Intent doesn’t erase the damage, no. But it goddamned well ought to inform what happens next. If you hit me in the face by accident and were mortified the instant it happened, then I don’t need to lecture you on how hitting people in the face is bad: you already know that, and just need to be a little more careful. If you hit me in the face because you weren’t aware that face-hitting hurts, then somebody needs to explain that basic point to you, and you need to take a good hard look at your habits to figure out what things you’re doing are likely to result in face-hitting. If you hit me in the face because your society says, yeah, face-hitting hurts but it’s totally okay so long as it’s done to the right targets, then you need to rethink not just your habits but your morals, and the change needs to be not just to you, but to the cultural environment that taught you to behave that way. And if you hit me in the face because you hate my guts and want to see me hurt . . . then I need to get the hell away from you, because the odds that any positive change can be effected there are nil.
In all of these cases, my face still hurts, and you should still apologize. And maybe I’ve been hit in the face enough that for my own well-being, I need to get the hell away from you without pausing to find out whether that was just an accident. But to say that intent flat-out does not matter — to say that there’s no point in figuring out the causes behind actions — that, to me, is taking the point waaaaaaaaaaaaay too far.
–Marie Brennan thinks intent is not irrelevant.
There’s been a bunch of reexamining of certain aspects of fandom1 call-out culture recently. It seems part of the zeitgeist; a natural progression from post-RaceFail blooming of fandom’s social justice consciousness, to its weaponization, and now back to thinking that, well. Maybe we went a bit too far with the whole “you and everything you love are problematic” stuff.
Time to go back to some social justice basics, perhaps.
- And also non-fandom, but mostly fandom in this case.↩