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Brad @ Burning Man
I somewhat regret that Chicon 7 scheduled the panel "A Reversal of Minorities" (description: "Outside of fandom, Christianity is the majority religion, inside of fandom; it often feels like a persecuted minority. A look at why some people who would lambaste religious persecution in daily life feel it is okay to unload on Christianity within the confines of a convention") opposite the Hugo Awards. Had it not, I would have shown up, waited until they opened the panel to questions and comments from the room, waited my turn, and said, "Welcome to normal life for everybody else. Excuse me for not being sorry that this is one place in western world where you don't enjoy privilege." And then I would have set back down.

I mentioned this to many people at Worldcon, and nobody I met disputed my nickname for it: "the butthurt panel." For those of you who are unfamiliar with this particular bit of Internet (mostly gamer) slang, "butthurt" is when somebody who has received some trivial or minor injury or insult insists on monopolizing the conversation, insists on constantly steering all conversations back to how much they hurt, insists that their trivial inconvenience or insult or injury was as serious and painful as (say, for example) anal rape.

I've spent a lot of time in science fiction fandom; been part of science fiction clubs off and on since 1973, been attending conventions since 1981. In that whole time, I have never once seen a Christian refused service. I have never seen a Christian refused an employment opportunity or a volunteer opportunity. I have seen every club and convention that was asked to do make generous accommodations to any religious need the Christians asserted, and seen every request for a panel discussion topic they submitted added to the schedule. What horrific injuries and insults do they demand be taken as seriously as if they were being anally raped by science fiction fandom?

People are not always sufficiently deferential to their invisible friend(s). Sometimes they even mock him. And when they make scientific claims that are indefensible, like Creationism, they are critiqued; when they do not take the critique of their scientific claims politely, it opens them up to mockery.

Flow my tears.

Today, in violation of the convention rule requiring a 2/3rds majority, the leaders of the Democratic National Convention over-rode the platform committee and reverted the language of the party's "equal opportunity" clause. Here are the old and the new language, emphasis added to point out the "controversial" and "un-American" phrase that was going to cause so much Christian butthurt that DNC leaders were afraid it might cost the President his re-election (despite election forecasts saying that he has it in the bag):

2008 platform, adopted: "We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."

2012 platform, committee version: "... in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us."
What?!?!? There is even one political party where even some of the members believe that their talent and drive came from no god, or from many gods? That's oppressing Christians! They have to change that, or else people will be allowed to doubt that Christians' invisible friend was the source of their success! If we allow that, we might as well shovel Christians into fiery furnaces, because that's such an intolerable attack, it's as bad as if we were killing them!

No, it's not. Even if you don't agree, this is the privilege that you benefit from -- nobody can mock your beliefs, nobody can even express respectful doubt about your beliefs, nobody can even express a willingness to let other people consider doubts about your beliefs in their own private minds, without coming under attack. For crying out loud: the "objectionable" language doesn't even deny that God gives people their talents and drive; it merely permits people to believe otherwise. Thank God you won't be exposed to that threat any more!

And you can be absolutely confident that unless you go to a scientific conference, a science fiction convention, or a skeptics meeting (or a religious service for non-theists or polytheists) your freedom from having doubt expressed in your presence will be protected, while you will be absolutely free to express your confidence in the supremacy of your beliefs without any censure. And you and your co-religionists think the part of that that's awful is that those non-Christian-privileged places exist?

Sit down. And shut up.

Comments

( 69 comments — Leave a comment )
kukla_tko42
Sep. 6th, 2012 05:45 am (UTC)
Butthurt? Not so much.
Huh. Interesting.

I sensed no "butthurt" from the description of the panel. What I took from the description was that this was an opportunity to discuss the interesting phenomenon in fandom where the social and societal norms are sometimes reversed.

I would like to say again; an opportunity to discuss an interesting phenomenon.

You know, that thing you used to like to do? Discuss interesting phenomena? This is a discussion that can go a number of ways, but I saw nothing in the description to indicate that this was anything other than an opportunity to discuss the culture that we as fans have created amongst ourselves.

In fandom, if you are a republican, a Christian, a monogamous person, or a vanilla person, you will discover that you are certainly a minority. The things that to the rest of the country are considered "the norm" are no longer considered normal in our little world.

The only mention of "persecution" (so to speak) in the description was pointing out that there are people who rail against their own persecution in the outside world, but the minute they are in a place where they are no longer the minority, they immediately throw their weight around toward the new minority.

In other words, once the bully victim surrounds herself with like-minded people, she turns around and bullies the perceived weakest link nearest her.

And I do see this, all the time. It is something that infuriates me when I see it. Women who are persecuted (genuinely persecuted) in the "real" world, who fail to get promoted or hired or paid a decent wage because they're lacking the genital equipment, yet in "women's groups" turn on each other and crank up the bullying behavior.

