant of difference, non judgemental, safe to be whoever you wanted to be.  This place was, to me, sacred.

But yesterday it lost its sheen.

A discussion ensued.  I feel so uncomfortable talking about this.  It feels like a betrayal, but please bare with me.  I feel this is so important to say.

A discussion ensued.  I didn’t stay for long because I couldn’t.  I couldn’t face the exclusion, the justification, the insistence that they have a right to say these things, because it is in their heart.  The seeking for solace in that right.  I didn’t stay for the aftermath – the hurt, the demolition of the sacred space.

I woke up to that this morning.

People were hurt, they felt excluded, demonised and victimised.

And this is so much the problem with blogging.  We feel because we are bloggers that we have the right to say whatever we like in our little piece of cyber real estate.

But we don’t.

As bloggers, we have a responsibility.  We have a responsibility to think before we write.  Is this kind?  Will this hurt?  Indeed, is this appropriate?

It’s a fine line, between free speech and hate speech.

Being a blogger does not give us the right to say whatever we want.  It just doesn’t.  Not when words have the capacity to hurt so much.

Of course, the person who wrote that piece doesn’t feel it is hate speech.  For them, their love of their deity supersedes any human pain they may have caused.  For them, the decree of a two millennia old bible that a man will not lie with another man is justification enough to write that homosexuality is an unnatural sin and that marriage is only between a man and a woman.   It is justification enough that those words sting enough to make any homosexual readers feel less valued, less accepted, simply less.

I wrote about this recently.  I wrote how a fundamentalist’s “love” of god can be taken too far.  I wrote how if what they truly believe is true, it is not necessary to act as judge and jury on their god’s behalf.  Is not the point to love your fellow man no matter what?  Is that not the central tenet of faith?

Watching how people responded was very confronting.

And it ripped through the cyber space.

I watched as years of judgement, of not feeling good enough simply because you happen to love another person of the same sex, came rushing to the fore, like a caged tiger on the brink of being let out, finally to be set free, but the master toying with the key.

My heart simply broke.

And yet, as I woke up this morning to the aftermath, to my sacred group piecing together what had happened, processing it, coming together to support those who had really been affected, who had felt yet another blow because of who they choose to love, I could not help but think of the author of that post.  I could not help wonder how they were – because none of us likes to feel hated.  I could not help but wonder if they had any idea of the power of their words?  Did they continue to feel justified, unrelenting in the pain their words had caused? Did they understand the tidal wave and why it happened?  Did they understand that their belief in an unprovable god did not justify the declaration that homosexuals are unnatural sinners?  Did they even care?

I have no answers.

I only have what I believe.  What I have always believed.

That it is your right to believe and do whatever it is you want so long as it does no harm to another human being.

We are humans living a human existence.  It is not your job to thrust upon me your belief, nor declare the love two people feel for each other as an unnatural sin because they don’t fit your mould.  It is your job to live your life to the best of your ability according to whatever tenet you choose, but it is not your job to make me feel crap for how I live mine.  It is your piece of cyber space, yes, but surely kindness above all else should prevail?  Surely, in this crazy screwed up world, we should be seeking to build each other up, not tear each other down?

I think it will take time for the sacredness of our space to return.  Not for lack of will, but shock takes time to process.

In the meantime, I will continue to write, to stand for those in our society who need a voice, and even for those who don’t.

I will continue to stand for kindness.  Simple kindness.

And I hope you will stand with me too.

Much love and kindness to you,

SHW Signature

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20 thoughts on “BEING A BLOGGER DOES NOT GIVE US THE RIGHT TO SAY WHATEVER WE WANT

  1. Simply beautiful post. I feel the same. I stand for kindness too. I’m seriously considering taking time away from social media simply because right now, it doesn’t feel like a kind place at all.
    Hugs to you.

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    1. Hey there Leisa. Thank you for stopping by and thank you especially for your comment. I feel like that sometimes, like I want to hide, but I also like to feel connected to my friends across the world who used to be my life friends, but are now my online friends, so I stay with social media. I try to limit it though and I try not to focus on the unkindness. I try to focus on all that is good. Not easy, but I do try. I hope you can find some of that kindness too xx

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  2. Hey Sarah I only found your blog because of this very post in question. The way I see it, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but as a blogger we do hold a certain responsibility to not cross some lines. I have some views that I’d LOVE to write about and know I have every right to considering it’s my blog… but I know the fallout, repercussions and loss of readers would be devastating so it’s just not worth it. I pick my battles, or really try not to have any but you know what I mean! I am beyond thrilled that everyone is equal to marry now in the US 🙂 xx

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    1. Hey there Jackie. Thank you for your comment and I agree, I am thrilled that everyone is allowed to marry in both the US and Ireland. I am waiting for the day when friends can be afforded the same right here. Blogging does hold with it some responsibility, we do need to remember that. No-one is perfect and we have all done and said things that we shouldn’t. But as much as possible, kindness must be paramount, in my humble opinion. PS: Great blog you have there too 🙂

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  3. Just perfectly written Sarah. You have expressed exactly how I feel about the events of the past couple of days. Because really that is all it should be about. Say or do whatever you please. It is no business of mine … UNLESS it hurts another person. Thank you. PS: love your cute new header. x

