The Carl Brandon Society has poster an open letter to the SF community about principles of reasoned discourse. (It was prompted by Harlan Ellison’s recent attack on K. Tempest Bradford, but as they say, he’s apologized, she’s accepted, and it’s now a private matter. ) This letter is addressing the more general issue of how reasonable people ought to speak to each other.
The Carl Brandon society is an honorable organization that has done great service to the SF community – they deserve to be listened to if anyone does. But that letter still makes me a little uncomfortable, though the principles stated in that letter are good ones. It’s just all those “unacceptable”s that bug me. I agree with all of their principles, try to follow them, and want other people to do so.
But I still don’t think they get to enforce the rules.
I would be inclined to restate them a bit. The use of racial slurs or expressing contempt for ongoing racial and gender discourse is unacceptable are unacceptable to me; I will avoid them myself (or do my best to). You can use them if you wish because I can’t stop you; it’s just that doing so will cause me to assume you are not a person of good intention, or are ignorant of the import of your words, and in some cases may prompt me to give up on having any discussions with you. (Hypothetical and general you; I do not mean *you*, of course, Gentle Reader.)
Also, stating who and what you are is not playing the race/gender card, but it’s not always a matter of pride either. Sometimes it’s just a matter of fact.
Finally, I can see why the Carl Brandon society is focusing on racism, because that’s their charter, and including gender here because of the incident that prompted this. For myself, I’d include prejudices against sexual preference and gender identity, ablism, agism, and a hos tof other prejudices. But it’s not possible to name all of the potentialities there, and I understand why they didn’t.