Pagans who are treated abominably by the outside world for having a non-"standard" faith system and are threatened on a daily basis for not being a follower of Christianity, who turn right around and engage in the WORST bullying behavior of each other in their covens and social circles.

These things do happen. Any crispy right-wing christian who came to a fannish event would scream and run the other direction within an hour of being there. The Christians who stick around are, oh, say, level-headed people with a strong belief in science and who support fantasy literature and are at the very least extremely tolerant not only of alternate faith systems but alternative lifestyles as well.
Yet if you let on that you are a Christian in fandom, the mildest reaction one gets is disgust and horror. To be fair, the strongest reaction one gets doesn't get into physical violence or threats to one's livelihood. But does that mean that Christians aren't treated badly by other fans? A BNF used to do a panel years ago called "Conversations with Pagans". It was a lovely discussion-based panel providing education to those who did not understand the Neo-Pagan movement and the discussions were always respectful and polite. And the BNF could do that panel at ANY fannish event that she chose to offer it to. I tried to get "Conversations with Christians" going, to do much the same thing. So far it has never EVER happened. Does this threaten my life or my livelihood? No. But it *IS* discrimination. Ever heard me whine about it? Only just now. Would you like me to sit down and shut up now?

If you show up at panel like this one and spew that kind of rude pronouncement, you're simply proving the point and not making yours.

Asking someone to suffer in silence is the same regardless of who you say it to. It is the same no matter what the level of suffering would be.
nancylebov
Sep. 6th, 2012 05:52 am (UTC)
Re: Butthurt? Not so much.
I'm generally in agreement-- I do think Christians are faced with social disapproval in fandom, and it's well within their rights for them to not like it and say so.

My one nitpick is that I think the majority or at least plurality in fandom is Christian, it's just that pagans and atheists are more numerous and aggressive than they are in the mainstream.
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - kukla_tko42 - Sep. 6th, 2012 05:55 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - landley - Sep. 6th, 2012 06:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - flaviusb - Sep. 6th, 2012 06:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - kukla_tko42 - Sep. 6th, 2012 03:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - ginmar - Sep. 6th, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - kukla_tko42 - Sep. 8th, 2012 05:36 am (UTC) - Expand
landley
Sep. 6th, 2012 06:13 am (UTC)
Re: Butthurt? Not so much.
> I sensed no "butthurt" from the description of the
> panel.

I'm sensing plenty in your post, and I wasn't even at this year's worldcon.

You equate not being catered to with "suffering". Other people's lack of interest is persecution to you.

Your "conversations with a religion so dominant our guy's in the flag pledge and printed on the money" is about as useful as "electricity, have you heard of it?", and you're complaining that there's panels on oil lamps so your panel about using light switches will be of just as much interest to all those people out there who haven't heard of it in the modern world.

Your privilege is that you honestly can't see the difference.

Rob
flaviusb
Sep. 6th, 2012 07:05 am (UTC)
Re: Butthurt? Not so much.
One of the problems that I can see with the panel is that it could very easily go horribly awry, in the same kinds of ways that (to use a moderately problematic example) discussions about men's issues can in feminist groups. There is a useful conversation to be had, as (in that example) the Patriarchy also hurts men, and (for example) getting people to understand that feminism is also about protecting men from the Patriarchy can cause people who would otherwise oppose feminism to become allies, or even feminists, but *in general* the way that those kinds of discussions go is usually unhelpful. It feels like often enough the people who are concerned specifically about men's issues also want to retain their privilege, and thus end up derailing or hijacking or whatever.

So, in this case the problem is that *some* of the Christians in the group would see what is happening in fandom as an aberration, and the world outside of fandom where they have privilege to be normal. Trying to keep the conversation about how to destroy their privilege in the real world and not about how to force their way into privilege in fandom is not a task I see as being easy, for a variety of reasons, though if it could be done it would be wonderful.

edit: change 'where they are have' to 'where they have'.