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  4. Oh yes. I stand for kindness. I chose not to comment on that post, because I couldn’t do it with kindness. I chose not to engage in the threads that followed, because I couldn’t do it with kindness. I felt angry about that post for so many reasons. And yes, disappointed, because I also have loved that blog.
    I could not agree with you more. No matter how ‘justified’ in their doctrine people think they are, words are powerful things. Words that judge and words that ostracise are awful, no matter how much they are wrapped up in religion. It is a big part of why I left the church of my childhood. There, I experienced more judgement and hatred than I have since, being outside of a narrow and separatist culture. It’s very far from the culture they intended to create, but people who don’t test their thinking and fail to question things soon grow into small minded people who believe nastiness cloaked in righteousness is godliness. Well, God forbid. But it is happening everywhere. I don’t recall a single story from the bible where Jesus chose to hang out with churchgoers over marginalised and misunderstood people. Can’t say I blame him.
    Come on people. There’s no way forward without kindness.
    When are we ever going to get it together?

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly with every single thing you said. We just have to keep driving the point home, don’t we. Kindness over righteousness. Every time. Thanks for popping by Rachel. xx

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  5. Beautiful, heartfelt post Sarah. This articulates much of what I feel myself. Yesterday was a fateful day. I was reading some stuff on Facebook that I didn’t agree with, when I was supposed to be working, accidentally dropped my phone and broke it! It was like someone stepped in and said “Enough!”. I also agree wholeheartedly with the importance of kindness. I keep thinking of the poem I had posted last week and the last two stanzas which fortuitously sums up how I feel today: “So secretly we wish for a world of daily kindness/Our kids loosely wrapped in cotton wool/Sympathy and empathy/To love and be loved. Heated words of the past to disappear/No judgement or cruelty/Intelligence over ignorance/Each great day to last a lifetime.” p.s. Love your header too x

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    1. I read your post and that poem was beautiful and definitely apt in light of what happened. It was such an unfortunate turn of events from the post itself to the hate that ensued. I am glad I didn’t comment or get caught up in the furore. I just feel incredibly sad any of it happened. xx

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  6. Beautiful writing Sarah. I feel the same way. As I wrote yesterday, blog for yourself, except when it marginalises others.
    I am so disappointed and like you, I will continue to stand up for what’s right.

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    1. Thanks Carly and yes, blog for yourself, but not at the expense of others. And as long as there are those of us to stand up, that’s the important thing xx

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  7. Sometimes I think you have to choose the audience that you’re speaking to. I will rant at home about things that I would never say online – and it’s blowing off steam, not actual feelings. I think remembering that blogging is a two way conversation should remind bloggers to write for people who may read their blog – regardless of topic.

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    1. I think that is a very good way of looking at it Vanessa – a two way street. My husband also said a good measure is to ask yourself if you would stand on your front lawn and belt it out at the top of your voice. If the answer is no, don’t write it. Thanks for stopping by xx

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  8. Sarah, you are a brave a wonderful writer. I couldn’t agree more. Think before you speak, think before you write, I wish people would do some more of that.
    Sometimes I wonder if it is some strange attention seeking, I mean surely no-one would write ‘that’ post and not expect a serious retaliation. But then have the gall to be all upset about it, oh boy, this is why I have not joined in any ‘conversation’ about it.
    That was me walking off in the opposite direction everytime anyone started another thread about it.
    I too have unfollowed because I am tired of the controversy/attention seeking or whatever it is.
    I adore your little lady in your header by the way!

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    1. Hey Clare and thank you for your lovely comment (about the post and my new header). I was also that person walking away as forum after forum degenerated into a pit of anger and hate (on both sides). We cannot beat hate with hate and it really saddened me that this person was subjected to what transpired. But I also had to ask surely they knew going in the pain that they would cause, although I sure they had no idea just how that pain would manifest. I wish more people would simply ask before they write, am I being kind. It doesn’t seem that hard to me. Thanks again lovely xx

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  9. Sarah, thanks for this. I have been turning words around and around in my head, trying to think of a why to form them into a post. You’ve managed to do it for me! I just don’t understand how anyone can feel that their religious beliefs must be imposed upon others. Not everyone has a religious belief. And there are some who do, but who do not support every single idea that their religion preaches. To call people sinners in the way that post did…….

    Thank you, for writing this so honestly, and so gently.

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    1. Hi Kelly and thank you for your comment. It was difficult for me to write, but one I strongly felt needed to be written. I agree with what you have said, it would be nice to just accept each other for who we are. xx

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  10. Sarah, thank you for writing this, thank you.
    Our “sacred” space is healing, we had a beautiful chat last night.
    It sickens me how doctrine sometimes trumps kindness or even basic human decency.
    It’s SO not what the heart of the Christian faith is meant to be.
    It pushes so many people who once held strong faith out the doors. Myself included.
    So, like you, I do not agree with that kind of demonisation of people, especially in the name of “love”.
    There’s absolutely no correlation between holding this view and having to walk away, we need you to stay. We need your contributions and passions. ❤️

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    1. Thank you so much Annette. I agree that this is not what christianity is meant to be about and it is that fundamentalist view that has driven so many people away. It certainly knocked me about a bit, but all is well again (sort of) :-).

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