Someone started a thread on a forum I frequent about how afraid they are to say anything at all lest they be jumped on and have someone climb up their ass about every misstep and just generally be super mean. I am going to assume that anybody reading this is already well aware of why The Tone Argument (in Capital Letters!) is basically considered its own autofail trigger in social justice conversations. If not, be aware that dismissing the content of a post because a free education about how fucked up your behavior is wasn’t delivered as sweetly as you feel you’re entitled to? That means you just lose, automatically, and if you have a problem with this, I suggest you read the following before you bring your shiny new never-heard-before objections here.
The Tone Argument entry from the Geek Feminism Wiki gives a good overview. That entry links Geekosophical’s Toes of Conduct, which explains a particularly useful metaphor here, so I will actually pull it out and quote it.
If you witness someone stepping on someone else’s toes; do not harangue the person with the bruised toes for being hurt, simply because you did not feel the crush. If you step on someone’s toes; apologise for stepping on their toes. Resist the urge to point to an inconsiderate witness, or people whose toes you have not yet stepped on, as excuses for not apologising.
[Activist Modus Operandi] Methods of Communication by Genderbitch on why it’s tactically unwise to force all activists to use the same tone, even if the tone you’re pushing for is a sweet one that seems like everybody would respond well to it.
The Privilege of Politeness on why demanding that marginalized people always give more consideration than they receive is unsustainable, unjust, and an action so callously willing to sacrifice the authenticity and voices of the marginalized that it can only be called supremacist.
The Tone Argument by abagond does a good job pointing out that the Tone Argument is generally used as a way for people who don’t want to listen to blame anything but their own apathy. It’s a way of saying, “It is your fault that more people don’t care, that I don’t care.” It’s a tactic of people who do not want to take responsibility for their own priorities, and would be BS for that reason alone even if it weren’t such a gross silencing tactic.
So yeah, if you didn’t immediately recognize why the Tone Argument is an automatic critical failure, read a couple of those and then come back.
Someone started a thread on this forum about how afraid they are to say anything at all lest they be jumped on and have someone climb up their ass about every misstep and just generally be super mean. There were many many good responses to the failures of the thread, so I don’t want to give a bad impression of the community, but there was definitely a lot to respond to.