Edited at 2012-09-06 07:09 am (UTC)
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - tisiphone - Sep. 6th, 2012 07:34 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - nancylebov - Sep. 6th, 2012 03:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - tisiphone - Sep. 6th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - bradhicks - Sep. 6th, 2012 05:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - ginmar - Sep. 6th, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - kukla_tko42 - Sep. 8th, 2012 03:48 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - ginmar - Sep. 8th, 2012 04:54 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - kukla_tko42 - Sep. 8th, 2012 05:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - ginmar - Sep. 10th, 2012 07:45 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - bradhicks - Sep. 10th, 2012 09:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - kimchalister - Sep. 7th, 2012 04:34 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - nancylebov - Sep. 7th, 2012 06:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - dd_b - Sep. 6th, 2012 09:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - ladypeyton - Sep. 6th, 2012 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - tisiphone - Sep. 6th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - anitra - Sep. 8th, 2012 02:13 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - kukla_tko42 - Sep. 8th, 2012 03:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Butthurt? Not so much. - naath - Sep. 18th, 2012 04:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
elusis
Sep. 6th, 2012 06:27 am (UTC)
Wait, sorry... I'm still stuck on "scheduled something opposite the Hugos."
bradhicks
Sep. 6th, 2012 06:56 am (UTC)
I'd have to double-check the schedule, but I think there were at least five things scheduled opposite the Hugos. As someone said to me, "I don't do award shows."
(no subject) - alchemist - Sep. 6th, 2012 01:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dd_b - Sep. 6th, 2012 09:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chaotic_nipple - Sep. 7th, 2012 02:40 am (UTC) - Expand
radiumhead
Sep. 6th, 2012 07:17 am (UTC)
I honestly dont see why christians have to be tolerated or taken seriously any more than adults who believe in Santa Claus. Fuck em.
dd_b
Sep. 6th, 2012 09:06 pm (UTC)
Bad idea, they're probably against abortion.
silk_noir
Sep. 6th, 2012 08:05 am (UTC)
Really? *All* Christians? All of them?
bradhicks
Sep. 6th, 2012 08:58 am (UTC)
No, just the butthurt ones.
justjohn
Sep. 6th, 2012 11:16 am (UTC)
Speaking of Butthurt
We recorded a track about that ...

And to your main point: even out in the mainstream world, there seem to be a bunch of members of the mainstream religion who claim to be persecuted a whole lot of the time, sometimes even unto annoying their fellow mainstream religionists.

Oh, and rich people have started to complain that they're being picked on, too.
nebris
Sep. 6th, 2012 12:11 pm (UTC)
Christianity says, “Love Jesus or Die.”
"The Christ Message is at its very core one of Love, Forgiveness, and Compassion. The power of this Message is undeniable and it has driven Christianity to its pinnacle as the world's greatest religion. But there is a poison pill at its heart.

In John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”. Now whether Jesus said that or not, something theologians can split hairs and heads over - even if a Jesus Christ never actually existed - is irrelevant.

Christians believe those words more than anything else, and that is what has killed Christianity as a spiritual movement. All the Love, all the Forgiveness, all the Compassion is ultimately contingent on Belief in Christ, and that is Extortion.

The kindest, most loving Christian, one who lives a life of giving, who never turns anyone away regardless of belief or even non-belief, in their heart they “know” that non-Christians are Damned, that God is going to send them to a supernatural concentration camp to be tortured for all Eternity ... and that “knowing” utterly obliterates every one of the kind and loving thoughts and deeds that preceded it." Fruit of the Poisoned Tree

So yeah, fuck a bunch of Christians.

~M~
silk_noir
Sep. 6th, 2012 12:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Christianity says, “Love Jesus or Die.”
So yeah, fuck a bunch of Christians


Yeah, monolithically we just suck so hard.
Good point but a little overstated, maybe - tahkhleet - Sep. 6th, 2012 11:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(cont) - tahkhleet - Sep. 6th, 2012 11:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
alchemist
Sep. 6th, 2012 01:37 pm (UTC)
And I probably walked past you about 40 times during the con and it didn't register. Next time, if you see us (that is, ursulav or myself), stop and say Hi. It'd be great to meet you someday.
bradhicks
Sep. 6th, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
I probably didn't recognize you in person. I walked past the booth a couple of times and saw UrsulaV, but she was crazy-busy, completely surrounded with people - as befits the most unambiguously deserved Hugo winner of the year.
(no subject) - alchemist - Sep. 6th, 2012 11:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
tandw
Sep. 6th, 2012 02:11 pm (UTC)
Hi. Driveby, here via a link to a previous post from _Making Light_.

There's an interesting contrast between your point here and something I heard from a friend after the pseudoscience panel on Sunday. He was feeling butthurt (good term) at what I thought was a fairly mild reference to "religious woo" from one of the panelists and opined that the panel would have been much improved by the presence of an open Christian or Jew who could have ameliorated the apparent implication that one could not be both religious and a skeptic. He went on to talk about the significant hostility he found in SF fandom and related circles towards "Judeo-Christian religion" [1] when he started getting into fandom in the 70s and early 80s. (He allowed as how it had abated somewhat in recent years, and was setting up to talk about how Christianity was far more tolerant of non-Christians than other world religions were, but I countered that with quotes from Dominionists before he could really get going.)


