Right now I’m working in Red Door Coffee, a coffee shop adjacent to a bar adjacent to an art gallery in the vein of Juxtapoz magazine. Marketing landing page company HubPages is across the street. In line to get get my coffee one guy behind me said to another, “Autonomous cars are coming.”
I just got out of a free lecture on data science.
I love it here. I’m so happy I moved. I miss everyone back in D.C. Even more so I wish just knowing I had people. But I have some people here, a lot, really. And I’ll find more. I love the electic fashion. I love going to a house party and talking about startups and the tech behemoths instead of policies and politicians. I love being surrounded by people trying to change the world by innovating instead of via bureaucracy and charity. Not that any of that stuff is objectively better than any of that other stuff. I wouldn’t trade my time in non-profits for anything in the world. And I admire the people still in those trenches. I’m just saying I was ready for something new and this is one of the few places in America I’d consider a step-up from D.C.
It’s kind of like the guy who punched Richard Spencer in the face, which I’ve been thinking about a lot since it happened and since everyone weighed in on it. I’m, personally, a free speech absolutist. But I’m not so naive to think that absolute and total free speech absolutism, in anarchy, for example, won’t have some pretty terrible unintended consequences. I’ve been on Twitter. Any platform that does not discriminate cedes to the lowest common denominator. If you leave a microphone up and no one decides who can use it a bunch of assholes will start using it to harass marginalized people. Hence comments sections. Restrictions on speech are bad, mkay? I believe the best response to bad speech is good speech. But isn’t it a restriction on speech when someone is chased off the internet because they fear for their daughter’s life? Am I really free to speak if the result is my platform becomes unusable due to high volumes of racist and sexist harassment and threats?
I’ll take my chances with the hordes rather than entrust the government to decide who gets to speak. But as to whether Twitter or Facebook or private colleges should decide who gets to speak for practical reasons I think yes, they should.
Anyway, besides discrimination by privately owned platforms, what else can we do to fight Nazis and harassers? Someone in the Association of Libertarian Feminists recently asked what we thought of the Uber CEO guy stepping down from Trump’s Advisory Council in light of public backlash. I basically said that I’m not sure. I wouldn’t personally want to have to live with having Trump’s Advisory Council on my resume or conscience. At the same time, it would seem that if only fascists advise Trump we’re all going to be worse off for it. So that’s kind of how I feel about punching Richard Spencer, and antifascism in general. I don’t want to have breaking shit or punching people for speech on my conscience (yet). But at the same time the idea that it’s clearly always unambiguously wrong to respond to speech with violence seems absurd. Hitler didn’t literally kill anyone with his hands, but with his mouth he killed millions. I guess if free speech is literally all you want, that makes sense. But I also want to prevent six million Jews from getting murdered, and if I could have done it with a bullet I would have, I hope. So maybe sometimes rights conflict.
Of course this brings up the efficacy of meeting speech with violence, which is a separate issue. Generally speaking I think violence only helps the cause you’re trying to fight. Kill the cartel boss, another boss pops up. Kill Richard Spencer, another “dapper Nazi” pops up and rents real estate in D.C. Because the problem isn’t the boss. It’s the larger forces at work. Which is as true of the alt-right and white nationalism as it is of the drug trade. There’s pent-up demand for Nazi propaganda and drugs and adding violence into the mix isn’t going to make the supply of either go away.
The point of all this is that it probably takes all kinds. Just because I don’t want to do something, either because I think it’s ineffective, distasteful, or just doesn’t fit my talent profile doesn’t mean it’s not a good and useful thing to do. So while I don’t want to be in D.C. or work full-time at a non-profit right now, I still think it’s good and necessary that people are doing it.
Hopefully I’ll continue to love it here. I expect I will. This afternoon I’m going to an art exhibit by and for sex workers with the Pirate. It really does seem like my kind of place. Though it’s hard being anonymous. I miss going to a house party most weekends and knowing almost everyone. I miss being able to go to Black Pearl when I want to drink and smoke with friends after work on a random Tuesday. I really, really, really miss my office and work husband. More than I thought I would, and I thought I would miss them a lot. And I miss my ex. I miss his warm cuddles and copious indulgent attention. I miss movement gossip.
I do not regret moving at all. This has been hella interesting already and I feel very confident that I will be able to build a very full and fulfilling life for myself here. My partners are my kind of people. It takes all kinds, and they are not objectively better than the people I left behind in D.C. But they are the men I want to build a life with right now and going forward. I feel so lucky and blessed to be invited up, helped out, welcomed, and privileged by a good job, good health, good friends and partners. Here’s hoping week two is as good as week one.