Do we have the right to express our opinion anywhere, anytime?

If I tell myself, “this will be a short PiA post” will that make it true? Anyway, this post is halfway between real life and internet, as it happened to me while I was playing Final Fantasy XI last night. I don’t have the chatlog, though if I hadn’t been tired and cranky I probably would have screencapped it. Definitely should have. Oh well, live and learn.

Now, before I got back into this game I specifically looked for a queer-friendly linkshell because I wanted to be as far removed from the casual bigotry of “that’s so gay!” and “get into the kitchen and synth me some pie!” comments. Everything was going really well until one of our members shared a story about how, on her show, Tyra had on some parents who are allowing their child to live as the male he clearly feels himself to be. The woman who shared it thought that it was heartwarming, as did I.

One member, however, didn’t agree and called it “creepy”. But the more he was called on his opinion, the worse it got. First he used the “tomboy” excuse. I and another member told him that it was sexist and, furthermore, that gender identity and gender roles were two separate things. Then he pulled out the question, “Was the kid ugly?” and continued to protest that, because kids were cruel, that it was a completely relevant and appropriate question. At which point I basically told him that a queer-friendly linkshell was not the appropriate forum to express his uninformed opinions about subjects he admittedly has no knowledge about.

He continued by asserting that the transgendered child in question probably was emotionally damaged rather than trans. Another person told him that being transgendered did not make one emotionally damaged, and I tried to counter yet another assertion that there was “nothing wrong” with saying that the whole thing was creepy by asking him to consider how any transpeople on the LJ chat channel might feel hearing that he found them to be “creepy”. At which point one of the pearlsack holders shut us down with an “agree to disagree” line (which pisses me off because, as a moderator, he is one of the people responsible for maintaining the space, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish).

The player in question felt that he was perfectly entitled to air his opinions — nevermind that they weren’t grounded in reality, that they were offensive to those on the linkshell who are against transphobia, and hurtful to any trans-members even if they weren’t on the shell at that time — without regard to whether or not they were appropriate for the space he was in. Even though that space is specifically there so that we can have someplace in which to escape from the bigotry in the greater game community. Privilege is not having to understand why opinions you share should have a factual basis, and furthermore that the opinions you choose to share should be appropriate to the space you’re in.

This player was allowed to get away with disrespecting the fundamental rules of our chat space. His belief that his opinion is valid no matter where and when he shares it overshadowed any questions of appropriateness, and he felt no need to consider how his words made others feel. In the end, because of the mod’s words, even after I tried to get him to make the connection, he probably walked away from the encounter feeling that he was perfectly right in what he had said — after all, by saying that we should “agree to disagree” the moderator in question validated the player’s actions by framing them as having equal weight to what I, and the others protesting his actions, were saying.

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