Today, my girlfriend ticked off the world so much that a bunch of my friends texted me about how offensive she was. I’m not going to apologize for her. Instead, I’m issuing a press release, as written below:
– A Statement Regarding [name] Online Activities –
Several of my closest friends have brought to my attention certain offensive (some would call abusive) comments that my girlfriend posted online today. The outcry over her words has been so intense and damaging that I feel the need to issue a statement.
I do not know the nature of the original comments, posts, arguments or actions. The amount of time I have spent online has been limited by the intensity of my work recently, so I missed the posts before they were taken down. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that considerable social damage has occurred today, straining friendships and relationships that I have held for a long time.
Many of you have seen a side to my girlfriend that you did not expect. She is opinionated and can be vulgar, insensitive and graphic. She is, what we used to call back in the ‘90s: a shock-jockey; in modern times: a troll. While I find great delight in what she says, I understand that it is not for everyone. One of her outlets is social media and she has undergone several bans due to her content.
I will not apologize for what she has done. However, this is a reminder to me that the company I keep is a reflection of who I am. Since [name] is my closest company, you may find yourself asking, “Why is [name] with her?” I’ll tell you. I find her to be a raw expression of my id. She is honest, loyal and forthright, without regard for the impact to others. These are qualities that I value in my partner. While I am diplomatic and conciliatory by nature, I need someone who can cut through the crap and speak to what is really happening.
This statement is also a good opportunity to talk about speech. As many of you know, I support an edgy (more right-wing recently) group called “Amaricans Against Amaricans Who Get Offended.” The principal that is practiced there, that I believe in, is that the answer to harmful or offensive speech is not censorship, but more speech. Sometimes arguments descend to personal insults. An important skill in life is being able to overcome opposition to your point of view whatever form it comes in, and this group can be a worthwhile practice space at times. Remember that it is only social media. You can turn off your phone, unfollow, or walk away. Even though I support the space, it does not mean that I always embrace the content.
The end of this decade has featured a war on civility. A vast array of offensive speech, vulgarity and obscenity has emboldened and inflamed the polarization of our world. What should be the symphony of human society, where differing ideas can work in concert, has become the artillery fields of hostility, where people yell past each other like artillery shells aiming for their targets, which blast away at the goodwill and higher nature of audiences. Our conversations nowadays are more a competition of adversaries than a search for insight or building mutual fidelity.
Nobody is perfect and error is part of the human condition. It is the creed of a cynical person, such as myself. We are all held captive by our flaws. Nevertheless, I believe that we can learn and grow. While you may have been witness to some of [name] flaws, I see a great deal of value in her that is worth investing in. She will likely be the woman that I choose to build my life with. While I do not expect the damage to heal immediately, I am hopeful that someday, you too will see the value that I see in her and appreciate the reasons why I am staying with her.
Please Remember: These are only words.