How do you keep bigots off social media?

FACEBOOK: Wow, it's tough but we're trying! ❤️👍
TWITTER: What is "bigotry", really?
RAVELRY: Our grandmothers wrote code into scarves that sunk Nazi submarines. We carry razor sharp needles everywhere and we will fuck. you. up.

@bentev28, 30 June, 2019

In the midst of a withering year or two of big platforms abdicating (or outright denying) their civic responsibilities, fiber arts website/community Ravelry announced a new content policy that bans support for President Donald Trump on its platform.

New Policy: Do Not Post In Support of Trump or his Administration

Sunday, June 23rd 2019

We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry.

This includes support in the form of forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles, and all other content. Note that your project data will never be deleted. We will never delete your Ravelry project data for any reason and if a project needs to be removed from the site, we will make sure that you have access to your data. Even if you are permanently banned from Ravelry, you will still be able to access any patterns that you purchased. Also, we will make sure that you receive a copy of your data.

We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.

The Community Guidelines have been updated with the following language: “Note that support of President Trump, his administration, or individual policies that harm marginalized groups, all constitute hate speech.”

“Everyone uses Ravelry”: why a popular knitting website’s anti-Trump stance is so significant by By Aja Romano (@ajaromano) is an excellent, long, detailed article in Vox about the new Ravelry policy.

I was curious about the reference to grandmothers who “wrote code into scarves that sunk Nazi submarines” in @bentev28’s tweet. Vox/Romano linked to this fascinating Atlas Obscura article by Natalie Zarrelli, 1 June 2017, The Wartime Spies Who Used Knitting as an Espionage Tool.

DURING WORLD WAR I, A grandmother in Belgium knitted at her window, watching the passing trains. As one train chugged by, she made a bumpy stitch in the fabric with her two needles. Another passed, and she dropped a stitch from the fabric, making an intentional hole. Later, she would risk her life by handing the fabric to a soldier—a fellow spy in the Belgian resistance, working to defeat the occupying German force.

Also in the Vox article I learned that the gaming site RPG.net banned Trump support in October 2018.

The following policy announcement is the result of over a year of serious debate by the moderation team. The decision is as close to unanimous as we ever get. It will not be the subject of further debate. We have fully considered the downsides and ultimately decided we have to stay true to our values. We will not pretend that evil isn’t evil, or that it becomes a legitimate difference of political opinion if you put a suit and tie on it.

We are banning support of Donald Trump or his administration on the RPGnet forums. This is because his public comments, policies, and the makeup of his administration are so wholly incompatible with our values that formal political neutrality is not tenable. We can be welcoming to (for example) persons of every ethnicity who want to talk about games, or we can allow support for open white supremacy. Not both. Below will be an outline of the policy and a very incomplete set of citations.

We have a community here that we’ve built carefully over time, and support for elected hate groups aren’t welcome here. We can't save the world, but we can protect and care for the small patch that is this board.


obama jamokes.png

Here’s the interesting thing that happens when you’re president, or when you go through the experience of being president.

So, you start off, you know, you’re a community organizer and you’re struggling to try to get people to recognize each other’s common interests and you’re trying to get some project done in a small community. You start thinking, ok, you know what? This alderman’s a knucklehead. They’re resistant to doing the right thing, and so I need to get more knowledge, more power, more influence, so that I can really have an impact.

And so you go to the state legislature, and you look around and you say well, these jamokes. Not all of them, but I’m just saying, you start getting that sense of…this is just like dealing with the alderman. So, nah, I gotta do something different.

Then you go to the U.S. Senate and you’re looking around and you’re like…awww man.

And then when you’re president, you’re sitting in these international meetings, and it’s like the G20 and you got all these world leaders, and it’s the same people. Which is really interesting. Same dynamics. It’s just that there’s a bigger spotlight, there’s a bigger stage.

But I’m only partly joking about that.

The nature of human dynamics does not change from level to level.

…The way power works at every level, at the United Nations or in your neighborhood, is, do you have a community that stands behind what you stand for? And if you do you’ll have more power. And if you don’t, you won’t.

"They are the only experts"

Expertise is unfashionable right now, partly because our society is not very good at understanding who is expert at what, so we give too much power to some people and not enough power to others. […]

Sadly, we don’t see residents as experts. This is a critical and corrosive mistake. Of course, they certainly are not experts in how to reduce greenhouse gases, or pave roads, or pick bike routes. They should not be picking beams for a bridge.

But citizens of a city do know how the built environment makes them feel, and how they would like to feel.

They are experts in how increasing taxes will stress them out. They are experts in hidden secrets of their streets and alleys. They are experts in the amenities they want for themselves and their family. They are the only experts. Their expertise should be respected.”

From Most Public Engagement Is Worse Than Worthless by sustainability consultant Ruben Anderson, August 6, 2018

"The momentous arises only from the trivial"


A common tactic in discussions about the Internet as a free-speech medium is to discount Internet discourse as inherently trivial. Who cares about blurry kitten pictures, illiterate YouTube trolling, and Facebook posts about what your toddler said on the way to day care?

…The usual rebuttal is to point out all the “worthy” ways that we communicate online: the scholarly discussions, the terminally ill comforting one another, the distance education that lifts poor and excluded people out of their limited straits, the dissidents who post videos of secret police murdering street protesters.

All that stuff is important, but when it comes to interpersonal communications, trivial should be enough.

The reason nearly everything we put on the Internet seems “trivial” is because, seen in isolation, nearly everything we do and say is trivial. There is nothing of particular moment in the conversations I have with my wife over the breakfast table. There is nothing earthshaking in the stories I tell my daughter when we walk to daycare in the morning.

Taken together, these “meaningless” interactions make up nearly the whole of our lives. They are the invisible threads that bind us to our friends and families. when I am away from my family, it’s these moments I miss. Our social intercourse is built on subtext as much as it is on text - - when you ask your wife how she slept last night, you aren’t really interested in her sleep. You’re interested in her knowing that you care about her. When you ask after a friend’s kid, you don’t really care about her potty-training progress - - you and your friend are reinforcing your bond of mutual care.

If that’s not enough reason to defend the trivial, consider this: the momentous arises only from the trivial. When we rally around a friend with cancer, or celebrate the extraordinary achievements of a friend who does well, or commiserate over the death of a loved one, we do so only because we have an underlying layer of trivial interaction that makes our connection to these people meaningful…

The copyright wars are about all the things we care about on the Internet, and increasingly that encompasses just about everything in our lives.

From Cory Doctorow, Information Doesn’t Want to be Free


Mike Lydon on Embracing Impermanence:

“We’re seeing a lot of these things emerge for three reasons,” Lydon continues. “One, the economy. People have to be more creative about getting things done. Two, the Internet. Even four or five years ago we couldn’t share tactics and techniques via YouTube or Facebook. Something can happen randomly in Dallas and now we can hear about it right away. This is feeding into this idea of growth, of bi-coastal competition between New York and San Francisco, say, about who does the cooler, better things. And three, demographic shifts. Urban neighborhoods are gentrifying, changing. They’re bringing in people looking to improve neighborhoods themselves. People are smart and engaged and working a 40-hour week. But they have enough spare time to get involved and this seems like a natural step.”

via New York Times: It’s Time to re think ‘temporary’, December 19, 2011