[1]Yes, he really used the term "Judeo-Christian." Unironically.
bradhicks
Sep. 6th, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
You know, here's the thing about this. There are a lot of people in science fiction fandom with diametrically opposed viewpoints. To cite a vivid example, one of the Libertarian SF panels was scheduled for the same afternoon as the Occupy Fandom panel. I can't speak for the Libertarian panel, but I know that nobody at the Occupy panel felt oppressed by the fact that the Libertarians are welcome in fandom. It didn't even come up. But if there's even one panel on the schedule that disagrees with even one claim made by even a minority of Christians, like calling Creation Science and Intelligent Design and faith healing pseudo-science? Butt-hurt!

You know why this is, of course. This is America, where nobody dares to disagree with a Christian to their face. They have so little experience with being disagreed with that it comes as a horrible shock to them every time. And, of course, when they express shock, hurt, or worse anger over this, it just reminds everybody else how privileged they are, and how entitled they feel to that privilege, and that just escalates the anger on both sides.

There was a very direct to-the-point piece on HuffPo this morning that somebody sent me a link to, by a United Church of Christ minister no less, pointing out exactly the difference between what Christians experience in fandom (and elsewhere in America) and real persecution: "How to Determine If Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions."
(no subject) - ginmar - Sep. 8th, 2012 05:25 am (UTC) - Expand
l33tminion
Sep. 6th, 2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
Antonio Villaraigosa is a disgrace. It seems that the convention procedure for both parties is to have all decisions unilaterally made by the chair, votes be damned.
lucretiasheart
Sep. 6th, 2012 10:05 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU!
fleabear
Sep. 7th, 2012 01:22 am (UTC)
I actually attended the panel in question. I had issues with the title and the description. The panel consisted of 2 Christians, 1 Jew and an Atheist. I certainly agree that in many ways what they were talking about was reality slapping them in the face--a reality that many of us have to deal with on a daily basis. Ideally one would think that fandom would be a place where acceptance is the rule. Unfortunately it is not. What was agreed on, a point that I brought up, that the problem came down to assholes. Every group has assholes and while there was a part of me that was amused that the Christian men finally had to confront something that I have dealt with for years, I can also concede that they have as much right to make a comment about going to church without being attacked by someone for causing all of the world's problems, just as I have a right to wear a Pagan t-shirt without being attacked for causing the downfall of America through my satanic ways (which I have been).

I also pointed out that many people in either the Pagan or Atheist communities have real issues with Christianity based on experience. It should not surprise them that they are greeted with anger. I also pointed out that one of the big problems is that the Religious Right is extremely vocal and if they want to not be associated with that particular type of asshatery, then liberal, tolerant Christians need to find their voice and denounce the assholes instead of keeping quiet.
anitra
Sep. 8th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC)
I'd agree with you - even conservative Christians (of which I am one) need to work harder at distancing themselves from the [expletives] that give Christianity a bad name.
simulated_knave
Sep. 7th, 2012 03:35 am (UTC)
The real problem isn't Christians.

It's assholes.

This is why British TV now uses "believes in God" as a punchline on occasion. Because smug sanctimony against those who believe differently knows no creed or color.

And I think, on one level, it is worth pointing out to some people that, just maybe, mouth-foaming bigotry isn't any prettier when you're wearing a pentacle. Of course, they're not going to listen, what with being mouth-foaming bigots.

I think what does matter is the nature of the people doing the panel. If they're mouth-foaming bigots who don't like role reversal, that's a problem. If they're perfectly reasonable people who don't rub their religion in everyone's faces, this is a good opportunity to suggest that if they shut up their idiots, perhaps other religious communities will work on shutting up theirs.
simulated_knave
Sep. 9th, 2012 03:09 am (UTC)
A clarification:

The more I think about it, the less certain I am whether or not the same people who are on that panel are the ones causing problems for non-Christians.

If they are, this is an issue, of course. But if they aren't, mistreating them on the basis that their co-religionists mistreat others seems likely to be inconsistent with a hell of a lot of people's claimed morality.
ginmar
Sep. 10th, 2012 07:46 am (UTC)
Ah, switching focus from the particular to the general. Such a good dodge. Except not.
(no subject) - simulated_knave - Sep. 10th, 2012 08:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Sep. 11th, 2012 01:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - simulated_knave - Sep. 11th, 2012 02:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bradhicks - Sep. 11th, 2012 05:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - simulated_knave - Sep. 11th, 2012 07:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
virginia_fell
Sep. 7th, 2012 04:28 am (UTC)
There is one way in which this panel could be a good contribution and not the religious equivalent of a panel on "reverse racism."

It could have been good if there had been Christians saying, "You know, this feeling really blows. Is this what it's like for everybody but us everywhere else? What have we learned?"

I hope that that happened. I wouldn't lay down any money that it did, but I do hope so.
( 69 comments — Leave a comment )

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